When Shadows Creep
Disclaimer: Hogwarts and all its inhabitants belong to JK
associates: I make no profit whatsoever from this
Forever Blowing Bubbles belongs to West Ham
and Jaan Ken Brovin and
A huge tankard
of Butterbeer to my beta, Night Zephyr, for disciplining this story so
thoroughly and putting up so patiently with the Documents That Would Not
“He’s not going off to ruddy Scotland,
not at his age! I don’t care how crucial you think it is; he’s only a lad!”
“It’s his future, Liam; it’s in his damn
“The future isn’t set in stone; he’s got a
better future without some freakish school! I won’t have him becoming like you,
alienating himself, not him, not my son!”
“No, Liam, don’t,
come on, Liam, calm down, please…”
woke up with a jolt. His brain raced ahead of him for a moment while he took
into account that he wasn’t in the kitchen back at home. He looked up at the scarlet
canopy of his four-poster bed and tried to relax.
Everything was okay now, he told himself.
He was at Hogwarts. The greatest danger anybody was in here was from detention,
or from that slimy-looking professor up at the teacher’s table, the one that
looked like the fellow from Dracula. That film had terrified him because Mam had told him that vampires actually existed, but he had
had to put on a brave front when he saw it with some of the other boys from
He put his hand up to his forehead to push
his hair back, and found that it was covered in cold sweat. Irritated with himself for letting a dream unnerve him so much, he turned
over and buried his head in his pillow, trying to drift off again.
Half an hour later he sat up again. It
wasn’t working. He had counted sheep jumping over fences, pretended that he was
sleeping on a cloud, even replayed in his head
conversations he had had with his Great Aunt
Niamh (possibly the dullest woman ever to come out of
County Cork), but to no avail. His head was still buzzing, conjuring up image
after image, his Mam’s face burnt into his brain.
What would happen to her without him there?
Not that he’d ever been much use to her even when he was at home, but without
him there was nobody to clean her up, nobody to help hide the bottles, nobody
to fetch Mrs Beagan from next door in the mornings…
(Mrs Beagan was a retired nurse, who frequently
worried about the amount of falls her neighbour seemed to have.) There was
nobody for her to make idle promises to, nobody to convince her that it wasn’t
her fault, nobody to try and calm Dad down when he got riled up.
On the other hand, his not being there
might help matters. He knew that nearly every row his parents had was over him,
so maybe if he was out of the picture then they’d be alright. Maybe Dad would
stop the drinking, stop losing his temper, and then everything would be grand,
the way he remembered it when he was a little kid.
Seamus rolled over again and hid his head
under his pillows. Maybe “maybe” wasn’t good enough.
This was a pretty rare occurrence. In fact,
Neville couldn’t remember the last time it had happened. He was an extremely
sound sleeper, something which irritated his grandmother intensely.
“That boy could sleep through a Hexes and
Harpies concert, he really could!”
She had lately taken to waking him up by
placing the family tawny owl, Evangelia, next to his
bed and poking her until she hooted loudly in his ear. Neville could only
hope that none of his new housemates had
such ideas up their sleeves, although he had his doubts. Already on the train
two red-headed older boys had handed him what turned out to be a Hiccup Sweet
and somebody, probably the same boys, had put Belch Powder in his jam sandwiches.
It was possible that the circus in his
stomach was due to the combination of Belch Powder and the Hiccup Sweet, but Neville
knew it wasn’t. He had been feeling it for a day or two now. It was just a case
of, as his Auntie Iris said, “almightical nerves”.
Everyone knew that his magical ability was
weak, to say the least. It had taken Uncle Algie
dropping him out of that window to show any at all, and he was still convinced
that that was only because he had landed in the rhododendron bush.
What if he couldn’t do any of the lessons?
Transfiguration sounded awful, even if his father had got an Outstanding N.E.W.T.
in it, and Charms didn’t sound much better. Herbology
he might be alright at- it was only gardening and he’d been helping Gran with that for as long as he could remember – but it
was Defence Against The Dark Arts he was really worried about. What would they
have to do? Would they have to learn to duel? Would they have to – no, surely
not, but would they? Would they have to learn to combat the Cruciatus
Neville felt sick just thinking about it.
He grabbed Trevor, who was sitting there, croaking happily on his bedside
table, and squeezed him tight, then shut his eyes
and tried to return to his normal,
Dean Thomas woke up and looked around in
slight surprise. Why had he woken? It all seemed quiet in the dormitory, with
the exception of loud snoring coming from behind the curtains of Ron Weasley’s
four-poster. Then he looked at his watch, which was sitting beside a glass of water
on his table, and realised why. It was six in the morning.
Normally at six in the morning Dean would
be awoken by his two sisters, Stacey and Deirdre, jumping up and down on his
bed and telling him to get up. He hadn’t had a lie in for the past four years.
It was quite a luxury really, not having two hyperactive kids screeching in his
Now, he supposed, they would be jumping on
his parents. Mum would be groaning and burrowing her head under her pillows,
begging for an extra couple of minutes. Ever since she started the extra
evening job at Dixons she had been exhausted every
morning, which was why Dean had tried so hard to dissuade his sisters from
jumping on her in the early hours. Dad would be laughing and gathering the two girls
up in his arms, convincing them to give their mum a bit of a lie in, taking
them downstairs to make breakfast and-
Dean’s vision had gone blurry. He was
crying, but he couldn’t be crying; he hadn’t
cried since he was a kid and Kevin Edwards
had beaten him up for borrowing his best purple felt pen and losing it. That
had been justified for an eight-year-old, but now? He shouldn’t be crying, he
was lying in a four-poster bed in a tower of a castle and in the morning he
would learn how to do real magic, the sort of magic he used to read about in Mr
Majeika books when he was little. He should be the happiest
guy on earth.
But all of a sudden he was feeling very
small and very lost, and more than anything he wanted to be at home, with Stacey
and Deirdre pulling him out of bed and Mum moaning about the noise. He wanted
to be waking up in his tiny bedroom with his sketches on the wall and his huge
West Ham poster on the ceiling above. He just didn’t want to be here, miles
away from home, with people he didn’t know and nothing familiar.
Dean gathered his knees up to his chest and
buried his face in them. Humming under his breath, he tried to banish the
images of the house in Upton Park. He failed miserably, but kept on humming
When shadows creep
When I'm asleep
To lands of hope I stray
Then at daybreak
When I awake
My bluebird flutters away
Happiness you seem so near me
Happiness come forth and cheer
But when the bell rang that morning, none
of the three boys had slept, and none of them were any more cheerful.