The World Is Waiting For You
PG, 2500 words
Hermione, Luna, Lavender, Neville
Summary: Four scenes, four characters, one summer. A school, a place of things beyond their wildest imaginings, awaits.
Notes: Written for st_aurafina at hp_summergen, originally posted here.
"Don't you want to go swim in the sea?" her mum asked.
Hermione shook her head distractedly. "In a bit," she said, still pouring over her book, determined to finish it before she thought about anything else, and so she missed the fond but exasperated look her parents exchanged over her head.
She liked the hot sun and the beach well enough, but it wasn't as good as the things she read about, stories about boarding schools and talking animals and magic wands. It wasn't as good as her science books, either, books that could tell you how to do things, how things really worked. All in all, summer holidays could only pass as satisfactory when she was allowed to stuff her backpack full of with books. Her parents tolerated this most of the time, as long as she did the things other children did sometimes, like building sand castles and making friends.
So when she shut her book with a satisfied sigh, mind still swimming with a story about heroes, she wasn't that surprised to see her mum's expectant gaze on her.
"Hermione, dear, there's a girl over there building a sandcastle, see? It looks very nice already, but why don't you go over and help?"
Hermione looked over appraisingly. The girl had hair that fell in straggles down to her waist, and her eyes were half-closed in concentrated as she moulded towers. Hermione stared. The castle she was building was extraordinary. Fascinated, she got up and began to hurry down to investigate, ignoring her mum's calls about making sure she knew where they were.
"Hello," she said promptly when she arrived at the sandcastle, "my name's Hermione, and how on earth are you doing that?"
The girl looked up slowly, and smiled, wide and somehow strange. Hermione opened her mouth to say something else, but something in the girl's expression made her fall silent instead. Hermione felt out of her depth already, and it was a very strange sensation. She sat down, meekly cross-legged, next to the girl and peered over to see what she was doing.
What the girl was doing, was picking up piles of sand, pushing them piece-meal into what seemed to be an ordinary-looking bucket, and then producing the most perfect sculptures, all different shapes, from the same mould. Hermione couldn't believe her eyes.
"Can I try?" she asked, feeling shy – another strange sensation.
The girl gave her an appraising look, then slid over the bucket. "It probably won't work for you, you know. We don't normally holiday with Muggles, but Dad's investigating some of the local caves and we thought we'd stay here for a few days."
Hermione shrugged off the girl's peculiar comments and examined the bucket. It really did look very ordinary, and felt it, too, as she pressed the insides. She scooped up the sand and looked over at the girl questioningly. "What do I do?"
"Think about what you'd like it to be, a tower or a nargle or something, and put the sand in."
Hermione did so a little dubiously, imagining a round tower, one which Rapunzel herself might live in. She patted the sand in firmly, smoothing the top until she was satisfied. Feeling a little foolish, she turned the bucket upside down and placed it on the ground.
"Go on then," the girl said vaguely, her attention seeming more focused on the birds wheeling overhead.
Hermione gradually pulled the bucket upwards and gasped in amazement. A minature but perfectly sculpted tower was underneath, just the right size to go on top of the girl's castle.
"But – but –" she spluttered, "how did I – how did it –"
The girl slowly returned her gaze earthwards. "Oh!" she said in a tone of slight interest. "You're one of us, then."
"I'm sorry?" Hermione knew that really, she should just walk away from this strange girl and her bizarre playthings, but there was something in her voice, something in the way she leaned forward conspiratorially and full of secrets, that made Hermione stay.
The girl spoke of things that couldn't possibly be true, and it was the most exciting thing Hermione had ever heard.
"Are you sure I can't go to school this year?" Luna asked, as she trotted back from the beach clutching her father's arm.
"I'm sure, darling," he replied, then looked at her a little sadly. "You want to get away from me that badly?"
"No!" Luna replied in horror. "It's only that – I miss school, Dad." Her father sighed, and Luna hastily tried to make amends. "I know you need me at home, because of –" her voice faltered slightly, "because of Mum, but the newspaper's very important, and you can't teach me all the time, and I…" she trailed off, unsure of how to say what was brewing in her heart.
Her father slipped an arm around her waist and drew her close, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. "You can go next year, I promise. And I'll do my best not to miss you too terribly."
Luna nodded, and reassumed her previous bright smile. There was no sense in moping, she'd already had to learn that. "So what did you find today?" she asked.
"Well," her father began with great enthusiasm, "there's the most amazing colony of Blibbering Humdingers just down the bay – of course, I couldn't actually see them, they naturally become invisible at the first sniff of human presence, but I'm sure they were there. I must write to George Brown and thank him for the tip-off, we'd never have found it if it wasn't for that article in the Prophet mentioning the weather conditions here."
He continued to chatter happily, and Luna leaned against his arm. With such adventures before them, school could probably wait. But her thoughts lingered on the Muggleborn girl she'd met today, and couldn't quite suppress the slight pang of envy. The look of disbelief on her face had been wonderful to see, though, and Luna wondered what it would be like for her, when the owl arrived and her parents realised just how special she was.
My dad already knows, she reminded herself, and starting paying attention to his words again, delighted by his description of the Humdingers and there strange, wobbling gait. She'd miss this at school next year.
Lavender sat at her desk, absent-mindedly starting out of the window and bending the feather on her quill back and forth. Mrs Thompson was droning on in front of her, something about the Ministry of Magic, and Lavender had switched off long ago.
"Lavender, are you attending?" Lavender jumped. Mrs Thompson was looking cross. "Honestly, I don't know why I bother with you at all, have you been listening to a word I've said?"
"Yes!" Lavender quickly scanned the front wall, where keywords were glinting in bright reds. "Yes, um – Fudge, Mr Fudge is the Minister, and it's his job to, to minister things, and to…" Lavender faltered for a moment until she remembered something her dad had written in the paper, "to stop the country going to the crups," she finished with renewed confidence.
Mrs Thompson sighed in a long-suffering sort of way and turned to her other pupil. "Neville, might you find it within your abilities to summarise for Lavender what I've been talking about for the last fifteen minutes?"
Neville looked terrified by the idea, but with much stammering managed to convey the basic principles of magical government, causing Mrs Thompson's stern demeanour to soften a little.
"Well then," she said when he had finished, "I see no need to continue any further today."
Lavender broke into a beaming smile, and Mrs Thompson laughed. "Yes, I daresay we could all do with the holiday. Good luck to both of you – you're going into a big and very exciting world now. Remember, be polite; don't speak out of turn, Lavender, and Neville, if you ever hold your quill in your fist again, I will know, and I will come all the way to Hogwarts to tell you off myself!"
Neville shrank slightly in his chair, but he smiled tentatively when she handed him a chocolate frog. Lavender said "thank you" properly when she was given hers, and Mrs Thompson patted her on the head.
"Go on then, run along, the pair of you – and don't get into too much trouble over the summer!"
They didn't need to be told twice. Neville and Lavender raced out of the room and down the stairs. Lavender grabbed Neville's hand impulsively and tugged him outside into the street.
"I'm going to go play by the stream, do you want to come?" she asked.
Neville's eyes widened longingly for a moment before he shook his head firmly. "I'm to go straight home," he said with determination, and Lavender did not press the matter.
She ran along the road that ran through the village, skidding to a halt as she reached the woods. She pushed through the undergrowth; careful not to mess up the pretty new skirt her mum had got for her. She clambered up onto a boulder and surveyed her territory.
Really, the stream wasn't so much a stream as a trickle, but that didn't matter – it was enough that Lavender could pretend it was the Nile itself, and she was Cleopatra, resplendent in the finest robes, being borne down that mighty river with a magnificent entourage. She would wave a hand, and a bronzed servant would conjure the finest Arabian delicacies for her. She'd have a pet dragon, of course – not tamed, but obedient to her will and her fierce protector.
Lavender laughed to herself, lost in this old game. Soon, though, she'd be at school, and that was nearly as exciting. She was going to go all the way to London with her parents and get a wand of her very own, and then be able to do all the things they told her about. She wriggled in delight at the thought. Her mum said they even had teachers who would show you how to look into crystal balls and tell the future.
Lavender leaned her head back, looking at the blue sky in between the tree leaves. She wished it could be the future right now.
Neville walked home, kicking a stone along the pavement until his foot slipped and the stone disappeared into the grass. Giving up on that, he attempted a nonchalant whistle, but the odd pitched note that escaped from his hissing efforts refused to form into any kind of tune. Sighing, he clutched his satchel and turned into the road that led to his house.
He glanced up at the skies hopefully, just in case an owl was swooping down right this minute with his letter from Hogwarts. His gran said it wouldn't come for ages yet, but he couldn't stand the waiting, because what if it didn't come at all?
With this fearful prospect in mind, Neville reached the front door of his house. His gran opened the door, and to Neville's slight surprise she was smiling.
"Neville…" she said slowly, and he grinned nervously as she brought something out from behind her back.
An envelope – a letter. A Hogwarts letter. Neville felt his mouth open foolishly, and for once she didn't tell him off for it.
"Well? Aren't you going to open it?"
Neville held the envelope reverently and moved into the living room. He sat down on the edge of a chair, staring at it, running his fingers against the thick edges, feeling the weight of it in his hands. He turned it over, and slid a finger under the flap. Clumsily, he pulled out the contents, pieces of parchment sliding to the floor.
His gran swooped down to retrieve them, unfolding them and scanning their contents. "Here," she said, handing one sheet to Neville.
Dear Mr. Longbottom,
We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed -
There was an odd sort of sniffling sound from behind him. Neville looked up to see his gran dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief. He stood up awkwardly, and was pulled into a somewhat breath-crushing hug.
"I knew, oh, I knew," she was muttering fiercely.
After a moment, she held Neville at arm's length, and Neville cowered a little under her scrutiny. "You'll have to Floo Uncle Algie, I'm sure he'll want to take you to Diagon Alley to get your things – oh, we must have the family round, this deserves a celebration!" Her face grew serious, after a moment. "But come with me first."
Neville followed after her, up the floors of the house until they reached a ladder leading to the attic. He hesitated. He'd never been allowed up there before. But he could see his gran moving furniture with brisk flicks of her wand, and he guessed it was all right to climb up. He watched her reach up and take a long, thing box from a shelf. As she blew dust off the lid gently, Neville recognised the look on her face as the expression she had every time they went to the hospital.
She took out a wand, holding it gently in the palm of her hand.
"This is your father's wand, Neville," she said, and her voice shook slightly. "I think he would want you to have it."
She laid it in his outstretched hands, and Neville slowly took a firmer grip. He looked up in surprise.
"It's – I can feel it!"
She nodded. "Yes, you should be able to, if it's a fit. Well, I'm no Ollivander, but give it a flick."
Feeling a little scared of it, Neville waved it in a small circle. A lone spark emerged from the end.
"Neville," his gran said impatiently, "you can do better than that, put some effort into it."
After a moment, he raised his arm and brought it down again with a satisfying swish. A cacophony of sparks shot up to the ceiling, and he beamed with pleasure. To his bewilderment, his gran sat down on a pile of boxes and started crying.
"Um, Gran?" He patted her gingerly on the shoulder, but she made a shooing motion at him.
"Oh, run downstairs and leave your stupid old gran alone for a moment."
Neville made a speedy exit, but he walked slowly back down to the living room, holding his new wand very carefully. He then sat down and read and re-read his letter, and each time he did it seemed a little more real. He was really going to Hogwarts. He felt a warm glow tinged with excitement flood him, and looked at the calendar. September the First seemed an awfully long way away.
"Hogwarts," he said aloud in a hushed whisper. The word alone seemed full of magic, full of stories from his family, and now he was going to be a part of it all. He hugged his father's wand to himself, mind already full of new dreams and possibilities. "Hogwarts," he said again, and waved the wand once more, shooting sparks from the end.