Adelfonsus came a week before NYAMA opened her doors back to the students. He came on a plane from Washington (the state), where a major part of his family lived, and boarded at his eccentric aunt's place.
To her surprise and great delight, Fonsus grew over the summer from a lanky kid to a rather impressive-looking guy who stood at six feet with a nice definition of muscles. Over the summer, his cousins and older siblings left on some sort of cruise (he suspected a single's cruise, ha-ha) for hip adults and left him with their odd jobs all over the horse-friendly neighborhood. He mucked stalls to weeding acres of land to heaving hundred-pound bales to learning the ropes of his family's winery (ever heard of the Unwen Winery? It's locally famous). You name it, he did it that summer. And it was all fine for Fonsus. It kept him out of the house and away from a raging mother over his OWL scores. He had to repeat year five now.
But really, it was just bad luck. He broke his wand the night before the exams. He told everyone who asked, but mainly the teachers, that he stepped on it. Maybe the truth was it snapped from a new charm he was trying out (his epiphanies only bloomed around midnight), and it was possible he answered ridiculously on the OWLS . . . and he told his aunt so while she drove him down to the NYAMA building.
She only sighed, clicked her tongue and gave him a sideways glance. And Adelfonsus twirled his new wand of beech and dragonheart, which he bought with his own money from the several jobs. His first one was aspen and phoenix feather, and it fought against learning new spells besides defensive or offensive - it was great in duels. But Fonsus hoped his new one would at least give his creations a chance.
The car rolled to a stop half a block from the school entrance.
"Well," his aunt leaned back from the wheel. "I wish we had time to cut your hair."
"Too late now." Fonsus grinned. His brown hair grew past his shoulders and he kept it bound in a loose ponytail. His bangs tapered off to one side, nearly obscuring an eye. "I'll see you on winter break." He leaned over, kissed her cheek and stepped out of the car with his wand in a pocket and Gus, his turtle, in one hand.
"Oh, wait!" His aunt said and just about flung herself in the passenger seat. Adelfonsus paused, a hand on the door. "Promise me you'll talk to someone directly. No 'hey, Gus' bullshit, all right?"
Adelfonsus stared down at her, brows furrowed. How could he tell her he had an issue speaking to his peers since the first year? And that they picked on him for being "a country brat", so talking to Gus had become routine (it even marked him a "special" person) and developed into a nervous tick that kept him calm, focused and comfortable?
" . . . I'll try. That I promise, dear auntie." He said. She smiled and he shut the door. Then she drove off and he entered the NYAMA building with minutes to spare.
"Welcome back, Gus." He said and shifted his feet at the sight of mingling young wizards. The turtle blinked in response. "Thank you, Gus." And he shuffled off to the side of the room, wishing he could shrink back to the gangly and tiny youth he was before puberty hit. At least then he could hide behind things . . . and not catch stunned eyes at his "transformation".
Luckily though, jabs and laughs weren't directed at him but at a teen with . . . was that a grey blazer? A smile broke his face.
"Hey Gus! A new face!"