Ben Granger and the Legacy of Icarus
By Helmione Nightingranger

A/N This is not my first fic. It is one among many. However, it is the first of its kind, in that it, well, it actually has a plot. From this moment on, I renounce my title of "Authoress of possibly the most pointless fluff n melodrama on the planet" lol. So, count this, if you will the first fic of a "born-again" fanfic writer. (And thank the muses that I didn't write another romance!)

There are a few things I'd like to say before I begin:
1) This fic is about an original character - Ben Granger. He is Hermione's little brother. I don't know if Hermione has any siblings in canon, I can't remember. I know we never meet them, and I know most fanfic-ers make her an only child, but do we ever actually hear that she is? I don't know. Even if we do, remember this is FANFICTION. Sorry to shout, but I know I'll get some reviews that say "oh, but Hermione doesn't have a little brother." Some people never read the author's note, I learned that from Lily's Waterloo. But anyway, I digress. You are not one of those people who ignores the A/N, so I'm grateful to you for doing me the courtesy of listening. Many thanks.
2) Please don't leave me a review that says "aaww :)" Whilst it's very kind of you to smile at me, this doesn't really help me to develop as a writer. I'm not expecting an essay, but please, if you liked it, tell me one bit you enjoyed. If you thought it sucked, which bit could I do better? Is it clichéd? Are they out of character? Should I curl up into a hole and never write again? Say what you like, but please please, please give me a reason.
3) I am not J K Rowling. I don't claim to be. I own nothing. I'm putting this in here because I always seem to get the wild urge to make up stupid disclaimers. In fact, I quite often find people reviewing mention more about the disclaimer than the fic! So if you make it as far as the disclaimer at the end, just ignore me, I tend to get a little hyper when I finish a chapter. Hence the weird endings.
4) I can't make Notepad put words into italic for me, so if something has stars around it, please consider it to be *italic* and therefore emphasised.
5) Thank you for listening to me rant. If you made it this far, you must be determined, so stick with it and together we'll go far! Enjoy...(Hopefully)


Chapter I: The Most Annoying Brother in the World

Dear Journal:

I can hear Hermione moving in the next room. I've tried stuffing my head under a pillow, but I still can't sleep, so I thought I'd write in here. Well, I was given this journal last Christmas by Hermione (she thinks that everyone wants books all the time like she does) so I might as well put it to some good ironic use and complain about her in it.

She's probably checking she's got all her school books packed or else unpacking them to read them again. I swear, that girl is trying to memorise Hogwarts: A History word for word. Maybe she's hoping she'll be asked to write the foreword for the next edition. I wouldn't be surprised if she was - she's always been singled out, the child prodigy. She's the only person in the world who literally is a know-it-all, because she actually does know it ALL. Every single last detail of it. She always has.

Maybe that's why I'm a little, shall we say, *haphazard* about school work. I do ok, but when you're related to Hermione "150% on a bad day" Granger you can't try to compete, because if you did you'd just lose all the time and it would be depressing.

And you know what the really sickening thing is? I was all set to be beaten hollow at Maths, Science, and English for the rest of my life, but then Hermione got her Hogwarts letter and found even more subjects to be the best at.

I don't know much about Hogwarts, or magic, (well, not yet anyway) but I know that however talented I may turn out to become, and however hard I work, there's no way I'll ever be able to compare to Wonder Girl.

I sound really bitter, saying all this, but she's all right really. Yes, it annoys me that I'll never be as good as her, but hey - she's my sister, and I love her. Mum and Dad are ok too, as parents go, but my whole family's a bit crazy really.

Well, I say a bit - I have parents who name their kids after characters in four hundred year old plays and fill their house with saccharine goodness, as they despise sugar in all its forms.

I have a sister who is away at University and whose main accomplishment since going there is being able to draw with her feet. (Don't ask - she has WAY too much free time.) That's Ophelia - she's almost as mad as the Danish princess she's named after.

And Hermione, well, I've already mentioned Hermione, but if you don't know her, let's just say if she ever tried to meditate, she'd use the mantra: "You can't apparate or disapparate inside the Hogwarts grounds!"

I think, all in all, that given the family of madmen (and women) I come from, I turned out pretty well. So it doesn't matter too much if, when I get to Hogwarts today, it turns out I'm not another Hermione. I think for the moment I'm happy to be me, Ben Granger, just another nondescript first year.

I'll leave saving the world 'til tomorrow.


Ben Granger put down his journal and pen, wondering if maybe he should have tried using a quill to write instead. He'd never used one, and he was sure he would make a complete mess of it when he tried - he was naturally clumsy, and he was quite sure the idea of putting him next to an open bottle of ink and a big feather was not a good idea.

Still, he would worry about that when he got to Hogwarts. That was just one of the hundreds of tiny things that seemed strange and alien about this new school to him. The magic wasn't a problem - Ben had always known there was magic, as Hermione had got her Hogwarts letter before he was old enough to become cynical and stop believing in children's stories.

The problem was that the whole magical culture seemed different than the one he knew, in the smallest and most crucial ways. Would he ever get used to sending a letter by *owl*? Would he learn to like trading orange juice for *pumpkin* juice? Would he grow to find it strange that the posters on his wall stayed still?

These little snippets were among the smaller and less important things Hermione had told him about the magical world, but even they were enough to make him see that after today, life would never be the same again.

He got up, dressed quickly in jeans and a T-shirt, and nervously put his wizard robes over the top. He knew he wasn't supposed to wear them yet - he had to go to the station in normal clothes - but he wanted to see what he looked like. He did up the heavy black buttons on the front, and moved silently into the bathroom, praying that no one would come out and see him.

He felt silly and vain, looking at himself in the full length mirror, and when he saw his reflection, he felt worse. He wasn't too keen on the way he looked at the best of times - short messy brown hair, a normal sort of face, blue eyes, and very red lips that sometimes made people ask if he was wearing lipstick - but today, with his robes on, he was even less keen. He made a face, and muttered: "I look like a girl!" in disgusted tones.

He trudged back to his room and put his thick black woollen cloak over the top. That wasn't too bad - it made him feel a bit like an evil Black Knight in a fantasy story. He flung one side of it over his shoulder and stood tall, hand on hip, imagining he was about to face the White Knight in a duel to the death.

"Draw, you knave, and let us fight, for I shall have the hand of the Princess yet," he said in a low voice. He was still secretly very fond of fairy tales, and, though he always supported the good side, he felt it was much more fun to play at being on the bad side - the evil characters always got the best lines.

"Why hast thou forsaken me?" he demanded of the invisible Princess who was cowering behind her lover the White Knight, hoping he would protect her.

Just then, there was a knock on his door.

"Ben, are you awake? You should be up by now, we don't want to miss the train." Ben nearly fell off the bed in surprise at hearing his mother's voice, when he was so sure it would be the Princess.

"Yeah, I'm awake..." he said, in a just-woke-up-and-still-very-sleepy voice, hoping that his mother wouldn't come in. He was already nervous, he could do without being teased all the way to the station about Ben the Black Knight. He listened to her footsteps going back downstairs, and, feeling very foolish indeed now, he slipped off his cloak and robes, bundled them up, and put them back into his trunk.


It was the first time he'd been to King's Cross. His parents didn't seem to trust him not to run amok in the middle of London. They probably thought he'd run all the way to Trafalgar Square and chase the pigeons, which he had done last time they took him to London, the year before Hermione had started Hogwarts. To be fair, he had been five years old at the time, but they'd never let him go to London since. He'd always been left at Grandma Maureen's whilst Hermione got whisked away once more to her magic school and Ben was left with only the magic in his head.

He was surprised at how busy it was. The Grangers lived in a small town not far from London, but it was a very small town, and Ben didn't think he'd ever seen this many people in one place.

Hermione paced confidently through the station, pushing their trolley as though she knew exactly where she was going. Which she did, of course. When they reached platform nine, she turned to Ben, and said:

"Right, now I'll go first, you just have to walk through and not be scared or nervous."

"I KNOW, Hermione, you've told me seventy trillion times already." Ben was starting to get annoyed with his older sister.

"Don't exaggerate," she said in a dignified voice. "If you don't want my help, fine." She turned to their parents.

"Bye," she said. Mrs Granger scooped her up into a hug, and Mr Granger touched her on the shoulder.

"Look after Ben, won't you dear?"

"I don't need looking after! I'm eleven years old! I'm not stupid!" Ben scowled.

"Of course you're not, Ben. Come here." Mr Granger smiled, then hugged Ben, who struggled, trying to get away. Parents were *so* embarrassing.

"Good luck, Ben. Send us a letter to tell us how you're getting on," his mother kissed him on the cheek, which he scrubbed with his hand, trying to make her damson lip-print disappear.

"He will," said Hermione, obviously eager to get away. "C'mon Ben, let's go. See you at Christmas!" she called over her shoulder, as she turned and walked quickly through the ticket barrier, and Ben hurried after her.

It wasn't that they didn't love their parents, but both of them sometimes felt stifled in the sleepy little town where they lived, with only parents and old primary school friends for company. It was strange, but Ben often found that with the friends he'd known all his life, he had to behave like they expected. He was looking forward to meeting new people who wouldn't expect anything of him yet. Both Ben and Hermione couldn't wait to get away to the freedom of school.

And, of course, Ben had other theories about Hermione's eagerness to get to school.

They were on the other side of the ticket barrier now, next to a large steam train, which was bright red, as Hermione had said it would be. Hermione was looking around her anxiously.

"What's the matter?" asked Ben grinning, "Can't you find your boyfriends?" Hermione glared at him.

"If you *dare* call them that when they get here, I swear tomorrow's Prophet will read 'Straight-A Student Quite Understandably Murders Annoying Little Brother.' "

Ben grinned even wider. Hermione was the best person in the world to wind up, because she took everything so seriously.

"I don't know what you mean," he said, innocently. "Aren't they your boyfriends? I just thought, you know, the way you're always going on about them...."

Hermione flushed. Ben knew he'd hit a nerve. Now this could be fun....

Just then, a large group of red-headed people burst through the ticket barrier at once, followed swiftly by a round woman who promptly began shouting at them, saying something about "noticeable even to Muggles" and "only so many memory charms" and "you'll drive me mad, I swear it!"

The children didn't seem to mind too much. They just laughed, each taking a battered trunk off the trolley, and heading for the train.

"Harry! Ron!" called Hermione, waving, over the noise of the station, and immediately one of the ginger haired boys and a smaller black haired boy with glasses who'd been standing behind the red-heads looked over. Ben smiled evilly at Hermione as the two boys walked over, and before she could say a word, he began to speak to them.

"Hello there. You must be Harry Potter - Boy Who Lived, resident Wonder Boy, Hero, and Saviour of the Poor Normal Folk from the Dark Lord. I can tell it's you, 'cause you've got those 'huge green eyes and black floppy hair that just makes you want to run your fingers through it.' " Hermione looked murderous, hearing him imitate her voice almost perfectly. But Ben wasn't finished yet. He turned to the other boy, and spoke again.

"And you must be Ron Weasley - King of Sarcasm and Chess Extraordinaire who looks 'so cute when he's angry' and may well turn out to be 'the best looking thing since Leonardo DiCaprio.' " Hermione was as red as the steam engine behind her, but Ben couldn't tell if it was from anger or embarrassment. She closed her eyes and groaned softly.

"You. Are. Dead." she whispered, pronouncing each word carefully through gritted teeth. Ron and Harry were just looking puzzled.

"And you are....?" asked Harry.

"Ben Granger - current holder of the title Most Annoying Brother In The World." Ben bowed low.

They laughed. "You might have to fight Fred and George for that one," said Ron.

Harry was looking curiously at Hermione. "Did you really say those things about us?" he asked, grinning. Ron smiled too, and both waited for an answer. Hermione squirmed.

"No," she said. She was a very bad liar.

Somewhere behind them, a shrill whistle sounded. "Come on, we'd better get on the train." She said, glad of the distraction. They trooped after her, dragging trunks, and soon they were all sitting somewhere in the middle of the train, as it began to move out of the station.

Ben sighed happily. His journey to Hogwarts had begun.


They had been sitting on the train for a little while, Hermione, Ron and Harry telling Ben about Hogwarts, when the first of many visitors walked in.

She was a small girl, with tangled dark brown hair falling untidily over her shoulders. Her blue-grey eyes were so large that they gave her the look of an insect or a fish, and her smudged robes were falling off one shoulder, and trailing on the ground behind her. The most noticeable thing about her, however, was that she was singing. She opened the door to the compartment, singing loudly:

"Bring me sunshine
In your smile
Bring me laughter
All the while...."

Then she trailed off, looking at them. Maybe she'd been looking for someone else, or she'd thought the compartment was empty, because she didn't say a word. She laughed at their astonished faces, winked at Ben, and then turned and left, picking up her song in a different place.

"Let you arms be as warm
As the sun from up above
Bring me fun,
Bring me sunshine..."

And then she was gone.

"Who was that?" asked Harry, but none of the others knew.

"I suppose she must be a first year, I've never seen her before, and she looked quite small," said Hermione.

"She's very confident, if she is a first year," said Ron "I don't know anyone - except Fred and George, maybe - who would be that unfazed when caught singing by four strangers."

"She seemed quite strange, anyway - I mean, what sort of person sings on a train?" Hermione asked, laughing.

"She seemed fun," said Ben "I think it's nice to sing on a train. It's different." He would have said more in the strange girl's defence, if he hadn't been distracted by the fact that the most beautiful girl in the world had just walked in the door.

She had long gingery hair flowing in waves down her back, and big brown eyes that looked warm and kind. She walked over to Ron, leaving the door wide open, and began to speak to him.

"Ron, can I borrow Pig to owl mum and dad? I left my copy of 'Through The Purple Mist: Scrying For Beginners' at home." Ron made an impatient noise.

"Gin-ny! We went back to the house three times because you forgot things and you still don't have everything with you?" Ginny bit her lip, and laughed nervously.

"What can I say? I'm forgetful."

"And You-Know-Who's evil. Yay, now we can all have hours of fun stating the bloody obvious!" muttered Ron, taking the cover off an owl-cage that Ben hadn't noticed up before, and handing the whole cage to Ginny. "Here. He doesn't like the train anyway, perhaps it's good he's got something to do."

Ginny took the tiny owl out of its cage, attached the letter she was holding to its leg, and let it go out of the small train window. For a moment, it was caught in the wind around the train, being pulled along this way and that, but it fought hard, flapping its wings bravely, and was soon flying in the opposite direction.

Hermione noticed Ben staring at Ginny, eyes glazed. She grinned. Revenge is sweet.

"Ginny, this is my brother, Ben. He's a first year." Ginny looked at him.

"Hi." She said, smiling. Ben felt as though the sun had suddenly broken through the clouds, and he smiled back.

Ginny sat down in one of the seats opposite Ben, and joined in their conversation.

"How come Hermione has a name that no one can pronounce, and you're called Ben? Got off a bit lightly, didn't you?" asked Ginny. Ben opened his mouth to answer, but found it wasn't quite working properly. Hermione stepped in.

"Ben's not his full name. Our parents are Shakespeare mad - Hermione's from A Winter's Tale, his full name - Benedick - is from Much Ado About Nothing, and our other sister is called Orphelia, from Hamlet." Ginny frowned for a second.

"What's a shake spear?"

Hermione laughed. "Not what - who! He's a Muggle playwright. You should know, your dad's got loads of his plays."

This time Ron laughed. "Hermione, if we listened to dad whenever he starts going on about Muggles, we'd be madder than Moody's magic eye. Our dad's crazy about Muggles," he continued, explaining to Ben "He collects plugs." He paused, seeing the look on Ben's face, and laughed. "He's an odd man..."

"Couldn't agree more," said a cold drawling voice, as a tall, pale boy stepped out of the shadows of the corridor.

"Go away, Malfoy," said Ron. "Nobody's interested in your opinion." The boy raised an almost invisible white eyebrow.

"Nice to see you too, Weasley," he said, sarcastically. The atmosphere in the compartment had changed, suddenly. It was cold. Ben could tell that every person in this compartment except him hated this boy with a vengeance, and he thought that he might soon be joining them in the opinion - Hermione had told him all about Draco Malfoy.

"All on your own, Malfoy? I didn't know you could walk without your bodyguards holding your hands," Hermione said, sneering. Ben was surprised. He'd thought Wonder Girl Hermione couldn't even *say* "bitch," let alone *be* one.

"Shut up you stupid mudblood." The boy - Malfoy - said. Ben looked around. Harry, Ron, and Ginny, seemed to be outraged on Hermione's behalf, and both Harry and Ron stood up as though to punch Malfoy. But Ben wasn't having that. He might insult his sister, but he sure as hell wasn't going to let anybody else do it.

He stood up.

"What did you call my sister?" he asked, dangerously. Malfoy laughed. Ben didn't even come up to his shoulder.

"Sit down, Ben," said Hermione softly. He ignored her.

"I said, what did you call my sister?" Ben asked, staring Malfoy straight in the eye.

Both his eyebrows were raised now, and he looked at Ben with extreme amusement. "Is that who you are? As if one know-it-all mudblood wasn't enough for us to cope with, now we're stuck with its little brother too. Well, isn't this a day for rejoicing. I called her a mudblood, and I'm calling you one too, because that's what you are. And what exactly do you plan to do about it?" he asked.

"I don't know what that is, and I don't know who you are, but nobody insults my sister in front of me!" Ben kicked him hard, in the shin. He'd been in a lot of fights with people bigger than him, and knew exactly where to kick. The boy doubled over, cursing.

"You little -" he said, lunging towards Ben, but suddenly a distraction arrived.

"Hey where did we go?
Days when the rains came
Down in the hollow
Playing a new game..."

The singing girl was back. And she had a new song. She paused in the doorway, and stared at them all. Malfoy straightened up, at once, and glared at her. She grinned back.

"Brown eyed girl...
da da da dum dum...
You my brown eyed girl..." she sang, pointing at him and winking. His glare became even colder than it had already been. Evidently he didn't take kindly to being called a brown eyed girl. Out of the corner of his eye, Ben could see Harry and Ron trying very hard not to laugh.

"Do you remember when
We used to sing?
Sha la la la la..."

"Oh, for heaven's sake, Beatrice, give it a rest," snapped Malfoy, cutting her off in mid-sentence. "There's really no point in you singing all the time, you know your mother will make you go into your family business."

"That's all you know, Drake. I'm going to be a star, just you watch." This declaration from such a tiny, funny looking girl was too much for Harry and Ron - they burst out laughing.

"Stop calling me Drake!" said Malfoy through gritted teeth, barely audible over the noise of the laughter.

Beatrice ignored them all. She simply began to sing again, snapping her fingers to the beat and dancing with her shoulders.

I'm gonna live forever!
Light up the sky like a flame - fame!"

Malfoy looked around the compartment in disgust, and strode quickly out of the door and away down the train.

"Well, at least he's gone now," said Hermione. "Honestly, Ben, do you want to get yourself killed? He's not only bigger than you, he knows a lot more magic. You can't go picking fights with people like that."

"I didn't! He's the one that was picking a fight - calling you that! What does that mean, anyway?"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Look, Ben. There are lot's of things that you don't know about the wizarding world yet. And one of them is that..."

"That idiots like Drake think they're better than everyone else because they have magical blood going back a long way. When in fact it's them with their intolerant traditions and stupid fixed mindsets that have the bad blood. Everyone who's anyone knows that Malfoys aren't worth talking too. They think they're the crème de la crème, but everyone avoids them and their kind at society parties. 'Truly pure blood is pure enough to accept everybody else's way of living.' "

There was a stunned silence. Everyone stared at singing-Beatrice. She smiled.

"I'm gonna learn how to fly - high
I'm gonna make it to heaven....
Baby, remember my name!"

And she danced out of the compartment, letting the door slam shut behind her.

Everyone sat stunned for a second.

"That was surreal," said Hermione. No one answered. Harry and Ron were trying to decide whether or not to pretend they knew what surreal meant.

"Strange girl," said Ben, admiringly.

"Yeah," said Ron "Weird, what she was saying about 'society parties.' I guess she must be from some old wizarding family, though I can't say I recognise her."

"Maybe she's from a rich family. One of the really, really old and really, really rich ones that keep themselves to themselves, and stay out of the ministry. Like the Malfoys were up until Lucius," suggested Ginny.

"Maybe, I mean, if she's talking about parties for rich people, then we wouldn't..." Ron trailed off. Everyone looked at the floor.

"You were very brave, to stand up for Hermione like that," said Ginny smiling at Ben. She was trying to relieve the tension by changing the subject, but even so, Ben felt lighter than air - Ginny thought he was brave!

"He was very stupid." Said Hermione. "Ben, you can't keep trying to look after me. It's very sweet, but you'll get hurt. Remember the day you started primary school and you attacked that boy who pulled my hair?"

Ben grinned. "Yeah."

Hermione didn't smile. "He gave you a black eye and you lost two of your front teeth."

Ben laughed. "True." He didn't even remember what he had been thinking, attacking that older boy. All he knew was, people shouldn't hurt his sister. He'd beaten people up all through primary school for laughing at Hermione or calling her a square. Mostly, though, he'd had to do it behind her back, because she got worried when she knew he fought because of her. By the time he was ten, his entire family had thought he had a violent temper, but it was worth it, because no one teased his sisters anymore. Ben Granger was a force to be reckoned with.

Except that now he found that people had been doing it here, at Hogwarts, where he'd been powerless to stop it. But he would change that. And soon.

Just then, Ben looked outside at the country and noticed that the train was slowing down. It seemed that Hermione had had the same thought.

"Oh, look! We're nearly there and none of us have changed yet!" The others began to pull their robes out of their trunks, and they all pulled them on over their clothes.

By the time everyone had got their robes straight, and put all their things back into their trunks, the train had pulled gently to a stop, and a sign outside the window read 'Hogsmeade Station.'

Ben made to pick up his trunk, but Hermione stopped him, saying, "We leave them here. You'll find it in your dormitory when you go up tonight." Ben wanted to ask why, but it seemed there was no time. A current of people moving through the train to the door swept him, Hermione, and the others off the train.

"Go and find Hagrid!" Hermione yelled over the crowd of people. Then she, Harry, Ron, and Ginny went to find an empty carriage to take them to Hogwarts. The last thing Ben heard was Crookshanks yowling, and then they were gone, and he was all on his own in the huge crowd. He shook his head. Why Hermione had wanted to buy that huge ginger cat was beyond him. He hated cats.

Then he heard a voice calling the first years, which from Hermione's description could only be Hagrid.

"Firs' years! Firs' years ov'r 'ere!" Ben walked over to Hagrid, and found a small mass of shivering people around his own height.

When Hagrid was satisfied all the first years had found him, he led them down to the boats that Hermione had told Ben would be waiting for them. Ben climbed into one nervously - he wasn't that comfortable on water - and was immediately followed in by singing-Beatrice from the train.

"Hello," he said. She responded, of course, with a song.

"Good mornin'!
Good mornin'!
We've talked the whole night through!
Good mornin'!
Good mornin' to you!"

Ben raised an eyebrow.

"Do you EVER stop singing?" he asked. Beatrice grinned, a grin which was becoming quite familiar now. It seemed she smiled almost as much as she sang.

"Rarely," she answered. "Like I told Drake, I'm gonna be a star! I like Muggle songs the best, because my singing teacher's a Muggle, and so she teaches me the songs she knows. My mum says I have to learn magic, because I'm a witch, and I want to, 'cause it's quite fun, but I read about this Muggle stage school, and I think I'd rather go there really. Mind you, I'm lucky even to have what I have - if mum knew I have a Muggle singing teacher, she wouldn't be happy. I have to sneak out and see her."

"Why do you call him "Drake"?" asked Ben "I thought Hermione said his name was Draco Malfoy."

"It is," Beatrice laughed "Drake is what his mother calls him - he can't stand it. I just love winding him up! Darling Drake and I have never really got on - I went to primary school with him."

Ben said nothing. He hadn't even realised that magical children went to primary school. He wasn't quite sure what to say. He felt a bit like Beatrice had opened up his head and was just pouring information into it. It made him a bit dizzy.

"What's your name?" she asked.

"Ben," he replied. "Ben Granger." She smiled again.

"Hi Ben! I'm Beatrice." Ben smiled back. It was difficult not to - Beatrice was one of those people who talks in exclamation marks and italics, and it was catching.

"D'you know what house you'll be in yet?" asked Beatrice. Ben shrugged.

"I thought you didn't know 'til you got there. Hermione said something about a hat...?"

Beatrice laughed. "No, nobody knows 'til they get there, but sometimes its obvious just from who you are. And yes, it's the Sorting Hat. You try it on, and it tells you which house you should be in. I'm going to be a Ravenclaw."

"How d'you know?" asked Ben, curious.

"I just know," said Beatrice with a wave of her hand. She paused, looking at him with her head on one side. "You know, I think you might well be one too."

"Isn't Ravenclaw the one for really clever people?" asked Ben. "I don't think I'll be in that one. I think I'm probably a, what was it called, a Puffle huff?"

"A Hufflepuff. No, you're no Hufflepuff. Trust me on this one, I know hundreds of witches and wizards and I'm a pretty good judge of character. You're no Hufflepuff. Though you do seem to be very loyal to your sister, it takes more than that to make a Hufflepuff.

And a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that Ravenclaw is for clever people. It's not for clever people, it's for people who could be clever. If you're willing to learn and have to capacity to know a lot, then it doesn't actually matter if you know much yet. But there's one other important thing - what truly makes a Ravenclaw is wisdom."

"Wisdom? You make it sound like we all have to be philosophers!"

"We do - of sorts. A Ravenclaw has to have hidden depths. Has to be able to see things other people can't. There's no such thing as a shallow Ravenclaw. That's why some of the cleverest people are in Gryffindor - because they're so brave and bold that they leap in without a second thought and never stop to wonder what might happen.

A Ravenclaw would think about all the consequences, and then decide whether to leap in anyway, which in their own way, makes them braver than Gryffindors."

Ben considered this. "I don't really think Hermione's the type to leap in without considering the consequences," he said.

"Hermione Granger? Your sister - in the fifth year?" Beatrice thought for a second. "Yes, it's puzzled a lot of people why she was in Gryffindor. Much debate about it around the dinner table." Ben frowned.

"You talk about my sister around the dinner table?" Beatrice nodded.

"My parents and their guests talk about all the interesting Hogwarts students at dinner. It's one of their ways of keeping in touch with the wizarding world. They like to have a little link with the next generation.

Yes, they've discussed Hermione many times. I guess she's just unusual - a Gryffindor with brains like that. But what really makes her brave is her loyalty for her friends, so that ought to make her a Hufflepuff. I don't envy the Sorting Hat trying to decide where she should go - I know I'd never have been able to decide."

There was silence for a second. Ben had never realised his sister was so interesting.

"But she couldn't have been a Ravenclaw," continued Beatrice. "She might be clever, but she's not wise, not really. She could be, if she tried, but she won't try. She knows it's lonely to be clever, because it makes people resent you, and she knows that it's worse when you're wise. She shies away from looking at things too deeply, because she realises there are a lot of things out there that she just doesn't want to know." Beatrice paused for a second.

"But you - you're different. You leap into things with your heart, not your head. You are a Ravenclaw because you're not afraid to let your heart fly and your imagination soar. Mind you, the way you kicked Drake was very brave - you could make a Gryffindor. I'd say you're definitely headed for either Ravenclaw or Gryffindor. I not sure which - you could go either way. But you're no Hufflepuff, that's for sure."

Ben said nothing. He felt, again, like there was nothing to say. What were you *supposed* to say, to a strange looking eleven year old girl who talked like a mixture of Shakespeare and Jesus? So, eventually, when the silence became more than he could bear, he said the first thing to come into his mind.

"I'm not surprised you think you'll be a Ravenclaw, you sound extremely deep."

Beatrice laughed. "That's the way I was brought up - my whole family were Ravenclaws, and they always discuss things - people, life, religion, whatever. I've been expected to hold my own in the discussions since I could talk, I guess it had to have some effect on me. But that's not how I know I'll be Ravenclaw."

"How do you know?" asked Ben. But he received no answer, because at that moment, he felt a soft thump, as the boat hit the shore. He was surprised, he hadn't even noticed they were nearly there. He followed the rest of the first years through the door and into the castle, and didn't try to repeat his question, because no one was talking and he didn't want to break the silence.

No one spoke whilst a woman who introduced herself as Professor McGonagall gave them instructions. She told them where to wait, and they did. They looked at each other nervously, and Ben felt his stomach tightening. What if he was put in Slytherin, with that horrible Malfoy boy? What if he wasn't put in a house at all? What if? The knot in his stomach grew tighter and tighter until Professor McGonagall came back, and led them into the hall.

Then the knot untied itself and the threads that had made it began to wriggle around inside him. Everyone in the school was looking at the first years, and what could only be the Sorting Hat, sitting on a stool in the front of the room.

Then, just as Ron had told him it would on the train, the hat began to sing:

"If you want to get ahead
Then you'd better get a hat.
If you want to know where you belong
Then I'll help you with that.
Oh, don't judge a book by its cover
And don't judge a hat by its brim
Don't judge me by my rips or tears
For I can see what is within
I can see things deep inside you
That you don't even notice yourself
That's why I'm here to sort you all out
That's why I'm not left on the shelf.
So don't be put off by my age or my looks
They're only skin deep after all
And I'll look at what you are like deep inside
And not if you're ugly or tall.
If you are brave I will see it at once
And know that Gryffindor's for you.
If you have wisdom beyond your young years
I'll know you suit Ravenclaw's blue.
If you want power the most in the world
You'll be Slytherin soon enough
And if you're a good friend, a hard-working kid
I'll see you're a true Hufflepuff.
I know who you are, what you've done, what you've said
You can't hide your secrets from me
So without much ado, and without any fuss
Let's find out where you all should be."

Everyone applauded, as the hat became silent once more. Then they turned their attention back to the first years. Professor McGonagal picked up a scroll, and began to read out names. Ben didn't listen. He looked around the hall, spotting Hermione, Harry and Ron watching intently, Malfoy looking bored, and beautiful Ginny talking quietly to a friend. And then, sooner than he expected, he heard:

"Granger, Benedick!"

He hurried over to the stool, sat down, and placed the hat on his head. For a second, he caught Hermione's eye, and saw her crossing her fingers. She wanted him to be a Gryffindor, like her. Then the Hat fell over his eyes, and he blinked, seeing only darkness.

"Let me see...." said a small, thin voice, just as Harry had described it. "Not difficult, you. I can see at once where you belong." Ben bit his lip, wondering where it was he belonged, and whether being easy to place made him simple and boring.

"Not at all, Granger, Benedick, not at all. A very complex mind, you have, but your instincts give you your house. You're brave, and loyal, and with a temper like that you could be powerful. But you belong where your heart tells you to go."

Ben sighed. Then he realised with a pang of curiosity that maybe the Hat could tell him why it had made Hermione a Gryffindor, and then he'd be able to tell Beatrice. No sooner had he wondered, than the voice spoke again.

"No, Benedick Granger, it is not for you to know the workings of your sister's mind. I will tell you only that the heart and blood of your family makes a Ravenclaw, and has done for a long way back, but your sister insists on following her head. And whilst I don't put it in the songs, for fear of making poor old Godric turn in his grave, being headstrong and stubborn is also the marking of a true Gryffindor.

You are not a friend of Godric, Benedick Granger, you follow your heart, and you heart leads you to RAVENCLAW!" The Hat shouted the last word to the entire hall, and Ben lifted the Hat off his head and grinned. The whole hall was applauding, although he could see Hermione, Ron, and Harry looking slightly disappointed. But Ben didn't care. Beatrice was right, and as he walked shakily to the Ravenclaw table, Ben felt strangely as though he was going home.

Ben looked up and down the table, looking at all his fellow Ravenclaws. They did look quite deep, as Beatrice had said, but most of them seemed friendly. Two pretty girls with dark hair about his sisters age smiled at him.

"Hi. Welcome to Ravenclaw," said one. Ben nodded.

"Did McGonagall say you were called Benedick *Granger*?" asked the other. Ben nodded again.

"Ben," he said.

"Hi, I'm Padma," said the girl who'd spoken first.

"And I'm Cho," said the other one. Ben grinned at them.

"So, are you Hermione Granger's little brother?" they asked. Ben sighed, and nodded. He was starting to see that he might spend a lot of time being referred to as "Hermione Granger's little brother."

He looked back to the Sorting Hat. Just in time to hear Professor McGonagall say the name of the next pupil to be sorted:

"Ravenclaw, Beatrice!"

There were a few mutters across the hall, mainly, Ben assumed, from people who hadn't been forced to read "Hogwarts: A History" by their older sisters, and therefore didn't know that Rowena was only Hogwarts founder with known family still alive. Rowena had never married, but the Ravenclaws were a very old, rich, respected wizard family descended directly from Rowena's elder brother, Roland, who married his cousin Rosaline.

In fact, the Ravenclaws were an old family even in those days, a family of Celtic warriors originating from Scotland, with a family tree like the whomping willow - lots of branches and sometimes vicious. Rowena and Roland changed their family forever, for they were unusual children and prized learning and knowledge over swords and fighting and honour.

Which is perhaps why Rowena went on to jointly found a school, and Roland went on to found one of the oldest and most respected families in the wizarding world - all of whom were notorious for their wisdom and knowledge.

Ben wasn't surprised to hear of a being Ravenclaw alive, like some people seemed to be, but he hadn't realised there would be any at Hogwarts, let alone in his year. And he certainly hadn't guessed it would be Beatrice.

Now that he thought about it, though, it seemed obvious. She had proved on the boat that she had all the qualities of a Ravenclaw, not least because she knew what the qualities of a Ravenclaw were. But still she didn't seem like a descendent of the Ravenclaws - shouldn't she want to go into the ministry and change the world for the better, like her noble ancestors? Ben didn't think wanting to be a singer was a normal career for a Ravenclaw.

There was silence across the hall now, as Beatrice picked up the hat. But before she had even placed it on her head, at the mere touch of her small hand, it sang out:

"RAVENCLAW!" There was scattered applause, but most people were looking eagerly at McGonagall for the next pupil to be sorted - it wasn't like anyone was surprised to hear where Beatrice belonged.

She walked over to the table, grinning as usual, and sat down next to Ben.

"What did I tell you?" she asked. Ben nodded, as he saw McGonagall rolling up her scroll and carrying the Hat and stool away.

"You were right. About both of us."

Beatrice grinned wider. "I'm always right."

Just then, the food appeared on the plates, and Ben, looking around nervously to see if he was meant to wait to be served or help himself, saw people all over the table dishing themselves jacket potatoes, chicken pie and gravy, spaghetti bolognaise and so many different foods that Ben couldn't even name some of them. He piled some spaghetti onto his plate, and began to eat. He hadn't eaten a thing since breakfast, because he had forgotten to pack lunch in his nervousness, and Hermione had told him not to eat the food on the train, as it was "filled with sugar and what would mum and dad say?"

He was half way through his second helping, when Cho and Padma began to talk to him again. Padma spoke first.

"I heard you told Harry Potter and Ron Weasley that Hermione thinks they're gorgeous..." she began. Ben resisted the temptation to roll his eyes - it seemed that even "deep" Ravenclaws weren't above spreading gossip.

"Did you?" asked Cho.

Ben didn't really want to create rumours about his sister, but he didn't want to tell them to get lost either - apart from Beatrice, they were the only people who'd made the effort to talk to him, and he felt he could do with as many friends as possible.

"Um, kinda," he said, trying to be vague. If he was vague, it wasn't his fault. They looked shocked, but intrigued.

"Well, does she?" asked Padma expectantly.

"Does who what?" asked Ben, hoping to confuse them.

"Does Hermione Granger think Harry and Ron Weasley are good looking?" asked Cho. Ben felt a little uncomfortable. Other people, mainly girls, were looking their way now, obviously interested.

"I, uh, I'm not really sure..."

"But you think...?" Ben was pretty sure the girl sitting opposite Padma was trying to put words into his mouth.

"I, uh, she might, I don't know." The girl introduced herself.

"Hi, I'm Mandy Brocklehurst. So, what makes you think that she, uh, *might*?" Ben looked at all the expectant faces.

"Well, uh, I kind of overheard her talking to her Muggle friend Emily, but anyway, why do you all care?" Mandy's big blue eyes looked hurt, and she tossed her dyed-red hair over her shoulders.

"We were just trying to make conversation. Sor-ry," she looked away. Cho and Padma also turned away and began talking to a boy on the other side of them.

Ben turned to Beatrice, who was looking at him sympathetically.

"Sorry Ben, girls are bitches. And these girls are clever enough that they don't have to put too much thought into their school work, so they have thoughts to spare. Unfortunately, they don't have morality to spare, so they tend to use those thoughts to twist what people say and spread malicious gossip." Ben bit his lip.

"I thought it was Slytherins who were horrible?" he said. Beatrice looked at him sadly.

"It's Slytherins who are evil and power hungry. Anybody can be mean or cruel or thoughtless. Especially teenagers who aren't old enough to know better."

Ben looked down at his plate.

"Look, there's nothing you can do." Beatrice said. "Just keep trying to be a good person yourself, and leave them to karma. If they want to be bitches, let them - it'll catch up with them in the end."

Ben smiled, knowing she was right, but he still felt uneasy about the way people all down the table were whispering and pointing over at a certain Gryffindor fifth year girl. He liked even less how some of these people were leaning over to the adjacent Slytherin table and whispering again...


"May I have your attention?" Professor Dumbledore stood up. "I hope you all enjoyed our feast, I believe the house elves have surpassed themselves this year."

Even from his seat at the Ravenclaw table, Ben could see his sister stiffen at these words and Ron and Harry look at her in an amusement. Ben didn't blame them. Hermione had spent most of the summer writing letters to obscure sub-departments of the Ministry, trying to campaign single-handedly for elf-rights, even though it was obvious to everyone except her that she was fighting a losing battle.

"I would like to welcome all our new first years to Hogwarts - I hope your years here will be as happy as mine continue to be. I hope this school will be to all students - old and new alike - a safe haven and a place of refuge, for there are troubled times ahead." There was always silence whilst the headmaster spoke, but this was a different type of silence - everyone was serious and solemn all of a sudden. Even Dumbledore's twinkling eyes held no laughter.

"I don't know how much you all know about the changes that are taking place in our world," he continued "but I will not lie to you. The Dark Lord is back, even though the Ministry doesn't want you to know. You will, I'm sure, hear many rumours about this fact, and so, before you hear them, I wish to set the record straight. Lord Voldemort is back in power. As of yet, we do not know what his plans are. But I do know that every one of you is safe within the walls of this school.

I cannot make you do anything. I can only beg you to listen when I say that I am not fond of rules and restrictions, and I would rather not have any. But every rule in this school has been put in place for your own safety and if you follow the rules, I can guarantee you safety from Lord Voldemort.

I must ask you to stay out of the forbidden forest, and all Hogsmeade trips have been cancelled." Dumbledore waited, as though expecting a groan, but none came. Somehow, an unspoken message was filling the room in the silence, and every one of the pupils could sense the gravity of the situation, even those who didn't fully understand it.

"I know this speech is in many way futile, for those most at risk are the people who I know are least likely to follow the rules."

Ben could have sworn he saw Dumbledore's eyes flicker briefly to where Harry, Ron and Hermione were sitting

"All I can ask is for you to bear in mind how much getting yourself into mortal peril will hurt and worry those you leave behind.

Many people learn many things at this school. It is not, nor has it ever been, a place devoted only to the instruction of children on specific subjects. Hogwarts is a true school, because it is a living, breathing being, with an atmosphere of knowledge and wisdom, that can teach you so much more than what you learn in your classes. I hope that the coming year and the challenges and hardships it will bring will teach you the value of staying loyal to the Light side, and doing what you know is Right.

Though of course I hope to be wrong, I think many of you may be faced with much pain before the year is out. I ask those of you who will be, in comparison, the lucky ones, to help and support those in trouble, for in times such as these all we have to rely on is each other."

Dumbledore's face was sad and imploring, it seemed almost like he was begging his students for something. And Ben wanted so much to give him what it was he wanted, to fulfil what it was the old man was hoping for, but he didn't really know what it was. He didn't fully understand what was going on in the wizarding world, but he felt a pang of fear and uncertainty in his heart when he thought about this Dark Lord and whatever it was he might try to do.

"I don't want to frighten you, but you are not children anymore, and you deserve to know what is coming. There will be fear, and there will be pain, and there will be hatred. But I beg every one of you to remember that the only way to beat these evils is not to join them. I have sometimes been called the strongest wizard of our time. I don't know whether or not I deserve that title or not, it is not up to me to decide, but I do know that even if I were the greatest wizard in the world, I couldn't fight what is coming. Because this is not something to be done alone. This is not a fight that *I* can win. It is a fight that *we* can win - if, and only if, we have each other, and we can fight the hate and discord of Lord Voldemort with our friendship and love." Dumbledore sat down, looking tired and drained.

As he sat there, looking at a tired old man who had fought bravely and wisely so many years before, and now was getting up to do it all again, Ben had never felt so much admiration and respect.


The students began to leave the hall in dribs and drabs, a trickle of people moving slowly away, still solemn and serious. Ben sat for a while, not really knowing where he was meant to go, then:

"Are you two coming?" Cho asked, her prefects' badge glinting in the light. Ben and Beatrice got up from the table, and joined her and the other first year Ravenclaws. She led them out of the main doors and down a corridor, but as they left the hall, Ben was sure he heard someone whisper:

"Did you hear about Hermione Granger...?"

Disclaimer: You think this is mine? *Sings* I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky lucky....

Chapter 2

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