May 23rd, 1899
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Albus walked out of the castle feeling immensely satisfied with himself. He had been so glad to have Griselda Marchbanks for his Charms and Transfiguration NEWT exams and was quite certain that he’d amazed her with his prepared tricks. For anyone else less easily impressed, he might not have gotten such an enthusiastic reaction. Albus grinned to himself; he’d made sure that he would stick out in her mind. Marchbanks would probably go around telling people about him and his impressive magic now.
“Elphias!” Albus called, waving his friend over. The smaller boy came stumbling over. “Walk to the Potions exam with me?”
“Of course,” his friend replied. “How were your exams so far?”
Albus shrugged. “Alright.” It wouldn’t do to appear as anything but humble. “I’m hoping I did not do as badly as it seemed.”
“Oh, I’m sure you didn’t,” Elphias assured him. “Myself on the other hand...”
Albus clapped him on the shoulder. “You are brighter than you give yourself credit for, my friend.”
Elphias muttered something unintelligible. The day was gorgeous - clear blue skies, a gentle breeze and a comfortable but not overly hot sun. Bird chittered in the trees and creatures screamed in the forbidden forest. All was as it was supposed to be.
Unfortunately, the beautiful day was ruined for Albus. He would be going home the next day for the last time. His Hogwarts career was over. There was such a sense of striking loss that Albus could’ve cried, if he had been the crying type. This was his sanctuary, his second life, his real home. And now... back to his utterly ordinary family. Well perhaps “ordinary” wouldn’t be quite the word for it, but regardless Albus wanted something great. He wanted to see the world, to be famous - not to take care of his sister and mother for the rest of his life.
“Elphias, what do you say we go on a World Tour?” Albus proposed with sudden energy. “You know, take a year, see the world... Everybody is doing it these days.”
Elphias scratched his neck. “I would love to Albus, but the cost...”
“I have it covered, my friend!” Albus promised, a plan forming in his mind. “I have those prize winnings from the Barnabas Finkley Prize for Exceptional Spell-Casting,” he said, admiring how the name rolled off the tongue. “And Janice Wright is always offering to sponsor me, I could take her up on it. But I wouldn’t want to go alone. You could use the prize money.”
“Janice Wright?” Elphias repeated, confused.
“From the Wizengamot,” Albus said with a hint of pride. He had been chosen as the British Youth Representative to the Wizengamot about a year before, but still liked to slip it into conversation. “What do you say?”
Elphias gave him a sideways glance, looking nervous. “Are you sure?”
“Then yes! I mean, if you are certain,” he added worriedly.
“I am,” Albus assured him. “Come on, let’s go knock out this last test and then we can get to planning.”
At last Albus had something to look forward to. And he had successfully put off his return home for any length of time for another year. They wandered back into the castle for their Potions NEWT. Albus wasn’t nervous. Why should he be? Potions came as naturally to him as any other class did. And the whole school knew how easily other magics came to him. They had long ago ceased whispering about Percival Dumbledore, at least where Albus could hear. He had proved early on that his magic was far superior to others his age. At that rate, they weren’t about to take any chances. If Albus turned out to be like his father, he could inflict quite a bit of damage.
As the years went on, however, Albus’s reputation grew to that of a respected, intelligent student. He always seemed so kind and patient, never missing a chance to help out a fellow student. Or to show his brilliance. In time, the rumors began to fade dramatically, even though the general population never quite accepted Albus as a friend. He was always set apart. If not by pre-formed notions, then by his brilliance.
“Dumbledore, Albus,” Albus introduced himself to the NEWT administrator. The man checked his name off of the list and looked up.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Dumbledore, my name is Nicholas Flamel,” the man with a silvery halo of hair said. “I have your NEWT level test all set up for you.”
Albus ignored that part. “Mr. Flamel? Well, it is a pleasure,” he said, offering a handshake which was graciously accepted. “I have read much of your work and found it utterly fascinating.”
The noted alchemist’s eyes twinkled. “Well, my boy, let’s see you try your hand at potions. That is what we are here for, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is,” Albus agreed, turning his attention to the cauldron and ingredients in front of him.
“The instructions are on the sheet. You have forty five minutes. Begin.”
Albus brewed the assigned Mopsus Potion with no difficulty. He sprinkled the last of the bone meal in and the potion turned the appropriate shade of lavender. Albus glanced at the time. Ten minutes to spare.
Flamel was staring at the potion in wonder. “Remarkable. I reckon that if I took that potion, I would become a better Seer than Cassandra, and I can assure you, she was excellent! Not that I know that first hand, of course,” he added hastily. “Full marks, my boy.”
“Thank you, sir,” Albus said with a smile. He picked up his pack and turned to go. “Again, it was a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” He turned away.
“Wait!” Flamel called before he had gone three steps. Albus turned back. “You are truly gifted, my boy. Should you ever be wanting a scientific partnership in your career, do look me up. I would much like to work with you. See what other brilliant things are lurking in that brain of yours.” He gave a grandfatherly, crinkle-eyed smile.
Albus was bursting with excitement but kept it contained. He gave a polite smile. “I would enjoy that as well, sir. I’ll be sure to contact you. Good day.”
For Albus, it was quite a good day indeed. Little did he know that it would be one of the last that he could label as such.