August 30th, 1892
Albus stared out the window at the rest of the little village of Godric’s Hollow. He saw his neighbor, Bathilda Bagshot, out weeding in her garden, and a passing couple walking down the sidewalk holding hands. He smiled. Albus wasn’t going to miss this place. This was his jail, and now, at Hogwarts, he was finally going to be freed.
Albus shoved the rest of his things in his trunk and latched the lid. He’d gone to Diagon Alley the day before to get his wand, robes, books and other various items. Of course, he had gone alone because his mother refused to leave Ariana alone for even an hour. He was eleven years old and wandering Diagon Alley alone. Albus had gotten lost more than once, but naturally no one noticed or cared. But he wasn’t bitter. No, Albus definitely wasn’t bitter that his mother had no time for him...
With a sigh, he lugged his trunk down the stairs to the landing by the front door. He patted his pockets. Albus had his wand, his bit of money, his train ticket. He was ready.
“Have everything, Albus?” Kendra asked, wandering in from another room. The past months had been hard on her. She was pale, thin and sickly looking. Albus felt bad for her, but at the same time resented her for not pulling herself together for them.
“Yes, mother,” he replied stiffly.
She smiled at him. Albus managed a small smile in return.
“I’ll be going now...” he said, gesturing to the door.
“What about saying goodbye to your brother and sister?” his mother asked.
“Oh, right,” Albus muttered.
“Aberforth! Ariana!” Kendra called. In a few seconds, Aberforth appeared, dragging a decidedly listless Ariana by the hand. “Albus is leaving for Hogwarts.”
“Goodbye, Albus,” Aberforth said sincerely. He tugged on Ariana’s hand. “Ariana?”
“Bye,” she said.
Albus nodded to the two of them. “Goodbye. Goodbye, mother.”
Kendra stepped forward and enveloped him in a hug. When she pulled away, Albus saw a glistening of tears in her eyes. He pretended that he hadn’t. With a final nod, he pulled his trunk out the door, heading for the carriage that would take him to the train station. From there, he would take the train far away to a new life.
Professor Brandey surveyed the first years. “When your name is called, you will advance to the platform where the sorting hat will be placed on your head. You are all to be on your best behavior. Understood?” He stood stiffly, his chin thrust into the air. He had thinning white hair and spectacles, but they managed to make him look wise and strict rather than grandfatherly.
No one replied, but it was clear that they had gotten the message. Brandey nodded. “Follow me, then.”
Albus went with his class into the Great Hall and was similarly amazed when faced with the huge ceiling that sparkled with stars. He couldn’t hold back a smile. He felt so at home, which was absurd in such a foreign castle.
They lined up across the front of the Great Hall, in front of the table lined with teachers. On a stool sat a very gently worn pointed leather hat; the Sorting Hat, he assumed. Professor Brandey hobbled to the front and withdrew a large scroll. He unfurled it dramatically, looking out over the hall of students with a critical eye, making sure everyone quieted.
“When I call your name, come forth,” he reiterated. “Alverias, Jeremiah.”
A small boy stepped forward and took a tentative seat on the stool. Brandey set the hat on his head and stepped back. After a moment’s deliberation, it declared, “Hufflepuff!”
The respective table cheered and the boy went to join them with a nervous smile.
The girl hopped off of the stool and all but skipped to her table. Albus’s palms began to sweat. The students cheered again and a pleasant wave of conversation spread throughout the hall.
No one paid attention to Elphias as he went up to the stool, which was probably a good thing as he was covered in terrible looking marks from his brush with dragon pox. He seemed a bit green to Albus as he passed, but whether that was from the dragon pox or the nervousness, he wasn’t sure.
“Dumbledore, Albus,” Brandey called over the thrum of chatter.
As if someone had flipped a switch, everyone quieted. The students stared for a moment as Albus shuffled forward, no longer quite so sure of himself. After a brief moment of silence, the faint drone of whispers drifted up to the front. Albus’s stomach clenched. What were they saying about him? What a way to begin his “fresh start”. Albus took a nervous seat on the stool and felt the hat come down on his head.
The gravelly voice of the hat rang in his ear. Well, well. Hm... You are an interesting one, boy. There’s Slytherin cunning in you, oh yes. Well buried, sure, but there nonetheless. And yet, you are brilliant enough for Ravenclaw to call you one of their own. But there is still loyalty and kindness of a Hufflepuff in you. Gryffindor bravery, too... You really have it all, boy. You could go anywhere.
Albus’s mind raced. He could go anywhere. This was his chance. This was his chance to stand up to those controlling his life, to take control himself-
Take control, you say? Well, that’s quite a Gryffindor thought. But Slytherin, too...
“Gryffindor!” the hat announced after deliberation.
The decision did nothing to ease Albus’s nervousness. He slid off of the stool and headed for his table. No one clapped, no one cheered. The hall was eerily silent. As Albus took what seemed like an eternity to walk to his seat, he became vaguely aware of another name being called.
Albus took a seat at the Gryffindor table under many watchful eyes. He stild onto the bench next to Elphias, whom everyone was making an effort to avoid. No one spoke to either of them, or shook their hands.
In the background sounded, “Hufflepuff!”
Albus stared down at his plate, his cheeks flushing with embarrassment. Still, none of the people around him spoke. In fact, no one said anything until well after the food had appeared.
“You, Dumbledore,” one of the older kids said. Albus looked up. “How come you are not in Slytherin? Isn’t your family all ‘pureblood supremecy’?”
Albus repeated tiredly, “No.”
“Then why did your father attack those muggles?” someone else spoke up.
Albus stayed silent. He knew that by not answering, he would appear to be conceding, but he couldn’t very well spill out Ariana’s secret after keeping it for so long.
“Should’ve been a Slytherin,” the first boy repeated.
Albus clenched his fists under the table but didn’t say anything.
“So if one of us gets on your nerves, you going to attack us too?” he asked. “Follow in your father’s footsteps?”
“No,” Albus said through clenched teeth. “I’m not like that!”
The boy scoffed. “Yeah, I bet that’s what your father told the prison guards.”
It took everything Albus had to keep from leaping at the boy. His fists itched to connect with the side of his face, but he was restrained by a hand on his arm.
“Leave him alone,” Elphias spoke up.
Everyone around the table quieted and observed the pair.
“Well, we have ourselves a real Gryffindor, it seems,” a young girl said from a few seats down. She smiled lightly. “Congratulations.”
After a tense moment of silence, the boys went back to their individual conversations and left Elphias and Albus alone. He released Albus’s arm.
“Thanks,” Albus muttered.
“Of course,” he replied. “I don’t believe you hate muggles. Do you?”
Albus shook his head. He ate a few bits of his meal in silence. “Maybe we can be friends?” he asked finally.
Elphias smiled, stretching his pockmarked skin. “You’re not put off by my appearance?”
“It isn’t contagious, is it?” Albus asked.
“Then what is the difference?” he replied.
Elphias was still smiling. “Then I would love to be friends,” he said, offering his hand. “I’m Elphias.”
Albus accepted the handshake. “Albus Dumbledore.”
Another AN. Sorry. As you may know, this is now the second round of Catching Paper. Thanks for giving me the lead, guys! I just wanted to let you know that from here on out, I'll me skipping large time intervals, as I want to get to a certain point in Dumbledore's life before the competition ends. I'll be highlighting all of the important, interesting events, but this isn't going to be a rewrite of the first book with "Albus goes to Transfiguration. Albus learns Wingardium Leviosa. Albus eats dinner." type thing. Hope you enjoy!