Professor Dumbledore stood up to get his students' attention. "To our new students welcome and to our slightly older students welcome back. Now that we have all been fed and watered, I ask for a few moments of your attention for the usual start of term notices," Dumbledore smiled. "First years ought to know that the Forest in the grounds is out-of-bounds to all students – and a few of our older students ought to know by now too." James noticed Dumbledore frowning at the Slytherins, remembering their private meetings in the forest the year before.
"Mr Filch, the caretaker, has asked me, for what he tells me is the two-hundred-and-ninety-third time, to remind you that magic is not permitted in the corridors between classes, nor are a number of other things, all of which can be checked on the extensive list now fastened to Mr Filch's office door."
"We have had a change in the staff this year. As most of you were aware Professor Bartlet intended to retire at the end of last year. He is currently living on a beach on a tiny island in Greece. I received a letter from him yesterday to say that he had settled in and was greatly enjoying something called a mojito. To replace Professor Bartlet, I have hired Professor Salazar to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts. He has transferred from Durmstrang Institute and I am sure that you will make him very welcome."
There was a round of polite applause. It was short lived however. The marauders frowned at each other, "Durmstrang?" James raised an eyebrow, "What's Dumbledore playing at?"
Lily didn't understand the other students' reactions, "what's wrong?"
"Durmstrang don't teach defence – they teach the dark arts," Sirius explained.
James sighed, "not only that but they don't admit muggle-borns into the school."
"My mum wanted me and Reg to attend Durmstrang but dad talked her out of it," Sirius frowned.
"Bloody hell!" Lily replied, her eyes narrowing as she studied the new teacher, "this is mental."
"Tryouts for the house Quidditch teams will take place on the week after next. If you are interested in joining your house team then signup sheets will be on the common room notice boards. Finally, I would like to say that although our lives may appear to be in utter turmoil and our very existence may appear under threat, the truth is that there will always be those who seek to destroy and sometimes it might appear as if they have succeeded. The attacks of this summer, for example, have devastated many. Some of you have lost loved ones but I would like to suggest that we have potential. If we focus on improving ourselves, learning what we can, developing our skills and uniting together then when the time comes for us to leave the safety of this castle we will be prepared for the fight that waits for us outside of its' gates. As the threat of war looms we must prepare."
His face broke out into a great smile, "That's enough of that. Off to bed with you all. You have a long day of classes tomorrow."
There was a rustling of benches as the hall began to empty. The Gryffindors walked towards the common room together, "this year is going to be interesting," Remus yarned.
"Whatever possessed Dumbledore to hire that teacher," James frowned, "not only is his surname way to affiliated to Salazar Slytherin…"
"Clearly a bad omen," Sirius shook his head.
"But he's a Durmstrang teacher," James continued.
James led the other Gryffindors through the crowded entrance hall, hurrying up the marble staircase. He took them through a couple of concealed short cuts leaving the crowds behind. James sighed, "The Slytherins will be happy."
Sirius laughed bitterly, "indeed."
The group of ten walked through several corridors until they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady that concealed the Gryffindor common room. "Shit," James frowned, "did any of you get the password from a prefect?" He asked his friends.
"No password, no entrance," the Fat Lady said loftily.
Frank called from the back of the group where he was stood with Alice, "mimbulus mimbletonia!"
"Correct!" said the Fat Lady as her portrait swung open to allow them into the common room. The common room looked much as it ever did. The circular room looks warm and cosy with its squashy armchairs and rickety old tables. The fire had been lit by a house-elf and was crackling happily in the grate. The third years made straight for the fire. The other years' students made their way up to the dormitories to unpack. Just as James was about to say something the portrait hole opened once more and in walked a group of scared first years following the new fifth year prefects, Leona Hunter and Richard Thole. James smiled at the looks on the first years' faces as they looked around the common room. "Any interesting new first years?" James asked.
"My little brother Will," Kate smiled. At that moment a young looking boy smiled excitably at the group before waving energetically. Kate waved back, "he's made up to be in Gryffindor."
"He's so cute," Alice smiled. The eleven year old boy's eyes were wide with awe as he explored the common room with his new peers. "James, do you remember Rebecca Kerr?"
James frowned, trying to remember the name. It rang a bell.
"Her parents always attend the parties… they work for the ministry… pretty girl with brown hair and green eyes… always used to follow you around…"
James laughed as he suddenly remembered the girl.
"She had such a crush on James," Alice told the group.
Frank nodded gently in agreement, "it always annoyed the hell out of James…"
"I remember… she was really sweet. Really shy; never said two words to me," James laughed.
"She's over there," Alice laughed, nodding her head towards one of the new first years.
"Bloody hell," James frowned, trying to hide. The girl blushed deeply at the sight of James – clearly she still had a crush on him. "I think I'm going to go unpack," James sighed before standing up.
The other boys agreed with James, "yeah we better do that too." All five boys headed up the stairs to their empty dorm room.
Sirius set straight to work covering the walls in posters and photographs. There were several of the all girl Quidditch team, the Holyhead Harpies. Everything about Sirius Black was completely the opposite of his family. His family supported the Falmouth Falcons, a fierce and violent Quidditch team. Their motto explained it all; Let us win, but if we cannot win, let us break a few heads. Sirius supported the Wimborne Wasps. James laughed as his friend put up a huge poster of his favourite team right above his bed. "Got something you want to say, Potter?" Sirius joked.
"Only that you should get a better team," James continued laughing.
"A better team… they've got Ludo Bagman – you don'r get better than that," Sirius replied.
James sighed, "Puddlemere United aren't bad… coming up in the league. Pride of Portree aren't terrible."
"Whatever – they're like seventh in the league."
"Beats your tenth," James smiled as he began to put up his own poster. The poster was of his favourite team, the Bellycastle Bats – the second most successful team in the British and Irish Quidditch League as James was constantly reminding Sirius.