Preface A/N to Echoes of Power at PhoenixSong.net:
You may or may not have read this elsewhere. Chapters 1 through 20 were posted originally at SIYE, but this remains a WIP. The major problem with the first 14 chapters as previously posted is that they lack a proper Brit-picking, as well as an extra set of eyes prior to publication. The first 5 or 6 chapters further suffered from new-author syndrome to some extent. This version is a re-edited one, with some of the earlier terms (Americanisms) fixed, as well as some smoothing of rough transitions. If you have not previously read this work, I hope you enjoy it. If you have previously read this, please rest assured that no plot details are being changed in any way. The story framework simply will not allow such. A huge round of thanks to the full beta team working on this story, and the new minds involved now that this is going up here at PS.net.
1 September 1995
"Mind if we join you?" the gangly red-headed boy asked. The only occupant in the compartment – a black-haired boy in plain black robes – shrugged in reply. "Thanks!"
The peace and quiet of the compartment was then lost as the tall redhead was followed by a bushy-haired brunette and a slightly chubby boy of medium height with dark hair. Another redhead, this one a smaller girl, and a honey-blonde girl brought up the rear, closing the door behind them. After a few moments of chatter and confusion as trunks and other things were stowed away, the two redheads and the brunette sat across from the black-haired boy while the blonde girl and chubby boy sat beside him.
"Hi, I'm Ron Weasley, by the way!" the redhead said, extending his hand.
The dark-haired boy looked at the proffered hand for a moment, then reached out and shook it with a grip that clearly surprised the redhead.
Jerking a thumb at the girl sitting across from him, Ron said, "That's my sister, Ginny." He then pointed to the brunette beside him and said, "This is Hermione Granger. Try not to let her questions run you ragged." Everyone chuckled slightly at this, while Hermione shot Ron a dirty look. "That's Neville Longbottom and Hannah Abbot." The two sitting next to him nodded in turn.
The black-haired boy nodded to each of them in turn as they were introduced. "I'm Harry."
Hermione shot Ron another dirty look before turning back to Harry. "I didn't know Hogwarts took transfer students. Where are you from? What year are you in? We're all fifth years."
Harry gazed curiously at Ginny, then at Ron before asking, "Fraternal?"
While Ron and Ginny looked at Harry in confusion, Hermione laughed. "No, they're not twins. Ron's birthday is in early September like mine, but Ginny's is in mid-August. Hogwarts will only accept you if you're eleven years old beforethe first of September."
"Twins?" asked Ron. "What sort of barmy question is that? Do we look like twins? I'm a boy, for Merlin's sake, and she's a girl!"
Harry smirked at Ron and gestured toward Ginny. "Trust me, I realized that she's a girl. Now if you were one, you would've had to be one of the ugliest girls I've ever met."
Ginny let out a muffled chuckle while Neville and Hannah started laughing outright.
Hermione smacked Ron in the back of the head. "No, Ron! Fraternal twins! It's when two eggs are fertilized at the same time. Identical twins, like Fred and George, or Parvati and Padma, are the division of one egg. Fraternal twins never look alike and frequently aren't the same sex."
Ron looked confused, as did Ginny and Neville. "What? Twins that don't look alike? Is that some kind of Muggle thing?"
It was Hermione's turn to look puzzled. "What do you mean? Have there never been fraternal... err, non-identical twins in a magical family before?"
Ginny shook her head.
"That's impossible! I'll have to ask Professor McGonagall about it. Surely it's happened at least once... unless the magic is why... but Muggles... Squibs…?" Hermione trailed off, muttering to herself about what the implications of magic itself causing identical twins might be.
Ginny looked back at Harry and asked, "Are you going to answer Hermione's questions?"
Harry winked at her. "Sorry, I don't know how to use magic to make twins. I just know how to make them the old-fashioned way."
Ginny glared at him while Hermione continued to stare into space; Hannah giggled. Neville merely shook his head as though in resignation.
Harry shrugged and ignored the reactions. "I've been, err, home-schooled, I suppose. I don't know what year I'll be in if it's based on ability. But if it's just based on age, then I'll be a fifth year too." Harry looked at Neville. "Do they test for natural gifts before choosing which class to put you in , or just let you find out as you go along?"
Neville shook his head. "I've never been tested, and I haven't heard about anyone else being tested. Have you been tested?"
Harry decided that that bit of information was definitely not getting out. "Err, no, I've just heard of it."
Hannah leaned back a bit before entering the conversation. "Why were you home-schooled? Everyone I know who got letters of acceptance to Hogwarts actually went to Hogwarts! Only the best students can attend! I know there are other schools, but they're a lot smaller and don't have Hogwarts' reputation."
"Oi! Home-schooled! That means no Quidditch!" exclaimed Ron with a horrified look. "That's just wrong!"
Harry just shrugged in response. "It's a pretty complicated story, and I'd rather not get into it. There were really good reasons for it at the time, reasons that have stopped being so valid recently, so... here I am." The abrupt termination to this line of inquiry seemed to put Hannah off but only seemed to perk Ron's and Ginny's interest.
"Ooooh," said Ginny. "You've got secrets... I can't wait to tell Fred and George. You'll be on your knees begging to confess before they get finished with you!"
Ron laughed at her, and motioned for Harry to come closer.
"Fred and George are our brothers. They prank anyone, anytime, anywhere, for any reason. And they pride themselves on finding out every secret…." Ron smirked at Harry before continuing. "If we were to just happen to let slip that you have major secrecy issues, well, it's not like we would be doing anything to you, is it?"
Harry chuckled. "So, the Weasleys like to ferret out deep dark secrets, do they? You do know that the ferret is part of the weasel family?" Most of the group laughed. "You're welcome to tell Fred and George. Make sure to mention to them that if they want to pull pranks, I'm certainly not going to take it lying down - I will retaliate and escalate."
"Harry, Harry... you have absolutely no idea what you're getting into, here." Neville shook his head mournfully. "I've been pranked by them ever since I started at Hogwarts. What shall we put on your gravestone? 'Here lies Harry, he thought he could prank the Weasleys'! It doesn't sound too good to me. What's your last name, by the way?"
The conversation stopped abruptly when the sliding door to the compartment was thrown open after the merest suggestion of a knock. A pale blonde boy with pointed features stood in the doorway.
"So, is it true? My father said that Harry Potter would finally be on the train to Hogwarts, and this is the last compartment to check. That would be you, I suppose?" the boy asked, looking directly at Harry after glancing around at the others.
Harry merely quirked one eyebrow, inviting further information. Everyone else in the compartment just stared in shock, either at the blonde or at Harry.