Dominic Cobb can't seem to convince his jaw to close again. He knows it's been able to close at some point previous. In fact, he's got plenty of memories of his mouth firmly and completely closed.

"Firs' years follow me!"

A booming voice makes Dom nearly jump out of his unfamiliar robes. Dom twists to see a man about the size of his house wearing a trench coat being used as a regular jacket. He smells faintly of leather and the tumbleweed of whitish gray hair making up his hair and beard make Dom think of a crazy old witch. Or wizard, technically.

"Yer a firs' year, righ', lad?" the large man nods at Dom,

Dom nods back, jaw finally snapping closed.

"Righ', well best follow me, then,"

The large man stomps-for that's the only kind of way you can move when you're as large a man as Hagrid- off in a different direction than most of the other students.

A few other First Years jostle past Dom. One who looks Asian sneers at Dom and (probably) curses at him as he passes. Dom is too shell-shocked to be offended, though. He leaves his trunk where the rest of the First Years have and when he reaches the edge of the lake, nearly looses control of his jaw again. He climbs into the small boat with three other boys and they all gawk at the glowing and, quite literally, magical castle before them.

When they're sheparded into the Great Hall, Dom doesn't even notice the ceiling because he's too close to the front of the line.

"Cobb, Dominic!" a woman who might be the definition of a witch shrills,

Dom marches forward, not quite remembering how to walk, and falls onto the stool. The Sorting Hat falls half-way over his face,

Another Muggleborn, eh? it's crackly voice says into his head,

Dom sits ramrod straight, now.

Don't get too scared there, I might sort you into Hufflepuff,

Dom has no idea what a Hufflepuff is, but he's old enough to know a threat when he hears one.

Alright, not Hufflepuff but...


A roar erupts from the red and gold lion table so Dom knows where to sit.

On his first day of classes, Dom gets horribly lost and ends up running into one of the school ghosts. After that, he gets to Transfigurations in record time. McGonagal gives him a glare meant to kill late students and Dom decides that ghosts aren't so scary after all.

Potions, he figures, can't possibly end worse than Transfigurations had. So of course, it's much worse. Snape is a terror to the Gryffindors and the Slytherins smirk through the whole lesson. Snape's lessons are 70% insulting Gryffindors and 30% making ridiculous hyperboles.

Dom has no hope for History of Magic. Luckily, Binns surpasses his hopes of being nearly bored to death because at the end of class, Dom's sure he's in Limbo.

As the day slips by, Dom discovers that Sprouts and Flitwick are engaging teachers, but he's ass at both Herbology and Charms. He lacks the basic knowledge that most of the First Years from Wizarding families already have. Dom sits with the other Muggleborns at lunch and has fun daring the others to try strange wizarding foods.

Dom's hopes are crushed again in Defense Against the Dark Arts. When he expected to absolutely hate a class about Dark Magic, he's surprised again. Caine reminds him of Bruce Wayne's butler without the glasses and within five minutes, Defense is his favorite class. Caine's nurturing and actually spends time helping the Muggleborns instead of praising the Wizarding children for what they already know. They learn a basic shielding spell and Dom doesn't stop smiling until he's dared to eat something that actually burns its way down his throat during dinner.

While Dom is in the Hospital Wing- a fact he is only druggedly aware of, he dreams that he's at a summer party from his childhood.

The grass green bleeds into the sky and the wind blows the sunshine to him. It was his sister's party, he remembers later, but in the dream it doesn't matter whose party it is. There are gifts lined up in front of him. White boxes tied with neat blue bows, each the same size. He's sitting on a white picnic blanket, one edge chases the wind Dom can't feel. The presents are blowing away. He wants to chase them. A woman with copper brown hair and gray glowing eyes forces him to stop and stare. She holds a present he knows is for him. It's identical to the rest of the presents, still white, still neat and blue. She hands it to him when he doesn't remember being so close to her and he knows it's lighter than the other presents, even if he's never held any of the others. He opens it and it whispers to him. He repeats the word back into the empty box, the words forming soundlessly on his lips.

He has the impression of a promise behind his teeth.