Harry woke a little groggily when the alarm spell he had set the night before chimed loudly at 6:15 AM. Assuming that he should wake up early, at least on the first day, he had reluctantly set it for what he considered to be a ridiculously early time.
Pulling himself out of bed, Harry nudged Draco awake and cancelled the spell.
Draco moaned. “Five more minutes.”
Harry shrugged. “If you want to be late and find your own way to breakfast, be my guest.”
Draco rubbed his eyes and sat up with a groan. “Fine, you win.”
Harry merely shrugged again and headed for the bathroom.
Once he was ready, Harry waited in the common room for Draco to come out. He glanced at the time.
“Draco, five minutes ‘til Aris comes,” Harry called into their room. Draco came out a few moments later.
“Right,” he said. “Where’s everyone else?”
Harry peeked into their room. “They must have left already.”
“Guess it was too much bother to let us know,” Draco mumbled.
“I guess,” Harry added unnecessarily. “I’m assuming they’ll give us books?”
“I hope so,” Draco said. “I can only imagine how long they would take to arrive if we had to owl for them.”
Harry grabbed his bag and headed for the door. “Come on, we can wait in the corridor.”
“Alright,” Draco said easily, following behind.
Harry opened the door and saw someone leaning casually against the wall. He straightened as Harry came out.
“Uh, good morning,” Harry said.
“A pleasant night?” Aris asked graciously.
“Yeah,” Harry said. “How long were you waiting out here?”
“A few minutes,” he replied. “I was waiting until seven to disturb you.”
“Er, thanks,” Harry said. “You didn’t need to do that though. Wait for us, I mean. You could’ve knocked,” Harry said, stumbling over his words.
“It is no matter,” Aris insisted. “Come, I will show you to breakfast.”
As they walked, Draco tried to initiate a conversation.
“Where are you from?” Draco asked.
“Greece,” Aris replied. “Though some Egyptian blood runs in my family.”
Draco nodded and opened his mouth to say something else. For one wild moment, Harry thought he was going to ask if he was a pureblood. Catching Harry’s glance, Draco silenced with a frown. Harry had no idea what he was truly going to say.
There was no conversation until they reached the hall. A good amount of students were already present but they were not siting at the benches. Instead, they formed a line that wrapped most of the way around the room. At the front was a buffet style cart piled with food.
“Is this how all the meals are?” Draco asked with surprise and interest.
“All except for the feasts,” Aris replied. “Come.”
He led them to the middle of the line. Stepping up to a small student, Aris said, in a voice that left no room for argument, “We are fourth year. Allow us your place.”
The boy looked disappointed and the line stepped back, making space for them. Harry leaned over to Aris after they had taken their place in line.
“Why’d you do that?” he asked.
“Teachers eat first, then students, beginning with the oldest. As fourth years, we outrank the young ones. He was a third year.”
“But he’s obviously been waiting a long time,” Harry said with a glance behind him. The boy seemed resigned. Harry turned to him. “You can go in front of me”, he offered.
The boy’s eyes widened and he shook his head fervently.
“Go on,” Harry urged.
They boy continued to shake his head until Harry turned back around with a shrug. He didn’t notice the others looking at him. One of the stares came from Aris.
“That is not done,” he said quietly.
“Why not?” Harry asked. “It doesn’t seem right to just take a spot he’s obviously been waiting for.”
“It is how we operate here,” Aris said flatly. He gave Harry a searching look. “You are unique.”
“Thanks,” Harry said sarcastically.
The line moved fairly quickly and when they reached the table of food, Harry took a small helping. They then sat down at a nearby table. There didn’t seem to be any order to the tables here.
“Do you have houses?” Draco asked.
“Houses?” Aris replied, dark brows furrowing as he cocked his head. “I do not know what you mean.”
“At Hogwarts we have four houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff,” Draco explained.
“And the point of these houses?”
This time Harry answered. “They’re like a family. You’re sorted according to your qualities. Gryffindor is bravery, Slytherin is cunning, Hufflepuff, loyalty and Ravenclaw is wisdom.”
“A family,” Aris mused. “I can see the appeal.”
“Why?” Draco asked curiously.
Aris did not reply. He acted as if he had not heard the question. Harry shrugged at Draco and they returned to eating. Both cleared their plates fairly quickly.
“It’s a good thing Ron didn’t come- no seconds,” Draco commented. Realizing what he said, he shot a quick glance at Harry.
“Yeah,” Harry said, pushing around what was left of his breakfast with his fork. “You think he’ll ever forgive me?”
“I hope so,” Draco said earnestly. “Though he is pretty stubborn.”
Harry’s mouth twisted into a frown and Aris looked between the two of them.
“I am missing something, no?” he asked after a long moment of silence. Harry noticed he was being a little more open today. Perhaps it was because they were fairly alone.
“Yep,” Harry said flatly. “My best friend thinks I entered to come here on purpose and now he’s mad at me.”
“I do not understand,” Aris said.
“He thinks I’m trying to steal the spotlight again. I’m really not,” Harry insisted forcefully.
“How did you get here if you did not enter?” Aris asked, face revealing nothing.
Harry shrugged. “We think someone put my name in the cup.”
“I haven’t the foggiest,” Harry said.
“Do you intend to enter the real competition?” Aris asked. He was definitely more talkative today.
“No,” Harry said. “Absolutely not.”
Someone approached from behind Harry and dropped two schedules on the table, eyeing him critically. The girl said nothing as she turned and stalked away.
“Everyone here that friendly?” Draco grumbled, taking one of the sheets.
Aris’s lips twitched. “Many are.”
“Defense Against the Dark Arts, double Dark Arts, and Defense today,” Draco read. “Why’s Defense on there twice?”
Aris glanced at the other schedule. “The one simply labeled ‘Defense’ is physical defense. As in combat art.”
Harry and Draco looked at each other. “Uh, we don’t have that,” Harry admitted. “We’ll be pretty behind.”
“It is not very difficult. I have been doing it for a very long time.”
“Do you still take the class?” Draco asked.
“It is mandatory even though I am far above many of my peers,” he said, unashamed. “Occasionally, Professor Blackwell and I spar because the other students are reluctant to pair with me.”
“Wow,” Harry breathed. “How are we supposed to take that class?”
“The same way you take any other.”
Harry frowned at that half answer. “What’s up for tomorrow, then?”
“Transfiguration, Potions, Charms then Defense,” Draco said with a furrowed brow. “Why are there twice as many Dark Arts as their are Defense against?”
“It is just the way it is,” Aris said.
Draco glanced at the time. “Should we be going?”
“Yes,” Aris replied. “Professor Thornberg does not tolerate lateness. Or much of anything else, for that matter.”
“Great,” Draco breathed.
“Everyone, do welcome our new guests,” Professor Thornberg said with snide undertone. “There is a celebrity in our midst.” A sneer graced the man’s face, reminding Harry starkly of Snape. In fact, the resemblance was almost startling.
Though Thornberg was shorter and had cropped brown hair, his attitude was very much reminiscent of Severus’s back when Harry was a first year.
“I hope you can keep up,” he commented before stalking to the front of the room. Harry, Draco and Aris had chosen seats closer to the back and now Harry was thankful for that decision. “Kappas,” Thornberg announced. “Who can describe them for me?”
Harry sighed inwardly. They must have a different curriculum because Lupin had covered Kappas the year before. Harry racked his brains trying to remember what they were. He remembered often confusing them with Redcaps.
“Potter,” Professor Thornberg snapped.
“Um...” Harry hesitated. “They feed on human blood but, uh, will leave you alone if you throw them a cucumber with your name carved on it?”
A few people snickered at his apparent stupidity and Harry believed he was wrong. All he remembered about that unit was carving his name into a cucumber. Lupin had instructed them on the correct way to do it.
Thornberg’s eyes narrowed and Harry was sure that he would be penalized for giving a flippant answer.
“Correct,” he said reluctantly. Harry let out a breath and a few Durmstrang students stiffened. Harry noticed a few girls across the room. They all bore frowns and sat together in an isolated group. Thornberg strode to the front of the room and began writing notes on a chalkboard.
Harry obediently took out a piece of parchment and his snitch-shaped inkwell and began to copy them down. He sighed. He would have much rather been in Sirius’s class.
“Mr. Finnigan, that potion is worthless,” Snape snapped. “Ten points from Gryffindor.
Sirius hovered at the door, hesitant to interrupt Severus’s class. This was, however, his only free period and he was feeling rather proud of what he had accomplished that morning. The period would be over soon so Sirius had to get back to his classroom. After another moment’s deliberation, Sirius stepped fully into the room.
“Professor Snape?” he asked. “May I speak with you?”
Snape eyed Sirius darkly. If what he had observed in the past few minutes was any indication, he was in a foul mood.
“Fine,” Snape answered. With one last stern look at the class, he stepped with Sirius into the hall. “What do you want?”
“To give you this,” Sirius said, handing him a mirror of his own. It had taken most of the night before and his planning period, but Sirius had managed to find a workable duplicate and charm it to connect to the pair that he and Harry had.
“What is it?” Severus asked warily.
“A mirror,” Sirius replied smartly, rolling his eyes.
Severus gave him a flat stare. “Honestly, Black? I can see that for myself. I highly doubt that, coming from you, it is an ordinary mirror. What does it do?”
“It’s connected to a charmed pair that Harry and I have. I gave it to him before he left,” Sirius explained. “Say his name and, if he has it on him, you can talk to Harry. If he says your name, that little jewel in the handle will light up and you can talk to each other.”
Severus was silent for a long minute. He stared at the mirror in his hand. Without seeming to realize it, his grip on the metal handle tightened. Sirius shifted his weight, wondering what was going on in that dark head of his. At last, Severus raised his eyes.
“I believe I owe you an apology,” Severus said slowly.
Sirius’s brow furrowed. “Oh?”
“You are not half bad,” Severus said with a tilt of the head. “I must get back to my class now. I do thank you, Black.”
For once, Sirius got the impression that Severus was being sincere in his thanks rather than sarcastic. With one last look, Snape swept back into the classroom. Sirius grinned.
“I knew he’d come around,” Sirius chuckled to himself before turning to stroll back to his classroom. It then occured to him that he had forgotten to ask Snape to be nicer to his students rather than take his anger out on them. Though if Severus’s parting words were any indication, his mood had considerably lifted. Perhaps the Gryffindors owed Sirius thanks as well.
“For you newcomers, the first period of this class is theory with the second being practice,” Professor Durus said as he paced the front of the room. “Today we begin blood magic.”
To Harry’s surprise, Professor Durus did not strike him as being overly evil or dark. He seemed strict in a way reminiscent of McGonagall rather than cruel.
“Blood magic is a branch of Dark Magic that can be very useful when you are dealing with two people related by blood,” Professor Durus said. “It is used in honing spells to find and immobilize those who share the caster’s blood. Can anyone tell me when this would be useful?”
A student across the room raised his hand.
“Yes, Mr. Handel?”
“If you were to capture a family member of someone you want to find, you could force him to cast the spell and the other person wouldn’t be able to move and you could get ‘im,” a sturdily built boy spoke up.
Durus’s mouth twisted. “Not precisely. In order for that to work, the spell must be cast in the immediate vicinity of the target. The spell does have a range.” He waved his hand dismissively. “Anyway, its uses are not especially important. I’m sure you can all dream up a thousand ways to utilize that spell. Now, copy these notes and we will discuss other types of blood magic such as in regeneration and torture spells.”
Harry set to copying the notes as he was told. He reflected that this theory part of the class was not so bad, if a little chilling.
The practical period was another story.
“Get in groups of four and come up and take a gnome, one per group,” Professor Durus commanded. “We will be practicing the Conjunctivitus Curse today, ending with a Disintegration Curse,” he said casually. “Go ahead.”
As students got out of their seats, Professor Durus came over to where Harry and Draco sat. Aris had gone to get a gnome and it seemed like Gregor was to be in their group since the others had already paired up.
“You two have no experience in this, correct?” Durus asked Harry and Draco. They shook their heads. “Well, Gregor is pretty good, he should be able to help you out.”
Gregor looked less than happy at this pronouncement. Professor Durus gave him a stern look before moving away.
“Professor!” Harry called at the man’s back.
He turned and came back. “Problem?”
“Uh, yeah,” Harry said hesitantly. “Are we to actually cast the curses on these gnomes?”
“Yes,” Durus replied as if Harry were thick.
“Yeah, that’s, uh, going to be a problem.”
Gregor snickered. “Afraid to hurt a gnome, Potter?”
“I will not practice Dark Magic,” Harry said firmly.
“If you are in this class, you must,” Professor Durus said, face hardening.
Harry shook his head. “I’m sorry, Professor. I can’t.”
Harry was reluctant to use Severus as an excuse, knowing how weak that would sound. “I won’t then. I refuse.”
Durus’s jaw twitched. “Very well, then. I suppose you can sit and watch. Be aware that I will inform the Headmaster of your difficulty.”
“Fine,” Harry muttered, wondering if he meant Karkaroff or Dumbledore.
Still uneasy with what they were going to be doing to the defenseless gnomes, Harry removed himself from the group partway and tried to let his thoughts drift elsewhere.
“You alright, Harry?” Draco asked quietly.
Harry broke out of his reverie. “Yeah, I’m fine. Are you going to participate?”
Draco shrugged. “I don’t want to cause trouble. It’s only a gnome, right?”
“Right,” Harry said quietly. Draco returned to the group, leaving Harry to wonder whether or not it had been a good idea to bring him into this sort of environment.