Granting wish for:royalty25
Theme: #4 -- Gen
Pairing: Ernie Macmillan, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Hannah Abbot, Susan Bones, Draco Malfoy (cameo)
Prompt: First Meetings
Word count: 1,588
“…Make sure you owl your father and I as soon as you can. And eat your vegetables. Oh, and-and, if there is any problem with your books, in case we forgot something, send word right away and I’ll go to Diagon Alley and get the rest for you. Oh! Also, I almost forgot—“
Eleven-yea-old Ernie Macmillan rolled his eyes in exasperation, looking to his father for help. His mother could do this for ages and if he didn’t hurry he would be late for the train and then it wouldn’t matter what he was supposed to do once he got to Hogwarts because he would never get there in the first place.
“Flora, let the boy get on the train. He’s smart; he’ll figure it out.”
“I don’t understand how you can be so calm, Christian. Our little boy is going away and Merlin knows when we’ll see him again.” There was a dangerous hitch in his mother’s voice and Ernie gave an uneasy glance over his shoulder at the express.
“Now, Flora, you will see him at Christmas. Have fun, son. Your mother is just being a typical woman.” Christian put a hand on his son’s shoulder and gave him a wink.
Ernie grinned, taking his trunk into a slightly firmer grip. “Bye, Mama, Papa. I’ll owl you when I get there.” He waved a final goodbye to his parents and hurried to board the train. In search of a compartment where to sit, Ernie ran into Draco Malfoy on the way.
The blond Malfoy heir gave him a polite nod. “Macmillan.”
“Malfoy,” Ernie responded with a similar nod. The two were civil but as the Macmillans slipped more and more from traditional Pureblood views it was getting harder and harder to sustain relationships in “polite” society. Ernie knew it was mostly his mother’s influence. Coming from a rather liberal French family – the notion of “blood traitors” wasn’t as widely spread there as in Britain – his mother had set out to reform his still somewhat conservative father. Ernie, himself, tried not to put too much value on blood status but sometimes it proved necessary. Sighting inwardly, he decided it might be a good idea to try and join Malfoy for the ride to Hogwarts just for politics’ sakes. But the other boy had already slipped past him and into a compartment occupied by two girls – Parkinson and Greengrass it looked like. Sighing again, now out loud, Ernie went to find a free compartment. He finally found one and set his things on the luggage rack. Taking out a book and a small sack of chocolate frogs, Ernie expected to spend the trip to Hogwarts reading and getting a chocolate high.
Some fifteen minutes after the train had left the station, the door to Ernie’s compartment opened and a dark-haired boy with beady and very young-looking featured peered inside. “You mind if I sit here?” the boy asked. “Everywhere else if full, I think…”
Ernie shrugged. “Sure. I’m Ernie, by the way. Ernie Macmillan.”
The boy smiled and slipped into the compartment, sliding the door behind him firmly shut. “Nice to meet you. I’m Justin.”
Ernie nodded and reached into his sack of chocolate frogs as Justin set his things down. “You want one?” He held up the candy.
Justin nodded eagerly. “Thanks.” He took the frog and began to unwrap it only to let out a surprised squeal when it came to life and jumped out of his hands and onto his knee. “Wha—?”
Ernie laughed in amused amazement. “Have you never seen a chocolate frog before?”
Justin blushed bright red. “No,” he admitted quietly. “I’m…my parents aren’t, you know, they don’t know magic. What do you call those people again?”
“Muggles,” Ernie supplied. “They’re called Muggles here.”
Justin nodded. “Yea.” He reached out and snagged the frog off his knee where it had planted itself and studied it cautiously.
“Don’t look at it like that. It’s just chocolate. The jumping – that’s just a jinx.”
Justin nodded and bit into the frog. He chewed it for a moment, then grinned. “It’s good.”
Ernie smirked. “Yea. You want another one?”
They ended up talking the whole way to Hogwarts to the point that Ernie didn’t get any of his reading done whatsoever. He learned that Justin was from a well-off Muggle family and that his father wasn’t out of the picture but he just as well might be with all the time he spent away on business trips. Justin talked about school in the Muggle world and the plans he’d had before his letter came and how long it took to convince his mother that this whole thing wasn’t just someone’s stupid prank. In turn, Ernie told Justin about the things he should (and shouldn’t) expect from Hogwarts. Justin seemed most worried about the sorting, but even the non-Muggle Borns worried about that.
By the time they came out onto the platform at Hogwarts, Ernie thought he might have made his first friend at school. They were an unlikely duo – a Pureblood and a Muggle Born – but Ernie didn’t think he was bothered by that. Even the suspicious looks he got from some of the other Purebloods didn’t deter him.
As long as he wasn’t put in Slytherin, there wouldn’t be many problems.
Ernie stood in line with the rest of the First Years as the sorting hat sang its song and the sorting began. Justin, who stood directly in front of him, was fidgeting nervously. The silence of the Great Hall was heavy and even Ernie was starting to feel a bit anxious.
A pretty blonde girl went to put on the sorting hat. The hat slid over her face almost to her chin and the top of it twitched just slightly. After a few moments it belted out “Hufflepuff!” and Ernie let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding. Ernie followed her with his eyes as she went to sit at the Hufflepuff table.
“I think I want to be in Hufflepuff,” he whispered to Justin who gave him a confused look.
Ernie blushed slightly. “Never mind.”
Susan Bones was the next Hufflepuff. Ernie followed her bobbing carrot-red braids as she went to sit next to Hannah. The two girls instantly began to whisper excitedly among themselves, foreheads pressed together. Ernie figured they’d met on the train.
Several minutes later, Ernie was brought out of his thoughts when Professor McGonagall called out, “Finch-Fletchley, Justin.” Justin turned and looked at his new friend almost pleadingly. Ernie gave him the thumbs up.
Justin bit his lip and stumbled forward to the stool. The hat deliberated on his for a while before announcing, “Hufflepuff!” Justin threw the hat off and glanced over his shoulder at Ernie with a triumphant grin. Ernie nodded at him.
Now he was actually nervous. Time seemed to drag and it felt like hours before McGonagall finally called his name. Ernie lifted his chin and walked proudly out to the stood. He sat down and placed the hat on his head. Immediately, his vision sank into blackness as the hat gulped up his head.
Ah! A Pureblood, a small voice said into his ear. Ernie almost groaned. Damn thing was going to put him in Slytherin. A very proud Pureblood, the hat continued. With a father from Ravenclaw and a mind worthy of the House as well. But what of the confidence and need to be recognized?
Hufflepuff, Ernie thought fiercely. With Justin and that pretty Hannah girl. Hufflepuff.
Oh, that’s new, the hat practically giggled. Usually they all ask to NOT be put in Hufflepuff.
Ernie gripped the edges of the stool in frustration. Hufflepuff, he thought stubbornly.
Are you certain, young Pureblood? Are you willing to deal with the consequences of this decision? The little voice in his ear was deadly serious. It was a bit scary.
Yes, Ernie thought. I’m willing. Just put me with my friends.
Very well then, if you are certain. “Hufflepuff!”
Ernie threw the hat off in relief and practically ran to the Hufflepuff table. “Ernie, I was getting worried,” Justin exclaimed jumping up. “It was taking so long.”
Ernie gave his friend a smile, forcing the self-confidence out of himself. He waved for Justin to scoot over and sat down next to him. When he looked up he came face to face with Susan Bones who was sitting across the table from him.
“I’m Susan,” the redhead said cheerfully. “And this,” – the tapped the girl sitting next to her on the shoulder to get her attention – “is Hannah.”
Hannah Abbot turned to face him and for a moment Ernie forgot what he was supposed to say. “Ah, hi, nice-nice to meet you. I’m Ernie.” He put out his hand and the girls shook it one at a time, then retreated into giggles, heads put together secretively.
“Girls. They act so weird sometimes,” Justin commented. Ernie just shrugged, watching Draco Malfoy, sorted directly after him, make his way to the Slytherin table. Their eyes met for a moment. Draco looked away first.
Thinking about it later, Ernie decided he didn’t mind at all. Even if it meant falling out of favor with “polite” society. His family was headed that way long ago.
“So, Susan, Hannah, do you like Quidditch?”
“I’ll explain later, Justin.”
Susan was distracted but Hannah smiled warmly at him. “I like to watch, yes.”
No, Ernie had no regrets about being sorted into Hufflepuff.