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Tom Collivander and the Order of the Thunderbird, A Potter Parody

Tom Collivander and the Order of the Thunderbird

By Jonathan Lockwood

Copyright 2016 Jonathan Lockwood

Shakespir Edition

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

Thank you for downloading this ebook. You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, providing the book remains in its complete original form.

Chapter 1 – Collivanders

It was a fine August afternoon, the sun was shining brightly and the streets of Diagonal Alley were as busy as ever. Witches and wizards going about, doing their shopping, having a laugh and generally having a good time. However, there was one person amongst them who was not. Thomas Collivander. Tom was a 15 year old boy just like any other wizarding child, except for one thing. Tom had recently become an orphan and hadn’t quite come to terms with such a loss.

He was staying with his uncle, Garrick Collivander, who had taken him in after the tragic deaths of Tom’s parents, despite Tom insisting he could take care of himself. Tom’s parents had been blacksmiths in Sweden, some of the very best. Most wizards thought being a blacksmith was a stupid profession for a wizard because you could just use magic to create whatever you needed or summon a muggle version. But most wizards didn’t understand. By incorporating magic into their work, Tom’s parents could produce objects far greater and more valuable than any produced by magic alone. When you can use magic, you don’t need to rely on a job to survive. Hence, you can pursue your interest. Tom’s parents took pride in their work and it showed in the quality.

However, only a month ago, they died tragically in a gas explosion. Even though both of Tom’s parents were wizards, they hadn’t had time to use magic to save themselves before the gas had taken its toll.

Tom sometimes worked in the forge with them. He’d spent summers since he was 8 years old, working with his parents, improving year on year. However, on that particular day, he’d been out with friends and so hadn’t been able to save them. It had been horrible for him to come home and find a ruin where their forge had once stood. He moved aside some of the wreckage as quick as he could until he could get in and that’s where he found his parents bodies.

Tom had wept there and then, struggling to believe what he was seeing. It took him a while to even move from the spot. Eventually, he removed his parents from the ruin and buried them with the help of his parent’s best friends. The funeral was short but beautiful. As soon as it was over, he’d set off with Garrick for his new home in London.

Since the accident, Tom had been helping out in his uncle’s store, Collivanders, the best wand shop in the world. Tom much preferred being hands on and breaking a sweat to standing in a shop but he was happy to do it because it kept his mind off his parents. However, since most people only bought one or two wands in their lives, the shop was generally very quiet. He’d mainly been dealing with 11 year olds who were getting their first wands which he found rather annoying. I definitely wasn’t that rude when I was 11!

Eventually, 2 kids who looked of similar age to Tom came into the store. “Ron, why do you want a new wand, you already have one” said the girl, bossily.

Ron replied, “Hermione, the rate I get through them, I’m bound to need one soon with everything that’s going on. Besides, if I don’t spend this money now, you can be sure someone else in my family will have a use for it.”

“Suit yourself. Hey, who’s this guy? I wonder where Collivander is.”

Tom, who had been listening, spoke. “Begging your pardon, but I couldn’t help over hear. Are you Hermione Danger? The one that Victor Dumb went out with?” Ron’s face suddenly turned scarlet.

“Yes I am. But how did you know that? You don’t go to Hogwash do you?”

“I’m friends with Dumb or Dumbo as we call him. I go to Durmprang. Or at least I did until last year. I’m joining Hogwash this year.”

“You know Victor? How is he? Why are you joining Hogwash now?” She spoke very quickly.

“He’s alright, though I’m not sure if I should be the one to tell you this but he’s got a new girlfriend.” Ron suddenly perked up. “And after the big disappearance of our headmaster, Walkeroff, my family didn’t want me staying at that place,” finished Tom. This wasn’t true at all. He’d had to come to Hogwash because his uncle had made him, now that Tom had moved in with him. But Tom didn’t want to tell people just yet about his parent’s deaths. Hermione, who didn’t seem the slightest bit upset about the news of Dumbo’s new girlfriend, simply said, “Well, I look forward to seeing you at school. What year are you going to be in?”

Ron, who had been standing there for a few minutes unusually quietly, finally butted in angrily. “Listen mate, are you gonna help me find a new wand or not?”

Hermione, suddenly taken aback, said accusingly “Sorry Ron, but we were just having a conversation. Is that not allowed anymore?” However, the real reason for Ron’s tone was because of jealousy. Tom was very tall, 6ft 5, handsome and muscular, due to his years of forging. He also had a very well defined chin and thick, wavy blonde hair. Looks that could cause many girls to become distracted.

Tom said quickly before an argument broke out, “Sorry, sir. If you could stand over here so I can take your measurements to work out the best wand for you. I just need your head circumference, bicep size and little toe diameter.”

The rest of the time in the shop was spent in silence, apart from the polite formalities that a shopkeeper must show to its customers. By the time Hermione and Ron had left the store, with Ron buying a new wand of oak, 11 inches with rat hair in its core, Diagonal alley had quietened drastically and it was time to close up shop. Tom, was still thinking about Hermione and Ron. He didn’t understand why they seemed to hate each other even though they look liked friends. Depressingly he thought to himself, at least I’ll know someone when I turn up to Hogwash as the new kid.

He went to lock the door but just before he reached it, Hermione came rushing back in. Slightly out of breath, she panted “I’m sorry about Ron. He’s a really nice person most of the time but he can just get a bit impatient sometimes. His hearts in the right place though.” What did she mean by that? Tom wondered. Does that mean she liked him as more than friends or that he wasn’t right in the head? Realising that he hadn’t replied to Hermione for some time now, he quickly said, “Don’t worry about it, I’m sure he is.”

Hermione, still looking slightly upset, said, “Well, I look forward to seeing you at Hogwash.” She was half way out the door when she stopped, turned around and asked, “What’s your name by the way?”

“Tom. Tom Collivander.”

“It’s nice to meet you Tom.” She then left and Tom started smiling to himself. Maybe this year isn’t going to be so bad after all.

*

The next week brought about the hottest weather England had experienced for decades. The sweltering heat, in the high thirties, meant that, whilst Diagonal alley became more crowded, Collivanders took a step in the other direction. Shoppers enjoyed sitting in the shade, eating ice creams or drinking cool beers, not browsing for new wands. Hence, Tom left his uncle to mind the shop and went wandering out in the street.

As he’d lived in Sweden for many years, the heat affected him more than others. Wizard clothing generally meant wearing long robes that covered your whole body but Tom couldn’t cope with that. He walked round in flip flops, shorts and a vest. As a result, he received many glances and stares from other shoppers. One woman even accused him of being a muggle.

He wandered on, without talking to anyone else, not going anywhere in particular, just enjoying the sunshine. He reached the end of the strip and went inside the Runny Cauldron. He’d been in there only a few times so far but always found it interesting to meet wizards from all walks of life.

Today was no different. The pub was packed as expected and Tom struggled to make his way to the bar but once he did, the barman, who was also called Tom, greeted him and introduced him to an older man who wore a very luxurious set of robes and a pocket watch. “Tom, this is Horace Snailshell. He’s just been to Sweden and so I thought you might like to meet him.”

“Nice to meet you Horace.”

“And you, m’boy. Tom Collivander is it?”

“Yes sir… So, where in Sweden did you go?”

“Stockholm.”

“That’s where I used to live!”

“Then you might be able to help me. I went in search for some decorations to upgrade my home.”

Tom interrupted him. “You went all the way to Sweden for some decorations!?”

Horace was taken aback by Tom’s surprise and so tried to explain. “I wanted some new sculptures and I heard rumour of a blacksmith in Stockholm with unmatched skill.”

Tom knew Horace was talking about his parents. Horace must have seen it in his expression because he asked, “You’ve heard of them haven’t you? Where are they? I couldn’t find them.”

Tom started to feel sick at the casual mention of his parents. He just managed to say, “They’re dead.”

“Good gracious! How did you find out?”

Tom was starting to hate this conversation but knew he had to get over his parents death’s eventually so persisted. “I’m their son.”

“Merlin’s beard! M’boy, I had no idea!”

Neither of them spoke for a while. Tom struggled to remain still and Horace stared at him cautiously. Eventually Horace asked casually, “How did it happen?”

Tom thought he could cope, but the way Horace had asked the last question so casually had triggered something in Tom’s brain that started to make him dislike Horace immensely. He got up from his stool, said, “I’m sorry, I can’t,” and quickly left the pub and sought the solitude of the back room in Collivanders.

Chapter 2 – The Hogwash Express

As August came to a close, Tom was actually looking forward to going to Hogwash. He couldn’t wait to get away from his uncle, not that he didn’t like his uncle. Just that he wanted some space and some new scenery. The shop was getting rather dull to him. He was also looking forward to meeting Dumby. He’d heard wonderful things about the Hogwash headmaster and wanted to experience for himself what Dumby was like.

Before he knew it, September 1st had come and Tom was heading to King’s cross station to catch the train to Hogwash. He thought it was a very odd way to get to school. To get to Durmprang, he’d taken a ship as it is completely surrounded by water to give it some extra protection.

To get onto platform 10 2/7th, you had to walk through a wall when muggles weren’t looking. As if that’s possible. A huge que of people standing in front of a wall a few times a year and then running at it, someone was bound to notice that. But apparently not.

Once through the wall, he was surprised to see the amount of students there were. Durmprang had no way near as many students. But then again, it’s up in the Arctic Circle. Who’d choose to go somewhere that cold for school?

Thinking that he might be able to sneak into the school without too much notice due to the number of students, he boarded the train and found an empty compartment, put his earphones in and started to listen to some Pink Floyd to relax.

Two years ago, Tom had very cleverly devised a spell that could make electronic devices work around wizards, something that up until his discovery, had not been achieved as far as he knew. Not two minutes had passed when the compartment door slid open and two girls walked in. They glanced over at Tom, sat down and immediately started whispering and giggling to each other. Tom was just getting to the sax solo on ‘Money’ but didn’t want to be rude so he took his earphones out and introduced himself.

“Hi, I’m Tom. I’m new here. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Oh,” said one of the girls. “Hi Tom. I’m Clara, and this is Isabelle. How come you’re only joining Hogwash now? We could do with more people like you around.”

Tom was taken aback by this complement, nevertheless, he continued as if he hadn’t heard it. “I used to go to Durmprang but left after Walkeroff’s disappearance.”

At the word Durmprang, the girls had stared at each other and giggled again. Then they turned back to Tom and Clara spoke up. “If you went to Durmprang, how come we didn’t see you last year for the quad-wizard tournament as it’s now called? Someone like you, you must have been a real contender for champion.”

Smiling, Tom replied, “I’m way too young to have been champion. I’m only 15. 16 tomorrow.”

“Ooh,” the girls said in unison.

“That means you’re in the same year as us. We’re Hufflesnuffs,” finished Isabelle rather excitedly. “Do you know what house you’ll be in?”

Tom had become very confused at this last remark. “Sorry, I’ve no idea what Hufflesnuff is.”

“It’s one of the four houses,” said Isabelle very quickly. “Every student belongs to a house at Hogwash. There are four in total. Hufflesnuff, Ravensnore, Gryffinchair and Slytherdin.”

Tom, still a bit confused, replied, “Cool. Well I don’t know which one I’m in, I guess they’ll tell me when I get there.”

Isabelle, who had taken the conversation away from the other two girls, continued, “It doesn’t work like that. You have to be sorted based on your strengths and personality.” More to herself than anyone, Clara said whilst chuckling, “He’ll have to put on the sorting shoes with the first years.”

However, she had said this rather loudly and Tom replied, “What are these sorting shoes?”

Isabelle, who gave Clara a scornful look, said, “It’s these pair of shoes that feel all the nerves in your body and feels which house you truly belong to. But it’s only for first years as that’s when you’re sorted.”

Tom, feeling nervous, said, “Surely they wouldn’t make me do anything with the first years. That would be so embarrassing.”

“Don’t worry, they probably won’t. And even if they do, everyone will really want you in their house so there’s nothing to worry about.”

“Why is that?”

Giggling slightly, Isabelle replied, “Because you’re so nice and hansom.” Tom hadn’t been expecting this. Yes, he worked out and looked after his appearance but to be openly complimented be the first girl he’d met put him in a very good mood indeed.

“Thank you. Well I hope I’m in Hufflesnuff if they’re all as awesome as you three.”

The rest of the journey was spent discussing what Hogwash was like. Tom was very interested to learn how things were done at Hogwash so he could fit in whereas Clara and Isabelle wanted to know how it compared to Durmprang. Soon, the train was rolling into Hogswine station and Tom was taken aback by how old fashioned it was. Candle lit street lamps and row of little cottages surrounded by pine trees. There were no shops or anything. Where’s the burger king!? He could really do with a burger right now. He checked his phone before realising there wouldn’t be any signal and so made a mental note to amend that as soon as possible. He hastily, put his phone back in his pocket and followed the girls off the train.

Once on the platform, Tom made to follow the girls to the carriages that lead to Hogwash but a very large man, so large in fact that Tom thought he could be a Dutch powerlifter, was calling over to him.

“Tom Collivander, over hear. You’re to come with the rest of the first years.” Immediately, the girls started to giggle again.

“It looks as if you have to go with the first years after all. Try not to fall in,” smirked Clara.

Reluctantly, Tom went over to the man and he grunted, “Alright Tom? I’m Hogrod. First years always go to Hogwash across the lake. I know you’re not exactly a first year but it’s traditional, you know.” Tom’s mind was already racing ahead and he was thinking about what everyone in the school was going to think when he turned up with a bunch of kids half his height. He merely acknowledged Hogrod and got into a boat by himself. At least the weather is good. Just be glad it’s not raining or windy, he told himself.

Once in the boats, they started to move of their own accord and Hogrod started talking and pointing things out. Unfortunately he was at the front and facing ahead so it was very hard to hear any of what he said. By the time they reached the castle, darkness had really fallen and the whole castle was lit up superbly, adding to the overall impressiveness of the place. I’ve been missing out. Hogwash seems much better than Durmprang. Why didn’t I come here in the first place?

[* Chapter 3- Dumbridge *]

They were in a large entrance hall just behind gigantic golden doors that lead to the great hall. Having left Hogrod and the boats behind, they were know waiting without knowing what was about to happen. Tom had just started to get irritated without the amount of stares he was getting from the first years when someone came up to them from a side door. She had a very straight posture and a long thin face. She looked like the sort of person that would be very difficult to cross.

“Good evening. Welcome to Hogwash. My name is Professor McMogal and I wish you all good luck for the forthcoming year. In a moment, we will enter the great hall and you will be sorted into your houses. These are Gryffinchair, Ravensnore, Hufflesnuff and Slytherdin represented by red, blue, yellow and green respectively. Mr Collivander, a word please.” She beckoned over to him.

As Tom approached, he wondered how he could have already got into trouble. “Mr Collivander, I have a letter for you from Professor Dumby and he requests that you read it now, before we go into the great hall.”

Tom, who was completely taken aback, simply replied, “Thank you Professor” and took the letter. As he went to open it, he hoped that it would tell him that he didn’t have to be sorted in front of the whole school with the first years. He couldn’t work out why else the headmaster would want to tell him something. But as he read the letter, he became both disappointed and surprised.

The letter was written in very loopy writing, the type that exists on Microsoft word but no one ever uses it because it’s so hard to read. Hence it took Tom a few minutes to work out what it said. ‘Tom, I would very much appreciate it if you were to stay behind after the feast tonight so I could have a private word with you. I imagine you were hoping to be told what house you are going to be in so that you could avoid being sorted. Unfortunately, only the sorting shoes have the power to know that. I’m sure you understand. Also, please don’t tell anyone that you are meeting with me. If your new housemates ask what you are up to, tell them that you want to explore Hogwash a bit first and that you’ll join them soon. Yours sincerely, Albus Dumby.’

The next thing he knew, the doors were opening and everyone else was walking into the hall. He quickly stuffed the letter in his pocket and followed them. As he entered the hall, he noticed all the kids at the four long benches in the hall were looking and pointing at him. The first years all around him were being completely ignored by the other students. But then again, the first years were also ignoring them. They were transfixed with the appearance of the hall. A very high ceiling that represented the sky outside so you could feel the effects of outside whilst still being inside. What a stupid idea. If I wanted to experience the weather, I’d go outside! There were also hundreds of candles floating in the air that just screamed safety hazard. They illuminated four long tables and one more at the front of the hall, filled with students and staff respectively. There were also many suits of armour and ghosts. Tom was used to this sort of presentation and grandeur. In fact Durmprang’s halls where much larger and dramatic. Hogwash was a bit disappointing in comparison. Except for the ceiling, even he had to admit that was pretty cool. Literally.

As they walked up the middle to the front, where there was an old, tattered looking pair of flip-flops placed on a rug, a few of the kids were whispering far too loudly and so Tom was able to hear some of what they said. Things like, “Have you seen the size of him. He must have binged on engorgement charms when he was younger.” Tom just laughed to himself. McMogal, who had been leading them, reached the front and stopped.

Many of the students had started to whisper but were silenced by Professor McMogal. “Your name will be called reverse alphabetically. When called, come up, put the flip-flops on and wait for their decision. Then go and join your house table,” she said all this to the first years, but then addressed the whole hall and pointed at Tom. “Thomas Collivander here, as many of you will have realised, isn’t a first year. He is joining Hogwash this year from Durmprang and will be joining 5th year. Hence he will be sorted first.” At the word Durmprang, the hall started to whisper just like Clara and Isabelle had done.

Tom, who had found his confidence from being contacted personally by Dumby, was unfazed by this and went up to the rug and put the shoes on. He wasn’t expecting what happened next. Tom started to break dance, excellently. Even though he’d never done break dancing in his life. Head spins and back flips were just two of the extravagant moves he performed. He finished with the worm and the shoes soles split open and croaked to the hall, “Ravensnore!”

At once the table to the far left exploded with cheers. Tom took off the flip-flops and went to join them but as he did so, he notice Isabelle, along with Clara, looking thoroughly disappointed.

As soon as he reached the table and sat down, Anthony Boldstein introduced himself as the Ravensnore prefect but nothing more as the rest of the sorting was yet to take place. The rest of the sorting happened without much drama. The dancing ranged from some ballet to a rather pathetic moon walk but no one was any way near as impressive as Tom had been. Some kids joined the Ravensnore table and Tom clapped along with everyone else but he knew he would never remember their names and would probably never talk to them.

After the sorting came the feast. An extraordinary amount of food appeared in front of them. Everything from full roast turkeys to sandwiches. Finally, Tom felt much more comfortable as he helped himself to as much as he could fit on his plate.

As he started to eat, Anthony re-addressed him, “So Tom, tell us a bit about yourself. Are you related to the wand maker?” It was then that Tom realised that everyone around him was eying him eagerly.

“Well,’ he said happily, “Yes, he’s my uncle but I don’t know much about wands myself. He’s never taught me. I went to Durmprang last year like McMogal said. What about you?”

Anthony replied, “I’ve been at Hogwash for four years so I’m in the same year as you. Come to think of it, I think you might be the first transfer student we’ve ever had.” The rest of what Anthony said, Tom didn’t hear. He had just spotted a very attractive girl with long dark hair further along the row from them.

“Who’s that girl?” he asked.

“What, Cho. I’d stay out of it if I were you mate. She’s a complete mess. She was Cedric Biggory’s girlfriend last year. You heard about him right?”

Tom remembered. “Oh yeah, that was awful. Now that Moldywart is back though, I guess it’s gonna happen more often now.” Anthony chocked on the piece of chicken in his mouth.

“Don’t say stuff like that man.”

“Sorry, but I heard someone say Ravensnore’s are the smartest students. Surely, you’ve realised this is happening.”

“Well yeah, I have. But no one wants to believe it. No one says it out loud. Except Harry Plotter but he’s in Gryffinchair so we don’t see him much.”

Tom tried to apologise. “Ok, sorry. I’ll try not to say it again. Thanks for the heads up about Cho as well. I’ll stay away. I’m sure there are other good looking girls available.”

The rest of the feast passed way too quickly for Tom’s liking. He could always eat when the food was this good. But soon, the food had vanished and everyone was looking up at the staff table. Dumby had got up. He was quite tall, with a ludicrously long, silver beard and he wore a pointed wizard’s hat.

“Welcome everyone, Hogwash has greatly missed you. I hope you have all had relaxing summers and you haven’t caused too much trouble.” He definitely looked over at the Gryffinchair table to roughly where Harry Plotter was sitting as he said this. “A new year is upon us and I hope you all have enough room in your head for some more learning. Firstly however, I must inform first years that the deadly forest is out of bounds because we keep stuff in there that can rip you apart. The clue is the name, you’d think people could work it out for themselves.” Tom laughed but he was nudged by Anthony so stopped. “Secondly, Mr Wilch has asked me to remind all students that a number of magical objects are banned in the corridors which now includes knee-cap bighting baseballs. A full list of objects can be found in Mr Wilch’s office. Thirdly, I am delighted to welcome Professor Dumbridge to the staff line up this year.” There was mild applause. “She will be taking over from Professor Rudy as our new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher. Fourthly, I would like to bring all your attention to,” he broke off. Professor Dumbridge had stood up. She walked around the table and Dumby politely moved out of the way so she could have centre stage.

“Good evening Hogwash students! I’m a former employee of the Ministry of magic and require just a few moments of your time tonight. I would like to inform all of you that you are about to have a bad year.” This got everyone’s attention. “Unless of course, you follow my instructions and help me out.” At this, almost everyone turned back to their friends. “The Ministry understands how important the magical learning for young people is. However, we have issues with some of the practises carried out here.”

Only a few people seemed to still be listening. A few Ravensnores including Tom, a couple of Slytherdins, Hermione Danger and Dumby, that was it. The speech rolled on for a good fifteen minutes all about how the Ministry of magic wants to control everything done at Hogwash and how Dumby is too old to teach. By the end, Dumbridge seemed, if anything, rather happy that almost no one had listened to her. She went to sit back down again and it was only when Dumby started talking again that people realised she had finished.

“Now that Professor Dumbridge has FINALLY finished her speech, I will wrap up mine. I speak to everyone when I say, Eeyore, chocolate spread, Gimli, knitting. Now off to bed, the lot of ya.”

With that, everyone started to leave the hall as quickly as possible, with no one seeming puzzled by what Dumby had just said. Tom was very confused by this but he was also happy that no one badgered him about why he wasn’t leaving the hall. It seemed at this moment in time, people were more interested in their beds than anything else. Soon it was just Tom and Dumby left. They met in the middle of the room.

“Tom. It is very nice to meet you.”

“And you.”

“Are you enjoying Hogwash so far?” Dumby asked politely.

“It seems nice enough but I can’t properly evaluate it until I’ve found out some secrets it has.”

“Just as I expected. I heard you were of a keener mind than the usual idiots that come to this school.” Tom then interrupted Dumby’s chain of thought.

“You didn’t hire Dumbridge did you, headmaster?”

“No I didn’t Tom. But I couldn’t find anyone to take the job so the Ministry forced her on us.” There was a moment’s pause and then Dumby continued. “Let us walk.”

They walked for a minute or so, in silence. Tom was too busy admiring Hogwash to speak. Dumby started the conversation back up once they reached a corridor with moving paintings.

“I’m sure you’re wondering why I wanted to meet with you Tom. Well, I wanted to ask you if you know anything about the disappearance of Walkeroff.”

“No sir, I haven’t heard anything.”

“Ok. Fair enough. I was hoping for more but alas.” Although his face didn’t look like he was expecting any more from Tom. “Ah, hear we are,” he said as they reached their destination. They were standing in front of a giant eagle with a circular staircase poking out of the floor. “Tom, this is the entrance to my office. Few students get to come in here so you get to experience one of Hogwash’s hidden gems already. But first, I need to ask you a question. Do you believe in the return of Lord Moldywart?”

Tom didn’t hesitate one bit. “Yes of course. My uncle always speaks very highly of you and hence as soon as you announced to the world of his return, I believed. The papers are clearly blinded. The daily preacher seems to want to convince everyone he’s not back but I can’t understand why.”

Dumby hadn’t expected an answer as strong and excellent as this one and looked at Tom in a new light. “That’s wonderful to hear Tom. I thought you would believe but I had to check. Now you may enter my office.”

All of sudden, Tom’s hearing became fuzzy. Almost as if his ears had been filled with an un-tuned radio signal. Next second, they were back to normal and the staircase had started to move.

“After you Tom.”

The moving staircase took them up three stories and they arrived at a bronze door with a lion’s head knocker. “Why is the statue an eagle and the knocker a lion?” Tom asked. “Very astute Tom. It is because they are two of the four creatures that represent the houses of Hogwash.”

“What are the others?”

“I will show you.”

Dumby opened the door to a large, open room on three levels. Filled with such a random collection of tools and instruments. The walls were lined with portraits of witches and wizards all staring down at them, the tables were filled with objects that seemed to have no purpose and the ceiling was covered in rags. Dumby sat down behind the desk and Tom sat in the chair opposite.

Dumby spoke again, “This,” pulling out something from his draw, “is a serpent cigarette lighter and up there,” he indicated to the next level, “is a badger telescope.”

Tom found this odd. “Why are Ravensnore and Gryffinchair part of the school and yet Hufflesnuff and Slytherdin are just objects?”

“To tell you the truth, Slytherdin and Hufflepuff aren’t liked very much so we didn’t bother engraving them into the school… Now, I have a few more things I want to say. I want to say I was sad to hear of your parents deaths and I want you to know that you have my sympathies.”

Tom merely nodded, he still wasn’t comfortable talking about it. Dumby seemed to realise this as he carried on without question. “Also, I want to ask you for a favour. You can of course, say no. But if you are willing, I would like you to meet Professor Snipe after your first potions class and assist him with a project he is currently working on. He will explain what when you meet him. All I can say is it will require you to help him for an hour each day this week. Will you carry out this mystery favour?”

Tom took some time to think about this. He had no idea who Professor Snipe was but didn’t really want to do it. He was planning to spend the first week familiarising himself with Hogwash and making friends with as many people as possible. However, he didn’t want to let Dumby down. He thought Dumby could be the most important friend he might make hence Tom decided that this mystery venture would be worth wile.

“Yes, I’ll do it Professor.”

“Excellent. Well, that concludes our meeting tonight. I will contact you again in due time. Until then, enjoy your first few weeks at Hogwash and stay out of trouble.”

He grinned and showed Tom to the door. “Oh, Tom. You’ll need to know how to get to your bed, I almost forgot. You’re in Ravensnore, so your house is at the top of Ravensnore tower on the west side of the castle. The quickest way to get there from here is to simply go left out of here to the main staircase. Go all the way to the top and then take a right, followed by a sharp left. Go down that corridor till you come to a fork. Go left again and down two flights of stairs. Next, go straight ahead until you reach a very talkative suit of armour, who will try and direct you the wrong way so do the opposite of whatever he says and you’ll make it to the door, which has a raven on it.”

Tom wasn’t sure if Dumby was playing a joke on him or not. Nevertheless he followed the directions and about ten minutes later, the suit of armour came into view. Realising that the instructions were correct and therefore weren’t a joke he thought sarcastically, they like to make it easy don’t they.

As he came to the suit of armour, he was expecting another stupidly complicated set of instructions which he had to do the opposite of.

“Stop! You can’t go down here, there’s a vicious four headed mouse that’s hungry.”

“Fat chance,” Tom replied and continued on course. He was happy to see no four headed mouse as he rounded the corner but a door with an eagle on. He’d made it.

But it only dawned on him then that he’d need a password to get in and no one had given him it. It must have been about 1 o’clock in the morning. No one else had been in the corridors, what was he going to do. But then he realised that the door had a knocker on it. Once Tom knocked, a clear voice echoed around the hallway, “Who’s the greatest wizard to ever live?”

Tom answered, “How do you define greatness?”

The eagle reasoned his answer and the said, “Fair point,” and the door swung open to a very large, circular room with very comfortable chairs, bookshelves and a domed ceiling. The carpets were midnight blue and the whole place had an airy feeling. Only two students still remained in the common room.

Two guys, who looked like seventh years, were animatedly discussing their various adventures during the summer. Tom, not wanting to intrude, walked straight towards the door marked as bedrooms but before he reached it, one of the guys called over.

“Hey, you’re that new guy in 5th year aren’t you? Tom Collivander?”

“Yeah, that’s me. Who are you two?”

“I’m Mark and this is Ryan. How come you’ve only just got into the common room now?”

Tom had to quickly think of an answer. “I just wanted to explore the castle for a bit to get familiar with the place but I got lost.”

They didn’t seem to question this at all. Ryan simply said, “Those staircases can be really annoying sometimes” and went back to describing the mountain biking holiday he went on in the summer to Mark.

With that, Tom walked over to the door to the dormitories and called back, “Night”, to which Mark and Ryan grunted a response and Tom left the room. He found a corridor with doors on both sides labelled with year groups. Girls on the right, boys on the left. Finally, some sensible layout! He went through the 5th year boy’s door to find a smaller, circular corridor that had 5 doors with names on. He found the one with Tom Collivander on and entered to find a large bedroom, with king size bed, desk, chairs, sofa, wardrobe, bookshelf and an en-suite. Tom’s luggage was in a corner but he was too tired to unpack now. He got into bed and immediately was surrounded in comfort. He fell asleep within seconds.

Chapter 4 – Snipe’s task

Tom woke up at 7 o’clock the next morning. Fully relaxed and happy at how the previous day had gone. He got dressed and went to knock on the doors of the other 5th year boys to meet them. However, no one answered. Tom presumed they must all be asleep and so left the dormitories and thought he’d go down to breakfast and hopefully meet some people there.

In the common room however, Mark was there drawing some sort of diagram on a piece of parchment. He saw Tom and called over, “Morning Tom! Want to get some breakfast?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Cool, let’s go down.”

Tom was quite fortunate to run into Mark. He didn’t know how to get to the great hall and so was glad to have someone to follow. “So Mark, what year are you in?”

“I’m in my seventh. Final year. So I know enough about this place. I can help you out if you’re ever stuck.”

“Thanks. That could come in handy.”

“No problem. To be honest, I was hoping to run into you this morning. I wanted to ask you if you play Quidditch.”

“Yeah, I’ve played a bit.”

“I thought you must do. You’ve got the build for it. Do you know Victor Dumb? He went to Durmprang too didn’t he?” At the first mention of Quidditch, Tom had thought Mark was just another fanboy of Dumbo.

Disheartened, he said, “Yeah I know Victor a bit. We talk every now and then. He actually helps me out with my Quidditch sometimes.”

“That’s amazing! What position do you play?”

“Beater.”

“Awesome! Me too! I’m Ravensnore Quidditch captain and we need a new beater, and chaser. You should come to try-outs. They’re on Saturday morning.”

Maybe he is actually interested in me. Tom wasn’t sure if he wanted to play Quidditch this year but didn’t want to be rude so he said, “Sounds good. I’ll think about it.”

They reached the great hall in about 10 minutes. It didn’t seem to take very long when walking with Mark but Tom had been listening too hard to concentrate on the route that they had taken and so wouldn’t be able to get there that quickly next time.

As soon as they entered, a member of staff came hurrying over to them who looked like a child but had an excellent moustache. “Tom. Tom. How do you do? I’m Professor Funwick, I’m your head of house.”

Mark butted in, “Morning Professor. Had a good summer?”

They fist bumped and Funwick replied, laughing “It was pretty good Mark. How was yours?”

“Ah you know, could have been worse.” They both smiled at each other and Mark went to sit down at the Ravensnore table.

Funwick turned back to Tom. “Where was I? Oh yes, Tom you’ll need a timetable from me. Here you go.” He had made one appear out of thin air and passed it to him. “If you need anything else, don’t hesitate to ask. Oh, and I’m the charms teacher by the way. Have a good term.”

“Thanks Professor,” and with that, Professor Funwick went back to the staff table.

Tom re-joined Mark at the Ravensnore table where he was already digging into a huge plate of bacon and eggs. Tom, seeing the food, longingly said, “That looks amazing.”

“Here you go,” Mark said, passing him a plate that he’d already prepared.

“Brilliant! Thanks a bunch.”

And with that, he buried his face into a mouth-watering pile of bacon. A few moments passed where they just ate and ate, then Mark broke the silence. “I see you can eat like me. Ryan will have some serious competition this year.” Tom had been too occupied with his food to hear properly.

“What was that?”

”Ryan is Hogwash’s eating champion. He finally took the crown from me last year.”

“That’s awesome. We never had any competitions like that at Durmprang.”

“Really? We have lots. Best eater, best dresser, best haircut… Toby Fallow has these pointed dreadlocks, they’re awesome!”

Tom agreed and started thinking about what he could win. Noticing Mark watching him, he quickly said, “Hey, what was that with you and Professor Funwick?”

Mark just smiled again and replied, “Oh nothing. We just get on well with each other.” It was clear that Mark wasn’t going to elaborate on this so Tom continued eating until a beautiful Ravensnore girl came and sat down next to Mark and kissed him. She was normal height, had long, blonde hair and a rounded face, like a Disney character.

“Ella! It’s so great to see you. It’s been so long. Did you have a good summer?”

From this moment onwards, Tom was completely ignored. He could understand Mark’s behaviour though. If he had a girlfriend like that and hadn’t seen her for two months, he’d probably be equally oblivious to everything else.

Tom finished his breakfast in silence and went off to his first lesson. Defence against the Dark Arts. Tom had been looking forward to it as it was his best subject at Durmprang and he always preferred doing something to just listening and reading. But then he remember that it was going to be taught by that Ministry woman, Dumbridge.

Luckily, the parchment with his timetable on had a map on the other side and so he arrived at Defence against the Dark Arts with time to spare. There, he met Hermione Danger who had been standing outside the door by herself. Tom was quite happy to find her on her own. “Hey Hermione!”

“Hi Tom. How are you?” she sounded just as happy to see Tom as Tom was to see her.

“Great thanks. Hogwash seems really cool and I’ve met a few people already. How come you’re here before anyone else?”

“I wanted to make sure I wasn’t late for Dumbridge since she works for the Ministry.”

Tom applied some quick thinking, “Yeah, me too. I thought it was funny how she said she was a former employee and yet she rambled on about carrying out the Ministry’s instructions.”

Hermione beamed at him. “You listened to her speech too!” she exclaimed. “I’m so glad. I wanted to discuss it with someone but my other friends are pretty lazy and switched off, like most people, when Dumbridge started talking.”

Tom felt happy. “Yeah, I listened to it. It was boring but very important and informative,” he replied. He was about to continue but the majority of the class had just turned up and the classroom door was opening. Dumbridge invited them in and Tom made to sit with Hermione but that Ron kid had turned up with the boy who lived and they had immediately gone to her.

Not wanting to intrude, Tom took a seat at the back of the class as he didn’t know anyone else and they had all sat with friends. Once everyone was settled, Dumbridge addressed the class in the same dreary tone she had used in the start of term feast. “Welcome to Defence against the Dark Arts 5th years. This year’s study is your most important to date as you will sit you C.A.T’s at the end of the year. Therefore you must follow my instructions closely if you wish to succeed. My class will be a bit different to your previous years of experience in this subject. I gather that you have been taught by a different teacher each year and that none of your teachers have been any good and they didn’t follow any Ministry teaching guidelines, except perhaps Professor Quiver.”

At this Harry Trotter shouted out, “Oh yeah Quiver was great, apart from the small fact that he had Lord Moldywart sticking out the back of his head like a massive cyst.”

Tom heard Hermione groan and he himself thought that whilst Harry had guts to keep to the truth, he was a complete idiot for shouting about it to a Ministry official who had lots of power over him. Dumbridge retaliated just as Tom had expected.

“Detention Mr Trotter! I will not have you convey lies in my class.”

“It’s not a lie. It was this big ugly bulge, looked like a cyst with eyes and a nose. How can you be so dumb!?” The word dumb seemed to have struck a nerve in Dumbridge (three guesses why). She almost screamed, “See me after class Trotter and if you speak another syllable during the rest of this class, I will turn you into a slug so I can disintegrate you with salt if you annoy me again.”

Harry replied “Yes Miss,” with a scolding expression, to which Dumbridge retorted with a vicious smile.

“Those are more syllables. Get over here now.”

Ron joined in. “Professor, that’s not fair. He was just,”

“Shut up Ron,” Harry whispered.

To the surprise of everyone, including Dumbridge, Harry got up and walked over to her. “Go on then. Do it, if you’ve got the guts.”

They stared at each other in pure loathing. Eventually, Dumbridge turned away and said, “I’ll forgive you this time Trotter but be warned.” Harry returned to his seat with a huge expression of satisfaction. Tom privately thought that Harry was a big show off and it wasn’t him being threatening that stopped Dumbridge. More the possibility that she didn’t know how to transform Harry into a slug in the first place.

The rest of the lesson was spent in silence, reading some stupid book that was supposed to teach defence but it didn’t mention much magic at all. All it really said was how to escape from a fright by using disguises and hiding places. It was extremely dull. Although, despite Tom thinking it was a book for pathetic people, he still took a few pointers from it that he thought he could combine with his magic in real life.

Tom couldn’t understand Dumbridge. He thought that even though he knew she wasn’t a real teacher, to actually stop them from learning the subject was too far. She was effectively trying to make them become cowards who would have no chance in defending themselves from anyone.

It was, without a doubt, the worst defence lesson Tom had ever participated in. Although, he was used to excellent ones since he’d been at Durmprang for four years where they had taught how to freeze people, wipe their memories and control their bodies.

When the bell rang, everyone left except Harry who trudged up to Dumbridge’s desk. Tom though this would be a good time to talk to Hermione again. As soon as they left the classroom, Tom went over to her. “Hey Hermione, I was wondering if you could help me out with classes and stuff. We could also talk more about you-know-what.”

Ron, who was standing next to her, looked horror struck. Hermione however, seemed slightly taken aback but then replied “Yeah ok. I have quite a busy schedule but I’m free on Saturday morning, does that suit you?”

Tom had decided he was definitely going to Quidditch trials, one breakfast with Mark was enough to know that they would get on well together and it would be a real laugh. So, disappointed, Tom replied “Sorry, I’m not. I’ve got Quidditch trials at 10.” But Hermione didn’t seem bothered by this.

“That’s alright. I’ll come down to the Quidditch pitch and we can talk before and after. Shall we meet around 9:30?”

Delighted, Tom said, “Yes, that sounds great. I’ll see you there then.” With that he headed off to his next lesson, after a quick “Alright mate?” to Ron who just stared back at him.

The rest of the day passed without much incident. He met a few people at lunch, Terry Sleeve and Michael Roundabout, who seemed ok but a tad boring. Nothing else happened until his last class of the day, Potions. As he entered the dark, dungeon classroom, he noticed that the separate houses were sitting on their own tables so Tom went to sit with the other Ravensnores. There was Anthony Boldstein, Michael Roundabout, Terry Sleeve and Podma Fatil. The guys greeted him friendly and Podma introduced herself. But before they could get any further, Professor Snipe started to speak. He was a ghostly man, with a mop for hair and he spoke in a low, sinister voice.

“This year you will be sitting your C.A.T’s as you well know. Therefore most of you must put in more effort than you have in previous years if you wish to pass.” As he said this, he glanced over at the Gryffinchair table. “I would like to welcome Mr Collivander to the class and I hope, for his sake, that he is better you lot.”

Tom was surprised to hear him talk to his class like this but no one seemed to react. Snipe carried on as if he did this every day. “Now, today you will be constructing a potion known as the Wrath of Poseidon. Instructions are on the board.” They appeared with a wave of his wand. “Begin.” With that he went and sat down at his desk at the front and closed his eyes.

Everyone around Tom was already starting their potions when Tom looked away from Snipe. He quickly started to read the instructions. Snipe appeared to be one of those teachers who scared the class and so they did exactly what he said without question and so Tom wanted to do a good job on his first potion.

Overall, he thought that it hadn’t gone too badly. At the end of the lesson he carried over a sample of his potion to Snipe’s desk whilst looking around at everyone else’s and noticed that most people’s potions were worse than his. Some were completely the wrong colour, some were smoking, some were thicker than tar and one had exploded out of the cauldron. That was Harry’s. Tom wasn’t too impressed with Harry Trotter so far from what he’d seen of him. Tom had expected him to be rather intelligent since there was so much hype about him but it appeared not.

His attention then turned to the task that Dumby had set him. One lesson with Professor Snipe had put Tom off the task considerably but he had promised Dumby and he keeps his promises. Hence, it was with a heavy heart that he stayed behind after class when everyone else had gone for dinner. Tom approached Snipe and spoke, “Sir, I’ve been instructed by Professor Dumby to help you out with whatever it is you need help with.”

Snipe replied in his snide voice, “I am aware.” But then he perked up slightly. “I’m happy to see that you have agreed. Today I would like you clear out the store cupboard of all the rotting ingredients by hand. Nothing more, nothing less.” With that, he turned back to his marking of the class’ potions.

Reluctantly, Tom set to work. He couldn’t understand why he should have to do this as a student but he was clever enough to realise that Dumby must have his reasons and so he completed the task without question in about an hour. Once finished, he told Snipe who replied, “Good. Let’s take a look… This is a good effort Tom and your potion was one of the best as well. Carry on performing like this and good things will happen. I expect you back here tomorrow at the same time. But be warned, you’ve now set the bar for what I expect of you from now on.”

Tom left without another word and hurried to the great hall, hoping that there was still food left. He was fortunate to see there was food still on the tables. He hurriedly sat down and pulled a plate of chicken wings towards him but at he did so, they vanished along with everything else. Thoroughly disappointed, Tom walked back to Ravensnore common room using his map and found Terry Sleeve by himself. “Hey Tom, where were you at dinner?”

“I missed it,” Tom said rather annoyed. “What are you up too?”

“Just homework. Do you want to do it with me?”

Tom, who knew he wouldn’t need much time to do his homework had thought about working out. He said, “Nah, I was actually going to go to the gym. Do you know where it is?”

Terry looked slightly taken aback. “I don’t think Hogwash has one.”

Shocked, Tom retorted with a raised voice, “Seriously! There’s no gym at all! What do you guys do with your free time around here?”

“We spend most of it doing work to be honest, then just other stuff. Talking, practising spells and just chilling out.”

“Suit yourself,” said Tom and he went off to his bedroom.

Tom was a very productive person. He couldn’t just sit around and talk for too long and so if Hogwash didn’t have a gym, he’d just have to workout in his room. Half way into his last set of push-ups, his bedroom door opened and Terry came in.

“Hey, Tom. I hope you’re alright. You seemed a bit agitated earlier.” Tom finished his set before replying.

“Yeah, I’m fine now. I was just in shock that there isn’t a gym here. I didn’t mean to get angry with you, sorry about that.”

As Tom got up, Terry noticed just how ripped and muscular he was as he’d been shirtless since he thought he was in private. In awe, Terry replied. “I can see now why you were so upset.” Tom felt weird at being complemented by another dude.

“Thanks, I guess. Listen, I’m finished now so I’m gonna get a shower.”

“Cool, well I’ll see you tomorrow Tom,” and he left.

Tom spend the rest of the evening doing his homework alone, which took about 5 minutes, and then he memorised the map of Hogwash he’d been given. Something that would have taken most students a week at least with all its moving staircases and random alcoves that led nowhere.

The next day, he ate breakfast with Terry and Michael who asked him to call them T and Mike. Tom didn’t particularly like them and felt ridiculous calling Terry T but he wanted to get to know as many people as he could because it could come in handy later. He also didn’t want to eat by himself.

Today the post arrived by owls whilst they were eating. Tom was surprised so many owls entered the hall where they could cause so much mess over everyone’s food. He smiled to himself as he thought about everyone still using owls, when he could just use his phone to send a text rather than relying on owls to deliver messages which took far longer and wasn’t entirely reliable. After breakfast, he headed off to his first lesson of the day. Charms.

He entered the classroom to find it was already full. Disappointed that he’d have to sit by himself, Tom walked over to front row but before he got there he heard his name being called. “Tom. Tom over hear.” It was Isabelle. She was sitting with Clara but there was an empty space on their table.

“Hey Isabelle, Clara.”

“Tom, you can sit with us if you like.” Isabelle said this in a rather hopeful way. She was therefore happy to see that Tom sat down.

“Thanks. I’m glad you two are here. I thought I was going to have to sit by myself.”

“Don’t be silly. I’m sure lots of people want to sit with you.” Professor Funwick came over at that moment.

“Tom, ladies. Less talk, more practise please. Let me see you try the enlargement charm.” Clara went first, her mango doubled in size but then instantly shrunk again when she stopped the spell. Isabelle was a bit better. Her apple only grew to the size of an orange but it remained that size for a full minute, before exploding and covering the four of them in juice. Tom however managed to increase the size of his grape to the size of a watermelon. Professor Funwick looked elated. “Brilliant Tom. I can see the sorting hat made a correct decision to put you in my house.” As soon as he walked off Isabelle started talking again, “That was amazing! Will you teach me how to do that?”

“Me too,” added Clara.

Happy that Tom had impressed them, he set to work helping them out and by the end of the lesson, their charms had seen a vast improvement. “You’re a great teacher Tom,” said Clara admiringly.

“Yeah you are,” added Isabelle.

“Thanks,” Tom replied. He didn’t really know what else to say. It looked like the girls wanted him to say something else but since he didn’t, they said goodbye and left.

The rest of the day passed without incident. Tom spent some of it thinking about Isabelle and Clara. He thought they were interested in him but he wasn’t sure if he felt the same way. There was nothing wrong with them, it was just that they weren’t really his type. He also had the image of Hermione in the back of his mind. Tom was definitely more interested in her.

At 6 o’clock, Tom went to Professor Snipe’s aid just as he’d promised. Today, Snipe asked him to count out all the supplies that were left in the cupboard and label everything. If anything, this work was even duller than the previous days but just like yesterday, Tom didn’t complain. He just got on with the work and finished as quickly as he could. He raced out of the dungeon to the hall in the hope that there would be some food left this time. He was unlucky again. The food had gone. Two missed meals in 24 hours was much worse to Tom than doing the boring work for Snipe. Reluctantly, he dragged himself back to Ravensnore tower where he met Mark and Ryan who had been lurking round a corner close to the door, whispering frantically.

“Mark, Ryan, what are you up to?”

“Oh hey Tom. Where have you been? We haven’t seen you at dinner at all. I’ve been wanting you to show Ryan what you’re capable of,” said Mark with a grin.

“I’ve missed both dinner’s so far,” Tom replied, grudgingly.

Ryan said, “Are you ill?”

“Not at all, I’m really hungry. I’ve just been busy.”

“We can solve that. We have the secret to never going hungry again but you have to promise that you will keep it a secret unless exceptional circumstances deliver themselves just like they are now,” said Ryan happily.

“How come I qualify to know this secret?”

“You’re a special breed Tom. You know how to eat like a man.”

Tom laughed. “Thanks. So what is this secret?”

Mark answered, “You can get into the kitchens through a painting down in the basement. All you have to do is flick the grape hanging out of a basket of fruit in one of the paintings down there. The painting will swing open revealing the kitchen. Once in, there are hundreds of house elves who are really friendly and will give you whatever you ask for. How good is that?”

Tom was wonderstruck. “You’re not pulling my leg are you? This is real?”

“Absolutely. Just don’t go telling people. We’ve now told you and only two other people. Fred and George Weaselby in Gryffinchair. Oh and if the elves ask how you got in, just mention us.”

Tom was delighted. “Thanks so much. I’m going there now, I’ll see you around.”

He sprinted down to the corridor as quickly as he could, elated that he was going to eat after all. He found the painting and flicked the grape just as instructed. Mark and Ryan had been serious. The painting swung open and Tom stepped inside to a sea of house elves. At once, a few came up to him and asked him how he had found out how to get in.

“Mark and Ryan told me, I hope its ok.”

“Of course,” said one of them. “Anyone who is a friend of Mark or Ryan is a friend of ours. What would you like?”

Tom didn’t want to sound greedy, “Well I missed dinner so can I have some of whatever is left over?” At once, a few more house elves appeared carrying a huge array of meats and sides.

“Please pick whatever you want.”

“That turkey looks great. Could I get a few turkey sandwiches please?” A house elf brought the requested sandwiches, 6 of them!

“Here you go sir.”

“There’s no need to call me sir, my name is Tom. Thank you all so much.” He took the sandwiches.

“We are happy to help Tom. I’m Bonky. Come back as much as you desire.” Bonky was slightly taller than the rest of the house elves and had a much deeper voice. Tom made a mental note to remember him and to always be kind to the house elves from now on. It pays well to have friends in all kinds of places and besides, they had been really friendly and helpful. Tom said goodbye and left the kitchen. He decided to go for an evening stroll in the grounds as he was yet to explore them and it was a perfect evening weather wise.

Tom enjoyed his turkey sandwiches very much whilst walking in the peace and quiet. As he walked across a bridge, looking out at the beautiful landscape, he realised that Mark had now manage to avoid answering his questions on multiple occasions. However, he’d also been extremely useful. Tom decided to really try in the up-coming Quidditch try-outs. He figured that his friendship with Mark and Ryan would rest on the outcome of his performance and he really wanted to keep them as friends.

As he headed east, he came across the owlery and he then realised that he was yet to sort out a phone signal for Hogwash. The owlery looked like a good place to sort it out. It was tall and had a clear view of the surroundings. So he went inside and went to the very top. Thankfully it was deserted. Must be homework time, he thought sarcastically. He then set to work, muttering a steady incantation. The entire process took about 10 minutes but once he was finished, it was perfect. The great thing about a magical phone signal is that, providing you have some, it will always be as strong as possible.

As he made his way back down to the ground, a few owls came flew close to him and one tried to bite him. Tom, remembering why he’d never got on with owls, quickened his pace to get away from the birds before things got worse.

Chapter 5 – Quidditch try-outs

Wednesday and Thursday played out with nothing interesting happening. Tom continued to sit with the people he’d already met in lessons, he kept working out in his room and he carried on with Snipe’s pointless and boring potion tasks. Which also meant he’d been to the kitchens for dinner twice more to which Bonky, along with the other house elves, had seemed delighted. Tom had also found a fridge in his room that he’d somehow managed to miss before. Which meant that he could store some food in there when the house elves gave him more than enough.

On Friday however, Tom went to Professor Snipe’s classroom just as before but when he entered, he found Snipe waiting for him. “Collivander, you have completed stupid tasks this week that have been boring.” Tom was wondering why Snipe had set them, if he thought them to be stupid too. “The purpose of these tasks was not to see if you could complete them. It was to see if you would continue to do them even though you were bored and felt like you had much more productive things to do with your time.”

Tom understood at last. Dumby had been testing him on his loyalty. Snipe continued, “You have performed better than I would have expected. I will inform the headmaster of your accomplishment. However, before you leave today I have one more task for you.” Snipe read Tom’s face. “Don’t worry, it’s not a mundane task like before. I would like you to produce a sample of strengthening potion. This is meant to be tough so don’t worry if you don’t get it quite right. You may use the ingredients in the store cupboard and I have a cauldron set up ready. Here are the instructions.” They appeared on the blackboard.

Tom looked at them for a few seconds. He didn’t think he’d ever seen a potion this complex before. “Any questions?” finished Snipe.

“Yes sir. It says goat hair is needed for this potion but there aren’t any in the store cupboard.” Snipe smiled at him.

“Very good, Tom. Well remembered. I can see Dumby was right about you… I have some here.” Snipe passed the dragon claw over to Tom.

With that, Tom set to work. Two hours later, Tom had finished and had thought he might have done a good enough job to impress Snipe. When Snipe inspected it, he spent quite a while, much longer than he did normally for a potion. Tom watched him bent low over his cauldron. Hopefully he won’t ruin it with his hair gel. When he finally brought his greasy mop away from the potion, he said, “It looks as if you’ve done quite a good job but I can’t be sure until it is tested. Will you try it?” Tom was quite shocked. He didn’t yet trust Snipe and thought this could be a trap. He felt unsure but he could feel Snipe’s breath on him and knew he had to say something.

“I’ll try it if you do.” He’d not really meant to say that and he felt like it was a mistake as soon as the words came out of his mouth. However, to his surprise, Snipe actually laughed.

“Well played Tom. It would have been foolish for you to accept. This was a test of my own. Your potion wouldn’t have worked. I would never have expected a fifth year to make it right, most seventh years wouldn’t. I’m happy to say that you’ve passed and that you’ve just become my favourite student. You may leave.”

Tom was still slightly bewildered but said, “Thank you sir,” and left.

*

Tom woke up early on Saturday. He was aching to get back on a broomstick and so struggled to sleep. He thought he’d go down to the pitch early to get warmed up. As he entered the great hall for breakfast, he found Cho sitting by herself which he found odd as she usual had people around her at all times.

Tom sat down next to her. “Morning, Cho. I’m Tom. We haven’t met yet but Anthony Boldstein told me who you are.”

“Hi Tom. I’ve heard a lot about you. I’m glad we’re finally meeting.”

“Have you?” he asked in surprise.

“Oh yes. Didn’t you know? You’re all some people talk about.”

“I had no idea. Who talks about me?”

Cho giggled. “I won’t give away their secret.”

Tom wasn’t bothered enough to interrogate further. “Fair enough. How come you’re having breakfast by yourself?”

“Oh, I just fancied some time alone.”

“Would you like me to give you some peace?”

“Oh no, Tom don’t go. I just meant I didn’t want to be with my friends. Please, stay.”

“Alright then.” He piled slices of toast onto his plate and said, “What’s up?”

“Nothing much,” she replied. They sat in an uncomfortable silence for a few seconds.

Eventually, Cho broke the deadlock. “Err, do you play Quidditch?”

Relieved he they could talk about something, he enthusiastically replied, “Yeah, a bit. I’m actually going to go to the try-outs this morning. Mark asked me to come along.”

“That’s awesome! I’m the Ravensnore seeker. It would be really cool if you got on the team too. What position are you going for?”

“I’m a beater.”

“Fantastic! Mark needs a partner. I really hope you get it Tom.”

Tom smiled, wondering why she was so hopeful for him when they barely knew each other. “Thanks Cho. To tell you the truth, people warned me to stay away from you but you seem really cool, I can’t understand what the fuss was about.”

“Why have you been warned about me?” she asked in an accusing tone.

“It was just something like, you often cry,” Tom said rather tactlessly.

Cho seemed to get agitated at this. “Well do people expect me to just forget about what happened last year?”

“Cho, I’m not saying that, it’s just what I’ve heard. I judge a person on what I think of them, not what I’m told, and you seem alright to me.”

She relaxed a bit. “Thanks Tom. It’s nice to hear that. It’s just sometimes I get really upset when I think about Cedric and I can’t control my emotions. I want to talk about it but no one will listen.”

Tom was treading on dangerous waters and chose his next words rather carefully. “I don’t know exactly what happened last year because I wasn’t here but if you ever need help with anything, I’m here… But not right now, I want to go down to the pitch before everyone else.” He didn’t want to go down to warm up anymore. He’d just seen Hermione get up from the Gryffinchair table and she was heading out of the hall.

Cho looked relieved, “I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks. I’ll see you down there, I’m waiting for the rest of the team. Good luck Tom.” She beamed at him. Tom turned away with slightly raised spirits and headed off after Hermione.

He caught up her just as she was entering the grounds. He called after her, “Hermione, wait up.”

“Hey Tom, I wasn’t sure if you were going to turn up or not since we haven’t talked since we arranged to meet. But here you are.”

“I wouldn’t ever stand you up Hermione. But you’re always with Ron and Harry in lessons and I don’t know them so I don’t want to interrupt.”

“Don’t worry about Ron and Harry, they’re really nice.”

“No offence, but from what I’ve seen of them so far, they seem pretty idiotic. You’d think Harry would have more sense than to have a shouting match with Dumbridge.” She didn’t look offended at all.

“Honestly, I agree with you. But he has got a lot on his plate so cut him sum slack.”

Tom shrugged. “Fair enough. So, how have you been?”

“Not too bad. I’m already studying hard for our exams and so I don’t have much free time, but it will be worth it in the end.” Tom looked at her in astonishment.

“You should be in Ravensnore with brains like yours. I’ve noticed you in class, always knowing the right answer.” She blushed.

“Thanks Tom but the sorting flip flops are never wrong.”

They had reached the Quidditch pitch. “After you,” said Tom, remembering his manners. They walked up to the nearest stand and sat down and faced each other.

“So what can I help you with Tom?”

Tom shrugged again, “To be honest, not much. I think I’ve got the hang of things quite well by myself.”

Hermione seemed a little annoyed. “Then what did you want to meet for?” she said in a raised tone.

Tom had to think quickly. In truth, he just wanted to spend some time with Hermione alone. There was something about her that made him feel good but he didn’t want to tell her that. “Err, I was just wondering if the teachers we have always act how they have done this week? Also, what do you think of Dumbridge?”

She took a bit of time to ponder his question. “Most of the teachers are really helpful and friendly but they are strict though. But Professor Snipe is probably the worst.”

Tom was surprised to hear her answer. He raised an eyebrow. “Really? I know he’s a bit creepy but he seems alright to me.”

“I’m surprised, I thought only Slytherdins like him. What makes you think he’s alright?”

“He seems pretty chill even if his methods are a bit extreme. I’ve been helping him out every evening this week and he seems to like me.” Tom had forgotten that he was meant to keep that particular information secret. Something about being with Hermione had relaxed him.

“What do you mean, you’ve been helping him out?” she said quickly, shocked.

Trying to cover up his mess, Tom replied “It’s nothing. He just needed a pair of extra hands and I offered to help.” Hermione didn’t seem entirely satisfied with his answer but thankfully she moved the conversation on, however she was staring at Tom with a calculating expression.

“As for Dumbridge, I hate her. I can’t believe that the school would give us a teacher who is refusing to teach us any magic, especially in our 5th year.”

Glad that Hermione had accepted his reply about Snipe, Tom said, “You know that the school didn’t want her? She was forced on them by the Ministry.”

She sighed. “Oh, that explains it. I was struggling to understand why Dumby would have hired her, but where did you hear that?” Tom choked, he’d done it again, told Hermione stuff he was meant to keep private.

Tom never lied, but that didn’t mean he told everyone everything. He was practised at telling nothing but the truth, whilst keeping key information hidden. He said, “I heard a member of staff say it.”

Hermione didn’t even seem to be listening, she was looking up at the castle. “Look, the rest of the Ravensnore Quidditch team are coming down now, you should go and join them.” Tom spotted a group of about 30 people coming. He got up to join them.

“Thanks for this Hermione. I’ll see you around.”

“I’ll talk to you afterwards, I’m going to stay and watch.” Tom didn’t know what to say. He just patted her on the shoulder and left.

The group of people were standing on the pitch, fighting over the best broomsticks when Tom got there. Most of the brooms had twigs sticking out at all angles and splinters all down the handle making a very uncomfortable ride. One was so floppy it was more of a mop than a broom. It looked like it would only take the weight of a squirrel.

When Mark started to speak, everyone stopped fighting and listened. “Hello everyone, welcome to this year’s try-outs. We need a new chaser and a new beater,” he winked at Tom. “I’m Ravensnore’s captain and I’m a beater. Let me introduce the rest of the team.” Pointing to each of them in turn he said, “Ryan is our keeper. Amber and Natalie are our chasers and Cho is our seeker.” As he said this, Tom slowly made his way through the group and grabbed a half decent broom before they’d all gone.

Mark and Cho lead the try out for the new beater whilst Ryan, Amber and Natalie looked for a new chaser. The try-outs started with some simple flying manoeuvres and speed tests. A few people were hopeless, they couldn’t even fly in a straight line. One person even flew into the back of another, causing a chain collision and a massive pile up. Unsurprisingly, they were asked to leave after their feeble attempt. The rest of the group then moved on to target practise, seeing who could hit the targets with the fewest attempts. The shots got progressively harder, ranging from you being stationary and aiming at stationary targets all the way up to you flying at breakneck speed and hitting moving flying targets whilst avoiding other obstacles. By the end of this only 3 people remained. Tom along with two guys called Dave and Jasper. There were also only 3 potential chasers left. For the final trial, they split up into two teams to play a short game where both teams shot at the same hoops defended by Ryan. Tom partnered Mark whilst Dave and Jasper were the opposing beaters.

It was a heated affair. The game was neck and neck for a good 10 minutes until Tom hit such a superb shot. He aimed the bludger at Jasper and it knocked him off his broom and the bludger ricocheted off him and hit Dave as well. At this, the Ravensnore team applauded and Mark brought the game to a halt, announcing that the new beater and chaser would be Tom and a guy named Boris. With that, the others left and the new Ravensnore Quidditch team introduced themselves to each other. Tom couldn’t stop smiling as he talked to everyone. They were all friendly and seemed really cool.

After a good 20 minutes of talking, the team went back to the castle for lunch and Tom went back to Hermione, amazed to see that she was still there. The trails had lasted a few hours. “Tom, congratulations! You were brilliant,” exclaimed Hermione. Tom was amazed to find her in such a good mood. He’d of thought it must have been a bit boring for her.

“Thanks Hermione. I’m surprised to see you still here to be honest.”

“I was enjoying it. Besides, I’ve been doing work as well,” she indicated her pile of books.

“Thank you for your support,” he said politely. “Do you want to go and get some lunch”

“Oh yes, I’d love to. But Tom, haven’t you noticed?” he looked at her, not knowing what she was talking about. She explained, “Students from different houses don’t sit with each other in the great hall.”

“Seriously! At Durmprang, we didn’t have houses. I think it was better. There was less of this segregation… Hermione, as long as you’re cool with it, I’ll sit at the Gryffinchair table. I don’t care if other people look at me weird. It’s time someone in this school put a stand to this segregation.”

Hermione beamed at him again. “Oh Tom, that would be great. You’re absolutely right. This school really needs more harmony, especially with the return of Lord Moldywart.”

Surprised to hear her say that, he said, “So you believe he’s back then? I got the feeling most people don’t.” She looked offended.

“Of course he’s back. Harry saw him and Dumby keeps telling everyone. You believe he’s back don’t you?” Hermione asked sternly.

“Without a doubt,” he said confidently.

“Oh that’s great to hear. Come on, I’ll introduce you to Harry, he’ll want to meet you. He’s convinced that everyone in this school thinks he’s lying and is just some attention seeking prat when really he’s trying to avoid attention.”

Tom slipped in, “You could have fooled me.” Hermione didn’t reply but Tom noticed her smiling even though she tried to hide it.

Once they reached the great hall, Tom hesitated for a moment, looking at the Ravensnore table where his fellow Quidditch team members were sitting, then followed Hermione to the Gryffinchair table. The effects were immediate. Several heads turned and he received a few scowls but no one dared say anything. Tom hadn’t realised it but people at Hogwash were intimidated by him. Partly because he’s a former Durmprang student but mainly because of the size of him. Pretty much no one at Hogwash had any physical strength at all. Unsurprising when there’s no gym.

“Harry, this is Tom,” said Hermione as they sat down.

“Hey Harry, nice to meet you. Ron, how’s it going?”

“The famous Tom,” said Harry as he shook Tom’s hand.

“What do you mean?” Tom asked, puzzled.

“Hermione talks about you a lot,” Harry replied with a smile.

“Really?” Tom said, with raised spirits whilst looking at Hermione. She however, was looking sternly at Harry.

“Harry, Tom believes that Moldywart is back,” she said with a slightly raised voice. Ron almost fell off the bench.

Tom ignored him and said, “Well, yeah. Pretty much everyone at Durmprang does. I was really surprised when I got to Hogwash to find most people don’t.”

Harry looked delighted. “It’s refreshing to hear that people don’t think you’re a liar. Do you want some juice?” he passed Tom the jug.

For the rest of lunch, Tom got to know Harry, Hermione and Ron although, just like when they last met, Ron didn’t say much. Once they finished lunch, Tom went back to his bedroom to workout and study, with the new opinion that Harry and Ron were actually not too bad. Still idiots, but not as stupid as they had first appeared.

Chapter 6 – Dumby’s secret weapon

Tom’s first month at Hogwash had flown by. He’d made loads of friends and he really got on well with his Quidditch teammates. The team trained once a week and quite often sat together at meal times. The other house teams seemed to train more than them but the Ravensnore team were so in sync with each other, they didn’t really need to practise any more than that. When they did train, their practises were a lot more fun a relaxed than you might expect. All they were really doing was getting to know each other’s play styles and techniques.

Despite his friends and involvement, there was still something bothering Tom. He was lacking a sense of adventure and action. What with the pathetic Defence against the Dark Arts lessons and Hogwash’s lack of practical activities, he was lacking a sense of adventure. However, as he reached the last week of November, that completely changed.

Tom was eating breakfast with Mark and Ryan, as their relationship was really strong now, through Quidditch practise, when a 2nd year came up to him looking very nervous. “Err… Tom Collivander?” the kid said in a high pitched squeak.

“Yes.”

“I’ve got a letter for you.” The second year handed over the letter and left immediately. Puzzled, Tom looked at the letter and noticed that it had Dumby’s seal on it. Excitedly, he stuffed the letter into his pockets, told Ryan and Mark he had to get to class early and darted out the door. He found an empty hallway and opened the letter. It was rather short, ‘Tom, please will you come to my office at 10pm this evening. I am in need of your service. Dumby. P.S. the password is deadly dandelions.’

 

The rest of the day passed in a blur. All Tom could think about was his meeting with Dumby, hoping that he was going to be put into action at last.

He reached the gargoyle of Dumby’s office and, feeling foolish, said the password. The eagle sprang into life, spiralling upwards, and he climbed the stairs. Knocking twice on the door, he heard Dumby say “Come in” and he wrenched open the door and quickly sat down in front of Dumby. “Tom. Good to see you. Are you enjoying Hogwash? I know you’ve got onto the Ravensnore Quidditch team.”

“Yeah, it’s quite fun but to tell you the truth, I’ve been feeling a bit down with the lack of action around here. Hogwash doesn’t seem to do any adventurous stuff. At Durmprang, we went on hunts and did assault courses and stuff.” Dumby scowled at the word hunt but didn’t retaliate. Instead, he smiled.

“I see you want to get straight to the point. You’re lacking action. Very well. As I’m sure you know, I asked you to help out Professor Snipe last month, not because he needed it, but because I needed to test your loyalty.” Tom nodded. “I can say that you performed excellently and I knew from that moment on that I could count on you.”

Tom started to expect something exciting and leaned forwards in his chair. “Within Hogwash, there are a few people who I rely on to perform special tasks and I would like you join that group. The others are Severus Snipe, Rubeus Hogrod, Minerva McMogal and Harry Trotter. You’re task will involve the latter.” He paused for a moment, allowing Tom to speak but he remained silent so Dumby continued.

“It has come to my attention that Harry Trotter, along with his closest friends, are planning to create a secret Defence group. How well do you know Harry Trotter?”

“Not much, I’ve met him once but I think we got on alright. I know Hermione Danger quite well though.” Dumby gave him a piercing gaze.

“Good, good. It is important that I know what happens during these sessions and so I am asking you to go along and report back to me.”

“But sir, if Harry is one of your task force, can’t you just ask him?”

“Tom, this must remain a secret. Harry, in fact everyone, can’t know that I know about their group. Now, they are having a meeting at the Hag’s leg in Hogswine this weekend to see who’s going to join the group but its invitation only.” He paused to let the information sink in.

“I need you there. Use your charm to get Miss Danger to invite you. Will you do this for me?” Tom wasn’t sure.

He said, “Before I agree, I have a few questions.”

Dumby leaned back in his chair and said, “Fire away.”

“How do you know all this?” Dumby didn’t seem bothered by this question.

“Tom, I’m sorry but I won’t tell you. I trust you so all that remains is for you to trust me.” Tom was a little disappointed but hadn’t really expected the greatest wizard of all time to share his knowledge with a 16 year old kid so moved on to his next question.

“What was the reason for me getting to know Professor Snipe?”

“Again, I am sorry but I can’t tell you just now. You will find out in the future, I promise. All I can say is what you can already guess, he’s part of my task force as are you and it is important that everyone gets along.” This raised another question.

“But sir, don’t Snipe and Harry hate each other?”

Dumby took a deep breath, “Unfortunately they do Tom, but I can’t do without either of them and so I have to manage the best I can.”

“Finally, why me?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Why have you picked me to join your force?” Tom asked again.

“Do you doubt yourself, Tom?” But Dumby didn’t wait for an answer. “I see a lot of myself in you. You are exceptionally clever, you crave action and you are motivated by the loss of your parents. But above all, you know what is right and what must be done when others would falter.”

Tom was surprised to hear Dumby speak about him with such confidence and admiration considering they hadn’t know each other long. One thing Dumby had said though, had stuck in his mind. “Sir, did you also lose your parents at a young age?”

Dumby pondered Tom’s question, thinking weather to answer or not. Eventually, he said with a heavy heart “Yes I did Tom. So I know how you feel.”

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Tom said truthfully.

“You are very kind… Now, do I have your word that you will become my spy and spy on Harry’s defence group for me?”

“Yes, sir. You have shown trust and faith in me and it is now time that I prove you right.”

“Very good. Before you go, I just want to re-iterate what I’ve said before. Everything that we discuss you must not tell to anyone else.”

“Of course, sir. I will not break your trust. Goodnight.”

The following day they had potions. Tom figured this would be an ideal time to get Hermione to ask him to the meeting as Harry and Ron were normally too busy trying to work out how they’d messed up their potions. Normally, he sat with his fellow Ravensnores for potions, so they were disappointed when they saw him go join the Gryffinchair table. Tom thought that Snipe would know about his task and so would ignore Tom sitting there. He sat down as he said, “Hey guys, mind if I join you today?”

“Not at all,” said Hermione.

Snipe started to talk in his usual deep, droning voice, telling the class how most of them were pathetic and how he would be glad to see them gone from his class next year. Tom thought Snipe was alright but he could see why people hated him. He wasn’t exactly friendly or supportive. Snipe then told them to attempt to make the cure for hippogriff hiccups, put the instructions on the board and left them to it.

Ron and Harry started scowling at Snipe and complained about the complexity of the potion. Tom thought his moment had come, “At least we actually practise in Snipe’s class, much better than the awful reading we do for Dumbridge,” he said, trying to spark a conversation.

“Can’t argue with that,” said Ron.

But the conversation didn’t really go anywhere so Tom carried on making his potion. 10 minutes later he tried again, although this time with Hermione alone. “Hermione, you seem to have a natural talent for this potion, do you think you could give me a hand?” she looked flustered as she took her eyes away from her cauldron.

“I can give you a minute but that’s all. Let’s have a look… Oh Tom, you forgot to include the hair of a beaver.” She looked at him pityingly. “If I just do this.” She added the hairs whilst muttering some charm. “There you go.”

In truth, Tom had messed up his potion on purpose. She went back to her potion whilst Tom noticed Snipe looking at him and believe it or not, he was actually smiling. Without looking up from her cauldron, Hermione said, “So Tom, how come you messed up your potion, I’d have thought Durmprang would have taught you really well?”

“Nah, not really. They taught us Defence against the Dark Arts mostly. That’s why I’m so annoyed with Dumbridge. No one can call what she’s doing Defence against the Dark Arts. Besides, some of the stuff she’s ‘teaching’ us, I did in second year.”

Harry and Ron, who had been listening, gave Hermione and stare and then she spoke, “It sounds like you know a lot about defence and you seem to share our hate of Dumbridge.” She looked back at Harry. Tom pretended not to notice.

She then continued in hushed tones. “Listen, us three are organising a secret defence group. We’re having a meeting on Saturday in the Hag’s leg to see who’s interested. Fancy coming?”

Tom pretended to think about it for a while. “Yeah, ok. Sounds like fun,” he said whilst trying not to sound too happy.

“Excellent, 1 o’clock then,” she replied, rather excitedly.

After a few more minutes, Ron asked for help from Hermione but before she got to his cauldron, Snipe appeared as if out of nowhere. “Weaselby, what do you think you are doing?” Ron froze. “Trying to cheat off Danger are you? Well, no marks for you today.”

With a wave of his wand, Ron’s potion vanished and he walked away. Ron stared at Snipe for a long time after he’d walked off. Eventually, he looked away and turned on Tom, “You’re lucky Snipe didn’t notice you.”

Tom, knowing full well that Snipe had let him off, smiled as he replied, “I guess so. I tend to be quite lucky.” He paused, “Snipe seemed to give you an evil look. Does he often pick on you?”

Ron answered in a depressed manner, “All the time, it’s a nightmare. Harry gets it worse than me though.”

“Oh yeah, I’ve noticed. Poor bloke,” Tom said sympathetically.

After potions, Tom ate dinner with the Ravensnore Quidditch team as they had practise later and Mark wanted to discuss a few things beforehand. He was focusing on a particular flying formation called the double tap. It involved the two beaters working together in and out of the chasers to attack twice in one motion without the other team realising it. Just as they got up to leave Isabelle came over. “Hey Tom, can I have a private word?” The team all stopped and looked over at Isabelle with interest.

“Err, I’ve got Quidditch practise now, can it wait?” Tom replied.

“I know, I overheard you lot talking. It will only take a minute.” She looked hopeful. “Ok, then,” said Tom and he turned to the rest of the team. “I’ll catch you up.”

The team, reluctantly, went. Tom and Isabelle walked out into an empty corridor and Tom turned to Isabelle, “What’s up?”

She looked rather nervous but determined at the same time. “I was wondering if you’d like to go Hogswine with me on Saturday.”

“Oh, yeah. Sure. That would be fun.” He’d said it without really realising what he was agreeing to. Isabelle looked really happy.

“Oh wonderful. Shall I meet you in the entrance hall at 9?” Tom was coming back to his senses, realising that she’d just asked him out and he also remembered that he had the meeting to attend, but he couldn’t say no now.

“That sounds good but I need to tell you, I’ve got somewhere else to be at 1.” She frowned.

“Are you meeting someone else?”

“It’s not like that, I’ve just got some business to attend to.” He knew he couldn’t say anymore. She didn’t seem altogether satisfied but thankfully she didn’t elaborate.

“Ok. I’ll see you on Saturday then,” and she went back to dinner.

As Tom walked down to the Quidditch pitch, he thought about what had just happened and the more he thought, the more he realised that Isabelle was really cool and attractive and that he’d accidentally landed himself a pretty sweet date. He then questioned why he hadn’t realised this before and asked her out. The hints had definitely been there. Coming to the conclusion that she must be in the top 20 in school and she had asked him out, he felt much more powerful and intimidating that he usually did. He felt like people would admire him.

When he entered the changing rooms, the whole team looked up at him and Ryan asked, “What did she want then?”

Tom felt great as he said, “She was just asking me out.” All the guys wolf whistled and cheered.

Mark said, “Nice one man.”

Boris added “You’ve struck gold with her,” and Amber added, “It was only a matter of time.’ This struck Tom as an odd comment.

He asked her, “What do you mean?”

“Only that lots of girls want to go out with you and to be honest, I was thinking of doing it myself if no one else had soon.”

Seeing the look on Tom’s face, Cho said, “This can’t seriously come as a shock to you.” Tom stammered as he didn’t know what to say.

“Amber, you’re a 6th year. Why would you want to go out with me?” Before she could reply, Mark intervened, sensing potential awkwardness.

“Guys, let’s get back to Quidditch. We can discuss Tom’s love life later if you like.” He said this with a smile. That was one of the great things about Mark. He was as competitive as anyone but at the same time, very laid back and chilled.

Practise did not go well for Tom, he was too occupied thinking about Isabelle and what Amber and Cho had said. Twice, he didn’t see a bludger coming and got hit, the second time in the face. Cho joked, “His date won’t thank you if you’ve messed up his face Mark.” Only when Ryan wafted some bacon in front of him did Tom come back to his senses and play. Hard. So hard that he managed to bend one of the goal posts when he hit a bludger at it.

*

The rest of the week flew by and before he knew it, Tom was looking at Isabelle walking over to him in the entrance hall. “Wow, Isabelle. You look great!”

“Thank you, you don’t look so bad yourself.” He knew this had to be just her being polite. He hadn’t made any special effort. He just wore a shirt and jeans. Whereas Isabelle wore a black top, red skirt and heels. She’d also done something fancy to her hair. Her blonde hair was all curled, when it was normally straight and it sparkled in the sunlight. They both stared at each other, smiling. “Where would you like to go?” Tom asked.

“Oh, I don’t mind. You decide.”

“I’ve never been before so I don’t know what Hogswine has to offer.”

Isabelle giggled. “Oh, of course. I forgot. Well I’ll show you everything then. Follow me.”

They walked together through the Hogwash grounds towards the gate that lead to Hogswine. Tom couldn’t help but notice just how beautiful Isabelle was when in the sun and with stunning backdrops of the mountains around. They started talking about lessons and teachers, Isabelle was very nervous about the upcoming C.A.T’s. “I mean, how are we supposed to memorise all the different topics for every subject, it’s just impossible,” she said, exasperated. Tom had always found his homework and studying fairly easy but had kept it a secret as he didn’t want to seem like a nerd.

“I could help you out if you need it.”

“Could you? That would be awesome. I could really do with some extra help.”

“No problem, I’ll just have to fit you in around Quidditch practise.”

“What position do you play?” she asked, interestedly.

“I’m a beater. Always have been. I played at Durmprang as well but of course, I was overshadowed by Victor Dumb.” Tom said it with a bit of jealousy in his voice. Isabelle seemed to notice.

“I bet you’re great. I look forward to seeing you play.”

“Thanks,” he said, feeling raised spirits.

“I’ve always thought beaters are the most undervalued players.” Tom got more animated.

“Me too. Most people think seekers are the be all and end all. As if there’s no point the rest of the game being played because the snitch is worth 150 points. But a good beater could knock a seeker off his broom and by doing so, make our seekers job a lot easier. Or, if he managed to take out enough of the team, they’d have to forfeit.”

“I can see you feel strongly about Quidditch.”

“Doesn’t everyone?” he replied instantly.

“Err…I guess.”

They reached Hogswine and Isabelle showed Tom many different paces. Joke shops, pet shops, cafes, luxury goods shops and pubs. She even showed him an exotic goods store that contained the weirdest collection of items Tom had ever seen. Plants and herbs, machines and devices, equipment and supplies, from all over the world. Tom was really interested in the shop and wanted to stay longer but Isabelle dragged him out because she couldn’t stand the smell of a particular plant.

As they walked along the main street, side by side, they discussed each other’s likes and interests. Tom told her about working as a blacksmith but refrained from mentioning his parents. In return, he found out Isabelle liked singing and dancing, sun and beaches, fancy parties and fancy food. Tom was more partial to casual food and parties but he was open to doing fancier stuff with her. Where he was disappointed was how Isabelle preferred to stay clean and indoors, whereas Tom liked to be outdoors, in the thick of things with his hands dirty.

Tom was enjoying himself immensely and so he was really disappointed when he noticed it was 12:45. “Isabelle, I’m really sorry but I’ve got to go now.” She looked just as disappointed as Tom felt.

“Oh no Tom, don’t go.”

He tried to look regretful. “I’ve got to but listen, I’ve had a wonderful time and I’ll look forward to seeing you again.”

“Why have you got to go? What’s more important than me? Why can’t you tell me what you are up to?” Tom had been afraid of tricky questions like these but he’d thought of a way to ignore it. He leaned in, held her by the shoulders and kissed her, and she kissed back. His hands slid from her shoulders into her hair. After a few moments, he pulled away and said with a soft whisper, “you’ll just have to trust me.” And he left her standing there. She appeared temporarily paralysed but Tom didn’t look back. He was now focused on the job he promised Dumby.

Tom struggled to find his way to the Hag’s leg pub as Isabelle hadn’t shown him it even though he’d asked if there were any other pubs in Hogswine. She couldn’t have known about it. He eventually found the pub towards the edge of the village. It looked shabby and unwelcoming. He now understood why Isabelle hadn’t known about it. He reached the door, looked at his watch to realise it was 1:05 and hurriedly went inside, hoping he hadn’t missed much.

The first face he saw surprised him. It looked like Dumby, only a little rounder and younger. He was standing behind the bar. Tom was intrigued by the man and so went over to the bar. “Hey man. Are you by any chance related to Albus Dumby?” The man grunted and seemed to get annoyed at the reference. He spoke in a much deeper and rougher voice than Albus.

“I’m Albus’ brother, Abaforth.” Tom was taken aback by this. He hadn’t know that Albus had a brother.

“Cool, nice to meet you Abaforth.” Abaforth was about to reply when someone shouted from across the room, “Hey, Tom! Overhear.” Tom turned around to see Cho standing up around a large group of Hogwash kids that included Harry. “Get your drink and get over hear.”

Tom turned back to Abaforth and he said, “Can I get whatever the best drink you have is, please?”

Abaforth’s mood completely changed and he smiled as he said, “I’m glad you didn’t order butterbeer like the rest of your lot. It’s a pathetic drink really. Besides, I’m almost out after that lot. I’ll give you a special brew that I save for my best customers. It’s called Glory of Magic.” Abaforth pulled him a pint. Tom didn’t understand why Abaforth’s mood had changed all of a sudden but didn’t question it.

He took the pint and said, “Thanks very much, how much do I owe you?”

Abaforth waved him away. “Don’t worry about it, it’s on the house.”

“Thanks very much Abaforth.”

“Call me Ab.”

“Sure thing. I’m Tom by the way,” he said and stuck out his hand. Abaforth shook it and said, “Good to meet you Tom.”

With that, Tom went to join Cho and the others to listen to what the meeting was all about. “That’s not butterbeer! What are you drinking?” Cho looked impressed as she said it.

“Glory of Magic.”

Another kid piped up, “Wow. You drink Glory of Magic? How did you get the barman to sell you that?”

Tom had no idea what this drink was but he was enjoying the admiration he was getting, so simply said, “I have my ways.”

Another girl said, sounding impressed, “But it’s really strong. It’s a proper man’s drink.” Tom just shrugged and took a sip.

Hermione, who had been talking when he arrived, reclaimed the audience’s attention. “Everyone, everyone. We’re all here because we want proper defence lessons from a REAL teacher. Are we all agreed that teacher should be Harry? All those in favour, raise their hands.”

Everyone apart from Tom raised their hands. Tom had intended to stay impartial as he was just trying to observe but he didn’t want to look out of place so quickly raised his hand along with everyone else. He didn’t think anyone noticed. Hermione looked really pleased and continued. “Good, that’s settled then. Harry, Ron and I thought we’d call the group Dumby’s Legion and call it the DL for short so other people don’t know what we are talking about.” She didn’t wait to see if people agreed. She just moved straight past the point as if it had been settled. “We now need to decide when and where we are going to meet. Does anyone know of a good place to practise?”

A few people made suggestions but they were all quickly rejected. Tom stayed out of the discussion, he wouldn’t have been much help anyway. The only place he could think of was the kitchens and he would never suggest it. He just sat there, enjoying his beer.

Nothing was settled throughout the rest of the meeting. No one could agree on a time due to Quidditch practises for different houses and no one suggested a suitable place to practise. The meeting came to an end with everyone signing a list saying they are a member of the DL and that they wouldn’t tell Dumbridge or anyone in league with her about it. With that, the group started to disperse and Cho came to him, “Tom, let’s go back to the castle. I want to hear about your date.” A few people glance over at them.

Ignoring them, Tom said, “Oh sure, let’s go.”

They got up to leave and as he passed the bar, Tom said to Abaforth, “Thanks for the drink, I’ll be sure to come back when I get the chance.”

“See you around Tom.”

Cho turned to him as they got out into the snowy town. “What is it with you and people? You seem to get on with everyone even though you barley know them.” She was really impressed.

“It’s just good manners. Be nice to people and they’ll be nice to you. It’s part of my code and something my parents were big believers in.”

“Code? What code?” she asked, intrigued.

“I’ll explain on the way back.”

As they walked back to the castle, Tom explained his code. The set of rules that he lived his life by. Once Cho had stopped asking questions about that, they moved onto Tom and Isabelle’s date.

By the time they’d discussed all there was, they hadn’t reached the entrance hall so Tom then turned the conversation towards Cho and asked how she was dealing with the loss of Cedric.

At first Cho looked shocked at being asked about it but then started to relax as she felt comforted by Tom. They stopped at a garden bench and sat down. Cho opened up to him about everything. All about what Cedric meant to her and how she feels about Harry and how she’s struggling to cope with school. Tom was really surprised that Cho felt comfortable enough to tell him this. But he didn’t interrupt and listened to everything she said. When she started to cry, Tom pulled her close and she hugged him for a long time, whilst continuing with her story.

By the time she had finished, the sun had set and it was getting very cold. She said goodnight to him and went up to bed. Tom had skipped lunch because of Isabelle and the DL meeting and now he’d missed dinner as well. He wasn’t sure if his stomach had ever grumbled this loud before. Therefore he went down to the kitchens and met Bonky, who had acquired a burn on his middle finger. It had been an accident involving a pan of oil and a wet floor. Tom offered his condolences and Bonky fed him up with a generous portion of lasagne. With that, he went to bed. It had been an eventful day and he had much to think about.

Chapter 7 – The Anything Goes room

The next day, Tom woke up feeling better than he had done in a very long time. He’d had a brilliant night’s sleep and was touched by how Cho had confided in him. It was a Sunday and he had nothing planned. Realising that he should probably tell Professor Dumby what he’d learned, he got up and headed down to breakfast. He met Harry down in the hall, sitting alone and so went over to him. “Hey Harry, where’s Ron and Hermione? I never see you without them.”

“Oh hey, Tom. I just needed to be away from them for a time. I needed some time to clear my head, you know.”

“Say no more, I’ll leave you to it.”

Tom started to head towards the Ravensnore table but Harry stopped him, “Tom wait. Do you want some breakfast? I actually wanted to ask you about something.” Tom was surprised to hear Harry say this since they didn’t know each other well but he knew Dumby would want him to get a good relationship with Harry so he smiled and said, “Sure, how can I help?”

Tom sat down and pulled a plate of sausages towards him as Harry began. “Tom, I know that you and Cho are friends. I was wondering if you could help me with something.” He paused, trying to choose his next words but Tom cut him off.

“You want me to help you get together with Cho, don’t you?” Harry gasped, surprised to hear that Tom knew about his situation.

“How did you know that?”

“She told me all about you two and how she went to that dance last year with Cedric Biggory, even though you asked her and so on and so on.” Harry hadn’t realised Cho had told anyone about these personal matters and was slightly embarrassed to find out.

“I didn’t realise you and Cho were such good friends.”

“Neither did I to be honest,” said Tom, flatly.

“So you two are just friends?” Harry sounded nervous as he asked.

But Tom laughed and said, “Yeah, yeah. I’m not in to her like that, I’m seeing someone else anyway. Even if I did like her like that, she wouldn’t go out with me. She likes you and wants you to ask her out.” Harry seemed really happy to hear this. “So don’t be a prat and get on with it before someone else does. From what I’ve heard, it seems obvious that you like her a lot too.” Tom’s apparent magic of making people trust and believe whatever he said was present again. Harry had been really unsure of what to do but now, his mind was set on asking out Cho.

“Thanks for the advice, Tom. Listen, I’ve got to go now but thanks and if you ever need some help, just ask.”

“Cheers.”

Tom hadn’t finished his breakfast but he didn’t think he could get away with sitting at the Gryffinchair table by himself so he went to sit at his own table and continued eating. Once finished, he casually walked off to Dumby’s office to tell him about the DL. But as he arrived at the eagle statue, he found Dumby and Snipe whispering to each other. As Tom approached, they stopped and turned to him. “Morning Tom,” said both of them.

“Professors,” he said in reply, then turned to Dumby. “Sir, I wanted to talk to you about what we discussed.”

Dumby replied in his usual calm voice. “It’s alright Tom, you can talk freely around Professor Snipe.” Tom glanced at Snipe then looked back at Albus.

“Well then, I have information about the secret defence group lead by Harry.” Snipe scowled at the word ‘Harry’ but said nothing.

However, Dumby seemed delighted and said, “Very good Tom. But we must not discuss it here, come up to my office. Severus, I’ll see you later.”

Snipe nodded curtly and said, “Very well Albus.” He then turned to leave as he added to Tom “You better not mess up in potions again. I’m thoroughly enjoying having someone beat Miss Danger for a change.”

Once inside Dumby’s office, Tom told Dumby everything about the meeting including how they haven’t found a place to practise yet. Dumby didn’t have any suggestions either when Tom asked him. So Tom then asked about Abaforth.

“Sir,” but Dumby interrupted.

“When we are away from students, you can call me Albus.”

Tom then continued, “Very well. Albus, how come you didn’t tell me that you have a brother and that he owns the Hag’s leg?”

Dumby’s face dropped but, nevertheless, he answered truthfully. “Abaforth and I don’t get on well for reasons I shall not discuss and to be honest, I was hoping you wouldn’t notice he was my brother, most people don’t. But I suppose I should have remember that you aren’t like most people.”

Tom replied in surprise, “Come off it. You look pretty alike. How would people not notice?”

“I can’t really answer that since he is my brother and so I obviously think he looks similar.” Tom saw sense in his answer.

He wanted to inquire about the brothers but didn’t want to offend, so chose his next words carefully. “Albus, it’s not my business but don’t you think you should talk to him.”

“Tom, I do talk to him. For example, Ab told me about an interesting kid called Tom who came into his pub yesterday and Ab took a liking to the kid straight away.” Both Tom and Albus laughed. Dumby then added, “Ab doesn’t have the magical skill to be a part of my plans but at the same time he can be a very useful allay. Remember that.”

Albus gave Tom a very piercing gaze as though he was looking inside him. Tom thought that the headmaster spoke about his brother as though he wasn’t his brother at all and he was sure there was some unfinished business between them. However, Tom pushed the subject no further. Albus seemed to have noticed Tom’s decision and he looked grateful.

“Tom. You’ve done great. Once the meetings start, make sure you go to them and report back every now and again. Even if I’m not around when you come to talk, speak to the room and I will get the message. As a reward for your help so far,” this time, Tom cut across him.

“Albus, I don’t need a reward. I’m just glad that I’m involved in something real, not just boring school work.” Tom realised he had just insulted Hogwash and said, “Sorry, I didn’t mean that.” Dumby chuckled significantly.

“Don’t worry about it. I felt the same way when I was your age… As for your reward, I want to give you something because I know you will appreciate it more than most.” He pulled out a black cube, about the size of an orange, from one of the draws in his desk. “This is a cube of illusion. They are very rare. It allows you to temporarily affect the minds of those around you so that they will be more lenient with whatever you are trying to achieve.”

He then changed his voice, sounding more serious. “Tom, I give you this as a token of our friendship and because I know that you will not use it to do bad things. But be warned, stronger wizards can see through the illusion and these cubes are highly frowned upon so make sure you use it wisely and keep it a secret. To activate it, just turn the top half clockwise 90 degrees and the bottom half anticlockwise by 90 degrees. To turn it off, just turn it back to the original position. I will not tell you how to put it to good use because I am your teacher and they are strictly banned at Hogwash. I’m sure you can work it out yourself though.” Tom was in disbelief, his mind was already racing with potential uses of the cube.

What a fantastic gift Albus had just given him. “Why do you think I would appreciate this more than others?”

Dumby gazed at him again, before saying in a caring tone “I know you worked with your parents as a blacksmith.” Tom couldn’t understand how Dumby knew this. His parents had never mentioned Dumby and they had lived in separate countries. He opened his mouth but Dumby said, “You don’t have to say anything. Now please escort yourself out, I have other business to attend to.”

Once out of the room, Tom stood on the stairs, out of sight, and examined the cube more closely. It was much heavier than it looked, as if it was made of lead. Its surfaces were jet black and as smooth as silk. The flawless purity made it look like it had been crafted by the most skilled blacksmiths. It was so beautifully made, he wasn’t even sure his parents could have managed it. He then turned it, just as Dumby had told him to and a ring of dim, electric blue light shone from the invisible hinge. He was sure it was working but couldn’t feel any different. Assuming that he’d only notice something when around other people, he deactivated it, put it back in his pocket and went back to Ravensnore tower.

*

December was rapidly approaching, the castle was getting colder and the grounds were covered in a thick layer of snow. So far, Tom had only used his cube of illusion to sneak into Hogswine on Tuesday evenings to go to the Hag’s leg. He was hooked on the Glory of Magic beer and it was always a good laugh in there. Ab was always up for a chat and you were bound to meet someone interesting whenever you went in there. However it wasn’t the kind of pub that parents would approve for their children unlike the Runny Cauldron. He’d met a ghoul, some goblins and a man with four arms, amongst others.

Tom liked it because anyone could go there and receive no judgement. All anyone wanted was to have a good time and to relax. He liked to talk with the strangers to find out about different walks of life. He believed that no matter what your situation is, there is always something more out there for you to find that would make it better.

Ab was cool enough not to rat Tom out to Albus or any other teacher and Tom had found it easy to get past Mr Wilch. The first time he had gone, he activated his cube and when Wilch asked what he was doing, Tom hesitantly said he was going to the Hag’s leg and Wilch had taken no objection and let him by. Ever since then, providing he had his cube active, Wilch let him through without question and wished him well.

Whilst his pub goings were good, his relationship with Isabelle was neither here nor there. They sometimes spent evenings together but they didn’t have too much in common and since they were in different houses, there were restricted places they could spend time together. Tom was helping her with her studies just as he’d promised but apart from that, they didn’t see each other to much.

In their next Charms lesson, they were aiming to alter the properties and effects of different instruments and objects, hence there was a lot of noise and commotion from things like trumpets making the sounds of a violin and chess pieces running all over the place, trying to knock people over.

Hermione seized the opportunity and came over to Tom, who was practising with Isabelle and Clara. “Tom can I have a word?” Isabelle looked suspicious as Tom followed Hermione to the corner of the room. “We’ve found a place for the first DL meeting. It’s called the Anything Goes room and it’s on the seventh floor by that suit of armour that’s always drunk. We are meeting tonight at 8.”

Tom filled with joy. “Finally! Thanks, Hermione. I’ll see you there.” He hugged her and went back to Isabelle who had been watching him the entire time.

“What was that about?” Isabelle said at once in a very accusing tone.

“Oh, she just wanted to talk about the upcoming Quidditch match. She was asking me to go easy on Harry. Ha. I don’t go easy on anyone.” Tom finished and then chocked, realising that he’d just lied. Something he swore to avoid. He felt rotten for breaking his code and he couldn’t understand how he’d been able to lie so easily. But he couldn’t do anything about it now.

Clara said, “How can you be so confident? You haven’t played a match yet and Gryffinchair already flattened Hufflesnuff.” It was true that Gryffinchair were leading the table but Tom was sure Ravensnore were better. They’d watched the previous match carefully and picked out the other teams weaknesses. Tom was relieved that he no longer had to lie.

“I just know our team’s the best. But don’t take my word for it, find out for yourself on Sunday,” he said.

“I look forward to it,” said Clara.

Isabelle added, “You better destroy Gryffinchair. They’ve won the cup the past few years and that needs to change.”

“I’ll make sure that happens,” said Tom confidently.

Clara then said, “There’s one thing I’ve never understood about Quidditch. If you fall of your broom from high up, wouldn’t you get seriously injured or possibly even die?” Tom laughed. “Shut up, I’m serious,” she said defensively.

“Sorry… The grass is enchanted to be a lot more springy and soft. It will absorb some impact, just like moss. If you fall, it would still hurt a lot but you won’t die.”

“Oh. I never knew. I’ve never been on a Quidditch pitch,” she said as an explanation.

“I’ll have to show you sometime.”

The rest of the day, Isabelle stayed attached to Tom. He found it rather frustrating but he couldn’t shrug her off. It was if she was marking her territory. Tom liked Isabelle but she was starting to get on his nerves. She was too judgemental and suspicious. Tom needed some space. Only when she went back to her bedroom after dinner, after kissing him in front of everyone, did she finally leave him. He was relieved to be alone but didn’t have time to enjoy it. He had to get to the DL meeting.

He reached the drunk suit of armour but the door was nowhere in sight. About 10 other people were standing around who Tom recognised from the first meeting, looking puzzled. Tom asked the general audience, “Has no one found the place yet?”

A tall boy with bright red hair said sarcastically, “Nah, we just thought we’d chill out beside this bare stone wall in this empty corridor.”

Another guy who looked the same, obviously his twin, said, “Fred’s just joking. Don’t worry about it. I’m George by the way.” He stuck out his hand.

Tom shook it and said, “So you two are Fred and George. I’m Tom Collivander.”

He then shook Fred’s hand as Fred asked, “You know us?”

“I’ve heard about you from Mark and Ryan.”

Fred and George exchanged looks, “Oh cool. Anyone who is a friend of theirs is a friend of ours.”

Just then, Hermione came out of a door that Tom was sure had not been there a moment before. “Hey everyone, come in, come in.” They all entered and found a large room, equipped with various secrecy detectors, books, practise bots and cushions. About 15 people were sitting on the cushions and Harry was standing at the front. Tom sat down next to Fred and waited for Harry to speak.

Harry explained about the Anything Goes room but he didn’t say how it had just appeared. He then got everyone to split into groups of 3 and practise summoning and banishing charms. Tom partnered with Fred and George. On the whole, Tom enjoyed the lesson a lot even though the magic was pretty basic. It felt good to be involved in something that was fighting against Dumbridge’s regime and Fred and George were really funny. He could understand why Mark and Ryan liked them.

After an hour and a half, Harry stopped the action and addressed everyone. “We are out of time tonight but that was really good. Next time we’ll move on to something a bit more exciting.”

Some kid shouted out, “But when will the next time be?”

Another added, “If we set a regular time every week we wouldn’t have to worry about communication.”

Harry spoke over the murmurs that started to appear. “We can’t set a regular time because of other commitments. Has anyone had an idea of how we can communicate meeting times and dates?”

Tom said, “If you all got phones, we could just text each other.” The room seemed to have not understood him which was as he expected, however Harry had.

“Good idea, but most people don’t know about phones because they have no dealings with the muggle world. Besides, they don’t work around Hogwash.”

Fred spoke up, “Are they those things that dad keeps blabbering on about. The things that allow you to talk to people who aren’t with you?”

Harry replied, “Yep. But it’s no good if we don’t all have them.”

Hermione butted in, “And like Harry said, they don’t work around Hogwash anyway.”

Tom couldn’t help but laugh. It was the first time he’d ever heard Hermione say something wrong. Everyone looked to him in surprise. “That, Hermione, is where you are wrong.”

The whole room stared at Hermione. It was a very rare occurrence for anyone to accuse Hermione of being wrong. She looked equally surprised. “Tom, what are you talking about? Everyone knows they don’t work here, everyone who’s read ‘a history of Hogwash’ anyway.”

Tom continued to laugh. “They do work and I can prove it to you. Here.” He threw his phone over to Hermione. She stared at the phone in amazement.

After inspecting the phone properly, she even started to call someone, she passed it back to him and said, breathlessly “How?”

Tom hadn’t wanted to give away his secret but Dumby seemed to be on his side so he didn’t think he’d get into trouble if people found out. “Everyone listen to me. I’m telling you this in confidence. Please do not repeat it to anyone outside of this room without my permission.” They all looked at him in shock. When they realised he was being serious, they nodded. There was something about Tom that grabbed people’s attention and made them trust him. “I’ve invented a way for muggle electric devices to work around wizarding populations.”

Of course, most of the room still didn’t really know what phones or electric devices were so they didn’t appreciate the significance of this, but a few did. Hermione was one of the few and she spoke again, “You’re a genius.” Funnily, this created more of a response from the crowd than Tom’s confession.

Fred piped up, “Tom, trust me, Hermione has never said that before to anyone. She must fancy you.” Both Ron and Hermione blushed.

“Shut up Fred. I just know good magic when I see it,” she said, embarrassed. No one spoke for a moment, with everyone looking at either Hermione, Tom or Fred.

Harry brought the sticky silence to an end. “Even though Tom has found a way to use phones, it doesn’t solve our problem seeing as no one else has them.”

Again, Hermione interrupted, “That’s not entirely true, I have one. I just leave it at home.”

“Irrelevant,” Harry said in an angry tone. “The group still don’t and so whilst the suggestion is a good one, it won’t work. We’ll have to think of something else and then let you all know… Now, you better all get back to your dormitories before Wilch catches you.”

There was a chorus of “See you” and the crowd dispersed.

Hermione however, came over to Tom who wanted to be the last person in the room to discover its secret. “I didn’t know pure bloods would even know about them, let alone be able to use them and manipulate them.”

“Well, I got a phone from my uncle for a present a few years back. He’s always appreciated muggle technology and I do to. He also knew, that I like to tinker with things to make improvements.”

Hermione looked at him in admiration. “Genius… Here’s my number, once I’m back home we can talk.”

“Cheers,” replied Tom and added it to his phone. He then noticed Cho lingering by the bookshelf. Tom went over to Harry and whispered “Hey man. Have you asked Cho out yet?”

He replied in similarly hushed tones, “Nah, not yet. I’ve been waiting for the opportune moment.” This was another sign for Tom that Harry was stupid.

“Dude, this is it. I’m telling you.” Harry scowled so Tom elaborated. “Look, she’s waiting around. It’s obvious she wants to be alone with you. I’ll get Hermione and Ron out of here and then you two can be alone.”

“Cheers, Tom. If there’s anything I can do, just ask.”

“There is one thing, how do you get into this room?”

Harry was taken aback at how quickly Tom responded. Nevertheless, he said, “Oh it’s easy. Just moonwalk past this spot on the wall, thinking firmly in your head what you want the room to turn into and the door should appear.”

“It can turn into anything?”

“Yep. Pretty good isn’t it.”

“Awesome! Right, I’ll get out of your way now.” He turned around and raised his voice, “Hermione, Ron, let’s get out of here.” He winked at Cho and left with them.

Once outside he said, “I just needed to get you two out of there. Harry will explain later. Goodnight.”

They seemed surprised but said goodnight to Tom and they parted.

Back in the common room, Tom found Amber and Natalie waiting. They asked, “Have you seen Cho? We’ve been looking for her.”

“She’ll be along in a bit. She should be in a good mood as well when she gets here.”

Natalie said, “Oh good. I’ve been worried that she’s going to be hopeless on Sunday, she’s been really down lately.”

Tom cut the conversation short. He wanted to go back to the Anything Goes room and test it out. He made up an excuse of having homework to do. From his experience, a Ravensnore saying they have homework to do is a completely valid excuse for most things. He left the common room, supposedly heading for the library. It had been 15 minutes since he’d left Cho and Harry alone and so hoped they would have left the room by now.

Checking that no one was around, he moonwalked past the wall, concentrating hard on a gym. It didn’t work the first time but to his delight, the second try succeeded. The door appeared just as it had when Hermione had come out of it a few hours earlier. He lurched forwards, wrenched the door open and went in. What he found made his jaw drop. A gym of such luxury was standing in front of him. It had everything. Powerlifting racks, bench press, free weights, swimming pool, sauna and showers to name a few. It even had a kick ass stereo system which he plugged his phone into so he could listen to whatever he liked whilst working out. This is just perfect. No more working out in my room, he thought to himself. He smiled, got changed into the gym shorts and shoes he found that just happened to be his size. For some reason, there was no top but Tom didn’t mind. When alone, he normally worked out shirtless anyway.

Once he’d worked out, showered and got dressed, he was really ready for a nice post workout snack but that seemed to be the one thing that the room didn’t have. Disappointed, he trudged back to his bedroom, being too tired to go down to the kitchens. He got into bed, feeling great that he was properly exhausted again. It had been too long. And he fell asleep almost instantly.

Chapter 8 – Turmoil

Sunday couldn’t come quickly enough for Tom. Nor it seemed for the rest of Ravensnore. There had been a lot of hype about the upcoming match as Ravensnores had been filled with optimism thanks to Mark’s propaganda to all the Ravensnores. Therefore, when the match finally arrived, the general feeling in the changing room was a buzzing excitement as the team waited for the stands to fill up.

The noise outside was getting louder and louder until Mark said, “It’s time. Let’s show the school what we’re made of.”

They walked out on to the pitch to massive applause. The sky was bright, without a glare from the sun and there was little wind. Great conditions. They reached the middle of the pitch and waited for the Gryffinchairs to appear. They had to wait a few minutes. Tom wondered if they were being late on purpose to create tension. The crowd were getting restless and unsurprisingly, when the Gryffinchair team finally appeared, they received a chorus of boos for taking so long, along with the cheers from the Gryffinchairs. As they got close enough to distinguish the players, he saw Fred and George shout, “Tom! You didn’t tell us you play Quidditch!”

Before he had chance to reply, the referee was saying, “Captains, shake hands.” Her voice was magically enlarged so it filled the whole stadium. “Mount your brooms… 3…2…1…Go!”

14 brooms went soaring into the air, Ryan and Ron darted off to opposite goal posts. Tom surveyed the whole pitch, working out what everyone else was doing whilst keeping an eye out for either of the bludgers. Before he knew it, Ravensnore scored. He saw Amber do a front flip in celebration and then heard a commentator for the first time. “10-0 to Ravensnore! It’s clear they mean business. Just look at those chasers go. Let’s see how Gryffinchair can respond.”

At that moment, a bludger came charging towards Tom, he smashed it at one of the Gryffinchair chasers but George came out of nowhere and blocked it. He shouted, “Nice try.”

Grinning, Tom flew on. In the next five minutes, Gryffinchair scored 3 times bringing the score to 10-30. The commentator was loving it, he was so obviously biased towards Gryffinchair but no teacher seemed to care. After the third goal, Mark started to get serious. He flew over Tom and called over Cho. “This is embarrassing. We need to show this school what we can do. Cho, ignore the snitch for a few minutes and help us distract the others, keeping a patch free for the chasers. Just like we practised.” He didn’t wait for a response. “Let’s go.”

Their conflab hadn’t gone unnoticed. The commentator was speculating what they were doing but the Ravensnore chasers had worked out was happening and got into formation. The team darted at the Gryffinchairs, flying in and out of one another. The quaffle was being passed around so quickly, that the Gryffinchairs didn’t know what hit them. In no time at all they brought the score back to 30-30. Cho then went back to searching for the snitch but Mark and Tom carried on helping the chasers pulling out a 50 point lead!

The crowd were going ballistic. It sounded like Hufflesnuff and Slytherdin were also supporting Ravensnore. As Mark deflected a particularly difficult shot from Fred as if it was nothing, Tom started to laugh. It felt to him as if nothing could go wrong and his feelings proved true as the score soared to 190-40 in the next 10 minutes. The commentator could no longer accuse Ravensnore of simply being lucky and was now saying, “Well it looks like Ravensnore are the team to watch this year. They look unbeatable out there. Their new acquisitions of Tom and Boris seem to have done the trick.”

Fred and George were the only two Gryffinchairs who still seemed to be fighting. They struck Amber twice, who was the biggest threat, but she was determined to stay on her broom.

Mark and Tom dragged Fred and George away from the chasers and a mini battle started out. Both bludgers were consecutively hit back and forth between all four of them. The whole game had stopped, everyone was watching the fierce battle raging between them. Tom had to admit, they were great players but he was determined not to beaten. All four beaters were equally matched so they turned to insults to try and gain an advantage. Fred started it by shouting “I’ve seen better swings on a porch.”

Tom momentarily lost concentration as he laughed but Mark stayed focused and retaliated with “You couldn’t hit the ground if you fell of your broom!”

Just before George shouted “You couldn’t hit a wall if you ran into it.”

Tom regained his awareness and added “I’ve seen a better batter when making a cake.”

The insults weren’t working either so Mark and Tom decided they had to go for their secret weapon. The double tap. Tom threw his club to Mark who caught it and sent both bludgers towards the twins. However, the Weaselby’s stopped the move in its tracks. They both managed to hit a bludger back at Mark and they both made a connection, knocking him off his broom. Many things then happened in quick succession. As Mark fell to the ground, Tom zoomed after him with both bludgers chasing him but couldn’t get to him in time. However, Mark threw both clubs towards Tom. In one fluid motion, Tom caught both bats, spun around and rocketed both bludgers at the Weaselby’s with such force that he knocked both of them off their brooms.

Subsequently, Amber scored a goal, being the first person to react to Mark being hit, bringing the score to 200-40 and not a moment too soon. Harry caught the snitch, being the only person who had not watched the beater battle. The game was over in the blink of an eye with the Gryffinchairs thinking they’d won. Only when the referee announced the final score as 200-190 and the commentator said, “Oh no, Gryffinchair lose! Harry didn’t see Amber score and unfortunately, he caught the snitch.”

The crowd went mental. Most of them hadn’t realised what had happened either but now that they knew. ¾ of the stadium were roaring and cheering. He then said, “But it looks as if Mr Collivander is a hidden gem. I guess playing with Victor Dumb pays off.”

The Ravensnore team were all flying towards Mark who lay on the ground celebrating. As they dismounted, Mark struggled to get up but he managed it. “Nice one guys. It was kind of you to make it interesting for the fans,” he said.

They all burst out laughing. Then the team turned to Amber and Tom said, “Amber, you were amazing. That goal at the end!”

“Not as good as you. I’ve never seen skill like that before.”

“It was nothing.”

“You’re being modest,” she said and out of the blue and full on kissed him in front of the whole Quidditch team and the rest of the stadium. Half the stadium broke into cheers.

Tom and Amber were embraced very tightly and it was a long time before they broke apart, even though he’d been completely caught off guard by it. Tom was oblivious to the commentator saying “Well that’s game, set and perfect match! In more ways than one for Amber.”

It just felt right to Tom, he felt more alive now than he ever had done with Isabelle, although that could be because of the Quidditch match.

When they finally broke apart, he found the rest of the team staring at them avidly. Mark shouted, “Don’t mind me, I only fell 40ft from my broom. Carry on making out in front of everyone.”

They all laughed. Ryan and Tom got him around their shoulders and started to walk off to the pitch exit. It was then that the team became aware of the Gryffinchair team sulking and looking angry. He could hear a couple of them challenging the referee about the alleged foul by Tom on the Weaselby twins and Ambers so called illegal goal. However, Harry was nowhere to been seen and Fred and George were coming over towards the Ravensnore team. Tom prepared himself for a fight but it didn’t come. Fred and George both said, “Amazing shot Tom!”

Mark then said, “Yeah it was, but Fred, George, yours were pretty good as well. You sent me flying.”

The three of them started laughing but Tom couldn’t understand it. “I thought you lot would be fighting each other. That’s what happens at Durmprang.”

Mark was first to answer, “Why would we be mad. It’s part of the game and they were some excellent shots. Part of the excitement of Quidditch is the potential injuries, especially for beaters.”

Fred then added, “Not to mention, that banter was top notch. I thought I was going to fall of my broom from laughing so hard.” He then changed his tone. “Listen, we’ve got to get back to our team, they’re not as accepting in a fair defeat as us but let’s catch up over a pint sometime.”

The Ravensnore team then went back to the changing rooms for Mark’s match evaluation speech. Amber was holding onto Tom throughout the speech and when it was over, they let everyone else leave before them. However, once outside, they came face to face with Isabelle. Tom didn’t know what to say, he wasn’t even sure what he wanted to happen. Luckily, Isabelle had decided for him. She ranted at him for a few minutes about betrayal and lies, none of which was true but Tom didn’t want to make things worse by arguing. When she eventually finished, she didn’t wait for a response. She just turned round and stormed back up to the castle. Tom watched her go back, dumbstruck.

Amber then brought him back to his senses. “I’m really sorry I put you through that. It’s just by winning the match, I was in a moment of such euphoria I wasn’t thinking.”

He looked at her and smiled, “Don’t apologise. Our relationship wasn’t going that well anyway.”

Amber seemed really pleased to hear this. “Oh, that’s a relief. I thought I’d created a nightmare.” Tom thought that sounded a bit harsh but knew she wasn’t trying to be.

As they walked up to the castle for lunch, holding hands, Tom properly noticed Amber for the first time. She had long, way brunette hair. She was just under 6ft tall, slim but with curves in all the right places. Her smile radiated happiness and the softness of her skin and warmth from her hand felt comforting.

When they entered the great hall, they were greeted by more cheers. Tom could hear people shouting out stuff like, “Fantastic match,” “Dude, you can play,” and “Bet you enjoyed that.”

Interestingly, no one appeared to give Amber much notice, something Tom wanted to rectify. He praised Amber in front of everyone for her game winning goal and said that whilst the beater battle may have been entertaining, it hadn’t made any difference to the score. But the hall wasn’t having any of it. He just received choruses of stuff like “You’re being modest.” Amber didn’t mind though. She just pulled Tom over to the Ravensnore table where the rest of the team was. Tom found himself in between Amber and Cho, both of whom wanted to talk to him in private but had no opportunity during lunch.

The celebrations didn’t stop at lunch though. The rest of the day was spent in Ravensnore tower. It looked like Bonky, with the help of some other house elves, had filled the room with food and drink. The majority of Ravensnore were amazed at the appearance of the food but Tom, Mark and Ryan gave each other a knowing look as they helped themselves to drinks. As far as the party was concerned, Tom realised that there was something missing. Decent music.

He went and got his phone and stereo system from his room and brought it to the party to the amazement of most of the house, who hadn’t seen a wizard with a phone before. Or speakers like the ones Tom had. Most wizards were used to, and even content with, a crummy old analogue radio which Tom just couldn’t understand. You’d think with all the wizards in the world, they’d have come up with some better way to listen to music. He put on his ‘classics’ playlist, which included The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Queen, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. The music was an instant hit and soon the party was really in full swing. Ryan started up a game of beer-pong and Tom became rather drunk because he was so bad at it.

Mark and Ryan were the life of the party. Everyone was watching them and that meant that Cho finally managed to get Tom on his own. He was relaxing on a sofa in the corner of the room when she found him. She sat down and hugged him before saying “Thank you so much for everything.” He could tell that she meant it. “Harry and I have finally got together.”

“I’m glad you’re happy,” he replied.

“Thanks, I’m much better now. But what about you and Amber?”

“I dunno to be honest. We haven’t had chance to talk yet. I don’t understand where it came from, she’s never shown any interest in me before.”

Cho gave him a pitying sort of smile. “For someone who is really good at advising other people, you’re not very good at noticing things about yourself. Amber’s been dropping hints for ages.”

“Really!?”

“Come on Tom, you really didn’t know?”

“No,” he said firmly.

Cho took a softer approach with him, “Well, she kept slipping in comments about how you two have a special connection and how she likes you and so on.”

Tom thought back, trying to remember any of these occasions and to his dismay, he did remember. “I can remember but I thought she was just referring to Quidditch. I suppose I didn’t notice the true meaning because I wasn’t looking for it. I had Isabelle.”

“Had? Have you split up now?” she said in a raised voice.

Tom shrugged, “I think so. She had a massive go at me after the match and left me there.”

“Oh I’m sorry. Trust me though, Amber would never intentionally hurt you or your friends.”

“I know, she’s already apologised.”

“Look, here she comes. I’ll leave you two alone.”

Cho got up and left, high fiving Amber on the way. Amber then sat down, facing Tom and opened her mouth to speak but Tom cut her off. “Wait. Before you say anything, shall we go to my room for a bit of peace and quiet? Bear in mind that I don’t want to do anything until I’ve had a chance to sort things out with Isabelle.”

“I understand. Again, I’m sorry for the mess I’ve put you in. Let’s go.”

They got up to leave and Tom noticed Mark wink at him before distracting everyone else by challenging anyone to an arm wrestle so that Tom and Amber could slip away unnoticed.

Once inside Tom’s bedroom, they talked. They talked about the Quidditch match, their situation and how the rest of the school had reacted. Tom kept steering the conversation away from anything too personal. They talked for hours and they only paused to go and get some food from the party. By the time they finished, it was pitch black outside and the party music had died down. Amber kissed him on the cheek and left his room.

Tom couldn’t get to sleep that night. He had too much floating around in his head. Amber. She was a year older than Tom and beautiful. He was still amazed that she liked him. By morning, he’d had no sleep but he had come to a few decisions and conclusions about what steps to take next.

Chapter 9 – Hogrod’s little secret

Over the next few days, all the school could talk about was the match. Tom had been assured by Harry, during the next DL meeting that it would go down in Hogwash history as one of the best matches the school had seen. During that meeting, Hermione had announced their solution to scheduling a meeting. They were going to use fake galleons that showed the date and time of the next meeting where the serial number usually went. Harry’s controlled all the others. Tom still thought that phones would be a much simpler idea but he didn’t want to point it out again because it seemed Hermione had spent a long time coming up with this far more complicated solution.

It had to be said that Tom was thoroughly enjoying the praise and attention he was getting from everyone. The only smudge on his otherwise perfect week was that he was yet to talk to Isabelle. It’s not like he hadn’t tried, but whenever he got close to her, she miraculously disappeared. “She’s avoiding me,” Tom had said, irritably, to Amber after the third time of her asking if he’d done it yet as she came over to him in the Ravensnore common room.

“Well surly that means that your relationship is over,” she said hopefully.

“Tell you what, if I can’t get her to listen to me by the end of tomorrow, I’ll give up.”

“Fair enough.”

She said no more after this so Tom went back to talking to Boris. They’d been discussing politics. “Dude, you’ve got to sort it out. Do you even know if you want to go out with Amber?”

“Yes” he said firmly. “But I still need to talk to Isabelle, it’s what’s right.”

So far his plans he’d thought of on the night of the Quidditch match hadn’t worked but he wasn’t going to give up, he just had to change tactics. He’d tried to get her on her own to save her some embarrassment but that clearly wasn’t working so he’d have to confront her in a public place where she couldn’t escape. Boris yawned and said, “See you Tom, have a good Christmas.”

“You too.”

The Christmas holidays were starting tomorrow and so most kids were packing for going home to their families but Tom wasn’t. He didn’t want to go back to the shop where time stood still.

Luckily for Isabelle, when Tom finally cornered her in the great hall at lunch the next day, most of the kids had already left and so it was much quieter than normal. “Tom, what are you doing here? Can’t you take a hint?” she said irritably.

Tom tried to sound imposing, “I want to talk to you. You don’t know the whole situation but you keep avoiding me when I try to catch you when you’re alone.”

She looked outraged at this and said with a raised voice, “So am I supposed to think that you have my best interests at heart after what you did?”

He took a deep breath and said, “Yes,” softly.

But she wasn’t having any of it. She looked as if she was going to explode but then Tom had a brilliant idea. His cube of illusion. He took it everywhere he went. He found it in his pocket and turned it. He was used to the feeling it gave him, since he’d used it a few times to get past Wilch to get to the Hag’s leg but this time, it felt completely different. It must vary depending on the desired outcome he thought. The effect was immediately apparent, Isabelle stopped raging and started to relax. She then was complacent and listened to what Tom wanted to say. He told her all about the situation and how he felt about it. “So you see, I never intended for this to happen I would never want to hurt you, you must know that,” he said in conclusion.

To his relief, she said, “I understand and I forgive you. We weren’t made for each other anyway.”

Tom stuck out his arm, “Friends?”

“Friends,” and she shook his hand. As he left the hall, he was oblivious to the onlookers who had been listening. He was incredibly happy about how it had turned out. Finally.

Immediately, he went to find Amber and tell her the good news. She was, if possible, more delighted than him when he found her. “Fantastic!” she said as she hugged him.

“So Amber, do you want to do something together?”

“I can’t Tom, I’m going home in an hour and I need to finish packing.”

Tom was slightly disappointed but didn’t show it. “You’re not staying over Christmas?”

She looked upset. “Sorry, Tom. I have plans with my relatives. But I’ll see you in January.”

”Sure. I understand. Have a good Christmas.”

“You too.”

Tom kissed her and left.

He’d planned to spend the afternoon in the gym but he was feeling so good about himself and the sun was shining high in the clear blue sky so he decided to go for a gentle walk in the grounds. The grounds were so beautiful. It was much easier to appreciate them when the weather was fine and there were less people about. As he strolled by the lake, he noticed something out of the ordinary. Professor Hogrod was lurking around the edge of the deadly forest looking rather suspicious. He was severely bruised and was carrying something hidden that appeared to be very heavy, judging by Hogrod’s stature.

Tom walked over to him and as he approached, Hogrod noticed him and quickly hid the package behind a tree. “Tom, how are you? It’s been a while.”

He said nervously, “Hey Professor. I’m great, thanks for asking. How are you?”

“Call me Hogrod, Tom. Everyone does. How come you haven’t gone home for Christmas?”

“I figured more would be happening here than back in diagonal alley. Besides, there’s not much left for me back home.” Tom’s smile faded.

“I understand Tom. I’ve been by myself for years now. No blood family left. Hogwash has been my home for decades, my family lives here.”

Keen to change the topic of conversation, Tom said, “What are you up to with that package Hogrod?”

Hogrod shuffled his feet. “What are you talking about Tom? There’s nothing here.”

“Come on Hogrod, you can tell me. I’m part of Dumby’s special task force.” Hogrod’s look of dumbfound showed that he hadn’t known, so Tom elaborated. “I’ve been helping him this year with a few things and he told me that you work with him as well, along with Harry and Professors Snipe and McMogal.”

Hogrod found his voice, “Well, I wasn’t expecting that. Great man, Dumby is, but I didn’t think he would put so much trust in teenagers.”

“He uses Trotter,” Tom protested.

“Yeah, he does. But Harry is Harry isn’t he. He who must not be named and him have got some unfinished business haven’t they. But enough of that, if you’re good enough for Dumby than I suppose I can tell you… It’s a sack of meat.” And he showed it to Tom.

“Hogrod, I know you look after loads of animals but that’s got to be an awful lot of animals to need all that meat.”

Hogrod chuckled to himself. “Not loads of animals Tom. Just the one.”

“Hogrod, you’re not saying what I think you’re saying are you?”

Hogrod smiled even more. “Yep, do you want to come and have a look?”

Tom’s heart started to beat twice as fast. “Of course, I’ve never seen one before. But how can you have one here. Surely it’s too dangerous?”

Hogrod waved his hand, “Nah, I’ve got her trained well, she’s gonna be really useful. You mark my words. But enough of this talk in the open where people can hear. Follow me.”

They walked deep into the forest. Tom had never been in before so was taken aback by just how large and dense it appeared to be. They walked for what felt like an hour until finally, Hogrod brought them to a halt. “She’s just through here,” he said gleefully. Sure enough, as Tom entered the clearing, in front of him he found a fully grown dragon. Her scales were like rubies, her spikes were up to two feet each and her claws were the size of a sofa.

“Wow. Just wow!” Tom exclaimed, not being able to think of anything else to say.

Hogrod appeared delighted, “I’m so glad you approve Tom. Most people don’t like dragons because they have the potential to kill you, but they’re good to you if you know how to treat them properly.”

Finding his words, Tom said, “She’s magnificent. I’ve never seen a fully grown dragon before. I’d heard tales of their might but this is beyond anything I expected. What’s her name?”

“It’s Lyrotth. Named after the great fire dragon of the south.”

“I know the tale Hogrod. Lyrotth was said to have destroyed the city of Pompeii in her rage with the humans when they attacked her.”

Hogrod beamed at him, “I can see you really know your stuff. It’s so nice to have a friend who I can talk to about dragons. Even Dumby doesn’t care for them, even though he agrees they are necessary. You just wait. Once she’s awake, you’ll see the full truth of her magnificence. Only, best stay back here for the moment. She probably won’t take kindly to you seeing as you’re a stranger.”

Tom was no fool. He knew it would be unwise to go up to Lyrotth straight away. “Agreed,” he said.

So Hogrod went over to Lyrotth and placed the meat sack by her. He then patted her on the wing and spoke into her ear. Even though Tom knew Hogrod behaving correctly, a smile spread over his face. It was weird to see someone the size of Hogrod being so gentle to a dragon.’ As if on que, Lyrotth stirred. She took one look at Hogrod and then her nose smelt the succulent meat and she stared ripping it apart. She looked as if she hadn’t eaten for days which Tom thought odd, as surely she could get food whenever she wanted. Surely, nothing in this forest was a match for her.

Lyrotth spend a few minutes devouring the meat whilst Hogrod remained by her side. Tom didn’t dare move any closer, although he had a funny suspicion that Lyrotth was watching him out of the corner of her eye. Sure enough, once she finished eating, she stared directly at him. That piercing, unblinking gaze kept him motionless as if something was keeping him rooted to the spot. She eventually turned away and became disinterested in both Tom and Hogrod. Hogrod took it as a sign to leave and walked back over to Tom. “She likes you,” he said, chuckling.

“How can you tell? I didn’t do anything.”

“The key is that she didn’t do anything. If she didn’t like you, you’d know it… Dragons are very slow and proud creatures as I’m sure you’re aware. Next time, try getting a bit closer to her and wait for her to respond.” Tom was pleased to hear there would be a next time. “Come on, I need to get back to my cabin,” Hogrod finished.

On the journey back, Hogrod elaborated on the correct steps to befriending a dragon and why he was bringing her meat. It turned out that Hogrod cared for all the creatures in the forest and had developed a careful ecosystem. Lyrotth would completely unbalance it if she started to eat parts of it. Somehow, Hogrod had convinced Lyrotth not to hunt any of them. Instead, he brought her animals that were already dead or dying.

After saying goodbye to Hogrod, Tom went back up to the castle for dinner. Only as he reached the great hall did he realise that it wasn’t time for dinner yet. So instead, he thought he’d grab some food from the kitchens and see Bonky at the same time. The moment he stepped through the doorway to the kitchen, lots of the house elves turned their heads towards the door and rushed over when they realised who it was. “Tom. It’s been too long. Can we be of service?”

“I’m looking for Bonky, do you know where he is?”

“He’s ill Tom,” one of the elves squeaked as others passed him a tray a biscuits. “Don’t worry though, he’ll be fine in a jiffy.”

Another elf said, “Is there anything else we can do sir?”

Tom said in a careful manner, “Please, could I make a special food request? Your cooking is always excellent at meals but there’s been a few things that I’ve never seen on the tables.” The elves looked at him, intrigued. “Can you make some fried chicken?”

The elves seemed overjoyed at the compliment on their cooking and a few of them set to work as another explained. “There are a few things that are banned from school meals as they are considered too unhealthy, fried chicken being one of them. Pretty much anything in batter is banned to be honest. But we can make you some, of course we can. It will just take a bit longer because we’ll have to start from scratch.”

It took about 10 minutes for the chicken to be done. In that time, he wandered around the kitchen, admiring the efficiency and enthusiasm of all the elves. The amount of work required for each meal was only just becoming apparent. He slipped in compliments here and there and by the time he left the kitchens with his chicken in a cauldron, the house elves were all sad to see him go.

It had been another full day, but it was not over. As he walked up the staircases towards Ravensnore tower and his relaxing bedroom, munching on his chicken, he realised that he’d not reported to Dumby since the first DL meeting. So he changed direction and went towards Dumby’s office. Once outside his eagle statue, he muttered the password, ‘deadly dandelions’ but the statue didn’t budge. He said it again but still nothing happened.

Coming to the conclusion that the password must have been changed, he turned to leave and try another time when the statue sprang to life and Abaforth Dumby came down the stairs. “Hey, Ab. How’s it going?”

“Not too bad Tom.” He looked around to make sure no one else was listening. “Can I expect you in my pub for Christmas dinner? I can promise you you’ll enjoy it.”

Tom was taken aback to be invited. “I’d be honoured Ab.”

“Excellent. Well I best be off. Get to the Hag’s leg for 7pm on Christmas day.”

He started to walk off. “Hey, Ab. Wait a minute. Do you know the password for your brother’s office? I thought it was deadly dandelions but it’s not working.”

“That was the last one. It’s really annoying. It changes every now and again. Albus likes to keep us on our toes. It’s now poisonous parsnips.”

“Thanks. See you.”

Ab left and Tom uttered the password and went up to Dumby’s office. He knocked on the door twice and as before, the headmaster called, “Enter.” Although this time, he sounded a bit more tired than usual.

“Tom, how did you manage to get in here? You don’t know the password.” It was not an accusation, more of a general interest.

“I just met Ab in the hallway and he told me.”

“I didn’t know you were on speaking terms with my brother,” said Albus, genuinely surprised.

“Yeah, he’s a cool guy. I met him when I went into the Hag’s leg on your orders.”

Dumby said to himself more than Tom, “I wonder why he never told me.”

“With all due respect sir, you and your brother are quite similar in keeping secrets and getting straight down to business. He probably didn’t think it was worthy information.”

Dumby didn’t speak for a while. He just stared into the fire in his office, pondering. He eventually looked away and addressed Tom again. “Like you say, let’s get down to business. Do you have information about my legion?”

“I do. The meetings are going fairly well but there haven’t been that many of them because people can’t agree on a time to meet. But we’ve so far covered many counter curses, jinxes and hexes that could come in handy in combat… Being from Durmprang, I’ve already been taught all the stuff Harry’s teaching the group so I can tell you that people are improving greatly. Harry does seem to be a good teacher. People trust him and take his words as truth. I must admit, I’m surprised he can. I’ve personally thought most people think he’s making things up and that he wouldn’t have the patience to teach. But he’s currently proving me wrong,” said Tom, honestly.

Albus seemed happy. “Good. Good. This is excellent news. Make sure he continues to teach the students and that he soon advances on to more challenging spells. I need to know that the students are more prepared.”

“Very good sir.”

“Well, if that is all Tom…”

“That’s not quite all Albus. I happened to just run into Hogrod this afternoon and he showed me Lyrotth.”

Again, Dumby paused for a moment. He seemed more on edge this time but when he spoke, his voice was remarkably stable. “So, Tom. What do you think?”

“Well, I think she is magnificent. But I don’t understand why there is a live dragon in the grounds.”

“And you won’t until the time is right. I was not expecting Hogrod to show you her. Again, I’m surprised that you even know him well.”

“You told me that he was in your special task force so I thought I should talk to him.”

This was true, although he hadn’t spoken to Hogrod before today. But he knew Dumby would like to hear it. “Very good. Just make sure that you don’t visit Lyrotth without Hogrod unless he’s giving you permission. I’m sure you understand what potential danger there could be and I can’t take any risks with my students.”

Because you’re not already by having a dragon here, he thought sarcastically. Tom could tell that Dumby was not fond of this conversation so he took it as a sign to leave and went to dinner

*

Since there were no lessons and a lot less students around, not much happened over the next week. The only thing of any interest was that Hermione had started to text him. True to her word, she’d started texting him once she’d got home. Their conversations were of nothing serious but it was enjoyable all the same. Tom hadn’t been in contact with anyone outside of Hogwash for months. For some reason his old Durmprang friends, to whom Tom had altered their phones, weren’t texting back.

All he had at Hogwash over Christmas were the teachers, who were cool but not the same as someone your own age, and Ryan. Mark had gone home with Ella but Ryan had stayed behind so Tom had spent a lot of time with him. They practised Quidditch, had eating competitions and Tom had even decided to show him the gym in the Anything Goes room.

Since Ryan had never used a gym before, he was no way near the level of Tom but due to his natural athletic ability, he quickly increased his strength. Tom had been used to working out alone for so long that he’d forgotten how fun it was to do it with a friend.

During a particularly strenuous session, where Ryan would have dropped 50kg onto his toe if not for Tom’s magic, stopping the plate an inch above it, they heard the door open and close. In bewilderment, they looked over to see Bonky coming over to them. “Good evening Tom, Ryan.”

They looked at each other and said at the same time, “You know Bonky too?”

They then laughed and looked back at Bonky. Tom said, “What are you up to? Last time I went to the kitchens, they said you were ill.”

“I’m much better now. I had a case of dragon pox but it’s all gone now.” Tom wondered to himself if Lyrotth had anything to do with it. Bonky continued, “I just came in to inform you that Professor Funwick is looking for both of you. Something about needing your help with decorations.”

Ryan was first to answer, “Thanks Bonky. But how did you know where we were and more importantly, how do you know about this room? I thought very few did.”

Bonky chuckled and said, “Know this. House elves know more about this school than anyone else. We are everywhere, cleaning and tidying, and we have ears in all places.”

Tom knew all along that you shouldn’t underestimate the houses elves and here was the proof. They hurriedly, thanked Bonky, showered and went to the great hall in search of Professor Funwick.

“About time boys. I was beginning to think you weren’t coming.”

“We’re sorry sir. We were in the middle of something,” they said together.

“No matter. You’re here now. Could you please give me a hand with the decorations around the castle tonight? I would not trust the task to any students other than talented Ravensnores.”

Ryan let out a gasp of surprise. “So that’s how it’s done. I’ve often wondered how all those decorations appeared overnight.”

Tom, of course, didn’t understand since this was his first year at Hogwash. Professor Funwick continued, “Yes well, this year I require you two. Can I count on you?”

“Of course sir,” Ryan said immediately.

“Excellent, I’ll give you 30 house points each. You need to cover the entire east and south side of the school. That’s everything from the transfiguration corridor to the owlery. I have told Mr Wilch about you so you won’t get into trouble for being out of bed. The decorations are in labelled boxes, ready to be taken to the right places. Remember this is a secret operation. Now get to work.”

The more time Tom spent at Hogwash, the more he realised just how much was kept secret around this place.

Putting up the decorations took almost all night and the most exciting thing that happened was Tom getting his hand caught by a suit of armour that refused to let go until he’d sung the national anthem. By the time they got to bed it was almost dawn. Tom entered his bedroom and didn’t even bother to get undressed. He just got straight into bed and fell asleep almost instantly.

Chapter 10 – The magic of Christmas

The run up to Christmas went by very quickly and before he knew it he was going to sleep on Christmas Eve. He woke up on Christmas morning to find a stack of presents on his bedside table, along with a fresh blanket of snow draping the grounds, which made them even more beautiful. Excitedly, he reached over and started unwrapping his first gift, which was from his uncle Garrick. It was a new wand. There was a note telling him that whilst his current wand worked well, with his new life experiences he needed this new one, which would be much more powerful. It was 14 inches, made of oak with a dragon heartstring core.

Tom spent the next 10 minutes practising a large variety of spells to see how the new wand differed from his previous. He even intentionally broke some things so he could repair them. Fixing things was his forte. His spells were indeed more powerful and effective but more than that, the feeling the new wand gave him was the biggest difference. His old wand felt like a wand. A piece of wood in his hand. This new one however, felt like an extension of his arm. It felt completely natural and weightless. He felt complete when holding it.

After revelling at the enormity of his uncle’s gift (it was useful being related to a wand maker), he averted his attention back to his other presents. They contained a set of headphones from Hermione, a sneaker scope from Harry and a note saying it was for helping him with Cho. A special beater bat from Mark and Ryan, some dragon shaped cookies from Hogrod, a Meat Loaf album called ‘Bat out of Hell’ from Amber and, to his surprise, a box of chocolates from Isabelle. He hadn’t thought to get her anything. He felt bad for not getting her anything but then cheered himself up by testing out his new headphones with the new music. As he listened to ‘Bat out of Hell’, he wondered what the reactions were from all the people he’d got presents for.

 

In the Ravensnore common room, the few kids that were left were all milling around, exchanging gifts, laughing and singing. Christmas really brings people together. Tom gave a passing greeting to anyone that looked at him and then left the common room to go down to the hall for Christmas lunch. He got 2 steps out the doorway, when his phone started to ring. It was Amber. Cheerily, he said, “Merry Christmas Amber. You got my present then?”

“HELLO! CAN YOU HEAR ME? TOM? TOM?”

“Ow. You don’t need to shout Amber. Just speak normally and I’ll hear you fine.”

“Sorry Tom. I’m just not used to this at all. It’s taken me all morning to go through the instructions to find out how to call you.”

Tom laughed to himself. He enjoyed laughing at how people found technology so difficult when it was so simple. “I can teach you properly when you’re back at Hogwash,” he said whilst rolling his eyes.

“Thanks Tom. I can’t wait to get back to be honest. I’m missing the dynamism of Hogwash, Quidditch and of course, you.”

Tom blushed, thankfully no one was around to see it. “Well you’ve got a phone now so we can still talk and text when we are apart.”

“What’s a text?”

“Haha, maybe not then. I’ll show you when you get back. Anyway, thanks for the music.”

“Is it the right thing? I know you like that type of music but I don’t know anything about it. I had to get one of my muggle born friends to help me out. She said she didn’t notice you playing any Meat Loaf at the victory party.”

“Yeah, it’s great. She was right about me not having much by him. You did a good job.”

“Oh good… Funny name for a person though.”

“I suppose. I’d never really thought about it. But then you like that band, the sly sphinxes.”

Before Amber had a chance to reply, Ryan came round the corner, “There you are Tom. Where have you been?”

“Hold on a second Ryan. Amber, are you still there?”

“Yes.”

“Listen, I’ve got to go. Have a good Christmas.”

“Ok, Bye.”

Ryan looked bewildered. “What was that?”

“Oh, I gave Amber a phone for Christmas so we can talk whenever.”

“That’s a bit forward mate. You must really be into her.”

“It just makes sense for her to have one. Muggles use phones all the time. It’s no big deal. You should get one.”

“Nah, it’s not for me. When I want to talk to someone, I want to be next to them.”

“Suit yourself. Thanks for the bat by the way. It looks quality.”

Ryan suddenly got very excited. “It is. I’m telling you, with the way you play, you can’t be making do with a school bat. Mark and I agreed you need a proper tool to cause maximum damage.”

“Well, thanks, it looks awesome.”

“Likewise for the keeper gloves. Funny how we got each other Quidditch stuff. We must both really want that Quidditch cup huh?”

“Definitely. But enough of this, let’s get some good food in us.”

“Agreed.”

They entered the great hall to a tumultuous array of colours and sounds. A bunch of incredibly large Christmas trees had appeared to accompany the decorations that Professor Funwick had set up. 4 of the tables had been removed to leave just 1 where students and teachers were sitting with each other. There was much chatter and laughing and crackers were being pulled left, right and centre. These crackers let off explosions that sounded like gun shots, produced multi-coloured smoke and contained items such as ever-lasting quills and toy snitches.

Tom spotted a couple of empty seats next to Hogrod so dragged Ryan over to him. “Mind if we join you?” Tom said, though he’d already started to sit down.

“Not at all. Not at all. Who’s your friend here?” Hogrod appeared in a much better mood since last they met.

“This is Ryan, he’s on the Ravensnore Quidditch team with me, keeper. He’s in final year.”

Ryan then spoke up, “Professor Hogrod, you won’t know me because you became a teacher after I’d dropped care of magical creatures.”

Hogrod corrected him. “That’s where you’re wrong Ryan. I have heard of you. Fred and George Weaselby speak highly of you.”

Ryan looked more relaxed from this point onwards. Their chat continued in a friendly, lackadaisical way for the next few minutes until Dumby appeared and sat at the head of the table to address everyone. “Thank you all for being here over Christmas, without you I’d be very lonely.” A few people laughed. “Christmas is a time for family. For those of us who have no blood family left or prefer their new family made at Hogwash, I hope you will enjoy our feast and the temporary seating arrangements. Let the feast begin.”

There was a great round of applause, amazingly loud considering how few people there were. Once the clapping had ceased, everyone turned to the roast turkeys and so on, that had appeared in front of them.

No one talked much over the next few minutes as everyone was enjoying their food too much. Tom however, knew he had another Christmas dinner to go to later so refrained from eating too much. Whilst Ryan was engaged in his turkey, Tom asked Hogrod about Lyrotth. “She’s doing fantastic Tom,” he said in a whisper. “Her obedience has greatly improved. Not long until she’ll be ready.”

“Ready for what?”

“Oops, I shouldn’t have said that…If you want, you can come and see her this afternoon.”

“Some other time, Hogrod. I’ve got other plans for today.”

Hogrod looked slightly disappointed but said, “Ok then. Some other time.”

Once people had eaten enough to give them a cardiac arrest, Dumby brought the feast to an end and made a special announcement. “Since its Christmas, I have a special present for you all. For today only, you will all be allowed in each other’s common rooms. There shouldn’t be any segregation today.”

People were to full to clap enthusiastically but a few cheered half-heartedly. The students then started to drag themselves out of the hall. Some went off for a snowball fight whilst others went to each other’s common rooms. Tom didn’t want to pass up this opportunity so quickly scanned the hall for anyone he knew from a different house. To his delight, he spotted Clara.

Ryan peeled off with some of his friends in Slytherdin so Tom made his way over to her. “Hey, Clara,” he called.

She looked over and smiled at him, “Long time no see. Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas! I didn’t realise you’d stayed at Hogwash for the holidays.

“Yeah. My parents have gone on an anniversary holiday so I stayed. It’s been lonely though. Everyone else went home.”

“I can fix that. I was wondering if you wanted to hang out, I’m interested to see Hufflesnuff if you’re willing.”

“Oh yes, I’d love to.”

She grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the hall. They walked together, Tom following her, for a few minutes along a few corridors but staying on the ground floor. Tom had never been to this part of the castle before, he’d never seen anything important there on a map. It then dawned on him that of course the common rooms would be in places that looked desolate, to prevent students from finding them.

Clara stopped at a blank wall. Tom looked at her, wondering what was happening. She smiled at him, then placed her hand on the wall and a perfectly circular door appeared, indented about a foot into the stone. Tom gasped and said, “That’s pretty cool. So even if someone from another house wanted to get in, they couldn’t.”

Clara scowled at him. “You sound surprised. Can anyone get into Ravensnore?”

“Err, not exactly. You have to answer a question to gain access.”

“You nerds,” she joked and pushed open the door.

Inside was a circular room, similar in shape and size to the Ravensnore common room. However, Hufflesnuff’s had a completely different feel about it. Ravensnore felt light, airy and open. Hufflesnuff’s was dark, dank and grounded. It was full of plants that gave it an earthy feel and the windows were fairly small. The chairs and sofas were all brown and mustard yellow. Tom privately thought that his common room was much better and that the Hufflesnuff’s had a pretty bad deal. Clara didn’t seem to think so though. “What do you think, Tom? Isn’t it wonderful?”

“It’s not for me to be honest.”

She looked surprised. “Don’t you love the feel of nature about the place?”

So that’s what it was! It seems like being sorted into the correct house if a more complicated process than I first thought. “To tell you the truth, it doesn’t feel good at all. But then I guess, that’s why I’m not a Hufflesnuff.”

Clara seemed determined to change his mind. “Come with me, I’ll show you my room. You might find that more appealing.”

The corridors to the bedrooms were all circular and narrow. All the doors were painted green or brown. Clara’s room was at the very end of this particular corridor. “You got a rough deal with this room. It must be a pain walking back and forth from here all the time.”

“I don’t mind it,” she said cheerfully.

It amazed Tom how happy she always was. Not just at this moment but every time he saw her. She appeared to be content with what she had in life. Not seeking anything more, just making the most of what had been given to her. Tom admired her for it because it was something he could never do, perhaps that’s why he liked her. He’d always been an ambitious person. Even when he was young, his sand castle had to be bigger and better than everyone else’s.

She opened the door and they stepped inside. “Oh this is much nicer,” Tom said to please her without actually taking it in. As it turned out, it was nicer. It had the same basic décor as the halls but Clara had added her own touches such as a few pictures on the walls and cushions. It was a bit too girly for his liking but he had to admit that she’d made the room feel a lot more welcoming and homely.

She smiled and said, “I’m glad you think so. How does it compare to your bedroom?”

Tom tried not to sound like he was boasting. “Sorry to say but I have a double bed and an en-suite.”

“You’re kidding!” Clara shouted.

“I’m not. I assumed all houses were the same. But obviously not.”

Clara remained on edge. “You get your own bathroom! And you’re a guy, it’s not as if you need one.”

“I do wash,” Tom interjected but Clara didn’t seem to notice. She continued as if there hadn’t been an interruption.

“I have to share a bathroom with 9 other girls! It’s a nightmare. With us all fighting for showers and mirrors, it’s a real struggle to get to our first lessons on time.”

She sat down on her bed as she said this. It seemed as if whilst she was content with most things, the bathroom was her limit. As Tom approached to sit down next to her, he tried to calm her down by saying “Well you always look good so it can’t be too bad.”

They spent the next few hours talking. Just talking. About lessons, their respective houses, stuff they like to do in the holidays and so on. Tom had forgotten how much he enjoyed talking to her. The time simply flew by. All was going great until Clara accidentally mentioned her recently dead brother. It turned out that he had died of a rare blood disease that was untreatable.

Before long, she started to cry and Tom comforted her and pulled her close. They sat in silence for a time until out of the blue, she raised her head from his chest and kissed him. He pulled away quickly. Shocked, he said, “Whoa Clara, what are you doing?”

She looked hurt, pulled herself out of Tom’s hold and turned away. “I’m sorry, I thought you liked me.”

Tom couldn’t believe what was happening. He said, “I do like you, but only as friends. I thought you knew that. I’m dating Amber.” Clara continued to look away from him and didn’t answer. Tom checked his watch and realised he was running late. He needed to get to the Hag’s leg, now. “Listen Clara. I’m sorry about this, I’ve got to leave now. I don’t want to leave you like this. We need to talk but there’s somewhere I need to be and I’m going to be late.” She didn’t reply so he left but as he closed the door, he thought he heard her crying again.

Once out of Hufflesnuff common room, Tom made his way back to the entrance hall and did his usual routine. Activating his cube of illusion, he made his way out into the grounds and along to Hogswine and the Hag’s leg. The icy wind was bitterly cold on his exposed skin. He wish he’d had time to get a jacket. Even for an ex Durmprang student, this weather was too much for just a shirt so he ran all the way and in only a few minutes, was entering the bar.

“Tom! I was starting to think you weren’t coming.”

“Sorry I got caught up in something. I, blimey!”

He’d just taken in his surroundings. Sitting at a round table were Ab and Albus Dumby, a large man wearing royal blue robes, Professor Snipe and a man with hair as bright orange as the Weaselby’s. They all smiled at him and he smiled back then took the vacant seat between Snipe and the man with the red hair. “I believe introductions are in order,” said Albus at once. “You already know myself, my brother and Severus of course. This,” he indicated the large man, “Is Kingston Boltshackel.” Kingston curtly nodded. “And this,” pointing to the other man, “Is Arthur Weaselby. He was recently attacked by a giant snake, hence the scars.”

Arthur shook Tom’s hand and said, “I believe you know a few of my sons.”

Ab then addressed Tom on the real reason of their meeting. “We are all members of a secret group trying to defeat Lord Moldywart called the Order of the Thunderbird. Albus started it when Moldywart was originally at large. We want you to… well I’ll let Albus explain, it was his idea.”

Albus took up the conversation. “Yes. Tom, if you are willing, I would like you to become our newest member. Never before have we inducted someone who wasn’t of age but I believe we need to make an exception with you. Bear in mind that it could be life threatening, Arthur here is proof of that… Everyone here is in agreement. What do you say?”

Tom thought for a moment. Albus then said, “You should know that you can’t tell your uncle, Mr Collivander. This might be hard to hear but I believe he is in great danger from the death munchers. They’ll want him for his wand making skills before long, I’m almost sure of it.”

That was a lot for Tom to take in. His only surviving family member in danger. “If you believe he is a target, why not protect him now?” Tom asked.

“Because he has a reputation that he needs to uphold and it will look too suspicious if he suddenly vanishes. But with your help, we might be able to stop Moldywart before he seeks Garrick.”

Tom again paused in thought before coming to a conclusion. “You’re sole purpose is to rid the world of Moldywart?” They nodded. “Then count me in. Whatever you need, I’ll help in any way I can.”

“Excellent, let’s eat then,” finished Albus

They tucked into another Christmas meal. It wasn’t quite the same as what hundreds of house elves could achieve, but it tasted good nevertheless. Tom spent the meal mainly listening to the others, trying to learn as much as he could about this Order of the Thunderbird. Part way through however, someone started texting him and as he pulled out his phone to read it, Arthur spotted him. He got all excited as it turned out he was an admirer of muggle products as well. From that moment onwards, Tom and Arthur discussed various things about the muggle world. Tom didn’t think he’d ever found another pure blood wizard who was as interested as him in muggle stuff.

“Have you heard about our Ford Mondeo?” Arthur was delighted when Tom said he hadn’t. “I got it from a muggle dealership but tinkered on it to make a few wizarding touches.”

“Naturally,” Tom interjected. Arthur nodded and continued.

“The biggest improvement was I enchanted it so it could fly. But I also added some extra room inside and invisibility, stuff like that. It was a real shame when Ron binned it.” Arthur looked genuinely upset.

“Did he?” asked Tom in surprise.

“Yeah. He and Harry flew it to school and then lost it in the deadly forest. It’s now just lurking around somewhere in there. Shame, it was my prized possession.”

Tom felt really bad for him. It sounded to him as if Harry and Ron hadn’t been very thoughtful. “I’m sorry Arthur, it sounded brilliant. I’ve never tinkered with cars myself but they’re on my to-do list.”

“Thanks.”

“On a different note, can I ask how come you’re here today? I’d have thought your family would have kept you close by after your injury.”

Arthur shuffled in his seat as he said, “Please don’t mention it to any of them but they think I’m still in St. Mungo’s. I should be there really, but I wanted to be here to meet you.”

Tom thought Mr Weaselby must be tougher than he appeared. From his perspective, Arthur was a gentle and kind father, nothing more. But being here only a few days after being attacked by a snake when he wasn’t properly healed showed strength.

Whilst Tom and Arthur had been talking, the others had been gradually getting louder. Tom and Arthur eventually stopped talking to listen to the others. “It doesn’t seem right not to train Trotter now. The dark Lord knows far more magic than him and they will face each other again before long. It seems only right that we give him the best chance possible,” said Kingston.

“You don’t understand Kingston, he’s too arrogant to think he needs any training,” said Snipe in his usual sneer.

“I believe Tom can contribute to this debate,” said Albus calmly.

“Can I?”

“Yes you can. Haven’t you been keeping tabs on him over the past few months?”

Everyone looked bewildered apart from Snipe, who sat in silence. “You’ve been tracking Harry? I thought you two were friends?” asked Arthur in shock.

“It’s not like that. We’re not really friends though.” Tom said and then he addressed everyone. “Harry’s combat magic is better than most Hogwash students of his age, however I agree with Kingston. He needs more tuition.”

“And you are the one to give it to him,” Albus said calmly, again.

“M-Me,” Tom stuttered. “Why not you, headmaster?”

“Because I don’t have the time and no one else is in a good a position as you are. I fear Severus is also correct. I believe that only a friend can teach him which leaves four people capable of teaching him defence. They are Black eye Rudy, Remus Kingpin, myself and you.”

Tom butted in, “Who are these people?”

Albus seemed slightly irritated at being interrupted but answered, “Black Eye is an ex-auror who, as you might have guessed, has a permanent black eye. But what you won’t know is that his eye gives him x-ray vision. He used to be called just X-ray Rudy but after staring at women too much, he’s now, permanently, Black Eye Rudy. Kingpin on the other hand, is an ex Defence against the Dark Arts teacher… Unfortunately, the three of us are too busy with other issues to take the time to teach Harry. Therefore you Tom, must be the one to do it. Also, I think it best for Ron and Hermione to be taught as well. Tom is definitely in the best position considering this.”

“How is Tom meant to teach them?” Kingston said promptly.

“Begging your pardon Kingston but I know how,” Tom said in an apologetic manner. “I’m part of a secret group run by Harry where he is teaching other students defence. All I need to do is show him some impressive magic accidentally on purpose and I’m sure he’ll want to learn it.”

Arthur then spoke, “Are you capable of such advanced magic?”

“I think so,” said Tom, confidently.

Albus then nudged Snipe in the side and he spoke up. “I can teach you anything you don’t know Tom.”

“Thanks. But Albus, if I have to teach Harry, can I at least teach Hermione,” he thought of Arthur, “and Ron with him. It’s just that I find Harry a bit obnoxious.”

“You’re not the only one,” muttered Snipe.

Albus ignored Snipe’s remark and said, “Yes, that seems reasonable.”

Arthur still didn’t look entirely happy. “It still seems too risky. What if Harry doesn’t trust Tom, no offence.”

Albus answered before Tom had the chance. “Trust me Arthur, Tom is exceptional at bending the minds of others for his desired outcome. He’s much better than he realises himself. He’s almost as good as the Tom who we are trying to get rid of.”

“Wait, what?” Tom asked in shock.

“You didn’t know? Lord Moldywart’s actual name is Tom Fiddle.”

“You should hear him play,” added Kingston, sarcastically.

This had a huge effect on Tom. I’ve been compared to the most evil wizard of all time! He didn’t like the comparison but at the same time felt pride in being called almost as good as Moldywart, who Tom believed was the most powerful wizard of all time.

The rest of the meeting was spent discussing the timetable for guard duty of something. Tom was too preoccupied with his own thoughts to pay much attention. By the time the meeting was over, everyone had said their goodbyes and Tom had gone back up to the castle, it had turned midnight. He’d planned to seek out Clara to straighten things out but he knew he’d no longer be able to get into the Hufflesnuff common room so went to be instead. All in all, one of my more memorable Christmas’s, he thought as he got into the Ravensnore common room which was deserted. He then smiled to himself as he remembered how much worse the Hufflesnuff common room was. With new found respect for his accommodation, he went to have a shower in his own bathroom.

Chapter 11 – The ups and downs of relationships

Tom woke up late on Boxing Day. He looked out the window to see the sun already high in the sky. Many new footprints were visible after the nights snow fall and icicles had appeared over the edges of the drain pipes. Despite waking up late, he still felt tired so he had a cold shower to wake him up. The water made his body shiver but it certainly did the job. Realising that he had missed breakfast, he contemplated going down to the kitchens but, as he came out of the bathroom, he noticed a tray on his desk containing a full English fry up and a note from Bonky. ‘Noticed you missed breakfast for the first time this year. Thought you might be ill so I had this delivered for you. Enjoy.’

Tom smiled to himself and took the food to his desk. As he tucked into his meal, he reached over for his phone to play some music. But then it dawned on him. He’d forgotten to look at his text messages and therefore never replied. He looked at the screen to see 4 unread messages and 3 missed calls from Hermione. What’s happened now!?

Message 1, ‘thanks for the dress, it’s beautiful. It’s so nice to get something other than a book. How did you know my size? Have you opened your present from me yet?’ Message 2, ‘How’s Christmas at Hogwash? Ours is a bit depressing because Ron’s dad is in hospital. We saw him earlier today but somehow being in a hospital doesn’t seem right at Christmas.’ Message 3, ‘Harry has gone off on one of his tantrums. I’m really starting to worry about him. I just wish he didn’t take it out on me.’ Message 4, ‘Why aren’t you replying? Is something wrong? Has something happened?’

Tom was glad to hear she didn’t sound annoyed at him. Concerned, more than anything else. He called her up but she didn’t answer so he left a message. “Sorry I didn’t reply yesterday. I had a lot of stuff going on. Christmas at Hogwash was great, I was really surprised since there aren’t many people here but it was very eventful. I’m sorry to hear yours wasn’t so good. I hope Ron’s dad gets better soon and I hope Harry treats you better in the future. I’ll sort him out if he doesn’t… I’m joking. But seriously though, tell me if something happens. I’m glad you like the dress and to be honest, it was a lucky guess I got your size. Also thank you for the headphones. See you soon.” There. That should cover everything without me sounding like an idiot.

He finished his breakfast then set about trying to solve the other relationship he’d fractured yesterday. He managed to find Clara in the library of all places. He’d never been in there before but he knew she spent time there so thought it was worth a look. He located her at the end of a row marked poisons. “Not thinking of poisoning me I hope?” he said jokily as he reached her. She jumped at his voice and looked up.

“Oh, it’s you. No, don’t worry. I’m just doing some potions homework.” She turned her attention back to her book.

“Listen. Clara, I hated how I left things yesterday. Can we talk?”

She took a few seconds to look back at Tom. “Ok, but not here. The librarian will be on us in a flash if we don’t stop talking.” Just as she predicted, the librarian appeared only three seconds later. Clara quickly packed up her things and they left

Once outside the library, Tom said, “Where do you want to go?”

“Shall we go back to my room again? I can guarantee we won’t be disturbed.”

“But I’m not allowed in. I’m not in Hufflesnuff.”

“Come off it. You really think students don’t go into each other’s houses? If a Hufflesnuff opens the door like I showed you, it stays open for a few seconds. Enough time for anyone to enter.”

Tom couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing. It made sense. Getting into Ravensnore tower only required correctly answering a question. Anyone could do it! He’d never stopped and thought about it before, having just assumed that there was some magic in place to stop someone trying to get into the wrong house. Clara laughed at his face as he came to the realization that she was right.

Back inside Clara’s bedroom, Tom spoke first. “First off, I’m really sorry about leaving you in the way I did. It wasn’t fair to you but I had a prior engagement that I was already running late for.”

“Isabelle said you often left her without an explanation as to why.”

Dangerous territory! Think fast. Nothing came to him so he just acted like she hadn’t said anything. “You must understand, I’m with Amber now. I do really like you but just as a friend,” he said uncomfortably.

“I’m an idiot,” she said.

“Know you’re not. To tell you the truth, I did fancy you at the beginning of the year, before I dated Isabelle. If I’d have asked you out then, things might have been different but they are what they are.”

Tom had hoped this would improve her mood but it had the opposite effect. She looked on the verge of tears again. Tom took hold of her and whispered in her ear, “Any guy would be lucky to have you.”

“But I want you.”

“You can have me, but just as a friend. I care about you a lot.”

“I feel so stupid for kissing you now.”

“Don’t be. You were really upset about your brother. It’s only natural that you sought comfort.”

She wiped her face, looked right into Tom’s eyes and said, “Thank you, you’re a good friend. But it’s hard.”

Tom didn’t know why he said what he was about to say. All he knew is that, in the moment, it felt like the right thing to do. “Tell you what, to show you how much you mean to me, I’m going to tell you something I haven’t told anyone else.”

“What’s that?”

“The real reason I transferred to Hogwash this year.” She leaned in, looking excited. “The reason I came was because I moved in with my uncle in London and the reason I,” he paused. “This is hard.” Tom’s voice had started to wobble.

Clara took his arm and said, “It’s ok. I’m here for you.”

Tom thought it odd that Clara and he had suddenly flipped roles, now she was comforting him. He continued, “The reason I moved in with my uncle was that, over the summer, my parents died.”

Clara let out a gasp, then held his arm even tighter. “Oh, I’m so sorry Tom,” she said sympathetically.

Tom decided that now he’d started, he might as well let it all out. He hadn’t talked about his parents to anyone since the brief meeting with Horace Snailshell back in the Runny Cauldron, but this time he was more comfortable being with Clara and began. He started to pace the floor as he told her how they had died and what had happened, and how the funeral was and how he was feeling. He surprised himself in some of the emotions he displayed. He’d thought he coped well with keeping this information bottled up but he was proving to himself how wrong he was.

He started to cry. He didn’t even bother trying to hide it from Clara. She got him to sit down next to her on the bed and comforted him. It felt nice. For a long time they said nothing. Then, once Tom had got control of himself again, he said, “Thank you for listening.”

She whispered “You did the same for me.” They both smiled.

“I think I’m going to go. I want some time alone.”

“I understand.”

She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. Tom then got up and left. What he really needed was some peace and quiet to be alone with his thoughts.

With that in mind, he fetched his coat from his room and went for a long walk in the grounds. The tranquillity was soothing for his head and allowed him to think clearly. After a few hours, he’d come to two massive conclusions. One, he had finally managed to do what he’d been afraid to do since his parents had died. Let go. There was nothing he could do about their deaths but there legacy still lives on inside him and he would make them proud. And two, girls are more effort than they’re worth.

*

Apart from the odd conversation with Ryan, Clara or Hermione, Tom kept to himself for the rest of the holiday. He’d spent so much time sorting out problems with other people that he just wanted to take a step back and have some time for himself. He spent most of his time in the gym, bulking up, sometimes with Ryan. By the end of the holiday, he’d improved his bench press by 20kg to a mean 150kg.

The day before term started, students arrived back at Hogwash, mainly by fire powder. It was an odd experience, even for a wizard, to be sitting in the Ravensnore common room, reading a book, whilst about 100 people came shooting out of the fire place within a few hours.

The book he was reading was a spin off from Newt Scamander, Fantastic beasts and how to cook them. It had been a late Christmas present from Bonky. He’d just reached a section on roasting a chimera when Amber appeared out of the fire place. She flung herself into his arms once she spotted him and they caught up on their separate holidays. Or rather Amber told Tom about hers and he listened. It turned out that she had been on a hiking trip in the Lake District. As she recalled a particular incident involving a cat, her father and a patch of black ice, Mark came out of the fire place. He took one look at Tom and Amber and said in a commanding voice, “Quidditch meeting, now.”

Tom was surprised to hear the tone of Mark’s voice. He normally sounded so laid back. “What’s up?”

“I’ll explain when the whole team is here. Go find them will you?”

It took 10 minutes for Tom and Amber to get back to Mark with the rest of the team. He’d cleared out a corner of the common room so that they could have some space and privacy. Mark and Ryan man hugged and then Ryan sat down with the rest of the team and Mark spoke. “First off, I think I speak for the team when I say Amber and Tom, congratulations on sorting things out between you two, we’re all happy for you.” There was a general murmur of agreement. “Secondly however, I want to warn the two of you. If relationships go sour, it can be the breaking of a team. Please don’t let that happen. I like both of you but if you get in the way of our cup chances, I’ll have to remove you from the team. Something I’d rather not do as you are both miles better than any alternative that I’m aware of.”

They both said, “We understand. We hope it doesn’t come to that either.”

Mark nodded and continued. “Good. Now that that’s out of the way, I want to draw your attention to our upcoming match against Slytherdin. We only scraped a win last game, that can’t happen again. We have the most talent of all the houses but we need to go out and prove it. That is why I’m scheduling practise three times a week from now until the match in three weeks’ time.”

Everyone agreed. They all wanted that cup and were willing to put in the work to get it.

“I’m surprised. I thought you’d all groan at the prospect. It’s good to see you taking this as seriously as me,” said Mark.

“You can count on us,” said Cho.

“We’re with you,” added Natalie.

“We’ve got your back,” finished Ryan.

“Excellent. Well, that’s all I wanted to say. First practise is tomorrow at 8, see you then.”

Tom spent the rest of the day with Amber in his room. They didn’t discuss much but just being with each other made them happy. The next day term started again and Hogwash got back to normal day to day functioning. The teachers were all much stricter this side of Christmas. They kept drilling into the minds of the fifth years how close there exams were and how important they were for their futures. This also meant that the students had to spend more of their free time completing extravagant homework. Due to Tom’s natural academic ability, he didn’t require much more time to do the homework than before, leaving him time to pursue his own activities. Since Mark had returned, Tom and Ryan had showed him the gym as well so now they sometimes worked out together. He’d also devising plans for how he was going to trick Harry into letting him teach him.

He had been planning to do it during the next DL meeting. However, a week had passed and Harry still hadn’t scheduled one so Tom decided to try a different approach. He planned to use what leverage he had to his advantage and that leverage was Hermione. He started to text her before realising that he hadn’t told her, or anyone else, the really clever part of his phone signal discovery. By the way he’d made the magic work, each individual device had to be tinkered with, by him, to work on the Hogwash network. This sounds like a nuisance but it meant that Tom could regulate who was using phones at Hogwash.

He’d already tinkered with Amber’s before giving it to her but currently, they were the only two. With that in mind, he sought out Hermione during their next lesson together, care of magical creatures. It was the perfect class to do it in because they weren’t limited on space and whatever creature they were studying usually made a lot of noise. This week, it was sphinxes (a baby one thankfully).

“Tom, what’s up?” asked Hermione, bewildered, as she saw him come over.

“I need to borrow your phone.”

“Why?”

“Because it doesn’t work at the moment, haven’t you noticed?”

“How do you know it isn’t working?”

“Hermione remember, I designed the network. No device will work at Hogwash unless I al-tinker with it.” He’d almost said allow, which would have made him sound like some kind of dictator.

“Oh, of course. I think I’ve got it here,” she said and rummaged around in her bag till she found it. “Here you go.”

She passed it over as they heard Hogrod raise his voice. “Come on Hermione, you’ll know the answer.”

She looked flustered, turned around and said, “Sorry, can you repeat the question?”

“What’s the proper way to feed a baby sphinx?”

“Oh, one person needs to hold it by the back of the neck so it can’t pounce or bite you whilst another feeds it pretty much any animal from a distance. By putting the meat on the end of a stick for example.”

“Excellent, 10 points to Gryffinchair. Can you show the class how to do it? Ron can help you out.” She looked worried at the prospect but agreed and went over to the animal.

Whilst the class was distracted, Hogrod leaned into Tom and whispered, “Come to my hut tonight, 7pm.”

He said nothing more and went back to the class to ensure their safety. Tom assumed it had to be about Lyrotth and got all excited. The rest of the day couldn’t go quickly enough for him. He was eager to see the dragon again. At 7pm sharp, he knocked on Hogrod’s door.

Hogrod opened up. “Good, you’re here. Just wait a moment.” He went back inside and Tom heard a series of bangs and crashes. Moments later, Hogrod came back out with a coat on and a crossbow in hand. “What’s that for Hogrod?” Tom asked, pointing at the crossbow.

“Just a precaution. The centaurs are getting angrier by the day and they can get seriously dangerous. They once led a riot in the forest to get rid of all the unicorns.”

“I didn’t know there are unicorns in the forest!”

“There aren’t. The centaurs succeeded,” said Hogrod, regretfully.

Tom offered his condolences and they set off into the forest in a rather somber mood. They followed the same route as before and this time, Tom had a vague idea what path they were taking to reach Lyrotth. It seemed to take less time than before and soon they were at the clearing. “She’s grown!” was Tom’s immediate response.

“Aye, they grow pretty quick. Dragons do when they’re young. Only problem is they never stop growing and they can live forever, some say.”

“She’s young!”

“Oh yeah, only 4 years old.”

“No way! She’s the size of a house.”

Hogrod chuckled and said, “Now listen, I haven’t just brought you here for fun. Remember last time, you stayed back here whilst I went over? Well this time, I want you to get closer. Not too close. Stand about 20 feet in front of her and wait. I’ll be on hand in case anything goes wrong.”

Tom was amazed at himself that he went through with it. In the end, his curiosity outweighed his fear and he headed into the clearing. Lyrotth started to growl but didn’t move so Tom continued walking till he was 20 feet away. After a few minutes of him standing there, she looked up at him and stared into his eyes. It unnerved Tom but he stared back. She stopped staring fairly quickly and started to groom herself. Tom thought it was safe to look away and he turned to find Hogrod. Hogrod beckoned him over, away from Lyrotth.

“Excellent. Lyrotth is taking to you Tom.”

“How can you tell? She barely even looked at me.”

“It’s not just about visuals with dragons. They have much keener senses than we humans do. She will have been smelling you. Not just your scent though. Dragons have the ability to smell emotions. They can find out who a person really is. They can feel inside your soul and sense your being.”

“How come I’ve not learnt about this?” he asked in astonishment.

“It’s not common knowledge. Few know the true powers of dragons. This is just one of the talents I know of and expect they can do more than what I know.”

“Can I get closer?” Tom asked eagerly.

“Not tonight Tom, you’ve done enough for one day. Come back with me again tomorrow at 7 and you can try then.”

“I look forward to it.”

The trip back to Hogrod’s cabin went without incident, thankfully. Tom bade goodnight to Hogrod and went back to his room, where he modified Hermione’s phone before turning in. He found it hard to sleep that night, knowing that tomorrow he might actually touch a live dragon.

[* Chapter 12- Man Alive! *]

He woke up with his day all planned out. Feeling excited, he bounced out of bed, had a quick shower and headed down to breakfast. There he found Amber and Natalie whispering to each other. “What’s up?” he said happily as he sat down next to Amber.

“You’re what’s up, you arse!” exclaimed Amber.

“Whoa. What’s happened?” asked Tom, completely shocked.

“Don’t act like you don’t know,” added Natalie.

Tom was bewildered, he said, “Well I’m sorry, I don’t.”

“So you deny going into Clara’s bedroom on Christmas day and Boxing Day for a few hours both times?” asked Amber.

Tom was completely startled, he’d not been expecting that. “How do you know about that?”

Amber replied, sounding hurt. “A Hufflesnuff told us this morning that she saw the two of you enter her bedroom and saw you leave a few hours later. Twice!”

“It’s not what you think, I promise. We’re just friends.”

“What was it then?” Amber said, intimidatingly.

“We were just talking,” replied Tom, defensively.

“If you are just friends and you were just talking, you can tell me what you were talking about.”

“Fine. I was talking to her about my parents dying.”

That shut her up. That shut her up good. Tom hadn’t realised it but both their voices had been getting louder and louder throughout the conversation to the point where he’d almost shouted the last line. The entire hall was watching him, including the teachers. Amber looked mortified. “I’m so sorry Tom. I didn’t know.”

Tom returned to his normal voice and said, “I forgive you. And I’m sorry too for getting angry like that.”

“Don’t be, it was justified,” she said, sounding mortified.

Tom glanced round at everyone watching, then said, “I’m sure you’ll want to discuss this later, but for now, can we drop it?”

“Of course. I’m so sorry.”

They sat in silence for the next few moments whilst they ate. After a few more minutes, Tom couldn’t take the silence any more. “Listen, I’ve come to terms with it. I know they’re gone and I’ve let them go. I won’t say more here but you don’t need to worry about me.”

He got up before she could respond. Spotting Hermione, he went over to her to give her phone back. “I’m sorry Tom,” she said in a gentle tone.

“Thank you but don’t be. They lived good lives and they are in a better place now.”

He then left her and went back to his room for some privacy. He thought he’d moved on from his emotions but perhaps not. Perhaps this was his ‘chink in his armour.’ Eventually though, he decided that he’d got upset because of being accused by his girlfriend, not because of his parent’s deaths. They just happened to coincide. Whether this was true, Tom wasn’t a hundred percent sure but it didn’t matter because it was what he believed and therefore it was true in his mind. He spent a long while coming to this decision, the upshot being that he missed his potions lesson. Thinking that his day could only improve, he set off for charms.

As soon as Tom joined Clara and Isabelle at their usual table, Clara spoke, sounding upset. “I heard what happened at breakfast. You shouldn’t have been put through that, it’s my fault.”

Tom reassured her. “No it’s not. Besides we didn’t do anything wrong… There are two things you should know about me. I don’t do anything that I don’t want to do and I take responsibility for my actions.”

“Even so, you shouldn’t have had to tell the hall, I know how hard it was for you when you told me.”

“That was different. That was the first time I’d told anyone. I’ve come to terms with it since then and, frankly, I don’t mind if people know.”

“Wow, you’re brave. I don’t think I want many people knowing about my brother.”

“I understand. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.”

“I know you won’t.”

Isabelle then joined in, “It sounds like you two got close over Christmas.” Seeing the looks on Tom and Clara’s faces she added, “I don’t mind. I’m over you Tom. Besides, I believe you when you say you’re just friends.”

“Thanks Isabelle, you’re pretty cool.”

Tom was suddenly starting to wonder if he’d made a bad decision by breaking up with her. She had appeared clingy at the time but she didn’t now and Amber did.

In today’s lesson, they were to practise banishing charms. Tom had already master them so he set about helping the other two. They both really appreciated his advice. The more he help them throughout the year, the more he was liking teaching them. They were ever so grateful, which gave Tom an idea. “How good are you two at defence magic?”

Isabelle replied, “We can do what Dumbridge sets us but you can’t really call that defence. Some practical help would be useful.”

“Great. I’m part of a secret defence class that goes on behind closed doors. Interested in coming?”

They looked at each other before they both said, “Yes.”

“Good. But I can’t let you in. You need to ask Hermione Danger first.”

“Ok,” they both said.

Then Isabelle added, “Are you the teacher?”

He chuckled. “No, but if you tell Hermione how I’ve help you two then I might be soon.”

They looked slightly surprised at this but said nothing of it and went over to Hermione to ask her. Tom watched their conversation out of the corner of his eye. He noticed Hermione kept glancing over at him. Thankfully, Professor Funwick was otherwise engaged, having being banished himself by some kid who accidentally hit the Professor rather than his cushion. Isabelle and Clara returned to him, just as the bell rang. Clara was the first to speak. “She said yes, after Trotter agreed to it. We also told her about the help you’ve given us just like you asked.”

Tom privately celebrated. “Thank you, it means a lot.”

“Happy to help… We better run, we’ve got to get out into the greenhouses next.”

“See you later then.”

Glad that something had gone right today, Tom set off for Defence against the Dark Arts in a much brighter mood than normal. Dumbridge’s lessons really were even duller than history of magic. All they had to do all year was read a book. Something which Hermione had finished by the second lesson and Tom finished within a week. Therefore all they’d been doing was sitting there, pretending to read. Today was different however. The class got out their books and started reading in silence as usual but then Tom felt his phone vibrate. Hermione was texting him.

Sure enough, he looked over at her to see her with her phone hidden behind her book and her looking eagerly at him. ‘I hear you’re an excellent teacher?’ said Hermione’s text. He decided to play dumb.

‘I never said that. Who did?’

‘Those girls you just invited to the DA.’

‘I didn’t. I just merely told them of its existence.’

‘Well whatever. Are you a good teacher? What have you been teaching them?’

‘I’ve just been helping them with whatever Professor Funwick sets us.’

‘Don’t you need to practise as well?’

Tom struggled to write his next reply without sounding cocky. ‘It’s quite simple to me. I’ve learnt much more advanced stuff than these little charms.’

She took some time to send the next text. Tom thought she might be thinking less of him. Although her next text didn’t suggest that. It read ‘Oh yeah? Like what?’

‘Disillusionment charms, patronuses, leg breaker curses. Stuff like that.’

‘Whoa! That’s advanced.’

‘I guess.’

‘Do you think you could teach me sometime?’

Tom tried to kill two birds with one stone with his next text. ‘You don’t need my help, you’re top in every class!’

‘Based on what you’ve just told me, I think I do. You appear to know more than me. Please will you do it?’

He had her now. By complimenting her and refusing her at the same time, he’d made the proposition sound irresistible to her. ‘If you insist,’ he replied feeling smug.

‘Great. Let’s meet up sometime.’ She ended the conversation and went back to pretending to read her book.

Tom hadn’t asked her to invite Harry and Ron for one key reason. He knew Hermione. He knew that she would get them to come without any prodding from him. Besides, it might have looked odd if Tom had suggested teaching anyone else with her when she had been asking him.

The rest of the day’s lessons went by as usual. More rants from the teachers about C.A.T’s. More homework. More rants at those who hadn’t done the previous homework. As the 6 o’clock bell rang to signal the end of the day, Tom raced off to the great hall for a quick dinner before going down to apologise to Professor Snipe for missing the morning lesson. He knocked on Snipe’s office door and went in when called. The office looked just as it had at the begging of the year except that in now included what Tom thought was a pensieve.

“Ah Tom, you’ve come to apologise I take it?”

“Yes sir.”

“Well there was no need.”

“Really?” Tom had expected him to be angry but he was mysteriously calm.

“Really. I know how hard it can be to lose the ones you love. I will let your absence slide.”

“Thanks sir.”

“Don’t mention it.”

Tom’s curiosity won him over. “Sir, is that a pensieve? Is it new?”

“I’ve borrowed it from the headmaster. I have an action packed evening ahead.” Snipe said, very sarcastically.

“That bad is it?” Tom asked, trying to supress a laugh.

“Unfortunately yes. I have to give up my evenings for Trotter.”

“My sympathies.” He knew how much Harry and Snipe hated each other. He then looked at his watch and realised he needed to get to Hogrod’s. “Sorry sir. I need to get going. There’s somewhere I need to be.”

“Ah yes, give Hogrod my best won’t you.”

Tom froze. “How do you know I’m going to Hogrod’s?”

“The plan, Tom. Dumby’s plan. We are all part of it. Why else do you think I would have agreed to spend my evenings with Trotter?”

“What’s Lyrotth got to do with the plan?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Snipe but Tom didn’t believe him. They stared at each other for a second. Tom wanted to question Snipe but didn’t have time.

“Thanks again sir,” he said and headed off for Hogrod’s.

When he arrived at Hogrod’s hut, he found Hogrod already waiting for him round to the side, armed with his crossbow like before. “Ready?” Hogrod asked once Tom reached him.

“Ready.”

They walked off on their usual path, Tom having memorised it now. As they strolled through the forest, Tom asked, “How come Snipe knows about this?”

“About what?”

“About me, visiting Lyrotth with you.”

“Does he?” Hogrod said but he wasn’t as good as Snipe at keeping a straight face.

“Come on Hogrod, you know why.”

“Oh alright, I’ll tell you. There’s a reason you’re the only student visiting Lyrotth.”

“I thought it was just because I have more of an interest than any other student and because I’m in Dumby’s task force.”

“It was at first. It was. But after that first time, I told Dumby what had happened and he came up with a scheme to help us win the war.”

“Which is what?”

“Don’t ask me, I don’t know. All I do know is that my job is to get Lyrotth as familiar to you as possible. If all goes right tonight, you can visit her without me from then onwards.”

Tom said nothing more till they reached her. The thought of being left alone with a dragon was terrifying and yet amazing at the same time.

Lyrotth was staring at them as they approached as if she’d been waiting for them. Tom, under Hogrod’s instruction, slowly went right up to Lyrotth and gently stroked her on the top of her head. To his amazement, from the moment he touched her scales, a shot of something, that could only be described as magic, flew up his arm and went right into his very core. The feeling felt electric. His heart started to race and he started to sweat on his brow. To add to his amazement, she made a sound almost like a purr and leaned in towards him. Tom continued to stroke her, moving from the top of her head to behind her ears. After a few minutes, Hogrod came over to join them. He had a huge smile on his face. “What do you think?” he asked.

“It’s wonderful! I can’t believe I was ever scared. Thank you so much Hogrod.”

“You’re welcome. Although it’s Lyrotth you should be thanking. Go on, speak to her.”

Feeling slightly foolish, Tom spoke to Lyrotth. “Lyrotth, you are magnificent. It is an honour, truly, to meet you. Thank you for letting me touch you.”

As he finished, he felt a warm jolt fly up his arm. This one was different to the last one. This time it was much more friendly and soft. Tom also got the feeling that Lyrotth had understood him and was appreciative.

“How was that?” Hogrod asked nervously.

“I’m not quite sure, I think she understood me. The feeling I got inside me was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.”

Hogrod looked extremely pleased. “Whilst dragons can’t speak, they do have their own ways of communicating as you’ve just experienced. There’s nothing else like it trust me. I still remember the feeling when Nigel hatched and we first touched.”

“Nigel?”

“Oh blimey I forgot to tell ya. A few years back I hatched a dragon in my hut, called him Nigel. But he had to leave after a while because he was starting to tear the place up.” Only Hogrod, Tom thought.

They stayed for another 15 minutes or so. Tom didn’t want to leave but, in the end, Hogrod made him. As they turned to leave, Lyrotth let out a ferocious roar of flame into the sky, causing all the birds in the trees nearby to squawk and fly off. Tom and Hogrod both laughed. “So that’s why she’s called Lyrotth,” Tom said cheerily and they walked off back to the castle.

Before Hogrod said goodnight, he gave Tom some advice. “Like I said before, you can now visit her without me. But, make sure you don’t go too often and not when people can see you leave. It would not be good to draw anyone’s attention. Also, remember, keep a sharp eye. There are many things in that forest. Never attack anything unless it attacks you first. As long as you stick to this, you should be fine.”

“Cheers Hogrod. Will do.”

Chapter 13 – Manipulation

“Tom, wake up.” Someone was calling him and even started shoving him but he didn’t open his eyes. It was a Saturday and he was so comfortable after a brilliant night’s sleep that he didn’t want to move. The shoving didn’t cease so, reluctantly, Tom opened his eyes.

Sleepily, Tom raised his head and said, “Morning Amber. What are you doing in my room?”

“Morning to you too. I just wanted to see how you were. I couldn’t find you yesterday so I was waiting for you to go to breakfast but you never showed.” She sounded mad and relieved at the same time.

“I’m getting up, I’m getting up.”

“It’s too late now, breakfast is over!”

Tom felt bad for her now. “Sorry you missed it.”

He got up and put on some cloths, having only been in underwear. “Hold on a second,” he said and went over to his fridge and pulled out a few bacon sandwiches and some juice. “Here,” he said, handing her a sandwich.

“You have a fridge?” she asked, incredulously.

“Doesn’t everyone?”

“No! You’re the only one. How did you manage that?” she demanded, sounding jealous.

“Bonky must have hooked me up.” Amber’s face was blank. “My friend who’s a house elf,” he added.

“I didn’t know you were friends with the house elves.”

“It pays to have friends in all places,” he said matter-of-factly as he took a bite out of his own sandwich. “Juice?” he asked and handed it over.

“Oh, err, yes please,” she said, still in shock. Tom secretly loved watching her expressions of shock and bewilderment whilst he acted like it was another completely normal day.

“So, Amber, you wanted to talk?”

She took a deep breath and said, “I just wanted to make sure you were ok. Also, if you are willing, I’d like to hear the whole story.”

“I’m ok, seriously I am. I struggled with their deaths for the past few months but my chat with Clara helped me and I’ve come to terms with it. People die all the time. Like I said before, my parents lived good and full lives and now they’re at peace.” She still looked worried. “Their legacy and memory lives on through me. Do I wish they were still alive? Yes. But am I going to live in the past? No.”

Amber looked impressed. “Clara seems to have done a good job on you.”

“She really did.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t trust you before.”

Tom waved it away. He said, “Forget about it, it’s in the past… As for what happened, it goes like this…”

He told her everything, just like he’d told Clara only this time there were no tears. Amber got gradually more shocked throughout. When Tom finally finished, she said, “There’s so much I didn’t know about you. For one thing, you’re Swedish!”

“No, I’m English. I just grew up in Sweden,” Tom corrected her.

“And you’re a blacksmith???”

“Not really. I can handle a forge and stuff but my skills are nothing compared to my parents.”

“Were they really that good?” Amber asked, sounding impressed.

“Some of the very best.”

“Do you plan to go back to forging after school?”

Tom had thought long and hard about this and had come to a decision quite recently. “No, I don’t think so.”

“Really!? Why not?”

“I feel like that part of my life should die with them. It was there passion, not mine. I want to move on to something else.”

Amber was shocked to hear him say this, she didn’t agree. “But don’t you want to forge in memory of them. You said they live on inside you, but aren’t you ignoring them if you stop that part of your life?”

This had been Tom’s main opposing argument but he’d made a decision and he wasn’t going to change it. “Their forge is now rubble, their quality is no more. If I continue in a different forge and at sub-par quality, it wouldn’t feel right.” Amber opened her mouth to argue but Tom stopped her. “It’s my decision and you’re not going to change my mind.”

She looked taken aback at the seriousness in his voice and said, “I wasn’t going to. I agree that it’s your decision alone.”

There was a pause in the conversation, then Amber asked, “So you moved in with your uncle and haven’t been back to Sweden since?”

“That part of my life is behind me. Even my old friends haven’t got in contact, even though I’ve tried to get in touch. There’s nothing left for me back there.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You shouldn’t be.” She looked puzzled. “Think about it. If none of that had happened, none of this,” he spread his arms open, “Would have. I would never have met you for one thing. Every cloud has a silver lining. Something my dad always told me was to always make the best of every situation and then try to improve on it.”

“That’s very inspiring.”

“And I try to live by it.”

They held each other for a time, then suddenly, Amber pulled away in shock. “Tom, you’re vibrating!”

“Oh, haha. It’s just my phone.” He took it out and read the message from Hermione, ‘meet me at 2 by the crushing oak.’ He quickly texted back, ’I’ll be there.’ He then said to Amber, “That reminds me. I’m yet to teach you how to use yours properly.”

“I’ll just go and get it,” she said and hurried off.

She was back within 2 minutes. Tom spent the next 30 minutes teaching her how to use it. She interrupted with things like “So that is the power button?”

He replied, pityingly, “That’s the camera.”

“That is a camera! It’s so small!” And “How can you store music on a phone?”

Tom didn’t think she’d understand the scientific answer so he just said, “Think of the music like a file of homework. The phone has storage space to hold the files, like a bookshelf.” She sort of understood.

By the time they’d finished Amber could talk, text, listen to music, use the camera and even play a game. Tom hadn’t bothered telling her about the internet capabilities because that was the one thing he was yet to figure out how to get working in the magical world.

They next went down to lunch together. The hall was full of people who were looking over at the pair of them. Tom supposed they were waiting to hear some more information. Just how quickly had yesterday’s outburst spread, Tom wondered.

They both found it easy to ignore everyone and just enjoy each other’s company. Tom tried to think up an excuse for a reason to leave. Happily though, he didn’t have too as Mark came over to talk to Amber about some chaser moves. Tom slipped away and headed off for the crushing oak. On his way, he tried to think of some more excuses for leaving in preparation for the next time it happened but it turned out to be really difficult, probably because he never lied and so didn’t have practice at it. They had Quidditch practise together, they were in the same house and they had some meals together. He couldn’t find any wiggle room.

As Tom approached the oak, to his delight and as he had expected, Harry and Ron were with Hermione. “How’s it going guys?” Tom said cheerfully.

“I brought Harry and Ron too, I hope its ok.”

“Sure, no problem.”

Harry then spoke up, “Hermione’s told us a lot about you. We heard you could produce a patronus and since I’m the only other person of our age who I know can do it, I wanted to see for myself.”

Tom smiled, thought of his old friends and said, “Expecto Patronum.” Nothing happened.

Ron slipped in, “Looks like you can’t do it. Were you just trying to show off?”

Tom was confused, “Hang on.” It had always worked for him before but it dawned on him that his old friends were no longer such a happy memory due to them ignoring him since he moved. He poked around for a new memory and one came flooding to him. The feeling he’d got when he first touched Lyrotth. “Expecto Patronum,” he said again but this time it worked. A dragon came thundering out of his wand and circled the willow a few times. Tom was taken aback. Every time previously when he’d cast a patronus, it had been a hawk.

“She’s beautiful,” said Hermione.

Ron said, “Whoa, a dragon!”

“That’s odd,” said Tom.

Then Harry asked, “What’s odd? Patronuses are meant to represent the human so you must be proud to be a dragon, there’s nothing better.”

“I agree but it’s never been a dragon before.”

Hermione said in surprise, “You’re patronus has changed? I didn’t know that could happen.”

“Neither did I,” Tom said admittedly. “What animal are you Harry?” Harry produced his stag which cantered off into the distance. “Cool stag.”

Harry looked pleased and said, “Listen Tom, now that you’ve proved you can produce one, how do you feel about teaching them to the DL?”

“Whoa, really? Why don’t you do it?”

“People keep asking me when the next meeting is but I haven’t got the time to do one. So what do you say?”

“Yeah, alright then.”

All three of them looked relieved. Harry continued, “Excellent. I’ll set a meeting for tomorrow evening.”

Out of the blue, Tom heard his dragon roar. He looked up and saw Dumbridge on the horizon, coming towards them. “Quick, get out of here. Dumbridge is coming.”

“You can tell that from back here. You must have good eyes,” Hermione said.

“Never mind that, go.”

Tom split up from the others and started walking towards the greenhouses in the hope that he could blend in with the crowd.

“Collivander, wait a moment.”

Oh no! Somehow, Dumbridge’s tiny legs had managed to catch up with Tom. He turned around to see her speed walking towards him. Trying to act innocent, he said, “Professor. Can I help?”

“What were you doing with Harry Trotter? I saw his patronus come cantering past me and then spotted you with him.”

“I didn’t know it was a crime to talk to someone.”

“Watch that attitude. Why did he produce his patronus?”

“How do you know it was his?”

Dumbridge scowled and said, “He almost got arrested in the summer for using his patronus in front of a muggle. I ask again, why did he produce his patronus?”

Tom was surprised to learn Harry had used magic in front of a muggle. He didn’t think Harry was that stupid. He assumed there was a part of the story he didn’t know. “We were just showing each other our patronuses,” he said.

“You can produce one too?” she said, interestedly. Tom didn’t like the way she was smiling. “Where did you learn how to do that?”

“From my mother,” he answered quickly and truthfully.

“Oh, err, alright then. You can go this time but I’d advise you to stay away from Trotter in the future if you want to stay out of trouble.”

Tom didn’t need telling twice. He went back into the castle, trying to work out what she had been after. Once he thought he knew, he thought to tell Dumby. He went straight to his office, but took a detour just in case he was being followed. Thankfully, the password hadn’t changed again and he headed up the eagle staircase and entered the office.

“Professor, I’ve come to report.”

“You’ve become Harry’s teacher?” asked Dumby hopefully.

“Sorry, not yet but I’m working on it. I’m going to teach the next DL lesson to win his trust and show him what I can offer. But that’s not why I’m here.”

“Oh?”

“I think Professor Dumbridge might be on to us. She just,”

Dumby cut him off. “I wouldn’t be so sure. She’s looking for any detail which she can manipulate into getting me sacked so she can take my job.”

“But Albus, Hogwash needs you.”

“I quite agree. But don’t worry, if a time does come when I’m no longer headmaster, I have taken precautions to ensure the school doesn’t stray into madness. If I leave, you must report to Severus.”

“Of course, Albus. So, is Dumbridge not a threat?”

“She is a threat, but only a small one. One that can be dealt with. Don’t worry about her.”

“Alright then sir.”

“Also, again hypothetically, if she tries to harm any student, do I have your word that you will try to stop her, within your limits?”

“Yes, sir. Although forgive me for asking, but I’m also a student. Why do you entrust this task to me?”

“For the same reason I’ve asked you for help throughout this year. Because you are no ordinary student and I see you having a key part to play in the outcome of this war. The more responsibility you have now, the better prepared you will be when the time comes.”

Tom admired how much faith Dumby had in him. “Thank you. I’m sorry to have wasted your time, this has been a bit of a pointless meeting.”

“I always have time for you Tom.”

“In that case, I just have a quick question.”

“I’m all ears.”

“Why can patronuses change animal?”

Dumby looked puzzled. “That’s an odd question. Has this happened to someone you know?”

“Yes, me.”

“May I ask what animal your patronus has become Tom?”

“A dragon.”

Albus leaned forwards in his chair. “Will you cast it now?” Tom did as requested. The dragon came to settle between the two of them. Dumby smiled broadly. “Look closer Tom. It isn’t just a dragon.” Tom inspected his patronus. He got close enough to distinguish the dragon’s markings and scales. It was Lyrotth. Albus continued “I believe you know the specific dragon your patronus has taken the shape of. Does this answer your question?”

Tom thought for a moment and then it hit him. “The animal your patronus is depends on the memory used to cast it”

“Yes and no. It can depend on the memory, but only if the memory in question is of particular significance to the individual.”

“But Albus, does that then mean that the animal doesn’t represent the person?”

“No. The animal is a combination of the two. What was your previous patronus?”

“A hawk.”

“So in your particular case, both animals have similarities and these are the properties related to yourself. They both fly, they are strong, gracious and highly useful is befriended but deadly if not.”

“Thank you. That makes a lot of sense.”

“No, thank you Tom.”

“For what?”

“For being my friend. Your patronuses have shown that you are not a person to be an enemy of.”

*

The next evening Tom met Hermione and Ron in the Anything Goes room a few minutes before the others turned up. “I’m really looking forward to this Tom” said Hermione.

“Me too,” added Ron.

“To tell you the truth, I’m a bit nervous. I prefer to deal in small groups.”

“Come off it, you’re a Quidditch player. You’ve had the whole school watching you,” said Ron.

“That’s different though. When I’m playing Quidditch, I’m focused on the game, not the crowd. Whereas this is directly communicating with the crowd.”

Hermione said, reassuringly, “You’ll be fine. Oh, look. Here they come.”

As the 25 or so people filed into the room, Tom went deep inside his own mind to calm himself down. He couldn’t understand why it was happening. He’d never been nervous before, never, because he’d always had confidence in his abilities. So why get nervous now. He knew he could teach. He knew all the people in the room. So what’s wrong with me?

Before he could work it out, everyone had arrived so Tom came back out of his mind and addressed everyone. “Hi guys! You may have noticed Harry isn’t here. Unfortunately, he was unable to teach today so he asked me to teach you instead.”

There were a few murmurs in the crowd and Cho asked, “Is he ok?”

“As far as I know,” replied Tom.

Hermione added, “He’s fine, he’s just has a lot on his plate at the moment.”

Tom spoke again, “Anyway, since Harry is not here, I thought I’d teach you guys something really fun. I’m going to try to teach you how to make a patronus.” This time, the crowd were a lot more audible. People gasped and cheered. “It sounds like you’re all in agreement so I’ll begin.”

He first went through the correct use of the spell, to ward off dementors. He then told them the incantation and wand movements, followed by how you had to feel mentally strong to cast it by using a happy memory. Finally he cast his own, in an example, which generated many cheers and whistles as his patronus form of Lyrotth flew around the room, just above everyone’s heads.

“Now that you all know the theory, have a go.”

The crowd automatically split up so everyone had a bit of space around them and soon the room was full of shouts of, “Expecto Patronum.”

Tom spotted Clara and Isabelle and went over to them. “You found the place alright then?”

Clara replied, “Hey Tom, yeah it’s great this room. I’ve never know it to exist before. Do you teach stuff like this every week?”

“If you mean defensive magic then yes. If you mean flashy and exciting things then no. Sorry to disappoint.”

They both looked slightly disappointed but went back to casting as Tom observed everyone around the room. In 20 minutes, no one had managed to produce anything more than wispy smoke so he addressed the whole room again.

“Don’t worry that none have you have done it yet. It’s advanced magic and can be tricky to get the hang of. You probably don’t want to hear this but sometimes the best way to produce a patronus for the first time is to see one breathing down your neck.”

The crowd shuddered and Fred asked, “So how did you manage it then?”

“I was taught by my mother. She just got me to reach deep inside myself and pour my happy emotions into the spell. It’s quite hard to explain but once you do it, you’ll understand.” The crowd had become more subdued at the mention of Tom’s mother, since they had all heard the story by now. But they hung on to his every word.

The group went back to practising, and to Tom’s delight, two people managed to produce a full bodied patronus, albeit a weak one. Surprisingly, one of them wasn’t Hermione. They were Fred and George. They produced animals that looked the same, but on closer inspection, Tom realised they were a leopard and a jaguar respectively.

The room applauded and rushed towards them to congratulate them. Once the group had subsided, Tom went over and privately asked them “What were you thinking of when casting?”

“Each other,” replied both of them.

Tom laughed. “Good job guys, but just realise that both of them were a bit weak and could probably only stop one dementor at a time.”

“Way to pour water on a bonfire,” said George jokily.

“Yeah, real party pooper, you are,” added Fred.

Fred and George continued to produce their patronuses and everyone else still struggled to create anything. Tom helped out where he could to varying degrees of effect. Clara flourished under Tom’s personal instruction and she became the third, and only other person to create a patronus, a unicorn! Hermione on the other hand, found Tom’s help frustrating. Although that may have been because she was used to being able to accomplish whatever she was learning, rather than him personally.

With only 10 minutes left, Harry came into the room. Tom was unaware when he entered because he was instructing Cho. Cho had been concentrating intensely but got distracted by the arrival of Harry. She hugged him as he came over to speak to Tom. Tom was counting on Harry turning up before the end as he planned to show off his talent in front of him so that Harry would want to be taught by him.

“Looks like you’re teaching them well. Has anyone managed to produce one yet?” Harry asked.

Tom, proudly, said, “3. Fred, George and Clara.”

“Wow! I’m impressed. Good job.”

“Cheers, but congratulate the class. They’re the ones putting in the work.

“Bring everyone in then.”

So Tom brought everyone to a halt and they all gathered round. “Everyone, I hope you’ve all had a good time and that my teaching has helped even if you haven’t produced a patronus yet.” There was a chorus of cheers. “Before you go, I just thought I’d show you a little trick you can do with your patronus that can be very handy.”

In his mind, Tom concentrated then moved his wand. Non-verbally, he produced his dragon which soared into the centre of the group and then spoke in Tom’s voice. “Great work everyone. With some practise, you’re animals will take shape, just like me.” The dragon patronus then spit a jet of flame and evaporated.

The crowd gasped in awe and Cho asked, “How did you do that?”

Knowing that everyone was listening intently, Tom said, “I won’t say now but I’ll make a deal with everyone in this room. If you can produce a strong, full bodied patronus, I’ll tell you. Hopefully that should give you a reason to practise.”

The group departed, with many saying goodbye to Tom on the way out, leaving Harry, Ron, Hermione and Tom. “You did a non-verbal spell!” said Hermione in amazement.

“Haha, I was wondering if anyone noticed that,” said Tom, slightly cockily.

“You’ve already promised to teach me some stuff. Will you teach me how to do non-verbal spells?”

“I’ll try. What about you two? Do you want in?”

Ron nodded but Harry said, “I’m more interested in the talking patronus.”

“I’ve promised to the room I’d teach them if they could produce a patronus. You were part of the room and, as it stands, you’re the only one who fits the requirements, so of course I’ll show you.”

“Alright, I’m in.”

Tom found it hard to supress his emotions. He’d done it. In one evening, he’d roped in all three of them. Now all that was left was actually teaching them. “When are you free?” asked Ron.

“Not sure, what with Quidditch practise and everything. Hermione can text me, and we can sort it out that way.”

They all agreed and Harry said, “Good luck in the match by the way, we could do with you beating Slytherdin.”

“Cheers. Although, if we win, it puts your chances in doubt.”

“True, but if we can’t win, we just want to make sure Slytherdin don’t.”

Ron added “Hufflesnuff are a walk over, so really, this match is the cup decider.”

“Better get training then,” said Tom sarcastically.

Hermione, who was bored of the Quidditch talk, said, “It’s late. We should get to bed.”

“Yeah, see you Tom,” added Ron and Harry.

“See you.”

Tom went to bed that night feeling joyful. He’d finally managed to achieve something that would benefit others, and hopefully, in time, the world. Despite all of his friends, his Quidditch success and his success with girls, only now did he finally feel like he belonged at Hogwash.

Chapter 14 – Fight for the prize

The next two weeks flew by. Apart from Tom starting to teach Harry, Ron and Hermione, all his efforts were being focused on the Quidditch match that would take place on the coming Saturday. It had become common knowledge that, as Hufflesnuff were so bad, if Ravensnore won, they won the cup. If Slytherdin won by less than 100 and the Gryffinchair beat Slytherdin, Gryffinchair would win. If Slytherdin won by more than 100, they would take the cup. This had resulted in Mark increasing the number of practises. It had also meant that no player from either Ravensnore or Slytherdin was safe to walk the corridors alone. Offensive chants and unnerving the other team had become child’s play. Hexes were often seen fired at opposing team members whenever the teachers weren’t around. In fact, so many people were trying to hex Tom that his cube of illusion didn’t work on them all at the same time. He had to be more cautious when travelling through the castle and stick with friends wherever possible.

So far he had avoided any serious harm but the same could not be said for Ryan. He’d had to visit the hospital wing with a curious case of shrinking arms. He’d been stupid enough to try and take on 5 Slytherdins by himself. It was said that he’d tried to carry on fighting, even when his arms were no longer than a ruler but Professor McMogal had stepped in and put a stop to it. Thankfully, the school doctor had worked her magic and he was out of the hospital the day before the match.

That night, the common room was an eerie place. No one really said much with everyone’s minds focused on the next day. Tom, the only member of the team not to suffer from pre match nerves, was reading a book that Professor Snipe had lent him called ‘Elements are the greatest magic’. It was all about how to use the elements to your advantage in a fight. The book had been banned by Hogwash decades ago as a result of its content. Therefore the spine of the book read ‘A history of Hogwash’ to disguise it. Tom found it a very interesting read and planned to try out as much as he could whenever possible.

At 9:30 Mark ordered the team to go to bed, insisting they needed a good night’s sleep in preparation. Tom couldn’t go to sleep that early and so carried on reading in his room. After about 20 minutes there was a feint knock on his door. He got up from his bed and went to open it. In came Amber and Cho. “Looking good,” said Cho jokily.

Tom was only wearing boxers since he’d been in bed. “You guys couldn’t sleep?” he said to them as he let them into his room.

“Too nervous,” they said. Tom nodded and went to put on some cloths.

“We figured you could help,” Cho said.

“You always seem so calm. What’s your secret?” finished Amber.

“I just have confidence in what I’m doing. Confidence that I can do it and confidence that it’s the right thing to do.”

“That’s easier said than done,” said Cho.

Tom added, “Also, in the rare occasion when I get frustrated or angry, I take out my anger by lifting weights. I find it very relaxing in a weird way.”

“That doesn’t really help us,” said Amber, slightly impatiently.

“Tell you what. I have an idea. If you give me 15 minutes, I can help you out.”

“Alright then,” they both said.

Tom was expecting them to leave and then come back but they stayed put so he set to work with them watching. He pulled out his potions kit and set to work creating a strong tonic potion that would calm their nerves. He’d never made it before but had detailed instructions from a book of useful potions that had been a prize from Professor Snipe that he’d actually written.

The girls talked mainly among themselves whilst Tom worked but they asked for his opinion every now and again. Tom was no expert potion maker but due to Snipe’s fantastic instructions, the potion was ready on schedule and it looked a treat. It was perfectly clear and thin, just like water but it smelt of a fresh mountain spring. Tom explained what the potion was and said it should last for 24 hours, hence they would be fine for the match as well. The girls took a swig, thanked Tom and went to bed.

The next morning the team went down to breakfast together and entered the hall to a chorus of cheers and boos. Although mainly cheers as no one apart from the Slytherdins wanted Slytherdin to win. Tom didn’t understand why there was so much negativity surrounding Slytherdin house but he didn’t complain. The more support they had the better.

The Slytherdin team left for the Quidditch pitch first. Mark insisted that everyone had a good meal before the match. “You can’t function properly without some good food, he said. So they all ate and when they also left for the Quidditch pitch, the team received many cheers and words of encouragement.

Once in the changing rooms, Mark went through final tactics. The entire team was focused on everything he said and Tom was almost vibrating from the excitement. He couldn’t wait to unleash his new bat. Mark had decided that Tom and he should continuously circle the team from opposite sides of the pitch so that they could intervene at any point. Also, due to the brute force of their opponents, it would be best if Cho could catch the snitch quickly before they could be worn down. Hence he wanted everyone to look out for it and signal to Cho if they saw it.

The team walked out onto the pitch to a sea of blue in the stands. Three quarters of the stands were chanting “Ravensnore! They mean war. With Mark at the helm, this team will soar! Amber’s skill, will break Slytherdin’s will. And Tom’s bat, will break more than that!”

Tom laughed at the chant and made a personal note to find out who had come up with it and buy them a drink. He looked up into the stands and couldn’t make out anyone. But then he looked at the teachers stand and could see Dumby, along with all the usual teachers. “Heads up guys. Dumby’s come to watch,” Tom said to the team.

“I wonder why? He doesn’t normally come,” said Natalie.

“It’s a good sign,” Mark told everyone.

The traditional hand shake/brake was administered and then the balls were released and the match began. Immediately Slytherdin were on the attack, determined to crush the hopes of the Ravensnore team (and crowd). Ryan was put under a lot of pressure and performed two saves in quick succession before finally conceding the first goal. Then they scored again, and again. Tom was getting so frustrated that he hit a bludger wildly in the wrong direction and almost knocked Natalie of her broom.

The Ravensnore chasers were outmatched in sheer size. Natalie and Amber were girls and Boris was a weed, whereas the Slytherdin chasers were three hulking lads. Amber and Natalie signalled to Tom to take action so he flew into the thick of things, keeping a bludger close, by tapping it forwards. Once in close proximity of Flint, one of the Slytherdin chasers, he let loose a cannon of a shot that went straight for Flint’s head. Unfortunately, one of the Slytherdin beaters blocked it at the last second. However, in the confusion, Boris managed to escape with the quaffle and score. Also, Cho had managed to spot the snitch and was hurtling after it, only to be fouled by Maloney, who grabbed her hair. Amber converted the penalty but it was a tiny price for the Slytherdins to pay for the snitch to be lost again.

Over the next 10 minutes, with Tom and Mark working overtime, Ravensnore managed to hold their own and the score rose to 80-70 to Slytherdin. Angry by Ravensnores performance, the Slytherdins started to play dirty. Their beaters double teamed Ryan when the quaffle was at the other end and knocked him off his broom. Luckily, Mark had been close by and caught Ryan before he hit the ground and took him back to his broom. Mark and Tom got their revenge. They managed to trap the Slytherdin beaters, who had both bludgers. In their haste to get free, they sent really weak shots at Tom and Mark. They pounced on the bludgers and sent them ricocheting off each other into the stomachs of the two Slytherdins. They both managed to stay on their brooms but were so winded that they were unable to fly for the next minute.

The Ravensnore team took advantage of their absence and scored twice to take the lead. Then, once the teams were 7 vs 7 again, usual brutal play resumed. Tom was worried that if Cho didn’t catch the snitch soon, someone would end up in serious pain. He signalled to Mark to watch the rest of the team, then flew over to Cho. “Any sign of it?” he said.

“Not since the first time.”

Tom looked around in search himself. Having never played seeker, he didn’t know any tricks for spotting it. He wondered why no one had seen it in 20 minutes which gave him an idea. He started looking at the floor and sure enough, he spotted it lying in the sand behind the central goal post that Ryan was guarding. Excited he turned round to tell Cho. But she shouted before he had the chance, “Amber!”

Tom swivelled around to see Amber being hit by both bludgers. Remarkably she managed to stay airborne. But then the Slytherdin seeker saw to that. He wasn’t even looking for the snitch, he was charging towards her and, once she was dazed by the effects of the bludgers, kicked her into a goal post and she fell 50ft and landed in the grass.

Enraged, Tom went flying straight for him. He shouted back at Cho as loud as he could, “The snitch is on the ground below Ryan.” He hoped she heard him but didn’t wait to check. He turned his head back around and fixed his eyes on the Slytherdin seeker. Noticing him coming, one of the Slytherdin beaters sent a bludger at him slightly too high. Tom didn’t even think, he just acted. He jumped off his broom and smacked the bludger with every ounce of power he could muster at the seeker. The bludger moved with such speed that it made impact, having travelled 50m, before Tom landed back on his broom. The sickening crunch of bones was heard all around the stadium as the seeker crumpled in a heap on the ground.

Tom didn’t look at anything else except Amber’s motionless body, face down on the ground. For the next 30 seconds, he became completely deaf. He flew straight for her and dismounted next to her. He rolled her over and checked her heart. She was still breathing but had been knocked out. Relieved that she was ok, he looked around to see what had happened to the match as his hearing returned to him.

The stands were vibrating as hundreds of students jumped up and down, cheering. He then saw the entire team flying towards him. Cho was at the front with the snitch in hand. Tom beamed at them as they arrived and high fived everyone. “She’s alright,” he said weakly, shocked at hearing the sound of his voice.

“Great game lads!” said Ryan.

“It’s not over yet. Look who’s coming,” said Natalie in a stern voice as she pointed over their heads. Professor Dumbridge was hurrying over to them as fast as her short legs would carry her. She looked like she meant business.

Tom had a brainwave. He slipped his hand into his pocket and rotated his cube of illusion. As Dumbridge reached them, they noticed her expression change from anger to worry. She’d looked like she was about to disqualify them but instead, without a word, created a stretcher and levitated Amber on to it. She then did the same to the Slytherdin seeker and headed off towards the castle, to the hospital wing.

Tom was amazed to see the effect that the cube had on her. Most people he’d tried it on just cooperated with him or understood his point of view. Dumbridge had completely changed her mind on her own and acted as Tom hoped she would have. Tom wondered if the strength of her obedience was due to Tom’s increased emotions or her being a particularly weak witch.

“What was that about? I was certain she was going to do us in for something,” said Ryan, bewildered.

“Beats me,” added Mark.

“Who was that seeker?” asked Tom.

“That’s Drogo Maloney, he’s evil,” said Cho bitterly, as she massaged the back of her head where Maloney had pulled.

“What’s his problem?” asked Tom, disgusted.

“No one knows. He just seems to have a vendetta against certain people, and it looks like Amber is on his list.”

“But why? She’s never done anything to him, has she?”

Mark replied this time. “Best not to think too much into it Tom. He’s friendly with Dumbridge and his father is friends with the minister of magic. Don’t go after him.”

Tom replied, heatedly, “He just attacked my girlfriend. I can’t let this go until I know why. I’d do the same for any of you.” Realising that Tom wasn’t going to be convinced otherwise, Mark and the team dropped it and started to celebrate instead.

On the way back to the castle, Tom received many congratulations from fans. So many people were rejoicing about how Maloney had finally gotten what was coming to him that Tom struggled to get into the hall for lunch. All the way through lunch, people came up to him, and the rest of the team, to talk about the match and give more congratulations.

Eventually, Harry came over to them as well. He whispered to Tom, “I’d want some privacy if I were you.”

“I’d love some.”

Harry then said quietly to Tom and Cho, who was sitting next to him, “Fred and George are about to cause a diversion. When they do, get up and leave as quickly as you can. Meet me by the tapestry of the St. Bernard on the first floor corridor.” He left before they had chance to reply so they waited in anticipation.

Not long after, Fred over exaggeratedly fell off his seat and pulled many trays of food with him, along with his brother. The commotion caused everyone to look over at them, allowing Tom and Cho to leave just as Harry had said. They hurried off to meet Harry.

“What did they do?” Harry asked as they reached him.

“Knocked over a load of dishes and stuff,” said Tom.

“Standard… Tom, I wanted to personally thank you for hitting Maloney, I’ve heard he’s broken most of his ribs.”

“Whoa, seriously?” asked Cho in great surprise.

“Yeah. If it were anyone else, I’d feel sorry for them but Maloney has always tried to get one over me whenever possible so I think he deserved it.”

Tom said, “I’d not heard of this Maloney guy before today. I asked the others what his problem was but they didn’t tell me.”

“His dad’s a death muncher and he’s on his way to becoming one,” replied Harry in a cynical tone.

“That still doesn’t explain why he attacked Amber when she was defenceless.”

“How is she?”

“I don’t know. I’ve not had a chance to go and see her yet,” he said angrily.

“Go to her Tom,” said Cho sympathetically.

“Thanks guys. I’ll see you later.”

He entered the hospital wing to find Amber lying unconscious at the far end of the wing, with Dumby, of all people, watching over her. He hurried over to her, passing Maloney on the way who was groaning and looked dreadful to Tom’s delight. He momentarily ignored Dumby as he reached for his girlfriend. “I thought I’d find you here sooner,” said Dumby.

“I would have been, but I couldn’t get away from everyone,” he replied, a bit more forcefully than intended.

“She’ll be ok, don’t worry. Madam Pumpkin is more than capable of healing her.”

Tom knew she’d be alright but hearing Albus say it reassured him and he calmed down. “Sir, not to be rude but what are you doing here?”

Dumby looked over at Maloney and muttered something before answering. “He won’t be able to hear us now. I wanted to warn you about Professor Dumbridge. That trick you played on her with your cube was inspired but be warned. Her memory of you will not vanish because of it and you’ll be a target of hers now.”

“What for? I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Technically, no. But the combination of strength and anger you displayed frightened her.”

Tom raised his voice again, “What about Maloney? He went outside of the rule book and attacked Amber who was unguarded!”

“It is admirable how much you care for her but please keep a level head. Drogo is under the protection of Professor Dumbridge and so he can get away with almost anything.”

“Can’t you put a stop to it?”

“I can put Drogo in detention, which I have just done but apart from that I will do nothing else.”

Tom struggled to accept Albus’ decision. Albus, noticing this and said, “My position as headmaster hangs in the balance and I wish to stay at Hogwash as long as possible to protect all the students.”

Tom realised he was thinking of the bigger picture again. Whilst he understood Dumby’s view point, he still found it harder to accept when it was personal. “That still doesn’t explain why Maloney did it in the first place.”

“I’m afraid I think I am to blame for that.”

“You! How?”

“It has come to the attention of Professor Dumbridge that we are more than just student and teacher. She suspects our true relationship.”

Tom interjected, “I told you this a few weeks ago!”

Dumby remained calm as he said, “You were right. I’m sorry I didn’t take you more seriously back then. I thought Dumbridge was only a small hindrance but she is causing more trouble than I first thought. Can you forgive me?”

Tom felt weird having a teacher ask for forgiveness. “Of course Albus. You made a mistake, it happens to everyone. I appreciate you owning up to it.”

Albus nodded and said, “Thank you. Now, back to Dumbridge. I believe that she ordered Maloney to provoke you so that she would have a reason to detain you and then perhaps expel you, if the opportunity arises.”

“So it had nothing to do with Amber, she was just the bait?”

“Unfortunately yes. I think Drogo realised you were too strong and cunning to attack head on and so he used her against you.” Tom was lost for words. “Like I said, this is my fault. Hence, I am also here because I feel responsible for the condition Amber is in.”

“Thank you for your consideration.” Dumby inclined his head. Tom continued, “But I will not allow you to take a bullet for me. If I am to be punished, I’ll face up to it.”

“Most admirable Tom but I need you here and, if possible, under the radar. Your full talents will be needed before long and when that time comes, it is essential that you are in the right place, which is here at Hogwash.”

Tom became intrigued. “What’s coming Albus?”

“War.”

“I know that, but what specifically? You talk as if you know a specific event is going to happen.”

“I know nothing for sure but I have my suspicions.” He saw Tom’s expression of hunger and added “It’s best if you don’t know until the time comes. Otherwise you will be in greater danger.” Tom wasn’t satisfied with his answer but knew there was no point arguing with him.

Dumby took his leave so that Tom was alone with Amber, apart from Maloney. However, Madam Pumpkin had erected some screens around him to block him from view. Tom sat down in the empty seat next to her bed and waited. He wanted to be the first thing she saw when she woke up. Pulling out his phone, he plugged in his earphones and selected shuffle. Then he set about trying to figure out a way to connect his phone to an internet signal.

Whilst he thought of and tested out different ideas, it seemed like his phone was making fun of him. It was supposed to be randomly selecting songs but he heard hits such as ‘Stayin’ Alive’, ‘Livin’ on the edge’, ‘No woman no cry’, ‘Live and let die’ and ‘Living on a prayer’.

For 2 hours he tried and failed, with nothing happening in the hospital more exciting than watching paint dry. He started to get hungry, having not eaten much at lunch. He was just thinking about the roast beef sandwiches he had in his room when his attention averted back to Amber, who had just stirred.

“How are you?” he asked softly as she opened her eyes.

“I feel alright, although I can’t feel my legs.”

“Madam Pumpkin said you’ve broken your femur.”

“Why can’t I feel it then?” she said as she reached down to touch them.

“It’s already been mended and you’re on a lot of pain killers.”

“Oh, that explains it.” She lay there, relaxing. Then jolted all of a sudden. “What happened at the match?” she asked.

“We won. I took care of Maloney after he saw to you and then Cho caught the snitch immediately after.”

Amber cheered, then asked, “What did you do to him?”

“I hit him with a bludger so hard it broke most of his ribs,” he said proudly.

“You’re the best. I wish I could have seen it though.”

He laughed and then said, “I’m so glad you’re alright.”

Amber detected fear in his voice for the first time ever. “You were really worried about me?”

“Of course I was.”

She grabbed his hand. “Thank you for not leaving me. I would have hated waking up alone.”

“You’d have done the same for me.”

They stared into each other’s eyes for a time and then Tom leaned in and they kissed. The touch of her lips on his were even more comforting than usual. As he pulled away, Amber asked, “Where’s the rest of the team? Have they been up to see me?”

Tom didn’t want to tell her the truth but he’d never lied to Amber and he didn’t intend to start now. “They haven’t been up here. Since they heard you were alright, they’ve been partying and enjoying their attention. Don’t blame them for having some fun. If you were in a more serious condition, I’m sure they would have come to see you.” In an attempt to soften the blow, Tom added, “Dumby came to see you though.”

“Really?” she asked in surprise.

“Yeah, he wanted to make sure you were ok.”

She raised an eyebrow. “That’s weird. I’ve never spoken to him before. Why would he all of a sudden take an interest?”

Tom averted the sticky topic by just saying, “He seems to care about us students. He’d probably have done the same for anyone in your situation. He checked on Maloney as well. He also gave him detention.” She seemed satisfied so Tom went about cheering her up. No matter how good you feel when in hospital, you’d still prefer to not be there.

They talked about the match mostly with Tom slipping in jokes wherever he could to make her laugh. He politely avoided mentioning he was hungry but soon, Amber was as well. Presumably, Madam Pumpkin usually took care of a patient’s food but she had mysteriously vanished.

Tom then remembered what Bonky had told him the last time he went down to the kitchens. ‘If ever you require my assistance. Speak my name clearly and I shall come.’ Tom hadn’t done it yet but he could do with the elf’s help now. “Bonky?” he said tentatively.

Amber jumped as he spoke without warning. To his delight, the elf appeared in front of them a second later. “How can I help Tom?”

Tom pointed to Amber as he replied “This is Amber. She can’t leave the hospital wing and Madam Pumpkin has disappeared. Could you bring us some dinner?”

Bonky sounded delighted. “Of course. Give me a minute.” He vanished.

“So that’s your house elf friend,” said Amber in admiration.

“Yeah, he’s a great guy. He’s so helpful, I just wish I could help him in some way to repay him.”

“Sounds like you,” she said, giggling.

Surprised, Tom asked, “What do you mean by that?”

“Just that you always try and pay your debts even if they don’t really exist.” Tom stared at her so she explained. “For example, you wouldn’t go out with me until you’d straightened things out with Isabelle, even though you kept trying to and she kept avoiding you. Most people would have given up after the first attempt.”

“Well, it all worked out for the best. We’re good friends now,” he said defensively.

“I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I’m just saying you don’t need to seek out a way to repay Bonky. He’s just helping you because he wants to.”

“A man’s got to have a code. Part of mine is an eye for an eye. If someone helps me, I help them back. If someone hurts me, I hurt them back. Also, it pays to have friends in all different places, although that’s more just common sense.” Before either of them could say any more, Bonky arrived with the food.

Addressing Amber, Bonky said, “I couldn’t bring you a proper dinner as you don’t have the space for multiple dishes. So I thought I’d bring you a treat. It’s something that isn’t served at Hogwash but it’s my speciality and one of Tom’s favourites.” He pulled out a few long, round items wrapped in foil.

“Meatball subs! Bonky you legend,” Tom said ecstatically. “Honestly Amber, these are the greatest sandwiches in the world!”

Amber was surprised to see Tom so animated about a sandwich. She said, “Thank you Bonky,” and accepted the sandwiches from him.

“Any time. Any friend of Tom’s is a friend of mine.”

“Girlfriend,” she corrected him.

“Is that so?” Without waiting for a reply, Bonky added, “I must leave now but enjoy and get well soon.” The elf vanished.

The two of them dived into the meatball subs, with Amber agreeing with Tom that they were amazing. Tom went to offer one to Maloney as a truce, he figured Drogo had suffered enough. But he was asleep. After a time of silence, where they ate and Tom pondered what Dumby had said about Dumbridge being on to him, he looked back at Amber to find her asleep. He brushed her hair out of her face, kissed her on the forehead and went back to Ravensnore tower.

He entered the common room to find the whole house still partying. “Here he is!” shouted Ryan. Hands appeared and pulled Tom into the centre of the room. “The man of the hour is here. Only 7 hours late,” announced Ryan, to the room. “Cho’s told us that you spotted the snitch. And after what you did to Maloney, we think you should be knighted.”

There were roars of agreement. Most people seemed a bit drunk. Tom tried to be the voice of reason. “Guys, you exaggerate. Cho was the one who caught the snitch, not me. And I need a team to win a match, I can’t do it on my own.”

Someone in the crowd shouted, “Now!”

The next thing he knew, he was soaked and shivering. Someone had tipped a large bucket of ice cold water over his head and had drenched him.

The common room burst into laughter and Mark shouted above the noise, ‘Just a tradition Ravensnores have when we win the cup. The rest of the team were soaked hours ago.’ Tom knew it was in the name of fun so joined in with the laughter before performing a quick spell to dry his cloths and warm himself up. After that, he joined in with the celebrations for the next hour or two. Mark and Ryan had managed to get hold of a load of alcohol and had repeatedly spiked certain people’s drinks. In traditional drunken style, bad singing, overconfidence and stupidity were observed throughout.

Chapter 15 – Regrets

The next morning, Tom woke up, face down on the floor of his bedroom. Feeling stiff, he managed to get to his feet, only to realise that it wasn’t his bedroom. Judging by the person in the bed, it was Cho’s bedroom. Panic and confusion started to set in. Luckily she was still asleep so Tom crept over to the door and went out into the common room.

It looked like he’d entered a bomb site. Nothing was in its correct place. Broken glass lay all over the place, there were stains on the floors and walls and there were a few bodies dotted around the place. He glanced at mirror on the floor and saw his reflection. To his surprise, he was naked. Hoping no one had seen him, he hurried back to his own room. Once there, he had a shower and got dressed. He then went back to the common room to try and sort out the mess. Unfortunately, whilst he was excellent at fixing things, he’d never got the hang of cleaning and tidying spells hence he was only able to do half the work. The job took slightly longer than expected because there were people in the way who were still asleep.

Just as he finished repairing the final mirror, Natalie appeared by his side. “Morning,” she said with a grin.

“What time is it?” he asked.

“It’s 6 o’clock,” she replied, still grinning.

Tom was surprised to hear it was so early. He asked, “Why are you up at 6?”

“I always get up early on a Sunday. I like to go to the top of the tower and watch the sunrise whilst meditating. It helps me to relax and find inner peace.”

Completely taken aback by her answer, Tom said, “I never knew. That’s deep.”

Natalie smiled at Tom’s reaction. “Do you want to come with me?” she asked brightly.

“Sure, I’ll give it a go, just as long as you tell me what happened last night.”

She smiled even wider. “I was wondering when you were going to ask me that. Come on.”

They made their way up to the top of the tower and walked across the balcony to the railing, to observe the grounds. The coldness of the fresh morning air didn’t seem to affect either of them as they were mesmerised by the sun rise. For a time they said nothing, just watched.

Then Tom turned to Natalie and asked, “So what happened?”

“What do you remember?”

He thought back. “I remember Mark attempting to sing ‘stairway to heaven’ and failing horrendously. I also remember Boris doing that keg stand but apart from that, nothing.”

“Wow! You must have been really smashed. You don’t remember anything else?” she said in disbelief.

“No. Why? What did I do?” he asked, nervously.

“Well, after Boris did his keg stand, you…”

Tom interrupted, “Hang on. How did I even get drunk? Where did the alcohol come from?”

“Mark and Ryan acquired it. They made sure the younger kids never had any but they kept slipping you some whenever you weren’t looking.”

“Bastards!” Natalie recoiled at Tom’s curse. “Oh, sorry Natalie.”

“That’s alright. I’d be pretty mad if they did it to me… Anyway, Boris did the keg stand and then you were telling everyone how you could easily beat it. In fairness, you did beat it. You managed 51 seconds which is a new house record, but then you collapsed into that vase by the radio and some glass pierced your chest. Ryan pulled it out and I sealed your wound but after that, we tried to get you to go to bed but you wouldn’t listen. No one could talk any sense into you.”

Tom pulled off his shirt to inspect his wound. Sure enough, there was a diagonal gash across his right pec where the glass must have pierced him. “Oh dam, that’s quite bad,” he said in reaction. He examined his wound properly, then said, “So that’s it, is it?”

Natalie looked confused. “Is that not enough?”

“It doesn’t explain how I woke up in Cho’s room, and naked on top of that!”

Natalie actually took a step back. “What!? Were you in her bed?” she exclaimed.

“Thankfully, no. I was lying on the floor.”

“I don’t know anything about that, you’ll have to ask her.”

“Fair enough. Hey, Natalie, thanks for patching me up and I’m sorry for anything and everything I put you through last night.”

“You were an idiot but I forgive you. But I’d be more worried about what happened between you and Cho if I were you.”

As the sun rose higher into the sky, they started to meditate with Natalie instructing Tom. They said nothing for about 20 minutes whilst they focused with their minds on everything around them. Taking in the world through their senses other than sight. Tom had to admit it felt pretty great. At 7 o’clock, they went down to breakfast, feeling a strong sense of tranquillity. It was the first time Tom had been the first to enter the great hall for anything. During the whole time they were there, only a handful of people came for breakfast. The place felt weird like this.

After breakfast, they went back up to the common room. On the way, they passed a few Ravensnores going down to breakfast, all of whom praised Tom for his actions at last night’s party. Tom didn’t have a clue who any of them were but thanked them nevertheless. The common room was still messy when they arrived but Tom ignored it and went straight to Cho’s room.

He knocked but heard no reply, so slowly opened the door and entered. She woke at the sound of the door closing. Tom walked over to her bed and she looked up at him. “Now you’re in my room. What’s up?” she said sleepily.

“I want to know what happened last night between me and you.”

Cho looked puzzled for a time and then said, “Nothing as far as I know.”

“So why did I wake up in your room?” he left out the naked part.

Cho seemed as surprised as he was. “Did you!? I don’t know why that is. Don’t you remember, I went to bed long before the party was over and you certainly weren’t in my room at the time?”

Tom relaxed and sighed. “I’m relieved. But I wonder what did happen then.”

“Who knows,” she said rhetorically. “Do you want to get breakfast?”

“Already had it.”

“Oh, ok.”

Quickly Tom said, “Can you please not mention this to Amber? I don’t want her to make suspicious or worried when nothing happened.”

Cho thought it through. “I suppose so, but you should really tell her. It’s not good to keep secrets like this.”

Tom started to think about what might happen if he told Amber but Cho interrupted his thoughts, saying awkwardly, “Err, can you leave me please. I need to get dressed.”

“Oh yeah, sorry,” he said and went back to the common room.

He found it to be fully cleaned. Amazed, he went to sit down next to Natalie on one of the sofas. “Do you know who cleaned the place?” he asked.

“That was me. Do you know who repaired all the broken stuff?”

“That was me.” They both laughed.

Tom said, “Looks like we make a great team, the two us. I wouldn’t have been able to clean everything like you have.”

“And I couldn’t have fixed everything like you have.” She paused. “I’m so glad we can do magic. It would have taken ages to clean otherwise.” They laughed again. Natalie then asked, “So what happened between Cho and you?”

“Nothing apparently. She went to bed before I was in her room.”

Natalie looked puzzled. “You must be relieved but, in a way, it’s even weirder now.”

Just then, Mark came out of the bedrooms, spotted Tom and came rushing over. “Mate, you feeling better? You were so out of it last night.”

“No thanks to you. What were you doing, spiking my drinks?” Tom asked heatedly.

Mark looked surprised at Tom’s anger. He said defensively, “It was just a bit of fun. We wouldn’t have put you in any serious danger.”

Tom supposed he was right. He knew that Mark and Ryan always had his back. “Fine, I’ll let you off. But don’t think I won’t try and get you back for this.”

“I’d expect nothing less. How’s Cho by the way? Did she get a bit of a shock?”

“You know what happened?” asked Tom, urgently.

“Oh yeah. Ryan and I were trying to get you to bed but you were stronger than us and insisted on going to Amber. But for some reason, you though Amber’s room was Cho’s. You got one foot in the door and collapsed. You lay motionless, shirtless, face down. We tried to make you come round but it didn’t work. Since you’d been a pain, we thought you deserved some humiliation so we took off the rest of your clothes and left you there. Giving Cho a nice surprise in the morning.”

“You gits!”

Mark grinned and asked eagerly, “How’d she react?”

“Sorry to disappoint but I woke whilst she was still asleep and left.”

“Ah no. We’ll have to think of something better next time.”

“Don’t mention this to Amber. I don’t want her freaking out.”

“Don’t worry man. We got your back.”

They shook on it and Natalie said, “Boys,” in disbelief.

Chapter 16 – The Best Valentine’s Day

Over the next few days, the aftermath of the Quidditch match finally wore off. Amber was released from the hospital and Tom learned that Maloney had apologised to Amber, therefore he found him and called a truce as well.

The rest of January and early February wouldn’t go by quickly enough for most of the students. The daily snowfall and large, stone rooms of the castle meant that it was bitterly cold everywhere they went. Tom wasn’t affected by it as much as others, having gone to Durmprang for four years, but even he had to admit that in Hogwash’s thin school clothes, it was quite cold.

Tom had visited Lyrotth twice more. So far he’d never met any other creatures in the forest that Hogrod had told him to watch out for. Tom had a sneaking suspicion that they avoided him because they knew he was going to a dragon that could tear them apart.

Their relationship grew every time he went. He now could count the number of spikes on her back from within his mind. He really enjoyed visiting her, experiencing a sense of electricity every time he did. Plus, there was the added bonus of snuggling up to the flames inside her belly to stay warm.

He’d also started teaching Harry, Ron and Hermione. So far he’d just found out what they already knew and then improved their technique and showed them variations of the spells. He hadn’t yet really taught them anything new. However, they were so grateful that Harry had asked Tom to co-teach all DL meeting hence forth. Tom had agreed because he had found it quite fun the first time. It was ironic that Tom was teaching so many people all of a sudden, as the one job he’d always disregarded for himself was being a teacher.

On the 7th of February, a notice appeared saying that the traditional Hogswine Valentine’s Day trip would be going ahead. Tom of course, would be spending the day with Amber, but he had no idea what they would get up to. If it was up to him, he’d just have some fun, doing usual stuff, but Amber would probably want to do something romantic.

During the week leading to Valentine’s Day, Tom became very confused by the new role he seemed to have been given without his consent. People kept coming up to him to ask him advice about girlfriends or boyfriends. Tom realised that it was only happening because everyone knew about his relationships, due to Quidditch and so on. Even though it was a bit annoying, he found it quite funny because really, he had no advice to give. No matter how many people he told that he wouldn’t be much help, more kept coming.

On the Thursday evening, Tom found himself alone with Amber in his room. They hadn’t had time together for 2 weeks and so were thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. As they lay there in silence, out of the blue, Amber asked, “What’s that?” pointing to his scar across his chest.

“It’s just a scar from when I cut myself on some glass.”

“You didn’t have that a month ago. What happened?”

“There’s something I never told you.” She started to look angry so Tom quickly explained. “When you were in the hospital wing, we had a victory party in the common room. Mark and Ryan got me drunk and I fell into one of the glass vases and some of it embedded into me, hence the scar.”

“It must have been a big piece of glass. The scar is huge!”

“I was too drunk to remember it to be honest. I know Natalie patched me up but didn’t know how to remove the scar so it remains.”

Tom thought Amber was going to start on him and get angry, therefore he was shocked when she said, “I like it.”

Tom didn’t understand what there was to like about it but thought better than to question her. He was just glad she wasn’t mad about the party or him getting to drunk to remember things.

Valentine’s Day came with a fresh wave of snow, 2 feet thick! It meant that Hogswine was extraordinarily pretty and that everyone looked like walking marshmallows due to the number of layers they were wearing.

Tom and Amber walked together through the grounds towards the village, hand in hand. Amber was wrapped in several scarfs, a large red coat and a bobble hat. Tom loved how Amber had the knack of always looking good without too many bells and whistles, such as extensive jewellery or fancy, designer clothes.

Once they reached the village, Amber was so cold that she insisted they warm up in the Three Broomsticks. Tom had no objections and followed her into the pub that he’d only been in once before, when Isabelle had shown him it. The pub was packed with students, although most seemed to be friends rather than couples. Tom noticed this and pointed it out to Amber.

She explained, “Most couples are probably in café’s and tea shops, but it’s not really my thing and I’m pretty sure it’s not yours either.”

“You’re dead right! Give me a pub any day.’

She laughed, then went to get a table whilst Tom bought drinks. Unfortunately, the landlord wanted ID’s and so Tom couldn’t get any proper drinks. He had to settle for the childish butterbeer.

On his way back to Amber, he received many pats on the back from friends and acquaintances that spotted him. Tom never used to like being the centre of attention or popular, but for whatever reason, he was starting to enjoy it. What was more, his admirers all liked Amber as well which made them like him even more.

“Here you go,” he said, passing her a drink. “Sorry it’s only butterbeer, she wouldn’t sell me anything else.”

“That’s cool, I like it. Cheers.”

For a time they just drank. Amber appeared to be waiting for Tom to say something but for some reason, he couldn’t think of anything. “Are you ok?” she asked, gently.

“Yeah, it’s just for some reason I don’t know what to say.”

“Haha, you must be joking. You always know what to say. Even when I’m mad at you for something, you convince me that you’re right and I’m wrong.”

“You’ve noticed that have you?”

“Tom, what do you take me for? An idiot?”

“Of course not!” He took another swig and noticed her face was different. As if she was deliberating something. “Is there something on your mind?” he asked.

She fumbled over her words as she said, “It’s just that, we’ve been dating for months but there’s so much I don’t know about you. You have all these secrets from me. So often, we’ll be having a good time and then you just leave without telling me why.”

“How long have you felt like this?”

“Only recently.”

“So if you didn’t have a problem before, why do you know?”

“Before, we had only just started going out. It was expected I didn’t know things about you. But it’s been over two months now and I still don’t know. Do you not trust me enough to tell me?”

“It’s not that at all. I care for you more than you know. I don’t tell you things because it might put you in danger and I don’t want to risk that happening.”

“What are you up to that might be dangerous?”

Tom realised that she wasn’t going to let this go but couldn’t tell her the truth so took a different approach. “If you trust me, you won’t make me answer that question.”

“You know everything about me, warts and all. Will you at least tell me something new about you?”

He pondered her request for a moment before coming to an answer. “Fair enough. Sometimes I sneak out of the castle to go for a drink in the Hag’s leg.” He figured that was the least risky bit of information for her to know.

Despite it being his most trivial secret, it still shocked her. “How do you manage that!?”

Tom didn’t want to tell her about his cube just yet so said, “Me and Wilch have an understanding.”

“Wow! You really do have friends in all places.”

“I keep telling you it pays off.”

‘You’re right…Thanks for telling me. I still don’t get why you never told me before.”

“I wasn’t sure I could trust you before.”

“So you trust me now then?”

“One hundred percent. I don’t just trust you… I, I love you.”

A silence fell between them as they stared into each other’s eyes. Someone across the pub broke it by shouting over to them. “Hey! Hey Tom! Tell my mate how you can produce a dragon patronus.”

“Not now!” shouted Amber back at him, annoyed. She gazed back into Tom’s eyes for a while before eventually saying, “I love you too.”

They embraced each other and started making out. They were both oblivious to the wolf whistles and cheers from other people in the pub. The only thing that mattered was each other.

When they eventually broke apart, Tom had a huge smile on his face. He’d realised he was in love with Amber when he watched over her in the hospital wing but had been waiting for the opportune moment to tell her.

Once they finally took their gaze away from each other, Tom noticed Hermione in a corner staring at him. She was with a much older woman with curly blonde hair who Tom had never seen before. He nodded at Hermione who smiled back, weakly.

Apart from the moment when Harry and Cho had entered and greeted them, before going over to sit with Hermione and the blonde woman, Tom and Amber gave each other their full concentration for the entire time they were there. Saying out loud that they love each other had cemented their relationship in a way nothing else could have done. It also got rid of the sticky nervousness that Tom had felt previously, about Amber’s potential reaction.

Tom went back up to the castle with Amber a few hours later, once having been in a few cloths shops. Ordinarily, this would have bored Tom to death but today, he could tolerate it. They spent the evening in Amber’s room for a change. Tom had realised that they’d always hung out in his room and so he’d never been in there. He was delighted to see her room wasn’t much different to his. A few softer cushions, candles and female cloths were the only things that made it feminine. Very few things were pink. Tom had been worried that her bedroom would be more like Clara’s, more girly stuff that Tom didn’t understand.

But upon seeing it, he knew she was the right girl for him. To him, Amber was very beautiful, confident, chilled out girl. But at the same time, someone who he could discuss deep and personal things with without feeling embarrassed. He felt more comfortable when he was with Amber than he did with anyone else.

Amber started fantasising about holidays and adventures they could have together. She suggested trips such as going to the pyramids of Giza or scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Whilst Tom loved the ideas, and loved Amber even more for suggesting them, he knew they couldn’t afford to go. “Once we can apparate,” said Amber but Tom cut her off.

“To apparate internationally you need permission. It could take years after the initial test to get that.”

“I know, I know. I was only fantasising. Can you just not be logical for a few hours?” she said, annoyed.

“Sorry. You’re right. Go on.”

Amber, animatedly, carried on. “So we’re in Australia, and you…”

*

The next day, Tom learnt that Harry had given an interview about what happened between him and Moldywart last year. Everyone in the school was talking about it, mostly in praise of his bravery. Privately, Tom didn’t understand why it had taken him this long, with that big mouth of his. Tom didn’t bother reading the interview since he already knew the truth. But he learned the gist of it anyway because people were quoting bits of it all over the place.

By the end of the day, it seemed Harry had won over most of the school but, the side effect was Dumbridge taking a leap in her actions to control the school. She banned future Hogswine trips, which didn’t matter to Tom, with his cube of illusion, but made everyone else outraged.

Tom got back to his bedroom to find Harry had scheduled a DL meeting for the following evening. He’d planned to workout and then go and visit Lyrotth but he supposed Lyrotth could wait. He’d also have to make sure he was out of the gym before anyone turned up for the DL because they were using the same room and he didn’t want people walking into the gym by accident. It was his place of solitude.

Chapter 17 – Fired Up

The next evening, he got out of the gym just in time. Harry, Ron and Hermione, or the triple threat as he liked to call them, came round the corner only moments later. He’d come up with the nickname during a lesson he’d given them. The more time he spent with them, the more he learned their different personalities and traits. For example, Harry was the big shot, Hermione was the one in the shadows who actually did the work and Ron was the wild card that people would ignore but then he’d come up with something brilliant and completely unexpected.

Tom had expected Harry to start talking about the interview immediately but actually, it was Hermione who started. “What did you think of Harry’s interview?” she asked eagerly.

“To be honest I haven’t read it. I don’t need to. I already believed Moldywart was back.”

“You must be the only person in the school not to read it!” said Ron.

“He’s had other things on his mind,” said Hermione with a hint of disappointment in her voice.

“Oh yeah?” asked Harry, interestedly.

Hermione replied, “I saw him and Amber wrapped so tightly around each other, I thought they might merge into one person.”

Harry and Ron both laughed. Tom didn’t like the way she’d said it either. “We told each other I love you,” Tom said in an explanation.

“Oh, fair enough,” said Ron and stopped laughing.

Harry clapped him on the back before saying, “Today, we’re going to practise one on one combat. I want you to fight against me as a demonstration and then give pointers to the class.”

“Yes, boss. You sure you can take me though?” Tom replied with a smile.

“Wait and see.”

Once everyone had arrived and said hello to each other, they all formed a circle with Harry and Tom on the inside with space to duel. Harry told everyone what was going to happen and that he wanted people to be creative. The purpose of the exercise was to beat you opponent in any way you can, in practise for a real fight. Up until now, all DL meetings had been practising against dummies or on their own. This was the first time they would actually simulate combat and you could tell be the tension in the air that everyone was excited.

Tom let Harry strike first. Harry fired a stunner at him but he blocked it with a flick of his wand. Then Harry tried a freezing charm which Tom blocked with ease. For added effect, he yawned. The crowd gasped in amazement. Tom’s plan was to frustrate Harry enough for him to produce his best magic. Tom didn’t have an ego and so he didn’t care if he lost. But he knew Harry would do anything he could to win and so he was determined to bring it out of him. Again and again Harry tried to curse Tom with no success.

Once Harry looked like he was going to shout in anger, Tom pounced. He attacked with a leg locker curse, non-verbally, which struck Harry. He dropped to the floor in a sickening crunch. “You need to do better than that,” Tom said mockingly.

Harry removed the curse and got back onto his feet, looking mad. With a wave of his wand, he produced some magic Tom didn’t know he possessed. He summoned a king cobra, which made the crowd take a few steps back. He then spoke to it and it started to bear down on Tom. Tom was temporarily frozen as he marvelled in what had just happened. Harry could talk to snakes and therefore it would do his bidding.

Just before the cobra struck him, Tom’s came back to his senses and shouted, “Imperio.” Now the snake would do his bidding. More gasps were heard from the audience but Tom ignored them and made the snake turn around and slither towards Harry.

Harry tried to get rid of the snake but failed. So he then tried to knock out Tom and hence sever the connection of control. Tom was ready for him though with a shield charm he’d protected himself with before the duel began. Just before the snake attacked Harry, Tom realised he wasn’t going to be able to defend himself and so he stopped the snake in its tracks and then banished it. “Call it even,” Harry said in hope. The crowd applauded and cheered.

“I never knew you could summon a snake, let alone talk to it!” Tom said in shock.

“I said to be creative. I learned how to summon a snake because Maloney did it to me three years ago, and I’ve always been able to talk to snakes.”

“Well played. Although it wasn’t enough. I still beat you.” He said definitively.

Clara shouted, “You cheated! You used an unforgivable curse! It’s illegal!” There were murmurs of agreement and people started to turn on Tom.

Tom shut them up. “Listen! Harry said fight to win. I did what needed to be done in order to win. If I was fighting a real death muncher, none of you would be up in my grill about using an unforgivable curse. Besides, it’s only illegal when used on a fellow human and in case you didn’t notice, I stopped the snake in its tracks before it could actually hurt Harry.” The crowd stayed completely silent. Tom slowed his voice and said, “Now, split into groups of four. The room’s not big enough for everyone to duel at the same time so take it in turns in your groups and remember, do what you can to win but try not to seriously hurt anyone. We are all friends after all.”

They all did as Tom instructed and immediately Harry asked him about the unforgivable curse. “Where did you learn that? Why did you use it? Are you evil?” he said all this in a friendly way but with real intent.

“I’m not proud of it but I learnt it at Durmprang from one of my teachers. He taught the whole class how to do it.” Harry looked stunned. “I wanted to show you that the imperious curse can be lethal and it doesn’t have to be used on a person to cause harm. No doubt you’ll face it when you next meet Moldywart. Hopefully you’ll be more aware of its power now.”

“Thanks, I guess. But still, people will think your some potential dark wizard for using it.”

“Don’t people think the same thing about you for being a parselmouth?”

“Touché… Let’s split up and help the others.”

Tom spent the rest of the lesson helping others, just like every other lesson. But he couldn’t help getting distracted by certain people’s duels. He was really interested in Hermione vs Ron, Isabelle vs Clara and Fred vs George for personal and performance reasons.

In his opinion, everyone was doing really well, considering what they’d been like a few months ago. He sat back and enjoyed the proudness he felt of seeing everyone’s progression. Teaching’s not so bad after all.

*

Before long the Easter holidays were upon them. For the 5th and 7th years, it meant heavy revision. However, since Tom was a bit of a genius and Amber was in 6th year, they had loads of free time to spend with each other. Amber kept telling him that she didn’t want to get in the way of his revision. Tom assured her every time that he didn’t need much revision but she carried on telling him. Even though Tom found her frequent comments annoying, he supposed it showed how much she cared for him.

During one particularly fine afternoon, they were lying side by side next to an oak tree by the lake. Tom was planning what to teach the triple threat next when Amber cut across his chain of thought. “What do you want to do when you leave Hogwash?”

“Bit of an odd question, I’ve still got two years of school left.”

“Come on Tom, you must have thought about it with the talent you have.” He didn’t answer because he was thinking what to tell her. “I’ll go first if you like,” she said happily. “I’d ideally like to play pro Quidditch but let’s be honest, the chances of that are slim. So I think I’d like to work at the Ministry, something like the department of riddles and mysteries.”

“Sounds mysterious,” he said. Then added, “Sorry, couldn’t help myself.” They both laughed. “What is this department?” asked Tom.

“It’s this place where they experiment with all types of magic to try and discover new things. It’s meant to be really interesting… So what about you?”

“I’m not sure yet. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be minister of magic. I reckon I could run the Ministry well, much better than Conrad Toffee at any rate.”

“Minister! You’re aiming high.”

“I always have done and it’s worked so far.”

“Like what?”

“You for example.” She smiled and kissed him.

“Please don’t tell anyone about my Quidditch ambitions, they’ll laugh at me.”

“No they won’t! You’ve got a real chance. But I promise I won’t, if you promise you won’t tell people my ambition. I think I might become a target of Dumbridge’s if she knew.”

“Deal.”

They continued to lie there, soaking up the warmth. They laughed at the thought of everyone else stuck inside revising and they laughed at the occasional glimpses of the giant squid. At 5 o’clock, Amber left to write a letter to her family. Tom had asked if they wanted a phone as well but she said they wouldn’t like it. Tom continued to lie on the ground until he spotted Hogrod walking over to him, so he got up and met him half way.

“Tom! I’m glad I found you. I need your help,” there was a sense of urgency in his voice.

“What’s the problem?” Tom asked quickly.

“It’s Lyrotth. She’s becoming wild. I thought I had her under control but she’s started to rip up parts of the forest and she’s attacking animals she’s not meant to.”

“No offence Hogrod, but an out of control dragon is not a situation I’d like to be in.”

Hogrod intensified. “Please Tom. I don’t think anyone else can calm her down. The connection you have with her is stronger than I’ve ever seen before. It’s as if you were meant for each other.”

Tom deliberated in his mind for a bit before saying, “Alright, I’ll come.”

As soon as Hogrod heard it, he started to jog to the forest, which meant Tom had to run to keep up.

They went as quickly as they could to where Lyrotth normally lived. It only took them 10 minutes or so to reach her home, which had become an enclosure, surrounded by uprooted trees. Cautiously, they peered through a gap to find Lyrotth wasn’t there. They looked at each other but said nothing. Slowly, Tom walked into the enclosure. He walked right up to where Lyrotth usual sat and looked in every direction but there was no sign of her. Hogrod came after him and said, “Be on your guard. She could turn up at any moment.”

As if on que, they heard a roar coming from the skies. Sure enough, they saw Lyrotth heading straight for them. In one fluid motion, she landed, pushed Hogrod aside with her tail, grabbed Tom in her talons and took off again. Tom became properly scared and looked at the ground to see Hogrod sprawled on the floor, but unhurt.

Tom wasn’t sure what to do, but he couldn’t do much anyway because he couldn’t reach his wand due to Lyrotth’s talons being in the way. On edge, he started preparing in his mind what he’d do when he was eventually let down or, more worryingly, dropped. However, once they were above the trees, he felt the presence of Lyrotth in his mind. He couldn’t communicate with her but he could feel her emotions. She felt angry and wild. But there was also a hint of calmness about.

They rose higher and higher, far above the castle. She flew so high that if anyone spotted her from the ground, she might be able to pass for a large bird. She flew on, away from Hogwash, away from Hogswine, up into the mountains. Tom was becoming more and more uncomfortable, what with the position in which he was being held and the air temperature rapidly decreasing. After what felt like 20 minutes, they finally landed at the summit of the tallest mountain around and Lyrotth gently placed Tom on the ground.

Still shaken up, Tom quickly got to his feet and faced the dragon head on. Despite her gentle touch, he was still scared, he didn’t dare move. They stared at each other for some time before Lyrotth leaned towards him. Cautiously Tom stuck out his arm but stayed where he was. She came towards him and allowed him to stroke her as he done so many times before. He felt safer and more comfortable, the longer he stroked her for. He thought he could also feel her change in emotions from anger to peace.

Instinctively, Tom said in a soft, calm voice “Are you ok?”

Lyrotth didn’t move. Tom thought she was being stubborn but then, all of a sudden, images started flooding his mind. They mainly showed her being alone in the forest. The images were accompanied by more emotions of anger. Tom assumed that she was simply lonely. He tried to comfort her by sending his emotions back to her but it didn’t seem to work. Tom decided that it was a one way connection. But no matter. He could still speak and she seemed to understand that. “Do you miss home?”

She let out a whine which Tom assumed meant yes.

“Do you have family?”

This time, she sent another image. It showed her with another dragon, much larger than herself. They appeared to be partners but then Tom was filled with sadness. It appeared as if her partner had died.

“I’m sorry. I know what it feels like, I’ve lost my family too.” Tom couldn’t describe it but he got a sense that she already knew that, and it was one of the reasons that she had taken a liking to him.

Realising that Lyrotth had only been angry because she’d been lonely, Tom sat beside her and tried to comfort her. He felt a bit stupid, it was a dragon after all. But he persisted and Lyrotth seemed to relax. Soon however, Tom needed to get back to the castle. He nervously asked, “Can you take me back?”

She lowered her neck, allowing him to climb onto her back. Sitting on the back of a dragon filled Tom with excitement. Never in a million years would he have thought this could have happened. His excitement intensified as she took off. Despite the lack of support and the insane height above the ground that they were, Tom felt secure. He enjoyed the return trip far more than the arrival. Riding a dragon had to be something only very few people had done. It was easily the best experience of Tom’s life. However, he thought that it might spoil the fun of flying a broomstick from now on.

As they landed back in the forest, Tom could see Hogrod running towards him from a distance. Tom dismounted, patted Lyrotth on the nose and went to meet Hogrod.

Hogrod called, out of breath, “I’ve been looking for you from my hut. Are you ok?”

To Hogrod’s shock, Tom chuckled as he replied, “I’m more than ok. Words can’t describe how I am at the moment. But are you ok?”

“Course I am. She just brushed me aside, nothing to worry about. But how are you ok? What happened?”

“She was just sad about being lonely, that’s all. I calmed her down and she let me ride her. It was surreal.”

Hogrod gaped at him. “She let you ride her!”

“Yeah, I know. Awesome!”

“That’s such a relief, I’ve been worried sick. What Dumby would do to me if he found out I let a dragon capture a student, I hate to think.”

“Well nothing to worry about. Actually, I want to ask you something. Are there any recordings of dragons being able to communicate with humans through emotions and images?”

“A few… Don’t tell me it’s happened to you!?”

“I think so,” Tom replied, grinning again.

Tom went back to Lyrotth and assured her he’d visit more often before going back to the castle with Hogrod. Once out of the forest, Tom went straight to his room without speaking to anyone. The joy of dragon flight was so strong, he’d completely forgotten that he was hungry. He also never wanted this day to end.

Chapter 18– Spy mode

The worst thing about Tom’s flying experience is that he couldn’t tell anyone. All his many secrets before had been easy to hide but for some reason, he was really struggling to keep this one to himself. He kept trying to take his mind off it by focusing on his friends and school work but the trouble was, he was now visiting Lyrotth more frequently and had flown with her again. Therefore it was becoming increasingly difficult to shake off his memories.

The end of the Easter holidays were in sight when one of Dumby’s grave predictions actually came true. During a DL lesson that, by chance, Tom had had to miss because he was simply too tired, Dumbridge and her Slytherdin gang had found some of them running from the scene. Tom heard the story from one of the portraits that usually lived in Dumby’s office but it seemed he had gone from painting to painting, all the way through the castle to find him. Apparently, Conrad Toffee had accused Dumby of raising an army to overthrow him and had tried to arrest him. Dumby being Dumby, escaped. But it now meant that Professor Dumbridge had become headmistress. On hearing the news, Tom headed straight for Snipe.

He almost ran straight into him as Snipe seemed to appear out of a wall in the dungeons, catching Tom off guard. Snipe took one look at him and beckoned him to his office. They entered and Snipe barred the door. “I guess you’ve heard,” Snipe said in a straight voice. None of his usual sneer was present.

“Yes sir. Albus did warn me this might happen but even so, how are we going to cope with her as headmistress?”

“I presume Albus also told you what to do in such an event?”

“He did. I’m supposed to report to you and try and save any students from harm.”

“Then that is what you’ll do. Don’t worry, you haven’t known Albus as long as me, he’ll be back before long… But for now, the key is to carry out his instructions while acting like there is nothing wrong. The worst thing to do right now is draw attention to yourself. Trust me, I am a more experienced spy than you after all.”

“Very good sir.”

Tom returned to his bedroom quickly, as it was night and he didn’t want to be found by any of the ghosts as the cube didn’t work on them since they weren’t alive. Once he entered his bedroom, he checked his phone which had been buzzing on the way back. Hermione had been ringing him. He really wanted to go to sleep but knew she would hate to be left waiting so rang her back. “Tom! The DL is finished! I don’t know how but Dumbridge found us. She got Harry and took him to Dumby’s office. I don’t know what happened but Dumby’s gone! Dumbridge has replaced him as headmistress!” She said all this so fast that Tom couldn’t get a word in.

Once she had finished, he tried to calm her down. “Listen to me, the main thing you must do is keep calm. Don’t draw any more attention to yourself, tell the same to Ron and Harry. Dumbridge may be evil but she still doesn’t completely run the school. I’m sure the teachers won’t stand for it.”

“How can you be so calm now!?”

“Because I expected something like this might happen, don’t ask me how. The key thing is to stay out of trouble. Let the teachers work on Dumbridge, the most important thing for you three is to stay in school.”

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For helping. You’ve calmed me down and I trust you enough to follow your advice. I’ll tell the others to do the same.”

“Good. Now if you don’t mind, I need to sleep.”

Hurriedly, she said, “Just one more thing. Are you still going to teach us?”

“That’s your urgent question! I must be a good teacher,” he said sarcastically.

“I want to be prepared for anything. Will you carry on?”

“We’ll find a way,” he replied whilst yawning.

“Great. Goodnight then.”

Tom didn’t even bother saying goodnight in return. He dropped his phone to the floor and fell asleep instantly.

The whole school quickly learned of Dumby’s escape and Dumbridge’s promotion. Most people seemed to be mad about it but there were the noticeable few who weren’t. Dumbridge’s gang of Slytherdin security had been given new powers allowing them to do pretty much anything and they were taking full advantage of them. One of them made it so only Slytherdin’s could use the great hall for meals between 6 and 7, leaving only 30 minutes for everyone else, and Flint stopped all Gryffinchair’s from using the 2nd floor corridor just because he could.

Tom had forgiven Maloney for his attack on Amber but now, him, along with the whole security force, were on his watch list.

Fortunately, Dumbridge had picked a bunch of idiots for her security and they were easily fooled by his cube of illusion. The more he used it, the more he understood its full powers and learned how to control them. So far he’d managed to stop Maloney from hexing a first year Hufflesnuff girl because he didn’t like her pony tail. Instead he’d caused a pony tail to appear on one of Maloney’s friend’s head. Also, he’d stopped two seventh years who he didn’t know the names of from beating up a group of defenceless Ravensnores. Tom had taken personal satisfaction in this one. He beat up the two guys and then sent them away thinking they’d attacked each other.

True to their word, the triple threat had stayed out of trouble and Tom continued to teach them. Tom still used the Anything Goes room for his gym but they didn’t think it was safe anymore so they were practising in different locations each time to ward off any unfriendly eyes.

The triple threat were still making improvements. Tom had started to teach them magic out of the book that he’d borrowed from Snipe, ‘Elements are the greatest magic’. He’d tried to teach them spells to cause floods, intensify light and other such feats but they didn’t really get the hang of them. Tom had tried the spells beforehand to greater success than they were achieving. He thought their problem was they didn’t understand the concepts of what they were actually doing but he didn’t know how to tell them. Their floods were more like dribbles.

DL meetings had ceased to exist, understandably, but Tom was still being barraged with questions from its members left, right and centre. Most were simple things that would help them in their exams. But, on a positive note, he’d been really happy to be told by Fred and George that they had mastered their patronuses. True to his word, he showed them how to send messages via them during a free period.

*

The closer they got to exams, the more anxious the students became. Lessons had turned into solid revision sessions and students were regularly fainting and throwing up during them, although Tom heard from Mark that Fred and George were behind it. Amber had started to become suspicious again of the amount of time Tom seemed to disappear for. What with lessons, teaching the triple threat, reporting to Snipe, spending time with Lyrotth, going to Ab’s pub and working out, he hardly had any time left for her and most of that was spent whilst at Quidditch practise.

On one of the rare free evenings they had alone together, they were curled up together on Tom’s bed when Amber said, “I feel like I hardly see you anymore. Why are you never around? You say you don’t need to revise much.”

“I know, I wish I had more time for you too but there are more important things that I have to do.”

“Going to a pub doesn’t take up 6 evenings a week, what else are you doing and what’s more important than me?”

“You know I can’t tell you. I thought you understood that you can’t know for your own good?”

“I do, but you have to admit, it’s getting ridiculous… We’re kids. We’re meant to have time to learn and relax but you barley have any.”

“I’m not an ordinary kid. I’ve always wanted to be busy, ever since I was a young boy. I feel like my place isn’t at school but out there in the real world, trying to make the world a better place.”

Amber pounced, “Is that what you’re doing? Leaving the school?”

Tom had taken his guard down and was now paying the price. He would never lie to Amber but he didn’t know how to get out of this one. “Err, not exactly.”

“Are you working with Dumby?”

“What? How?” Tom said, completely shocked.

“So you are! I thought you might be ever since I saw a scroll addressed to you from him.”

Tom hit himself in the forehead. The scroll she was referring to had arrived a few days ago. Tom had no idea how it got there but it was on his bed when he got back to his room after lessons. It was simply a reminder from Dumby, telling Tom to look after Hogwash. Amber had come into his room before he finished reading it but in his haste to hide the letter, he hadn’t put it in the draw properly and it stuck out. He thought he’d gotten away with it when she hadn’t said anything but obviously not.

“I thought you hadn’t seen that,” he said in surprise.

“I wasn’t snooping, honest. I just happened to glance at it when you went to shower,” she said, trying to sound innocent.

“I don’t blame you. It was my fault. I shouldn’t have left it visible.”

“So… what are you up too?”

“Ok, I’ll tell you but you have to swear on your life not to tell another soul. Our entire operation could be ruined if you do.”

“I swear it,” she said eagerly.

“Good,” he said and then set about telling her everything. He didn’t leave out any details. He figured if she knew some of it, she might as well know it all to avoid sticky situations in the future. She kept trying to interrupt him but he forced her to listen silently until he’d finished.

“I’m struggling to believe it,” she said opened mouthed. “I knew you weren’t cheating on me but I would never have guessed anything like this. Your fighting against you know who, you’ve been coaching Harry Trotter and your best friends with a dragon!!!”

Tom struggled to contain his joy. It felt so good to finally tell someone, he wasn’t really cut out for being a spy and to hear someone say his activities back to him made them sound even more impressive. “Yep,” he said with a huge smile.

“Yep! That’s all you can say! You’ve got to be the calmest person ever,” she said in awe.

“Haha. It has been my life for most of this year so it seems normal to me. You’ve no idea how good it feels to finally tell someone though, and I’m so glad it was you I got to tell.”

“This is huge! If you can manage to do all this alongside being a student and having me and friends, you’ve got my vote for minister of magic next election.”

“Haha, I love you,” he said and held her tightly.

“You’ve got to be the most important wizard of our generation.”

“Steady on. I’m not that. Harry is. He’s the one Moldywart keeps trying to kill. He’s the one who will hopefully rid the world of him.”

“Well you are to me,” she said defensively and lovingly.

“That’s all I need.”

They kissed and then Amber said, “Think about it though. Moldywart is targeting Harry but he doesn’t know about you, which means you might be able to strike him unexpectedly.”

Tom had thought similarly himself but to hear the words said out loud made him realise the full danger in his future. His face dropped and Amber noticed and her excitement was gone as well. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you,” she said lovingly.

He took some time to say anything. Eventually saying, “I think you’re right. I’ve thought about it too. But at the end of the day, I’m still only 16 and no match for Moldywart.”

Those words seemed to echo around the room for a time. Tom’s breathing started to rapidly increase and his palms started to sweat as he thought harder about his potential future, or rather lack of it.

Amber grabbed hold of his hand and held it tightly. Her warm and sensitive touch started to calm him down. She whispered into his ear, “It’s going to be alright.”

“Stay with me tonight. Please.” He was even more surprised to hear those words coming out his mouth than Amber was.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she said and curled up against him.

Around 10 minutes passed in silence and then Amber tried to take his mind off the dangers in his life.

“I don’t think I ever mentioned, I’ve got my apparition exam next week.”

As Amber’s birthday was April 16th, she was already 17 and so able to take the examination. Amber had never told Tom when her birthday was until after the Easter holidays and so Tom hadn’t got her a present but she hadn’t been bothered in the slightest.

“Oh, of course. I hadn’t thought of that. I really hope you pass. It would be so cool to be able to apparate.”

“Thanks. It would be great if I could. I could travel to places so quickly.”

“I’m so jealous. I’ve got to wait a full year before I can take the test.”

“If I pass, I could take you by side along apparition.”

“Yeah! That would be awesome!”

Chapter 19 – Exams

Over the next week, Tom continued to act just as he had done all year. Guard up, game face on, meaning business. Except when he was with Amber. He couldn’t put into words how much it meant to him to have her. Someone to talk to and someone to support him. Up until he’d told her everything, he hadn’t realised how much happier he’d be by doing it.

Saturday came around which marked Amber’s apparition exam. They would be taking place in Hogswine throughout the day so Tom wished her luck before she left and waited nervously.

The funny thing was that Tom was much more nervous for Amber than he was about his own exams which started next week. However, he wasn’t the type of person to sit around waiting and so dove into some Herbology revision.

At 4pm, Amber came rushing into his room with a huge smile on her face. “I passed.”

“Yes! Congratulations.”

“I can now legally apparate around the country.”

“This is so cool. I’m so happy for you.”

Oddly, Tom was just as happy about the news as Amber was. To Tom, apparition was incredibly useful and a mark of being a grown up and so he envied anyone who could do it. He also knew it meant she could come and visit him more easily in the holidays.

His euphoria was short lived however. Monday meant the start of exams. Sunday night saw the library fuller than Tom had ever seen it. He’d gone in there to look for a book on 5th grade transfiguration, having lost his and he wanted to check up on animagi.

As he expected, he spotted Hermione poking out behind a stack of books. He crept over to her and startled her from behind. She jumped and turned around to see Tom laughing at her. “Tom, don’t do that!” she said rather loudly. Then, remembering the librarian, she dropped her voice. “I’m already nervous enough as it is.”

“Why? You’ll get top marks. Didn’t you start revising months ago?”

She scowled at him. “What are you doing in the library anyway? I thought you might be allergic to them.”

“Just some last minute revision.”

Her face changed to interest. “So you do revise after all?”

“Of course I do. I want to do well on these exams as well and I don’t know everything.”

She seemed genuinely surprised. “It’s news to me.”

“Come on Hermione, what are you worried really worried about?”

“Ok fine. I’m worried you’re going to beat me and I’ll no longer be top in the year.”

Tom retreated in surprise. He’d not been expecting something like that. “It’s not a competition. Does being top of the year matter to you that much?”

She checked no one was in ear shot and then look at him seriously. “I don’t like to admit it, but yes, it does. I’m known as the nerdy brain box. It’s all I’ve got. What if I can’t even be that?”

“You’re a lot more than that Hermione and you know it.” She showed no sign of agreement so he continued. “Who else can say they solved Snipe’s potion riddle, which was designed for the best of the best, in their first year? Who else can say they won Victor Dumbo’s heart? Who else can say they saved innocent people from danger?”

Hermione looked more suspicious with every statement. “How do you know I did those things?”

“Harry mentioned them to me. He’s incredibly fond of you.” She raised an eyebrow. “Oh, not in that way,” he said quickly. “All I’m trying to say is, exam grades don’t define a person. What you do in the real world is what defines you and you’ve done a lot more than most of your age.” He sighed. “If you still care about being top, I can make sure that happens.”

Hermione gasped at him. “You’d do that, for me?”

“Who says I’m doing anything. We don’t know which of us is cleverer yet.”

“I won’t let you lose to me on purpose…. Your right, exam results aren’t the be all and end all. I’ll face you fair and square and we’ll see who wins.”

Relieved, Tom said, “I’m glad to hear it. Now, I’m going to bed. I want some good sleep. I always find that to be the best preparation.”

“How we differ Tom,” she said smiling.

“Touché… See you in the exam and good luck.”

“Good luck,” she said in reply and buried herself back into her books.

The transfiguration exam was over before lunch. Tom quietly felt he’d aced it but he was not one to brag. Instead he sought out the company of Mark and Ryan since they were 7th years and so hadn’t done the same exam. As they ate lunch together, Tom was surprised to find them so happy since they felt like they hadn’t done great in their exam. After all, T.O.A.D’s were quite a lot more important than C.A.T’s. It felt great to take their minds off exams and just enjoy some good food together. However, they had charms in the afternoon whilst Tom’s next exam wasn’t till the following afternoon so they left quickly to do some last minute revision.

The next few exams for Tom seemed to fly by. Charms, Potions and Herbology. During the potions exam, Tom could have sworn Snipe nudged him to indicate he’d written the wrong answer. Tom supposed he didn’t want to be made a fool of by having his favourite student only perform adequately.

With 4 down, their first week of exams was over. Only one more to go. Amber, being in 6th year, had only had one week of exams and was thoroughly enjoying mocking Tom about the exams he had left to do.

On Saturday however, during lunch, massive explosions were heard from far off. Then a few minutes later, Fred and George came flying into the great hall on their broomsticks, setting off an array of fireworks as they went. They headed straight for Dumbridge and laid into her with fireworks, stink bombs and other such items. The students cheered as Dumbridge cowered in a corner. Tom noticed that no teachers tried to help her or stop Fred and George.

After their assault on Dumbridge, the whole hall followed the twins out into the courtyard where they announced their departure of Hogwash and their new premises for a joke shop they’d been planning. It turned out all the fireworks were their own brand and that the first sound the hall had heard had been the twins setting off a swamp in the transfiguration corridor, also of their making.

The disruption causes a lasting effect over the rest of the exam time. People were still trying to revise but their concentrations would wonder off, thinking about what it would be like to ‘do a Weaselby’.

Tom’s next exam, Care of Magical Creatures, had to be his best exam. Most of it was about dragons. He was pretty sure no one could beat him on that one and thoroughly enjoyed telling Amber about it afterwards. “You lucky sod,” she said, whilst smiling, when he told her.

Defence against the Dark Arts was a piece of cake for all the DL members. Especially the practical exam, where, predictably, the only spells they had to cast were very simple ones that wouldn’t even harm an earwig, let alone a human.

Their final exam was a history of magic. This is the one Tom feared the most. There was no logic or practical application to it. All you could do was remember pages and pages of information, something Tom found incredibly boring and so had struggled to revise for it.

About an hour into the exam, whilst Tom was trying to remember who the 14th headmaster of Hogwash had been, Harry collapsed, yelling his head off in parseltongue. Tom had heard that Harry had collapsed a few times during his time at Hogwash but he’d never witnessed it. He’d always thought Harry had overreacted to show off but now, seeing it, Tom thought that Harry had no control over his body.

The exam was paused and everyone waited nervously, to see what would happen. One of the examiners tried to calm him down but to no avail. Suddenly, Harry changed from writhing around to completely still. Once he seemed to come back to himself, he was removed from the hall and the exam continued. Tom struggled to concentrate for the rest of it. He could sense something was about to go down. He kept seeing Ron and Hermione look at each other across the room. To Tom, seeing Hermione look up from her exam was a sure a sign as any that Harry was in real trouble.

Once out of that hall, most students headed off into the grounds to enjoy the rest of the sunshine and to rejoice at the end of their exams. Tom however, went looking for the triple threat but couldn’t find them anywhere. He must have lost Ron and Hermione in the commotion of 100 kids rushing out the hall.

In the commotion, Cho caught up with him, looking scared. “Cho, do you know what happened?”

“No,” she said worried. “I know Harry has collapsed before but he’s never told me why.”

Tom swore. “Should we go to the hospital wing?” he suggested.

“I don’t think he’ll be there. He doesn’t like being made a fuss over.”

Tom couldn’t go round the whole castle looking for him. Besides, he’d told Hermione to call him if something serious had happened. Seeing Cho’s concerned face, he said, “I’m sure he’ll be alright.” Then added, “I’m going to go find Amber.”

“I’m going to find Harry,” she said determinedly.

“He could be anywhere,” Tom protested.

“I have an idea where and if not, I know how to find him.”

Tom didn’t understand how she could know where he was but then, Tom was not Harry’s girlfriend. He left Cho and went back to Ravensnore tower where he’d arranged to meet Amber in the common room.

Throughout the afternoon Tom talked with Amber and fellow Ravensnores who had finished their exams. The common room had a party atmosphere but Tom was still worried about Harry in the corner of his mind. He hadn’t been called or texted but he was still worried. As the afternoon turned into the evening, Tom assumed everything must be fine and finally started to fully relax. He enjoyed a truly spectacular dinner with the Ravensnore Quidditch team, followed by drinks with the rest of the house in the common room.

He was over the moon with happiness, right up until the point where he felt his phone vibrate. With dread, he pulled it out his pocket to see a text from Hermione. He knew she was in danger from the lack of grammar and misspelled words. Tom worked out it was meant to say ‘quick, meet us at Hogrod’s hut. NOW.’ As if he’d hit a light switch, his brain instantly turned on and was ready for action. He hurriedly told Amber he had to go and left straight for the grounds.

He ran all the way, thankfully not meeting anyone. He didn’t stop till he made it to the back of the hut. There he found the triple threat, along with three DL members who he’d never really talked to but knew the names of. They were Neville, Luna and Ginny who was Ron’s sister. Whilst Tom caught his breath, Harry explained the situation. “Sonrus is captured by Moldywart in the DRM at the Ministry.”

“The what?” asked Neville.

“It’s also known as the department of riddles and mysteries… We need to get there as soon as possible to save him.”

Tom was the first to say something. “Harry, no! You can’t. What if it’s a trap?”

“Even if it is, I’m still going.”

Hermione gave Tom a stern look. To save interruptions, Tom spoke quickly and tried to explain everything. “Listen to me. I’ve been working with Dumby for the entire year. He expected something like this to happen.” As expected, everyone gasped but he powered on. “You’re playing into Moldywart’s hands if you go. Don’t throw your life away so easily.”

Harry shouted back, “I’m not. I’m trying to save the only family I have and no one is going to get in my way. Besides, I’ve already escaped Moldywart multiple times, who’s to say I won’t again.”

Before Tom could reply, Ron said in surprise, “Is that why you’ve been teaching us? On Dumby’s orders?”

“Yes.”

“So surely you’ve been preparing us for this moment. We’re meant to go and save him,” said Harry.

Looking for support, Tom said, “Hermione, what’s your say in this?” The whole group looked to her.

“Well, I don’t like it but if Harry goes, I’m going too.”

There was a chorus of, “Me too,” from everyone else.

Realising that he’d lost, Tom conceded. “Fine, go. Go and save him but I’m coming with you.”

“That’s why you’re here in the first place, we want you with us,” said Hermione.

“Right, let’s go!” said Harry definitively.

“But how are we going to get there?” asked Ron.

Luna, in her dreamy voice, said, “We fly by thestral.”

That seemed to settle that and they headed off into the forest. On the way, Hermione filled Tom in on everything he’d missed. It turned out Harry had seen a vision of his godfather, Sonrus Black, captured by Moldywart in the DRM and he’d been dreaming about the place for moths. They had tried to contact him using Dumbridge’s fire but had been caught by Dumbridge. Then Hermione, with Harry, led her into the forest and she was taken away by the centaurs whilst in a mix up with Hogrod’s giant half-brother. It was a lot of crazy information for Tom to take in in such a short space of time but he expected crazy at Hogwash so accepted everything without question.

They arrived at the thestral paddock when Tom spotted a problem. “How are we meant to ride them if we can’t see them?”

Luna said without a care in the world, “Harry, Neville and I can see them, we can help the rest of you up once they arrive.”

They had to wait for only a few minutes for 7 thestrals to appear. Ron got seated first, followed by Ginny, Neville, Hermione and Harry. Then, as Luna walked over to help Tom, he heard the unmistakable sound of Lyrotth roaring. The rest of the group jumped and Ron shouted, “What the hell was that?”

Smiling, Tom said, “That, is my ride!”

They all stared at him, stunned, but next second their pending questions were answered. Lyrotth burst out of the trees and sprinted over to Tom who greeted her. The rest of the group looked terrified but Tom got onto her back as he had many times before and whispered in her ear “I need to get to the Ministry of magic. Will you take me?”

She hummed in a way that meant yes and so Tom then addressed the group’s stunned faces. “This is Lyrotth. Queen of wherever she wants to be and my dear friend.”

Still no one said a word so Lyrotth let out a jet of fire which snapped them back into action.

“What? How? When?” asked Neville, Hermione and Ron in disbelief.

“You have a pet dragon?” asked Harry.

Lyrotth let out a massive roar right at Harry. Smiling, Tom said, “You’d do well not to offend her Harry. Lyrotth is no one’s pet. She is my friend and she allows me to ride her, but no one else.”

Whilst the others mounted up, with everyone in complete silence, Tom got his phone out to text Amber. ‘I’m going to the Ministry to fight Moldywart and his death munchers. I’m sorry I didn’t say goodbye properly. I love you.’

He put his phone back in his pocket, just as Luna asked, “Are we going?”

Harry span back into action. “Yes, everyone ready?” he looked round to see everyone nodding, although still looking frightened. “Let’s go then!” shouted Harry and the 6 thestrals flew into the air.

Tom then said, “Whenever you’re ready,” and Lyrotth too, soared into the air and followed the thestrals.

Chapter 20 – The Ministry

As Tom was on Lyrotth, he flew much higher than the rest of them and so was able to watch over them. Lyrotth only had to beat her wings every few seconds to keep up with the thestrals, who were going flat out. On the journey, Tom went through in his mind all the spells he might need in the fight that he was certain was going to happen. On the ground, he’d been pumped and ready to go. Now that he was waiting, not acting, all his fears started to return to him. Lyrotth’s mental and physical presence helped to calm him down a bit and within 2 and a half hours they arrived. Tom’s journey had been pleasant on Lyrotth, even if a bit long. She flew incredibly smoothly and he’d protected himself from the wind and air temperature with a simple spell he’d looked up after his first flight.

The same could not be said for the rest of them. Unlike Lyrotth, the thestrals had exoskeletons and barley any flesh. As a result, their journey had been very uncomfortable. They all dismounted quickly and Tom surveyed the others who were all stiff and shivering, apart from Hermione who had also protected herself from the cold. Not ideal soldiers but what can I do.

Lyrotth then took off and flew out of sight. Presumably the thestrals did as well but since Tom couldn’t see them, he didn’t really know.

Once Tom and Hermione had warmed the rest of them up with some spells, they headed into the Ministry through a telephone box that was much bigger on the inside than out. The telephone box descended through the floor into a large tunnel similar to that of the London underground, only with green stonework.

The place was deserted meaning their footsteps audibly reverberated off all the walls. Harry, being the only one who had been in the Ministry before, led the way. They went down in the lifts to the basement and then along the corridors to the very end, where the DRM was located.

They all held their breath as they reached the door, then entered. The room inside was perfectly circular and massive, with many doors all around the edge. All of them were in awe of the place but Harry said he knew where to go and so they followed him through one of the doors. It was the wrong one. It contained a tank full of brains. Luna and Neville became freaked out by them and it caused Tom and the others a lot of effort to pull them out of the room. Tom was regretting not arguing more back at school. He thought that the triple threat might cope what with all the practise they’d had but as for the other three, Tom wasn’t so sure and he couldn’t watch over them all.

They tried a few more doors until they found the right one. It was a ginormous room filled with shelves of orbs. “They’re prophecies,” said Tom.

They all jumped as he spoke. The room had been eerily quiet until then. Not knowing much about Sonrus Black, Tom asked, “Why would Sonrus be here?” in a quieter voice.

“I dunno, but he is. I’ve seen him. This way,” Harry said and led on.

Tom wasn’t sure about this. He decided to drop back from the group without telling them. He kept close enough so he could come to their aid but far away enough that he could observe the whole scene. Harry was too focused to reach Sonrus to notice and the others were too focused on him.

Tom saw them reach the location Harry had aimed for and he heard Ginny say, “He’s not here. Where is he?” sounding scared.

Tom scanned the room, which was difficult as it was so dark. Ron then found a prophecy with Harry’s name on it and Harry took hold of it. In an instant, hooded men appeared all around them, circling them. But not Tom. He’d managed to remain hidden. He raised his wand ready to strike, but paused. The death munchers didn’t attack and Tom wanted to see how it played out. He didn’t think he could take them and so was hoping he wouldn’t have to try.

Maloney senior argued with Harry about handing over the prophecy for a minute or two. Tom didn’t understand why the death munchers didn’t just attack them and take it by force.

Whilst observing, Tom had to admit that whilst at school Harry might be big headed, in danger he was level headed and calm. He didn’t give in to the death munchers and he even tried to whisper to the others some plan that Tom couldn’t hear. However, as the others made signals to each other, Tom saw their bewildered and scared faces when they realised he wasn’t with them.

Tom knew the moment of action was drawing nearer and so planned what to do. He crept slowly to a more central point where he could cast his spell more accurately. As Maloney made a swipe for the prophecy, Harry shouted, “Now!” and the others all smashed some shelves and started to run, to Tom’s delight. His plan had depended on getting the death munchers together and on their own.

He reached deep inside himself, into his very core, to muster up all the strength and determination he could as he shouted “Rocker diffindo maxima!”

The ground all around the death munchers started to vibrate and then huge cracks started to appear. Most of the death munchers managed to escape before the ground completely caved in but a few were too slow and were swallowed up.

The energy that seemed to drain from Tom almost caused him to collapse. He staggered, holding himself up on a nearby shelf. But as he straightened up, he saw a few death munchers run towards him. His cover had been blown. The others were out of sight and he didn’t have the strength to duel them all.

Luckily his adrenaline had kicked into overdrive at the use of the exceptional magic and he started to sprint away from them, dodging spells along the way. He ran through the first door he saw and barred it immediately. He knew it wouldn’t hold forever but it gave him a few seconds to gather his strength.

Whilst the death munchers tried to break down the door, he looked around at the room he was in. It was much smaller than all the other rooms they’d been in. The floor and ceiling were both transparent. It contained a single, circular pillar that went through the floor and the ceiling. The pillar was made of what looked like pure gold but it seemed to radiate cold as the room was freezing.

Tom didn’t dare go near it. Instead, he searched around for an exit but before he located one, the 3 death munchers got through the door. They all ran towards him, wands raised. Tom parried a few spells from all three of them. They stopped attacking when they realised he wasn’t going to be beaten so easily. “Who are you?” demanded one of them.

“You’re worst nightmare,” Tom shouted back at them and immediately regretted it. It had sounded stupid rather than intimidating.

“Ooh, do you hear that lads. We better be careful.”

The three of them sniggered then the tallest of the three said, “Kid, we don’t know who you are and we don’t care. All we want is that prophecy. If you help us get it, the dark Lord will reward you with powers you never knew existed.”

Tom thought it over. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t tempted by the offer but his morals kicked in over his temptation and he shouted, “Fat chance,” and stunned the tall one. The other two then re-started the fight. Two on one was something Tom had never done before but luckily, one of them had picked up an injury in the previous room and was struggling to stand. Tom took full advantage of that. He sent the uninjured death muncher into a wall and then, out of interest more than anything else, picked up the injured one with ‘wingardium leviosa’ and flew him into the golden pillar.

The effects were immediate. The man, with his back to the pillar, was completely stuck to it as if he’d been frozen on. Then his skin started to turn white and very dry and his whole body started to shrink. The man’s hair started to fall out as he shrunk down. His body stayed in proportion, there was just less of it. Once he’d shrunk down to about 3ft, half his height, the pillar let him go and, at the same time, a door appeared on the wall nearest Tom. He didn’t need time to think. He ran straight through it and closed the door before the death munchers came round.

He found himself back in first room, with all the doors. It was deserted so Tom took a few seconds to reflect on what he’d just seen. It scared him more than the prospect of Moldywart but he didn’t have time to dwell on it. Out of the door that led to the rest of the Ministry came Albus Dumby, Sonrus Black, Black Eye Rudy, Kingston, Arthur Weaselby and a few others he didn’t recognise. Dumby spotted Tom first and reached him quickly. “What’s happened? Where’s Harry?” he asked quickly.

Tom took a quick look at the bunch of wizards, most of whom had bewildered faces at the sight of seeing Tom on his own. “There are loads of death munchers here. I’ve taken care of a few of them but in the commotion, I lost the group.”

“The group? Who else is here?”

“The triple threat,” he started to say but saw Dumby’s look of confusion. “Oh sorry. Harry, Ron and Hermione but also Neville, Ginny and Luna.”

Dumby groaned and so did Arthur. “Not Ginny as well,” he moaned.

“I tried to stop them Albus, but they wouldn’t listen.”

Dumby, as calm as ever, said, “It’s not your fault Tom. I should have told you the full story, but never mind that now. We need to find the others.” He turned around. “Kingston, Conks, Black Eye, loop round the perimeter anti-clockwise. The rest of you, loop clockwise. We’ll find them eventually.’ The adults parted without a word.

Dumby then turned back to Tom. “Go back to the entrance hall.” Tom’s face was of disgust, being told to leave the fighting. “You must go. We will find them and send them to you. You must take care of them once they’re there and then get them out of here as soon as possible. Also, if any more death munchers turn up, they’ll appear there, so we need you to make sure no reinforcements get to us.”

The last point filled Tom with excitement and he agreed. He left Dumby and made his way back to the foyer.

He reached the foyer and perched by the fountain that lay in the centre of the archway. The place felt eerie when empty. The slightest noise Tom made echoed around the room. He was too far away from the action to hear anything so he waited in silence, on edge. 10, maybe 15 minutes passed without anything happening. Tom started to worry for everyone. He was confident Albus and the other adults could sort out the death munchers but what if they didn’t reach Hermione and the rest of them quick enough.

After another few minutes, a couple of the fire places burst into life. Tom quickly ducked behind the statue for cover. He peered around the edge to see 5 death munchers hurrying towards the lifts, which meant towards him. He figured that another of his element spells might come in handy. It had worked before, what had he got to lose.

He jumped out from his cover to face them. Before they had time to react, Tom shouted “aqua infinite.” The water from the fountain collected together and surged as a torrent at the death munchers. They were swept away, down to the end of the hall. Tom had been trying to encase them in water in an attempt to drown them but he hadn’t focused on his intentions strongly enough to achieve the desired outcome. Furthermore, the spell once again sapped him of his strength and he keeled over, panting. As he lay there, he could hear the death munchers getting to their feet. “After him,” one of them shouted.

Tom didn’t see how he could get out of this one. He could hear their footsteps hurrying towards him but he couldn’t bring himself to move.

All of a sudden, jets of light came flying from the lifts. Tom moved his head to see Neville, Ginny and Hermione come running onto the scene. Their rally filled Tom with hope and he got to his feet and joined in the fighting. The four of them against the 5 death munchers was an even fight. Spells were sent back and forth without any side gaining an advantage. Tom was trying only to defend as he still felt weak.

One of the death munchers, a short, stubby one, was firing killing curses in every direction. A couple came so close to Luna that her hair singed. In retaliation, Neville managed to freeze one of them, causing the other death munchers to sneer and redouble their efforts.

Tom could anticipate them losing if nothing changed. Even with one death muncher out, it was still 4 against 4. As Tom temporarily blinded his death muncher, he chanced a glance at the others. For the first time he noticed the injuries they had acquired. Neville had a bloody face and Luna had a gash in her leg and seemed to be hobbling. Hermione on the other hand, looked unscathed. But then she turned to face him and he saw her lip had swollen to three times its natural size and she had a black eye. In the short time Hermione looked away from her dueller, she was struck in the stomach and sent flying into the fountain, which she hit with a crash and slid down to the ground where she lay unconscious.

In that moment Tom felt all his fury build up inside him. He shouted at Neville and Luna, “Move!” They had never heard him so emotional before. They ran over to Hermione’s body immediately. Tom then rounded on the death munchers who were cackling at him. “You shouldn’t have done that!” he roared at them.

They leered at him. “What are you going to do about it?” they shouted.

The sight of seeing Hermione fly across the room had injected him with another burst of adrenaline. It restored to him the energy that he’d lost and much more besides it. Non-verbally, he cast a spell on them that caused them to be blinded by sunlight with no source, just as he had on one of them before.

Their moment of blindness and confusion was all Tom needed. He ran back to the fountain, leaving the death munchers under the arch. Then shouted, “Avalancha!”

The ceiling above the death munchers collapsed, burying them in a pile of rocks. The dust cloud caused by it meant they were hidden from view for about 20 seconds. Tom hurriedly checked on Hermione whilst noticing Neville’s and Luna’ faces. They were staring at him, opened mouthed in shock at what Tom had just done. He ignored them, saw that Hermione was breathing and tried to wake her up but, not knowing any spell to do it, he failed.

Without a word to any of them, he spun around to look at the pile of rubble. The dust had cleared enough for him to see that all 5 of the death munchers had been crushed by it.

He’d not intended to cause such a big avalanche. This time his magic had gone far beyond what he had intended. He saw one arm poking out from the pile, limp and lifeless. He assumed that meant they were all dead but ran over to check nevertheless. Once he had made sure no one was moving, he returned to the others with a heavy heart. Panting, he said, “They’re taken care of.”

“You killed them!” said Ginny, shocked.

“Yes,” he said mournfully. “I didn’t mean to, I just meant to knock them out but I displaced more rocks than I intended and, you saw what happened.”

Neville cheered him up by saying, “Thank you Tom. It was either us or them.”

This kick started Tom’s brain back into gear. “What happened down there? Did Dumby find you?”

“Dumby’s here!” Neville said in surprise.

“So he didn’t find you. What happened then?”

Ginny then answered. “Well we escaped when the floor caved in around those death munchers in the prophecy room. I suppose that was you as well?”

“Yes, but that’s not important. What happened next?” Tom demanded impatiently.

“We made our way through a few more strange rooms, picking up minor injuries along the way and we found Black Eye, Conks and Kingston. Luna got badly hurt so Conks stayed behind to heal her. The rest of us kept going, leading the death munchers away and we ended up in a really tall room with some kind of archway in the centre. Death munchers everywhere. The fighting intensified. Kingston told us kids to get back to the foyer immediately so we left but it was only at the lifts that we realised Harry and Ron weren’t with us.”

Seeing Ginny’s terrified look, Tom tried to calm her down but he struggled. She was too on edge at the possibility of Ron and Harry dying. He abandoned trying to calm her down and instead started issuing orders. “Dumby’s instructed me to look after you lot. You three need to get out of here now. There’s some fire powder by the fireplaces over there. Use it and go to the Hag’s leg. Dumbridge has the Hogwash fireplaces barred but the Hag’s leg is safe. Stay there until instructed otherwise.” Tom had planned this whilst he was waiting, alone in the foyer.

Ginny and Neville both started to argue immediately and Tom understood how they felt but he had his orders and he was going to see them carried out. He spoke over them, “It’s too dangerous for you here and someone needs to get Hermione to safety. Once I get hold of Ron, Harry and Luna, I’m sending them back too.” Neville opened his mouth to argue but Tom raised his voice even more and said, “If you won’t go willingly, I’ll force you.”

They both stared at him for a few seconds. Then, realising he wasn’t joking, agreed and left for the Hag’s leg, carrying Hermione with them.

Not a minute passed before Ron and Luna came out of the lifts, accompanied by Arthur. “Are you alright?” Tom asked urgently.

“I can’t find Ginny!” said Arthur in panic.

“It’s ok, I’ve seen her. She’s safe now, away from the Ministry.”

Arthur let out a huge gasp. “Thank you Tom. Thank you so much… What are you doing up here anyway?”

“I’m taking care of anyone who tries to come in or go out,” he said, and pointed to the pile of rubble where the 5 death munchers lay.

“Merlin’s beard!” exclaimed Arthur.

Tom’s attention then turned to Ron and Luna, “I need to get you out of here before it’s too late. Use the fire powder by the fireplaces and go to the Hag’s leg. There you will find Neville, Ginny and Hermione.”

Like the others, Ron and Luna immediately started to argue but Arthur was on hand to help out this time. “You’re going Ron and that’s final!” It seemed Ron didn’t dare ignore his father and went willingly, with Luna following. Once they’d gone, Arthur said, “I’ve got to get back to the fight but thank you so much.”

“Thank you for getting them here. We’ve all got to do our part and I won’t get in the way of you doing yours. Go now.”

Arthur left, leaving Tom alone again. His body was still full of adrenaline and he couldn’t sit still. In his time alone, he noticed that a big hole had appeared in the ceiling where the roof had caved in, that lead to the night sky. What with everything going on, he hadn’t noticed it before. As he drew his attention away from the hole in the ceiling, he saw one of the fireplaces ignite and out of it came the thing Tom had been fearing the most. Moldywart.

Chapter 21 – There’s strength in numbers

He looked even less like a human than Dumby had described. His face was bone white, hairless and his nose was so flat, you could get a perfect spirit level measurement over it.

Tom tried to act quickly to catch Moldywart off guard. He sent a hex at him but it was deflected effortlessly. Moldywart sneered as he shouted, “Who are you to dare challenge me?”

Tom couldn’t think of a clever response. Rather pathetically, he just said, “I’m Tom, just like you.”

“Fool. No one is like me. I’m no longer Tom, I outgrew that name long ago. Now move aside or another Tom will come to an end.”

“You’re right about one thing,” Tom shouted.

They looked at each other with detest for a split second, then Moldywart sent multiple curses at Tom. Tom had never experienced the speed of his spell work before. He just managed to dodge one and block another, but the third struck him and he fell to the floor in pain. He had no time to dwell on the pain though. He rolled over and jumped straight back up, parrying another curse as he did. Then he attempted to go on the attack. He tried to immobilize Moldywart in different ways but to no success. They sent a few more curses back and forth at each other, Tom aiming to distract and Moldywart aiming to kill.

“You’ve got some skill boy! But you’re no match for me. Why don’t you give up now?”

“Only when I’m dead.”

“That can easily be arranged.”

Moldywart started to speed up his spell work and Tom struggled to cope. Before long, he was knocked to the floor so forcefully that his wand flew out of his hand. Noticing Tom’s lack of movement, Moldywart pulled a knife out of his robes and sent it flying through the air and it imbedded deep into Tom’s left bicep. The pain it caused almost made Tom pass out. As he struggled to remain conscious, he could see Moldywart baring down on him. So this is it. This is how I die. Tom knew he couldn’t carry on fighting.

As Moldywart bared down on him, he said, “Your bravery will be noted. Not many people could hold me off for so long. It’s a shame that you’re going to die, you could have been a powerful allay but ah well.”

Tom thought of Amber and his friends. Then his uncle Then Lyrotth.

Suddenly, he started to feel warm and powerful. He could not see her, he could not hear her, but he could feel her, as sure as anything. Lyrotth was coming.

New hope filled him and he tried to stall Moldywart, saying, “You don’t want to kill me, I’m your ticket to Trotter and Dumby.”

Moldywart was about to cast the deadly blow but staggered in surprise. Intrigued, he said, “How?”

Tom spoke as slowly as he dared. “They both rely on me heavily. All I need to do is send them false information and they’ll be vulnerable.”

“I can see you are telling the truth but I don’t believe you mean to do it. Besides, I already have Severus.”

Tom could feel Lyrotth ever stronger, he knew she must be almost here. “You’re funeral,” he said, not being able to think of anything else.

“No, it is yours!”

Moldywart raised his wand to strike but then several things happened simultaneously. A female death muncher with wild, frizzy hair came bursting out of the lifts, Moldywart got distracted and looked to see what the source of the commotion was and Tom seized his advantage and tripped him up. Then, in one fluid motion, Lyrotth came flying into the foyer through the hole in the ceiling and grabbed Moldywart between the teeth.

Moldywart screamed as her teeth sank into him. Tom could see blood pouring out of her mouth. The female death muncher tried to come to Moldywart’s aid but Lyrotth sent her flying by swiping her tail at her. Then, suddenly, the whole foyer started to fill with people. Scores of witches and wizards came out of the fireplaces, including the minister of magic, Toffee, and Harry, Dumby and the rest of the order came out of the lifts. They all froze as they observed the scene in front of them. A dragon, holding Moldywart between her teeth and Tom slouched against the fountain in the centre of it all.

Moldywart recovered from the initial pain and tried to break free but failed. As more and more people appeared, he glanced around at them all. Then there was a big bang and a smoke cloud appeared around Lyrotth’s mouth.

Once the smoke diffused, Lyrotth was visible again, but without Moldywart in her mouth. He’d vanished, leaving behind nothing more than a pile of his own blood and a deep gash in Lyrotth’s muzzle. She roared in anger at the pain and the disappearance of her prey.

Tom heard many screams and shouts of, “You know who has returned!” and, “Dragon!” Some of the wizards cowered away whilst others raised their wands.

“STOP! She won’t hurt you.” Tom bellowed.

Only some of the wizards put their wands down. Dumby then magically modified his voice to echo all around the room. As he spoke, he strayed over to stand by Tom and address the crowd. “Don’t attack, Lyrotth here is friendly.” He then paused to make sure everyone was listening. “As you have all just witnessed, Lord Moldywart has returned. Members of the order of the thunderbird have captured many death munchers here tonight. They are all tied up down in the DRM, apart from dear Bellatonix who is over by that fireplace. Also, I think I’m right in saying, there are a few dead underneath that pile of rubble.” He glanced at Tom who nodded subtly.

The wizards started to mutter amongst themselves. Most voices were of panic and confusion. “Dumby, How?” asked Toffee, who up until now had been completely silent.

Dumby’s voice went back to normal volume as he said, “I will explain everything to you in a few minutes. I just need to send Harry and Tom back to Hogwash.”

“Who? Who is this Tom?”

Before Tom could answer for himself, Dumby said, “I will explain that too.” He then turned round to speak to Tom and Harry. “You two need to leave. I shall make a port key to,” Tom interrupted him.

“Albus, I’ve been sending the others to the Hag’s leg via the fireplaces and I told them to wait there until further notice.”

“An excellent idea Tom. Very well, Harry, use the fireplace over there and go join the others.”

Harry seemed completely exhausted and distraught. Without speaking, he got up. “What about me sir?” Tom asked, surprised that he wasn’t going with Harry.

“I need you here a little longer Tom.” He then went with Harry over to the fireplace and sent him on his way

In the time Dumby spent helping Harry, Lyrotth came over to Tom and bowed her head so they were face to face. He gazed into the face that he’d become so accustom to and inspected her wound. There were many gasps from the crowd as he did so but Tom ignored them. “Thank you for saving me. I would be dead if you hadn’t turned up,” he said softly.

She made a noise between a growl and a purr and Tom felt her appreciation radiate right through him.

Only as he tried to stand up did he remember the knife that was in his arm. The bleeding had ceased but it was still very painful and the loss of blood made him feel very dizzy as he stood. He used Lyrotth for support and then yanked the knife free from his arm. He let out a groan as he did so but the sharp burst of pain only lasted a second.

Dumby beckoned Tom over to where he was talking to the other members of the order. A few of them greeted Tom with pats on the back, then Dumby continued. “Good job tonight everyone. You’ll be happy to hear that we no longer have to worry about the prophecy anymore as it’s been destroyed.” Apart from Tom, they all sighed in relief. “Harry is safe, along with his school friends thanks to Tom and Moldywart has yet again slipped away under our noses.”

“Not so healthily though this time,” chuckled Conks.

“He’ll patch himself up in no time, a dragon bite is only a flesh wound. It’s essentially the same as Tom’s knife wound,” said Dumby.

The group then turned their attention to the wound, having not noticed it until know. “You were stabbed!” said Rudy in surprise.

“Moldywart’s doing,” replied Tom.

“Be lucky it’s only a wound. I’m amazed you’re still alive,” said Kingston.

“I wouldn’t be if Lyrotth hadn’t come to my aid.”

The group turned to face her. She’d been patiently waiting behind them, even though she kept getting awkward stares from members of the Ministry. “Albus, you never told us about a dragon!” said Arthur.

“That is because it was a secret between only people who were situated at Hogwash as that is where Lyrotth is living.” Arthur was about to say something else but Dumby raised a hand to stop him. “I will tell you all the details later, there are lots of things we need to discuss. But for now, I need to speak with Toffee, and Lyrotth needs to fly away from here before the sun rises. Tom, you need to get back to the others. Explain to them what you can and then take them back to school. At 6 am, bring Harry to my office. I’ll meet you there.”

Tom said his goodbyes to everyone then went over to Lyrotth, who was preparing to take off. He’d assumed he would travel back by fire, same as the others, but he could tell Lyrotth was waiting to fly with him.

She kneeled down so he could climb on her back. He struggled more than normal, having only one good arm but eventually managed it. “Let’s go,” he said.

Lyrotth then stepped onto the pile of rocks that contained the death munchers, reared onto her hind legs and flew out of the hole in the ceiling and into the night.

Chapter 22 – The scars of battle

Once they levelled off to a steady altitude, Tom asked, “Can you wake me up when we’re five minutes away?” She nodded so Tom closed his eyes. Next thing he knew, he was hurtling towards the ground. The jolt in change of direction and acceleration had woken him. “Whoa, Lyrotth, what’s going on!?”

She pulled out of the dive and levelled off. Tom could feel her laughing and he put two and two together.

“Don’t wake me like that again. I could have fallen off!” She tensed up at that. Tom supposed it was rude to doubt Lyrotth’s abilities to keep him safe.

After he’d got over the initial shock of being woken, he set about sending a patronus to the Hag’s leg telling them he would soon be with them. He then sent a patronus to Amber, telling her that he was safe, that the fight was over and that he’d be back at school soon. Just as he finished casting the patronuses, he spotted a few lights through the darkness, indicating that they’d arrived. The journey back was far quicker than the journey there since Lyrotth could go at full speed. Judging by the darkness of the sky, they’d flown all the way back in less than an hour.

Lyrotth touched down in the street, next to the pub and Tom slid off. He thanked her, examined her wound again and said, “I’ll get Hogrod to heal you soon.” She nodded and took off again, heading for the forest and some sleep.

Tom made his way into the pub, where he found Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna, Neville, Ginny and Ab sitting round a circular table, each with a bottle in hand. They all turned at the sound of the door. Ab got up and brought another chair to the table at the sight of Tom. “Thanks Ab,” he said. He sat down and looked at everyone. “Hermione, how are you?” he asked.

“I’ll be alright,” she said weakly.

Neville said, “She didn’t come round for about 30 minutes after we left you. Once she did, Abaforth patched her up a bit.”

Ab sat back down, having gone to get a glass of Glory of Magic for Tom. He passed it to Tom and he drank deeply. Ginny then said to Tom, “Harry’s filled us in on Sonrus and Moldywart’s escape but what happened to you?”

“What happened to Sonrus?”

“Oh, you haven’t heard. He’s dead,” she said mournfully.

Harry let out a wail. Tom took a deep breath. “I’m sorry to hear it.” No one said anything for a moment, then Tom continued. “Once I’d sent you lot here, I was waiting on my own and then Moldywart showed up. We duelled but I was no match for him. After a minute he had me on the ground and he sent a knife at me. Luckily it only hit my bicep,” he showed them the wound. They all gasped but Tom ignored them and continued. “But after that I had no chance, I’d dropped my wand and he was breathing down my neck. I thought I was dead. But then Moldywart got distracted by another death muncher and I managed to trip him up. Before he regained composure, Lyrotth showed up and grabbed him in her mouth. Then, hundreds of wizards turned up and… I guess Harry told you the rest.’

They all looked at him in awe. Tom wished they wouldn’t, it made him feel uncomfortable. It’s not like he beat Moldywart, Lyrotth was the one who did that.

Abaforth spoke out. “You’re all lucky to be alive. Just be glad it’s over. I hate to think what would have happened if members of the order hadn’t turned up.”

He then toasted them and Tom drained the rest of his glass. Ron put his bottle down first and said, “I wonder what happened to Dumbridge.”

They all shrugged and then laughed weakly at the thought of her being prisoner to the centaurs. It felt good to laugh, letting go of all the dread they had been holding on to for the past few hours. Tom then checked a clock on the wall, “We need to get back to the castle. Hermione, can you walk or do you need me to carry you?”

“I think I can walk,” she said.

They got up, saying thank you and goodbye to Abaforth, and headed for the door. Hermione only made it a couple of steps before stumbling. Tom rushed over to her and put one of her arms round his shoulders. “I’ve got you,” he said.

They then left the pub and started to walk back to the castle in silence. Just as they reached the edge of Hogswine, it started to rain hard. The group began to run back to the castle but Hermione was in no state to move quicker than a tortoise. Tom continued to support her as she needed him and he didn’t mind getting wet, but before long, she started to shiver so Tom picked her up and carried her in his arms as fast as he could. The longer he spent carrying Hermione, the more the pain in his arm increased but he didn’t mention it to her as he was still worried about her health.

As they reached the courtyard, they saw Harry and the others huddled under a roof by the entrance. “How are we going to get in the castle?” Harry asked.

“Have you tried the door?” asked Tom, whilst trying not to sound too patronising. Harry thought Tom was being stupid but Ron and Neville went to try them and as luck would have it, the doors were unlocked and the group rushed inside.

In the shadows, they spotted a figure. “Wilch,” whispered Ron to the others.

“Are you saying I look like a man?” asked a strong but gentle voice. Tom recognised the voice and his heart started to race. Out of the shadows stepped Amber.

Tom lay Hermione down by a wall and ran at Amber, lifting her off her feet and spinning her around on the spot. He had to put her down abruptly though as the pain in his arm was too much to support her weight and he almost dropped her. He kissed her and she said, “I’ve been so worried. I couldn’t sleep.”

“I’m so glad to see you,” he replied. They smiled at each other, then Tom turned to address the others, “Amber, Ginny, help Hermione up to the hospital wing. Neville, Luna, go wake Professors Snipe and McMogal. Tell them Dumby will be back soon and that Dumbridge is currently in the hands of the centaurs. Ron, go wake Hogrod and tell him that Lyrotth needs some attention immediately. Harry, come with me to Dumby’s office.”

It was a mark of his leadership that no one questioned his commands. They all went their separate ways, with Amber kissing him once more before she left. Harry and Tom then made their way to the eagle statue and went inside Dumby’s office.

They had to wait only a few minutes for Dumby to turn up. In that time, Harry said nothing and so Tom inspected his wound. The pain was getting worse and the skin around the cut was darkening. When Dumby appeared, he came from upstairs. Tom had never known what was kept up there, nor did he understand how Albus had got there.

Albus looked tired, just like the rest of them but there were no signs of it in his voice. He stepped down to them as he said, “Tom, thank you for bringing Harry here. There is much I need to tell the both of you and now is the best time to do it.” He then set about explaining the vision Harry had seen of Sonrus. Tom didn’t understand everything but this was probably because he kept missing bits, being distracted by his arm. All Tom understood was that Harry could sometimes see what Moldywart saw, due to his scar.

Dumby then explained how the prophecy with Harry’s name on it had been the reason Harry had been lured there. Tom was more interested in this part, taking in every word. Dumby told them how the order had been keeping guard over it for the past year but it was now smashed. He then spoke with a more serious tone as he told Tom how he’d not mentioned to Conrad Toffee that it was Tom who had killed the death munchers. He said Tom could be in serious trouble if the Ministry found out.

He then told them how the elemental magic that Tom had used was incredibly powerful but incredibly dangerous. He explained how the magic saps your energy and if you try and cast a spell beyond your limits, you can kill yourself. However, he ended on a more proud note, saying that most wizards would have died if they’d attempted what Tom had managed and that very few could produce such spectacular results.

Once Dumby seemed to finish, Tom said what had been on his mind for the past hour. “Albus, now that I interfered with Moldywart, do you think Garrick is in even more danger?”

Albus gazed at his pensieve as he thought, finally saying, “I think not. Lord Moldywart doesn’t know who you are and he will take a bit of time to recover from his defeat.”

“But sir, even if he doesn’t know right now, surely he’ll find out soon enough? My names in the papers! And if I was him, I’d want to make my next move quickly, as people won’t be expecting it as much and it would create more fear in the world.”

“It’s an option. However, I disagree. Like I said, I think your uncle is, for the moment, safe. I like to think I understand Lord Moldywart a bit better than you do so…Tom! Your arm.”

“Yes?”

“That’s no ordinary wound!”

The seriousness in Albus’ voice started to worry Tom and he said, “It’s been getting worse these past few hours.”

“It’s dark magic. You need help. Go to the hospital wing now. Get Madam Pumpkin to do what she can. I’ll send Professor Snipe up to you so he can take a look, he might be able to help.”

“Alright then,” Tom said reluctantly, as he wanted to stay and learn more. He got up, nodded to both of them and left for the hospital wing.

On arrival, he found Hermione in a bed and Madam Pumpkin watching over her. “Another one!” she said as she saw him.

“I’ve been stabbed. Can you take a look at it?”

She bustled over to him and he stuck out his arm. Her eyes widened as she inspected his arm, which was now almost completely black around the wound. “This is beyond my skill to heal. I can seal the wound and fix the muscle damage but whatever accursed magic this is, it is not in my power to heal. How did this happen?”

“Lord Moldywart pierced me with a knife,” he said casually.

She jumped at the statement, but said nothing and forced Tom into the bed next to Hermione and went to get supplies. When she returned, Tom asked, “How’s Hermione?”

“She’ll be fine, she’s just very weak. She just needs some time to recover… You on the other hand, I’m sorry to say I don’t know what will happen.” Tom relaxed as he heard Hermione was fine but then tensed again when he heard his own fate. “Here, take this,” she said, passing him a drink.

“What is it?” he asked.

“It will put you to sleep. You won’t feel a thing if you’re asleep and I can fix you more easily.”

Tom agreed and downed the glass. The effect was immediate. His vision became blurry and he struggled to keep his head up. Before he knew it, he’d dropped off into a dreamless sleep.

Chapter 23 – Recovery

Tom woke up around midday. It took him a few moments to remember where he was and why he was there. He looked down at his arm and was amazed at what he saw. All the darkness had vanished and there was no wound anymore. All that was left was a long, thin, vertical scar, running down his bicep where the knife had pierced. He moved his arm around a bit and felt overjoyed. It didn’t hurt one bit, and the scar didn’t matter to him. In fact, he felt cool having a war wound. It would always be a reminder to him that he fought against Moldywart and survived.

He took his attention away from his arm, looked round the room and found Hermione watching him. They smiled at each other. “Rough night,” she said.

Tom chuckled. “Are you any better?” he asked.

“I feel fine, albeit weak. Madam Pumpkin says I won’t be able to walk yet.”

“Do you know what they did to you?”

“No. All Madam Pumpkin said was that my body had suffered horrendous forces and it would take some time for my strength to return to me.”

“I’m glad you’re ok.”

“Thanks… Thanks for carrying me as well. I don’t think I would have made it otherwise.”

“Don’t mention it.”

There was an awkward silence and then Hermione started to look away from him.

Tom hurriedly asked, “Do you know what happened to me? My arm is so much better.”

Hermione seemed happy to continue the conversation. “Sorry, I don’t know. I was asleep up until half an hour ago.”

“Oh,” Tom said, feeling disappointed.

About 20 minutes passed where Tom and Hermione talked about the previous night’s events. Then the hospital wing doors opened and Snipe came in. “You alright Tom?”

“Yes, thanks sir. Do you know what happened to me?”

“That knife was imbedded with dark magic that works from the inside. It would have slowly spread to your whole body and you would have died a very slow and painful death if I hadn’t saved you.”

“You saved me?”

Snipe rolled his eyes. “Of course, who else could have done?”

“Fair point. Thank you.”

“Just be glad I was here to help you… I’ve come to check on you to make sure you’re healed properly.” He walked over to Tom’s bed and examined his arm. “Ah, you can be scar brothers with Trotter,” Snipe said, sniggering. He then said, “It looks fine. I’ll leave you in peace now.” He turned to leave but then changed his mind. He glanced at Hermione before saying, “How did you manage to cast that elemental magic?”

Tom thought Severus was being stupid. “You gave me the book sir.”

“I know I did but I never expected you to actually achieve anything. I gave it to you as a bit of a joke. I’ve not know anyone to cast any of those spells for decades.”

Tom felt elated. “Really?” he asked.

“Really. Even I can’t use those spells.” Tom lay there in silence, caught up in his own thoughts of possibilities. “Anyway, I must go. Tom, Danger, get well soon,” he said and left.

Tom thought he’d been lucky to be caught on the arm and not in the heart. Only now did he realise Moldywart hadn’t been aiming for his heart. Which also meant that Moldywart hadn’t been trying to kill him. Tom’s happiness of thinking he held off Moldywart in a duel was starting to seep out of him.

“So it’s true?” Hermione asked.

“What?”

“It was really you who cast those spells? The earthquake and the avalanche?”

Tom couldn’t help smiling as he said, “Yep.”

“Wow.” Neither of them spoke for a minute. Then Hermione said, “How am I going to have beaten you in the exams if you can do that!?”

Tom laughed. It seemed odd to think that after all they went through last night, they’d also did something as ordinary as an exam yesterday. “How can you be thinking about that now?” he asked in disbelief.

Hermione dropped the subject and instead asked about Lyrotth. She seemed genuinely interested in the Lyrotth. How she had come to be at Hogwash, how Tom had come to befriend her and how she saved Tom when in need.

Madam Pumpkin appeared at 1 o’clock with lunch. She gave them each a tray of roast dinner. They thanked her and she returned to her office, without a word. As her door closed, the main doors opened and the entire Ravensnore Quidditch team came in. “Dude, It’s all over the papers! How? What?” asked Ryan, gobsmacked.

Tom couldn’t help but grin, but he also felt sad. His cover was blown now. He could no longer work as Dumby’s spy.

Natalie said, “The papers say you fought you know who at the Ministry and you flew off on a dragon!”

“It’s true,” said Hermione.

Tom received hugs from everyone and then set about telling them what happened although they seemed to know most of it already. Too soon however, Madam Pumpkin came out of her office and insisted some of them leave. Everyone said bye to Tom and wished him well and left, apart from Amber who stayed by his side. When it was just the two of them, and Hermione, Tom set about telling her all the bits he’d left out of his previous tale. She gasped and sighed in all the expected places and when Tom told her about the poisonous knife, she jumped up from her chair in shock. Tom showed her his scar and said, “I’ve got another scar now. One more for the collection.”

“This one isn’t as cool though,” she said, unimpressed.

“You know what’s weird?” She looked at him blankly. “I don’t like my chest scar but I like this one, whereas you’re the opposite.”

“Why don’t you like the chest one?” she asked in surprise. “It makes you look tough.”

“I think it’s because the chest on is a reminder that I was an idiot. Whereas this new arm one is a reminder that I fought against Lord Moldywart.”

“Good point. I still prefer the other one though,” she said cheerfully.

The conversation meandered on for around 20 minutes until Hermione fell asleep. Tom then brought up something he wanted to tell Amber in private. “I killed 5 people last night.”

“What!? You killed!?”

Tom didn’t like that way Amber was looking at him. “Yes. I dislodged rocks from the ceiling and crushed death munchers with them.”

She looked worried and concerned. “How do you feel about this?”

Tom took a deep breath. “I felt weird at first. But now, I think I’m ok with it. They were trying to kill us and they posed a threat to society. I think I did the right thing.” Amber just stared at him for a moment. Tom wanted a response. “Please say something.”

She said, “It was you that made that big hole in the roof of the ministry! The papers say it was Lyrotth.”

“Yeah it was me.”

“But how? I thought you were in the DRM.”

“I only was at the beginning, which reminds me, please don’t work there.”

“What? Why not?”

“It’s not natural that place. The magic is weird. One man hit a pole and shrunk to 3ft tall!”

Amber looked at him suspiciously. “You’re trying to trick me aren’t you?”

“No. I’m serious. Please don’t work there. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

For the first time ever, Tom seemed to have touched a nerve. “You were just in a battle, fighting for your life, and you don’t want me to work in a place that has some potential dangers! Sorry, but, no. I’m not going to not work there just because you say so. You’re being quite hypocritical. Why should you get to have all the fun!?”

Tom didn’t like it but he knew she was speaking logically. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. You’re right. I can’t tell you not to do it. It’s your decision.”

Amber calmed down. “Thank you. As for the killings, I’m not sure if I could ever do it and I’m surprised you did, you’re only 16! But, I don’t think less of you because of them. I knew long ago you’d have tough decisions and scenarios ahead of you.”

“I’m so glad. I was worried you’d think I’m evil.”

“Don’t worry, I still love you.”

He smiled, “That’s good to hear. Don’t tell anyone though. If the ministry find out, I could be arrested.”

Amber remained by his side for the rest of the day whilst other people popped in and out throughout the afternoon. Harry, Ron, Neville, Luna, Ginny, Hogrod, the heads of houses, some of Hermione’s friends who Tom didn’t know, Isabelle, Clara and both Dumby’s. They all brought words of sympathy and admiration. Hogrod told them Lyrotth was recovering well and Albus brought them news of the order of the thunderbird. He said they had calmed down the press and had cleaned up the mess in the DRM. He also mentioned that they had had to move headquarters to the burrow.

Once he left, Hermione explained to Tom what the burrow was and about their old headquarters and so on. She didn’t seem bothered that Amber was present. “I can’t believe you’re a member! We all wanted to join but they wouldn’t let us because we’re too young.”

“Well you ended up being a part of it anyway so does it really matter if you’re an official member or not?”

“I guess you’re right.”

Tom hated being stuck in bed all day but he had to admit, it had its perks. Most of the visitors had brought them food and drink and one of Hermione’s friends brought her a copy of the daily preacher. Once all the visitors had gone, including Amber, she started reading out loud articles for their amusement. As she read, it startled the pair of them to learn how much the Ministry had found out. They’d noted the deaths of Sonrus and the multiple death munchers. They’d mentioned Lyrotth in detail and the destruction she caused. But they also mentioned how Tom had saved Harry Trotter and his friends from the clutches of the death munchers. It then went on to say how Tom had prevented Moldywart from causing any more deaths or destruction by duelling him. “They make you sound like a hero,” Hermione observed.

Since his spy secrets were out, Tom was secretly very happy that the world knew what he’d been through and what he was capable of, but he didn’t want to sound big headed. He replied, “I’m not though. I just did what anyone would have done in my situation.”

“What, ride a dragon to the Ministry, kill a few death munchers, save mine and other’s lives, and stop Moldywart!” she said in disbelief. “Oh yeah, anyone could have done that,” she finished, sarcastically. Tom smiled and felt elated at what he thought was her admiration for him.

She carried on to say, scoffing, “You can be really stupid sometimes.”

“Ok, ok,” he said, sounding annoyed, although he found it hard to supress a smile.

Tom and Hermione were confined to the hospital wing for two more days. They received regular visits from Amber, Harry and Ron which made their stay more enjoyable but even so, Tom was very glad to be rid of the place when he was finally released.

Chapter 24 – New Horizons

With exams over, lessons had ceased and students had a week off before going home for the summer holidays. The castle had a subdued feel. Everyone was trying to enjoy themselves but the lingering thought of Moldywart’s return was sapping the energy and excitement out of it.

During his first day out of hospital, Tom visited Lyrotth, who was recovering quickly, and Dumby, who told him a few things for Tom’s ears only. Tom learned that the Ministry were keen on finding out more about him. “They want to know who you really are and what you’re capable of,” he said. This came as a surprise to Tom because, since the paper of the morning after the battle, Tom hadn’t been mentioned at all. It was Harry, Dumby and Lyrotth who were getting the headlines.

It turned out Albus had managed to temporarily postpone Toffee from learning about Tom, his leadership, magical skill and potential dangers he could cause. Albus explained that Toffee would soon be fired and so the less he knew, the better. When Tom asked how he knew this, Albus said, “Because I have been approached to replace him.”

“And will you?” Tom asked interestedly.

“No. My place is here at Hogwash.”

Tom’s spirits rose and he eagerly asked, “So who will become minister?”

Dumby looked him up and down before answering. “You’re too young.”

Tom was taken aback. “What!?”

“Don’t try and hide it Tom. I can tell you are interested in the position, but you are only 16. You have 2 years of school left.”

Tom realised there was no point trying to hide it any more. “Fine, I want to become minister of magic.”

“And someday, maybe you will. You have the potential to be an excellent minister. But the time is not now.” Tom sank back into his chair in disappointment. He knew Albus was right but he wasn’t sure if he’d ever get another opportunity. “There’s something else I want to tell you, something concerning you arm.” Tom became interested again. “The wound you suffered was caused by magic of Moldywart’s own design. It was designed to kill you slowly and painfully.”

Tom interrupted him, “I already know this. Professor Snipe told me.”

“But did he tell you why you received this wound?” Tom shook his head. “I’m sorry to say that it was because of your name.” Tom looked at him, confused. “You see, Moldywart, or rather Tom Fiddle, hates his birth name so much that he not only changed his own name, he wants to rid the world of all powerful Tom’s, especially the ones that try to forestall him as you did.”

Tom didn’t speak for a moment as he understood the scale of what that meant. “But why not just kill me? Why make me suffer?”

“I’m not entirely sure. But I believe that is Moldywart’s idea of humour. It’s as simple as that.”

*

The rest of the week was surprisingly calm. Now that the aftermath of the Ministry fiasco had quietened down, Tom enjoyed relaxing with his friends and reflecting on the year they’d had.

No one saw her, but it was said that Dumbridge had been recovered from the centaurs and was now in St. Mungo’s, suffering from trauma. With her out the picture, Hogwash returned to its former self. Her security team were all put in detention and the house elves put on a feast to celebrate. It turned out that Dumbridge had been particularly evil towards them. She’d forced them to work for 20 hours without a break, punished any of them who didn’t look right in her opinion and stopped them all from cleaning Gryffinchair tower to spite both house elves and the Gryffinchair students.

At the end of term feast, Tom sat with his Quidditch team, with Amber on one side and Cho on the other. They eat as much as they could. Chicken legs, pulled pork sandwiches, steak, chips and so on. They laughed and cheered a lot, as did everyone. For that glorious hour, no one in the room thought of anything other than the meal they were eating and the people they were with. It was almost as if all the news of death and violence had never existed.

Once the meal was over, Dumby got up to give his end of year speech. Everyone became silent within seconds and Dumby began. “As this year comes to an end, I would like to first congratulate you all on getting through it. It had not been an easy year by any means.” There were a few chuckles and murmurs of agreement. “As you are all aware by now, Moldywart has returned. Our very own Tom Collivander confronted him and protected his fellow school mates. He showed the courage and determination that we all need to aim for in the years to come. For this, I award Ravensnore house 70 points and I give Tom my upmost thanks.”

Tom received a round of applause and he asked Amber, “Does he usually do this?”

“Every year. He normally gives hundreds of points to Gryffinchair to make sure they win but thanks to you, things might be different this year.”

The clapping ceased and Dumby continued. “Next, I wish to thank Luna Loveydovey, Ginny and Ron Weaselby, Hermione Danger, Neville Shortstop and Harry Trotter. They were also present at the Ministry and showed similar levels of courage. I award them all 30 points each.”

“Maybe not,” whispered Amber and Tom laughed.

“Finally, I want to say that whatever you all do this summer, stay safe and stick together. Friends are the most underrated resource we possess. Look out for each other and I expect to see you all back here in September, ready for some more learning.” There was another round of applause, albeit a quieter one. “Now that’s out of the way, let’s see who’s won the house cup.” He turned to look at the giant hourglasses and lifted the cover off it. The whole hall reeled in surprise. “It looks like this year’s winners are Hufflesnuff,” he said, unconfidently. The Hufflesnuff table erupted with cheers and they all jumped up as Dumby changed the flags in the hall to the Hufflesnuff house crest.

It had been so long since Hufflesnuff last won, no one knew when it last was. The other three tables couldn’t understand how Hufflesnuff had won. Dumby had just given points to Ravensnore and Gryffinchair, Dumbridge gave loads of points to Slytherdin and yet Hufflesnuff outshone them all. After the initial shock was over, the rest of the hall clapped. No one could be made at Hufflesnuff.

Tom saw Dumby still looking confused and then he saw Professor Sprout, who appeared to have a slightly evil grin on her face. Tom assumed she had won it for them by giving Hufflesnuff students a load of points in secret and burst out laughing. He looked over at the Hufflesnuff table and saw Clara and Isabelle amongst the cheering. He saw their happiness at winning and privately, he applauded Professor Parsnip for brining cheer to them. Tom personally wasn’t bothered about winning the house cup and so was happy that it went to the people who would appreciate it most.

He decided not to mention his suspicion to anyone else as he wasn’t sure how people would react. Tom thought most students took the house cup too seriously and besides, Professor Parsnip had only done what other teachers had done for the other houses.

Back in his room, Tom packed up all his possessions, which took a surprisingly short amount of time. Tom’s family were fairly wealthy, just like all the pure blood families, but he didn’t particularly care for material possession. Hence he packed everything he owned into two bags, put them in the corner of his room and went to find Amber. He found her in her room where she was still packing. She had significantly more stuff than Tom but that’s as expected.

Tom helped her pack as they talked. “You better keep in touch this summer,” she said.

“That’s what a phone is for,” Tom replied.

“I’ll want to see you though. It was a nice present, but to be honest, I’m not a fan of these phones. How’s that internet connection thing going?”

“Badly. I can’t work out how to do it at all. Don’t change the subject though… You know where to find me and you can apparate now so it’s easy enough for you to come and see me this summer.”

“I’ll make sure I tell you when I’m coming to Diagonal alley,” she said brightly.

“You better… Hey I just thought, I don’t know where you live.”

“In Cornwall, down by the coast.”

“I’m coming to you then. When the weather is good, we should go surfing!”

She laughed, “Yeah, that’d be fun. I’ll get to beat you at something for a change. There’s also the added bonus of seeing you make a fool of yourself.”

They finished packing and then Tom made his own personal goodbye, before they went to the common room to prepare for Mark and Ryan’s surprise party that the rest of the Quidditch team had planned. They were both 7th years and so leaving Hogwash forever. Boris, Natalie and Cho had already started when they arrived. As they decorated, other students realised what they were doing and joined in. Mark and Ryan were known by everyone and so they were all sad to see them go. Once the common room was decorated and filled up with people, Natalie went to fetch them.

Tom had been planning to prank them to get them back for what they did to him after the Slytherdin Quidditch match, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. The looks of sadness on their faces put him off entirely. He didn’t know when he’d see them again and so he didn’t want their final memory of him to be of annoyance.

The party helped everyone’s spirits a bit. It was low key, just some music and talking but it was enjoyable all the same. However, before long, people started saying goodbye to each other and went to bed. Tom said his own personal goodbyes to Mark and Ryan, inviting them to come by the shop any time. Then he too, went to bed.

The journey back to king’s cross was not that enjoyable for Tom as he knew it marked the start of holiday working in a shop. He had a good time with the Quidditch team in a compartment but before he knew it, they were rolling up to the platform.

As he left the train, he found the triple threat waiting for him. They led him over to where members of the order were standing, in a corner. “Here they come,” said Fred to the group, which contained George, Arthur, Black Eye and Conks. Tom reached them first and shook hands with everyone.

“We’ve got a busy summer ahead,” said Rudy.

“How so?” asked Tom in surprise.

“After the mess up at the Ministry, we’ve got death munchers all over the country losing their heads, attacking at will.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry boy. It gives me something to do, it’s what I live for.”

Tom looked at the others for reassurance. “Black Eye’s a special case,” said Conks. They all chuckled.

Tom then felt someone prodding his back. He turned round to see Amber staring up at him. “I thought you’d gone,” he said.

“I just wanted to tell you something before I left.” She leaned in and whispered in his ear. “I love you, always.”

She then kissed him and Tom whispered, “I love you too,” and then she left, for real this time.

Feeling embarrassed, Tom turned round to see the entire group smirking at him. “Shut up,” he said jokily.

“We didn’t say anything,” said George, still smirking.

Rudy quickly became disinterested and said, “Times catching up on us, we better go.”

Hermione hugged Tom and said, “I’ll see you soon.”

Ron asked, “How are you getting home?”

“Tube,” Tom replied. Arthur jumped at the mention of the underground trains and was aching to go with Tom but thought better of it.

Tom said goodbye to all of them and then pulled Harry aside. “Listen mate. I’m sure others have already told you this, but be careful. You know better than me what Moldywart is capable of and from the little I understood back in Dumby’s office about the prophecy and stuff, we need you. You’re the key to everything.”

“Don’t worry about me Tom, I’ll be fine.”

They man hugged and then Tom left them, heading for the tube terminals. As he walked off on his own, he remembered he’d forgotten to say goodbye to Lyrotth and so left platform 10 2/7th feeling guilty. As he re-joined the muggle world, he looked around at the people who knew nothing of magic or dragons and pitied them.

The End

###

I hope you enjoyed Tom’s adventures in his 5th year. I enjoyed writing them and I’m currently working on his 6th year. Any feedback would be welcome. I’d love to hear what you think.

I also want to thank J.K Rowling for creating the world of Harry Potter. This book owes itself to her ideas.

I am just someone who grew up reading her books and wanted to put my own twists on them. I am in no way trying to make any money for myself or devalue the original Harry Potter franchise.


Tom Collivander and the Order of the Thunderbird, A Potter Parody

Tom Collivander, nephew of the legendary wand maker Garrick Collivander, joins Hogwash in his 5th year as a transfer student from Durmprang. He's exceptionally talented but mostly unheard of. Albus Dumby takes advantage of the oppourtunity and uses Tom as a spy in his master plan to rid the world of Lord Moldywart. Along the way, Tom has to deal with the idiot boy that is Harry Trotter and becomes best friends with the most unlikely creature imaginable. This book is a clear parody of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I just created it for fun. I'm not trying to make any money or devauled the original works in any way.

  • Author: Jonathan Lockwood
  • Published: 2016-03-23 21:50:15
  • Words: 70822
Tom Collivander and the Order of the Thunderbird, A Potter Parody Tom Collivander and the Order of the Thunderbird, A Potter Parody