This was an assignment, this isn't how I spend my free writing time!! Just wanted to clear that up. in fact, I hate chemistry, but I thought this turned out rather well. Oh and due to the fact that I hate chemistry, the latent sarcasm in this story is definitely not your imagination. Especially towards the end, things got a little... flippant.
Hydrogen lie in bed as the seconds until his birthday ticked away. He could hear his Aunt Plutonium and Uncle Thorium arguing outside his room. Well, if you considered Hydrogen’s cupboard under the stairs a room. Meanwhile, his cousin, Dichlorine had two whole rooms to himself. Hydrogen supposed he needed it because of his molecular weight. He was one large molecule. Hydrogen had lived with the Dioxides since his mother and father had died in what he was told was a spontaneous combustion accident when he was only a baby. Hydrogen hated it here; he was forced to do all of the chores and share his single electron with everyone. But right now, he was excited, for it was his birthday.
The time clicked from 11:59 to 12:00. Hydrogen smiled in the darkness.
On a totally unrelated note, three loud knocks sounded on the door.
“Will you get that, dear?” Hydrogen heard Aunt Plutonium ask.
Uncle Thorium’s loud movements shook the walls of Hydrogen’s cupboard. His atomic size was even larger than Dichlorine’s. Hydrogen peeked out of the slits in his door to see what was going on.
“What do you want?” Uncle Thorium asked gruffly.
“Is ‘ere a Hydrogen atom here?” a deep voice asked.
Hydrogen could imagine Uncle Thorium’s eyes narrowing. “Why? Is he in trouble again?”
“No, ‘course not. Can I see ‘im?” the stranger asked. Without waiting for a response, Hydrogen saw an enormous figure push past his uncle. Hydrogen bounced out of his room.
“Hey, ther’! I haven’t seen you since you was newly decomposed!”
“Who are you?” Hydrogen asked the bulky figure.
“I’m Hassium. I work at Hogwatts School of Chemistry and Physics. I’ve come to give yer’ an acceptance letter.”
“What?” Hydrogen asked.
“Yer an element, Hydrogen,” Hassium said seriously. “Elements come here for special instruction.”
Uncle Thorium tried to squeeze between them. “No, no. He isn’t going anywhere to be taught by some old decaying element-”
“Don’ insult Headmetal Dubnium in my presence,” he growled. A bolt of energy shot from his umbrella towards Aunt Plutonium, knocking one of her electrons loose. She shrieked and ran after it before it could bond to someone else. “Haven’ you ever wonder’d, Hydrogen, why they have two names and you don’? And why they have more than one atom and they’re differen’?”
Hydrogen thought for a moment. That was true; Aunt Plutonium Dioxide, Uncle Thorium Dioxide, Dichlorine Dioxide, then him: Hydrogen. As for the atoms, Hydrogen just thought he was skinny, with one atom. He nodded at Hassium.
“You’re an unusual atom ev’n at that; Hydrogen is usually diatomic but some nasty business with an evil element named Radon when you wer young left you with one,” Hassium said. “Yer famous, Hydrogen.”
“Really?” he asked in disbelief.
“Well, Hydrogen, whaddya say? You want to go to Hogwatts?” he asked.
“Yes!” Hydrogen exclaimed excitedly. He looked at Uncle Thorium to see if he would protest. He seemed frozen with fear after what happened to Aunt Plutonium. Hassium saw him too and merely shrugged.
“Let’s go,” he said. “Lots ter buy.”
He bounced down the hall, making the house shudder at every contact. Hydrogen followed happily, feeling like he was the lightest element in the world.
“All ready?” Hassium asked Hydrogen as they entered Kelvin’s Cross station.
“I think so,” he responded. He checked and found that he had his trunk with his newly purchased supplies and his rubidium-coherer.
“Good, here is yer ticket,” he said, handing Hydrogen a slip of paper. “I gotta go deliver that package we got from the bank to Professor Dubnium.”
“Balance 9 3/4,” Hydrogen muttered. “There is no such thing!”
Hassium was gone. Hydrogen pushed his cart along the station until he reached Balance 9. He looked around and spotted another family with only one atom each, unlike the molecules that cluttered the station.
“Excuse me, can you help me find Balance 9 3/4?” he asked.
The largest one turned around. “Of course, dear. I’m Molybendum, but you can call me Moly. What’s your name?”
Her eyes grew wide. “Hydrogen? The Hydrogen?”
“Um, I guess,” he said uncomfortably.
“My,” she said in wonder. “Well this is my husband Tungsten, and the atoms we raised, Radium, Cesium and Francium, Germanium and Praseodymium. They’re of no relation, of course. You understand.”
“Understand what?” Hydrogen asked innocently.
“Atoms cannot produce more atoms. We simply raise atoms produced by the reactions between molecules.”
“Oh,” Hydrogen said.
“Come now, dear, let’s get to the train.”
She hopped over to the post that stretched from the floor to the ceiling.
“You go straight through here, okay?” she said, as if it were normal to walk through a brick wall.
“What happens to you?” Hydrogen asked.
“Well, it changes you to the gaseous state to pass through the wall. It’s magical or something, I don’t know. You shouldn’t even be bothered since you are naturally gaseous. It’s a little odd for us, solids,” she said casually. “Go on.”
Hydrogen took a deep breath and pushed his cart into the wall, following close behind. He felt nothing and came out intact on the other side. “Wicked!” he exclaimed as the others followed.
Radium came through and gave a shiver. “I’ll never get used to that,” he grumbled.
Francium tickled Radium’s back causing him to yelp. He laughed.
“Cesuim!” Moly called. “Quit teasing your brother. It’s his first year.”
“I’m not Cesium, I’m Francium,” he responded, pointing at himself. “Honestly, look how many more electrons and protons I have.”
“Francium!” she shouted. “I told you to keep your subatomic particles covered in public!”
He rolled his eyes.
Hydrogen bounced over to Radium. “This is your first year?”
“Yes,” he said. “How about you?”
“It’s mine too.”
“I’ll probably get stuck in the Alkali house with those idiots,” he complained, indicating his brothers.
“The Alkali house?” Hydrogen asked. “What’s that mean?”
“There are four houses, founded by different famous elements. They sort you according to whether your properties are similar to theirs,” he explained.
“What are the four?” Hydrogen asked.
“Alkali, Transitional, Halogens and Noble Gases. You don’t want to be in with the Noble gases,” Radium said, “ they’re nonreactive and mean to everybody. They think they’re the best because they have a full outer energy level.”
“Are they?” Hydrogen asked.
“Of course not,” Radium scoffed. “Come on, we’ll miss the train.”
They boarded the train and were off to Hogwatts.
Hydrogen was lined up with the other new elements waiting to be sorted. All attention was focused on an old hat that sat on a stool. Hydrogen was beginning to think it unremarkable when it began to sing.
“You may think I’m old and battered,
People have before,
But none of them have mattered
after what I have in store.
I’m the Hogwatts Sorting Cap,
there’s nothing I don’t know.
So put me on, give me a tap,
And I tell where you ought to go.
You may belong in Alkali
Where dwell the bold at heart.
They’re shiny, soft and reactively high
and thus are set apart.
You could be a Transition Metal
which is a melting pot;
In many compounds they will settle,
for they are happy with their lot.
Or perhaps in the Halogens you belong,
If you’ve got a reactive spirit.
They bond with many and never long
for atoms to come near it.
Or yet with the Noble Gases,
where they feel that they should rule
With colorless, odorless, stealthy masses,
They’re nonreactive with levels full.
So put me on,
I’ll say where you belong.
With these lots
you’ll spend your days,
here at ol’ Hogwatts!”
People clapped loudly as it finished its song. Hydrogen could actually feel his single electron climbing in energy levels due to his excitement. He hoped it didn’t show. Professor Magnesium, Head of Alkali House, called out names and elements of all colors, sizes and personalities got sorted into the houses that fit them best. A snobbish element named Krypton came up behind Hydrogen.
“Hope you’re in the Noble Gases, Hydrogen,” he said. “Then maybe you’ll make friends with the right sort.”
“The elements with full outer energy levels. Unlike poor Radium here with only two measley electrons in his outer level. Huh, maybe I’ll start calling you and your ‘brothers’ the Measleys,” he said to Radium.
Radium was about to come back with a strong remark when he was called up to the Sorting Cap. He shot Krypton a glare and proceeded to be sorted into the Alkali house. They clapped loudly as he went to join his brothers. Hydrogen pointedly ignored Krypton until it was his turn to be sorted. They placed the cap on him and it did not take long to decide.
“Alkali!” it shouted. In great relief, Hydrogen’s electron fell in energy level and shot off a beautifully colored photon. There was much excitement as Hydrogen joined his new family.
“We got Hydrogen! We got Hydrogen!” Cesium and Francium chanted.
Hydrogen slid into a seat next to Radium and watched Krypton get sorted into the Noble Gases, as expected. Once all of the new elements had been sorted, Headmaster Dubnium stepped up for a few opening words.
“Anhydride, nucleon, fission and chirality!” he said, much to everyone’s confusion. “That said, let’s eat!”
Food appeared before them and a pleasant feast ensued. Hydrogen was halfway through his meal when he noticed one of the professors staring at him with an intense glare.
“Hey, Cesium, who’s that?” he asked, indicating the professor in question.
“Oh, that’s, as we like to call him, Sulfurous Snipe. He’s really just Sulfur but he’s kind of harsh and critical, so I think it fits perfectly,” he said.
“I don’t think he likes you,” Francium chimed in.
“What’d I do? I just got here,” Hydrogen complained.
Francium shrugged. “That’s okay, no one here likes him either.”
Hydrogen just shrugged and went back to eating. When they were finished, Dubnium stepped up once more.
“Just a reminder that the third floor corridor is out of bounds for anyone who does not wish to be expelled from Hogwatts. Also, I would like to introduce our new Defense Against the Dark Matter teacher Professor Flourine. Have a nice term!” he said cheerily.
An element stepped up with a tick robe that seemed humped up in the back. He gave a timid wave and sat back down.
“Is he diatomic?” Hydrogen asked Beryllium, a know-it-all who had been chattering all night long.
“He should be. The only diatomic atoms, that occur naturally of course, are Hydrogen, Bromine, Oxygen, Flourine, Iodine and Chlorine. These are-”
“So the answer is yes?” Hydrogen cut her off.
“Yes,” she said.
“Okay,” he replied.
And with that, the new elements followed the others to their common rooms to settle in.
During the next few weeks of classes, Hydrogen found that Chemistry was his least favorite class. This was mainly because the Master Chemist, Sulfurous Snipe was so mean to him. Physics was his favorite, taught be Professor Magnesium. The most boring by far was History of Science where they were forced to listen to Professor Boron wax on and on about scientists and their discoveries.
“Thank goodness that’s over,” Radium said in relief as they left the room. “Maybe he should be called Professor Boring.”
Hydrogen snickered. “What do we have next?”
“Defense Against the Dark Matter,” Radium said. “Come on, Cesium and Francium told me about a shortcut.”
Hydrogen and Beryllium followed him into an unfamiliar corridor and up a set of stairs.
“Professor Flourine is so irritating. He can’t say two words without stuttering,” Hydrogen complained.
“He creeps me out,” Beryllium said.
“Me too,” Hydrogen agreed. “He is always hanging out with Sulfurous Snipe.”
Radium shrugged and looked around. “Um, this door I think.”
He pushed it open and they entered a dimly lit corridor with one door at the very end. The door creaked shut behind them as they moved towards the other door. Opening it, they screamed in unison.
A polyatomic structure sat in front of them, slowly rearing up. It was composed of a hydrogen and nitrogen molecule bonded to three oxygen molecules. They moved around as if sniffing the air. As Beryllium and Radium tried to squeeze through the door together and got stuck, Hydrogen was left facing the polyatomic structure. One of its heads swept towards him: the hydroxide one. Being naturally gaseous, he simply floated over it.
“Hurry up, guys!” he yelled.
With one final heave, they broke free and tumbled out into the corridor. Hydrogen followed quickly and gratefully, slamming the door shut behind him.
“What was that?” he panted.
“Nitric acid,” Beryllium stated.
“Why is that thing just sitting in the school?” Radium squealed.
“You probably led us to the third floor,” Beryllium accused. “Besides, it’s guarding something.”
Hydrogen looked at her. “How do you know?”
“Didn’t you see what it was standing on?” She asked in disbelief.
“Uh, no? I was a little preoccupied with it’s three heads!” Hydrogen said in exasperation.
“It was standing on a trap door.”
“Oh,” Hydrogen said.
“Yes, that’s all very fascinating, but we are going to be late for Chemistry,” Radium said tersely. “Rumor has it that Snipe eats small elements in detention, so you better watch out Hydrogen.”
Hydrogen rolled his eyes. “Let’s go.”
Despite their best efforts, they walked into Chemistry five minutes late.
“Detention, all three of you,” Sulfurous Snipe snapped. “Report to Hassium in the Forbidden Forest tonight at 8.”
They groaned and took their seats, prepared for a long class of mixing potions and solutions.
“Most acids can be neutralized by a base such as the common sodium bicarbonate,” Sulfurous Snipe began. Hydrogen stopped listening and stared off into space, disinterested.
“Well that was fun, wasn’ it?” Hassium said. “Got enuff plants ter last me a year!”
“Real fun,” Hydrogen said sarcastically, wiping the dirt off of himself.
“Hey you guys wanna see somethin’?” Hassium asked.
“What?” Beryllium asked cautiously.
“I met a stranger down at the bar. Gave me the cutest li’l Hydrochloric Acid. Said he couldn’t handle it,” Hassium said with a smile. “I said just sprinkle a little baking soda on it and it’ll be harmless!” He shook his head at the stranger’s apparent foolishness.
The three young elements’ eyes widened in horror. “You told a stranger that? Now he can get to whatever it’s guarding!” Hydrogen exclaimed.
“Oh. Shouldn’t have said tha’,” Hassium said simply.
Hydrogen looked at Radium. “Come on, we have to go get tell Professor Dubnium.”
They raced back up to the castle, Hydrogen literally flying through the air. It seemed like forever until they skidded to a stop outside Dubnium’s office. Hydrogen knocked but there was no answer.
“What are you doing?” a deep voice asked from behind them.
“We have to talk to Professor Dubnium,” Hydrogen told Sulfurous Snipe.
“He is not here, go back to your common room.”
“What do you mean he isn’t here? We think someone is-” Hydrogen cut himself off. What if it was Snipe who was going to steal it?
“Someone is what?” Snipe asked curiously.
“Never mind,” he said. “Let’s go,” he told his friends.
They left that corridor and hurried to the potions room. Hydrogen and Radium waited outside while Beryllium stole some baking soda.
“Got it,” she said when she returned. “Come on.”
They rushed to the third floor corridor and took a deep breath before opening the door that held the nitric acid. In a quick motion, Hydrogen opened the door while Beryllium threw the baking soda. Almost instantly the nitric acid was rendered harmless. Hydrogen took the lead and opened the trapdoor. Being a gas, he simply glided down the slide and was deposited in a dark, dank chamber. With a scream, the other two came tumbling after him.
“Hey, you glow!” Beryllium noted of Radium. He was emitting a faint blue glow.
“Ugh, I know,” Hydrogen said. “Keeps me up at night.”
Beryllium shrugged. “Lead the way then, Radium.”
He groaned but took the lead. It was not long before they walked into a room with tons of flying electrons.
“Where’d they get all these free electrons?” Beryllium asked worriedly.
“No idea,” Hydrogen said. “I think these still have their quantum numbers intact from when they were orbiting a nucleus.”
“Look,” Radium said. “This is some kind of scanner. I bet we have to find the one with the right quantum number!”
“You’re the only one who can float, Hydrogen...” Beryllium hinted.
Hydrogen nodded and floated up, grabbing an electron that looked peculiar for some reason.
“Does this look like it’s been caught before?” he asked.
“Yep, let’s try it,” Radium said.
Hydrogen went over and pressed it against the scanner. The door opened right up.
“Great,” Hydrogen said. “Go ahead, Radium.”
Radium’s glow led the way as they stepped into the next room. It simply had a table with various potions on it. There was a scroll on the one end.
“It’s a riddle,” Beryllium said, reading over it silently. She pondered the choices on the table. “That one is poison I think, that one is water... Here. This one will let you go forward.”
Forward was through a solid wall of fire. Hydrogen gulped. “Are you sure?”
“Fairly,” she said. “But there is only enough for one.”
“I’ll go,” Hydrogen volunteered immediately.
No one protested. “Here you go,” Beryllium said, handing him the bottle. “Good luck.”
Hydrogen nodded, swallowed the potion and stepped through the flames.
“You?” Hydrogen said.
“Me!” Professor Flourine agreed.
“I was expecting Professor Sulfur,” Hydrogen admitted.
“Disappointed?” Flourine asked, no noticeable stutter.
“Well now that you’re here, you are going to help me get the Akmens Entalpijas,” Flourine said simply.
“What the half-life is that?” Hydrogen asked.
“It is a Latvian creation. In english it is the Stone of Enthalpy.”
“Okay...” Hydrogen said.
“Never mind,” he snapped. “Just come over here, look in the mirror and think about how much you want it. Then I’ll take it and use it to break the bond between myself and my master and he can return to power and take over the world. Got it?”
“Who is your master?” Hydrogen asked.
“We don’t speak his name,” Flourine said. “But together we are Radon Diflouride. You figure it out.”
“Oh,” Hydrogen said, “Wait, wasn’t Radon-”
“Don’t say his name!”
“- the one who supercooled my parents and forced me to be raised by molecules?” Hydrogen asked. “That’s the rumor around here.”
Flourine looked around dodgedly. “Maybe.”
“Well then I’m not helping you,” Hydrogen said. “Not that I was going to anyway...”
“I’ll supercool your friends,” Flourine threatened.
“Fine,” Hydrogen agreed, walking over to the mirror. He felt his pockets. All he had on him was his Rubidium-coherer and he still didn’t know what that thing did.
He looked into the mirror and thought about how he wanted to save the Akmens from Flourine and Radon. He saw his mirror self take a red crystal out of his pocket then return it. He felt his pocket get heavier.
“Well?” Flourine demanded. “Did you get it?”
“Yeah, it’s in my pocket,” Hydrogen said.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the rubidium-coherer.
“Here you go,” he said, aiming it at his professor with the humped back and firing it. He was destroyed as the instrument in Hydrogen’s hand vibrated a bit. He shrugged and pocketed the device, then went to find his friends.
“Hydrogen!” Beryllium called happily as he returned.
“Hey look at this,” Hydrogen said, pulling out the Akmens Entalpijas. “Its some kind of enthalpy stone. Neat, huh? Oh and I kind of destroyed Flourine, or put him in here of something...”
“Uh, yeah,” Radium said halfheartedly. “Let’s go find someone with authority...”
They left the weird underground chamber and ran into Professor Dubnium in the third floor corridor.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
Hydrogen explained quickly about what happened down in the chamber.
“So, uh, what does a rubidium-coherer do exactly?” Hydrogen asked.
“It is a device that we use for transportation. The coherer contains an intermediary element, usually rubidium, which becomes coherent with and scans the atom being transported and takes its information. This is a two person process because the information must then be transferred to a third outside atom. This is an atom that started out coherent with the rubidium in the device and since the rubidium is now identical to to the original atom, so is the third outside atom,” Dumbium said as if it was childishly simple. “Understand?”
“Um, no but that’s okay,” Hydrogen said. “Anyways, I used it on him and he disappeared.”
“Fabulous. Radon Diflouride you say? Interesting,” Professor Dubnium said. “It is a good thing that you saved the Akmens Entalpijas for that would provide the energy, the bond enthalpy, that would break the two apart and release Radon. That would have been horrible.”
“Yep,” Hydrogen agreed.
“Good job,” Dubnium said. “500 points to Alkali.”
“Thanks,” Hydrogen said.
“There’s no way you’ll lose the Family cup now,” Dubnium said.
“Nope,” Hydrogen said.
“Well then... Give me those,” Dubnium said, taking the rubidium-coherer that now held Radon Diflouride’s information and the stone, “and go do something useful.”
“Okay,” Hydrogen said. “See you.”
The rest of the year went smoothly for Hydrogen and his friends and even Sulfurous Snipe was a little nicer to them after their heroics. Hydrogen was idolized, worshiped and most of the time, was forced to float above crowds to get to his classes. Naturally, Alkali won the Family Cup after their 500 point lead. That only made Hydrogen more popular. Several Halogens asked Hydrogen if he wanted to bond with them but he said he was too young to make that sort of decision. The Noble gases remained as nonreactive as ever and were totally unimpressed with Hydrogen and his escapades. The transition metals naturally had varying opinions, some liked him, some didn’t. Hydrogen didn’t care. It was the best year of his life.
The information about the “rubidium-coherer” was slightly twisted to fit the story but the bulk of it was taken form Michio Kaku’s Physics of the Impossible page 62-63. Also, this is loosely based upon J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone.