You haven't even left for school yet, as I write this…but I already miss you terribly. You and James are making an obscene amount of noise in your room and the thought of how different this house will sound tomorrow night seems very unbelievable.
Going to Hogwarts is such a huge step in your life. It's the first step in becoming an adult in the wizarding world. I remember how scary it was to make some of the choices that I knew would affect me for the rest of my life.
Did you know I can remember my Sorting Ceremony so vividly that it's like I'm sitting on that stool being Sorted all over again? It's simply one of those moments in your life that is etched into your memories forever. I really was terrified of the Sorting. I barely knew who I was and everyone already had these great expectations for me. And yet, I learned later that by simply trusting what I believed in… I was put exactly where I belonged.
Even though I'm sure you're perfectly confident about your Sorting…I'm going to share a small piece of wisdom someone passed onto me when I was young—
"It is our choices that show what we truly are."
I'm not very good at explaining things like that, but I always thought that it meant something along these lines: In the moments that we are given control of our destiny… it is important to stand up for who you are and take your future in the direction you want it to go. Or, in other words…grab the dragon by the horns, pull hard and hope.
Your future lies before you, and you've got everything you need to make it into something beautiful. I've got every confidence that you'll take it and mould it into what you want. And your family will be here every step of the way. You're a Potter, and we love you.
And finally, one last piece of advice even though I doubt that I have to remind you of this. Aidan Malfoy will be starting at Hogwarts with you this year. I know this goes without saying, but tempers between Potters and Malfoys have a tendency to boil over quite quickly. Please, make it easier on everyone and simply avoid each other. There comes a time when we should put family honour aside and let rivalry die.
Enjoy the start of term and write soon. We miss you and love you very much.
Chloe folded the letter with a frown. Aidan Malfoy. That was one name she most certainly didn't want to think about, much less see at school. She wound the drawstring of her bag around her finger, deep in thought. Could she really pretend he wasn't there? Would he leave her alone? Chloe swallowed and unwound the drawstring from her finger, which had turned purple. Setting her mouth in a firm line, she decided she would worry about one thing at a time. First Sorting, then Aidan.
Chloe unfolded and read the letter again. She tried to ignore the lump in her throat, but the words ‘Show what we truly are' kept coming back to her. That was her test. The hat would know what she truly was… and Chloe wasn't feeling confident that simply trusting what she believed in would work! It was easy for her father to say. He never questioned what he believed in because he was always right.
She hastily put the letter away and tried to think of anything besides how nice it would be to be back at Havenwood with her family. She couldn't think like that. She'd been waiting too long for all of this.
Meghan had slumped down in the seat, still clutching her sketchpad, Monster curled up in her lap. Chloe decided that she would read a book and not disturb them. Just as she was settling into the story, someone threw open the door to the compartment and barged in.
Loud laughter was heard in the corridor and the person who had entered, halted and stared at Chloe, as if she wasn't the one who belonged there.
"Wrong compartment, Kinsley!" cried one of the laughing voices.
Chloe noticed he wore a Gryffindor tie along with the blank look on his face.
"Oh!" he said, laughing along with his friends. "Sorry, about that! I've got a horrible memory!
"Obviously," grumbled Meghan, who had opened her eyes to see the cause of the noise.
"First years?" he asked.
Chloe nodded, Meghan didn't respond.
He backed out of the compartment, smiling sheepishly. "Sorry, again!"
"It's okay," said Chloe.
The door slammed shut.
Meghan muttered darkly about him being stupid and something Chloe couldn't exactly make out.
"Well, at least they weren't Catherine and Mortimer's friends," said Meghan, flipping a page of her sketchbook.
"He seemed friendly."
"So are stray dogs."
Chloe laughed. "He was in Gryffindor. I saw the tie."
James gave another watery sob and tried to take another bite of his chocolate pudding. Harry pushed his spoon around his dish and didn't have the heart to reprimand James for crying at the dinner table.
Dinner at Havenwood had been a quiet and bleak affair without Chloe. Harry hadn't had much appetite, and he noticed that Ginny hadn't touched her dinner or dessert either. He could hardly tell James to stop crying for his sister because he missed her, but he had yet to think of a good parenting solution. Obviously, Ginny hadn't either, because James hadn't stopped ever since they'd left the train station.
"Sweetheart," said Ginny, "please don't cry. Chloe would be so upset if she saw you like this."
James took a deep breath, and Harry noted that a large teardrop fell into the pudding. "M-m-mum-mummy, can't I have an aging potion, so I can go t-t-oo?"
Harry gave Ginny an exhausted look. Muggle parents got off so easily.
Another tear plopped into James' pudding, and he looked at Harry pathetically. Harry shook his head, feeling extremely guilty.
"But, I m-m-miss her!" James stuttered through his tears.
"What would I do if both of you went away?" asked Harry. "I'd be really lonely."
"You have Mummy," sniffed James. He wiped his face with his robe sleeve, and Harry saw Ginny wince, but skip the lecture on that also.
Drat, thought Harry. Why did he have to have smart children? Teardrop number three fell into the pudding.
Ginny pushed her chair away from the table. "Come here," she said, holding her arms open.
James wasted no time to get in her lap, and his sobs were muffled when he buried his face in her robes. Harry could make out a very clear, "I want Chloe!"
Ginny rubbed James' back and looked quite concerned as she quieted him. Harry would have liked to say that he wanted Chloe home too, but he was sure that would be defeating the point.
"He's exhausted," sighed Ginny.
"I'm not, Mummy," sobbed James, "I'm not frosted at all! I didn't spill anything!"
Ginny shushed him with a small smile and continued to pat his back. Harry knew it was only a matter of time before James fell right to sleep.
And he was correct, no more than five minutes later, James was sleeping on Ginny's shoulder, with the occasional shuddering sigh.
"Poor, James," said Harry, brushing James' dark hair out of his face. "It's tough to be four."
"And to have your beloved sister leave you, for a seemingly forever amount of time," Ginny sympathized. "I didn't know it would be this hard on him."
"They are close," said Harry, "but, I bet he'll be happier in the morning."
"I arranged for Ron and Hermione to bring Laura to play tomorrow night," nodded Ginny, "I thought he'd like it."
"He will like that," said Harry. "Let me take him up to his bed."
Ginny brushed a kiss on James' forehead and Harry lifted him easily out of her arms and had a sad recollection to when he'd done the same with Chloe, carrying her up to her bed.
When Harry came back downstairs, Ginny was standing in front of the dining room, smiling at him.
"What are you smiling at?" Harry couldn't help but smile back, and he crossed the room drawing her into a hug.
"No children," said Ginny, "they're asleep or away. What are we going to do with ourselves?"
Harry tried to kiss her though his laughter. "I don't believe it."
"Believe it, Mr. Potter." Ginny wrapped her arms around him and ran a seductive line of kisses along his neck.
"If you keep that up," Harry shuddered delightedly, "we're not going to have this ‘no children' problem anymore, because I know exactly what we can…." He didn't get to finish his sentence due to Ginny kissing him full on the mouth, and he completely forgot what he was going to say.
Ginny pulled away and gave Harry a long look. "Upstairs?" It actually sounded more like a statement, but either way, Harry wasn't going to argue when she turned gracefully and ascended the steps like a queen, her honey colored robes trailing behind her, shining in the light.
Harry didn't bother going up the stairs gracefully; he bolted.
Ginny laughed when Harry scrambled into their bedroom and hurriedly shut the door behind him.
"Would you like to catch your breath?" She covered her mouth with her hand and laughed as he smacked into the bureau while trying to take his boots off in a hurry.
"What's the point?" asked Harry bluntly
Ginny laughed again. "Romance is officially dead."
"We have a four year old, take your pick between the two, my love."
"Yes, but when Chloe was five…."
"The first child is mercifully easy. It's a giant trick to get people to have more children." Harry smiled and kissed the back of her hand.
"Chloe was such a good little girl," Ginny said thoughtfully, as Harry ran his hand through her hair and caressed the back of her neck.
"Mmm-hmm," said Harry, trying very hard not to get involved in the conversation.
"So bright," Ginny continued, "always wanting to know why something worked a certain way…."
Harry let his hand fall to his side and gave a great sigh. "Yes."
"And that wild imagination," Ginny said, her voice quavering a bit. "Remember when she was absolutely convinced that a hobgoblin lived in the pantry?"
Harry laid his head on Ginny's shoulder and hugged her. "The house-elves were convinced of it also. I had to put up warding spells just to get them to go into the pantry again."
Ginny gave a short laugh, and Harry felt a tear splash on his neck.
"She's grown up," Ginny said, her voice shaking with tears.
Harry swayed gently on the spot, comforting her. "She's only eleven, she's got plenty left to grow into, Gin."
"I'm sorry," Ginny said pulling away, wiping her face. "I sound just like James… carrying on like that. We get a moments free time with each other…and look what I go and do with it…."
Harry ran his thumb over her cheek. "You can do whatever you want with it."
"You're horribly sweet."
Harry made a playful face at her. "So you're complaining about me being nice?"
Ginny's lips brushed over the skin just under his earlobe, and Harry closed his eyes blissfully.
"I'm not complaining though," he added hastily.
"You could shut up and kiss me," murmured Ginny. "Get our minds off of things."
"Shutting up, most definitely shutting up."
"That wasn't me, darling," Ginny said pulling away. Harry's shirt was unbuttoned down the front.
"I said it wasn't me."
Harry swore and glanced at the fireplace, which had blue flames flickering in it.
"I don't have to answer that, do I?"
Ginny sighed, sat down on the edge of the bed and waved impatiently at the fireplace.
"Just talk to whoever that is."
Harry tossed the screen blocking the fireplace off to the side. It hit the marble hearth with a loud clang and Harry faced the fire, shirt still unbuttoned.
"What is it?" he asked impatiently.
Ron's face appeared.
"Ron, why are you calling so late?" Harry glared at him.
"It's…seven o' clock. That's not la—," Ron looked at Harry and something clicked. "Ohhh. Sorry. Was I interrupting something important?"
"You honestly wouldn't want to know. What did you want?" Harry leaned against a chair and crossed his arms.
"I was just going to tell you that Laura can't come tomorrow. I forgot that Hermione has music lessons for her on Tuesdays."
"Chloe get off to school all right?"
"Ron, do yourself a favor and don't let your daughter get older."
"Oh, but you see, she's already five going on twenty-four." Ron wrinkled his nose, which still was dotted with freckles. "Laura's got things worked out better than I do. I told Hermione that it was a bad idea to teach her to read at three…just to let her be a kid, but—."
Ginny cleared her throat loudly.
"Great," Harry interrupted him and shoved the screen in front of the fire. "Talk to you later, mate."
Professor Hermione Granger waited patiently for the first years to scramble up the pathway to the castle from the boats. Hermione smiled to herself, the first years always ran. She hadn't found many eleven-year olds that didn't run everywhere. When every last one had assembled on the stairs with quite a bit of chatter about their first look at the castle, Hermione let herself be seen.
"Good evening," she said, stepping into view.
There was immediate silence, and Hermione flicked her wand at the two torches on either side of the ancient oak doors. They flickered to life and cast a glow upon all the anxious, excited, and even astounded faces.
Hermione liked this the best about first years. They were always so eager to make a good start. She studied their faces for a moment, noting her two nieces and a few other students who looked very much related to some of her current students.
With another wand movement, the front doors began to creak open, and Hermione strode through them. There were sounds of flapping shoelaces and scuffling feet another tell-tale trademark of first years.
Meghan nudged Chloe's elbow as they walked into the Great Hall. "Look at this place! Catherine did a pitiful job of describing it."
Chloe felt a surge of excitement at the sight of all the other students, and then her stomach immediately sunk when she saw the empty seats at the end of the Gryffindor table. Please oh please, let me sit there, she thought to herself, crossing her fingers under her robe sleeves.
Meghan, who wasn't preoccupied with such things, nonchalantly dumped Monster into Catherine's lap as they passed her between the tables. Even the always-composed Catherine couldn't hide her surprise of having a kitten plopped into her lap. Chloe heard Catherine hiss an unmistakable, "Meghan!" after her yelp.
Meghan shrugged as they kept walking. "What does she think I'm going to do? Take her up there to be Sorted with me? That's just silly."
Chloe was sure that Meghan also thought that putting Monster in a travel cage and just leaving her to be put in her dormitory with the rest of the luggage was also a silly idea.
When they made it up to the front of the Hall, Chloe bit her lower lip and drew a shaky breath. She didn't think she had ever been so nervous in her entire life.
"URGH!" She heard Meghan exclaim next to her. "Can't they get a new hat?"
Chloe swallowed and let her gaze fall on the hat that Professor Granger had just set out in front of them. She tried to find something else to distract her. She didn't want to hear the song…she wanted to get it over with. Chloe began to fiercely examine the ceiling. Maybe she could count stars or floating candlesticks…or….
"What're you doing?" Meghan whispered. "You look like you've gone mad, gaping at the ceiling like that."
"You're one to talk," Chloe whispered back. "You dragged your cat into the Sorting Ceremony."
Professor Granger unrolled a parchment and cleared her throat. "Applewhite, Gloria."
Meghan sighed softly. "At least you aren't a Weasley, Chloe. We're almost always last…."
Chloe shook her head and didn't reply.
"Look at that," Meghan said watching Gloria Applewhite bound off the stool, "first one is a Gryffindor."
Chloe tried to ignore the Sorting and looked at the staff table. She hadn't seen Professor Snape since she was five years old, and she barely remembered him from then. She had heard the horror stories from her uncles, but he looked decidedly less frightening than the Sorting Hat did at this moment. Maybe she was blowing things out of proportion.
"SLYTHERIN!" shouted the hat.
Chloe jumped. Maybe not.
She looked back up at the staff table and saw her Uncle Remus. Well, he was Professor Lupin here. Chloe was distracted for a few moments when she noticed how important he looked up at the high table and how he was paying complete attention to the ceremony, clapping politely for each student. Chloe hoped he'd be applauding for her being Sorted into his old house in a few minutes.
Chloe watched a boy grin as he took off the hat. Okay, if she wasn't put into Gryffindor, what would happen? Nothing really… she'd just be different. Maybe she wasn't meant to be in Gryffindor. The world wouldn't end if she weren't sorted into her family's house. But Chloe didn't want to imagine the look on her father's fa—
Chloe froze and held her breath as Aidan Malfoy brushed past everyone on his way up to the dais.
"Oh, like that's hard," Meghan said softly. "I could Sort that one for it."
Chloe stared at Aidan. He walked up to the dais with such an air of confidence that she actually felt disgusted for a moment rather than worried.
He looked like he needed to spend more time outdoors as his skin was very pale, and his eyes looked frighteningly dark in contrast. His neatly combed hair was exactly the color of the fresh butter they had with breakfast at Havenwood, barely pale-yellow and right on the edge of being white.
Chloe nodded her agreement and looked away from Aidan. She didn't want to watch this either…she didn't want to have anything to do with Aidan Malfoy. They could simply leave each other alone and probably never have to say one word to each other. It was an easy solution. They would stay in their respective houses, and everyone would be happy….
Chloe's head snapped up. She hadn't heard right…she hadn't heard right…. He was in…she hadn't heard right….
Chloe suddenly felt very ill.
Have you hugged your stuffed dragon Join Chloe's Bookshelf!
Author note: I bet you forgot I like cliffhangers, didn't you? It's lovely to see everyone in the fandom react so positively to my sequel! I can't wait to really get into the story…it's going to be fun! Special thanks to Anne, who betaed this and thank you to everyone who reviewed the first chapter! I was so worried about it!