The following morning James woke up early for his morning fly before the other boys in his dorm. As he zoomed around the grounds he couldn't deny that it felt great to be back at Hogwarts. He had come home. When the sun began to rise he made his way back up to the castle for a shower. He stopped briefly in front of the notice board in the common room. Next to the Quidditch signup sheet was a poster giving the date of the first Hogsmeade weekend, which was to be in October. James smiled, he'd been looking forward to being in third year since before he came to Hogwarts. He sighed, better get a date. He made his way up the stairs to his dorm to grab a quick shower.
An hour or so later the third years were sat together eating breakfast when Cynthia Keeney came up to James and Sirius, "hey guys."
"Hi Cynthia," James replied.
"Alright," Sirius nodded his head towards her as he stuffed his mouth with egg and bacon.
"Good summer?" she asked, not waiting for an answer she continued, "So I've been made Gryffindor Quidditch Captain."
"Great," James grinned at the seventh year girl in front of him.
Sirius put his thumb up before saying, "Rob's probably devastated right?"
"No!" A voice came from behind Sirius. A strong looking boy hit Sirius across the head, "not devastated, disappointed maybe – Cynthia is awesome. She deserves it."
"So we've got spaces on the team to fill… we need a new keeper and seeker. Try outs aren't for a couple of weeks but I really think we need to start before then. I want us to have time to practice before the first match in November."
"Who are we playing?" Sirius asked.
"Slytherin!" Rob complained.
"What do you want us to do?" James inquired.
"I want you to get everyone who signs up to join you guys for a morning fly," Cynthia smiled. "We'll be in the stands – they won't know of course."
"Ok," James and Sirius nodded happily. "We'll give them a week to sign up and then we'll get to it."
Cynthia smiled at the two boys, "thanks guys. I knew I could rely on you."
She began to walk away back to her friends. Rob sighed, "man that girl is hot!"
"You like Cynthia?" Sirius asked.
"Why don't you ask her out?" James asked.
"Don't know," Rob looked confused, "I never really thought about it."
"There's a Hogsmeade weekend in October," James smiled.
"Thanks," Rob nodded, "might just ask her." He smiled before turning away, heading down the table to where some other seventh years were sitting.
"I love Rob," Sirius commented, "but he can be a bit thick sometimes."
"Says you," James laughed.
The post owls arrived just as James was drinking the last of his orange juice. Pickles was not amongst the other birds, no letter from home. A bird landed in front of him that he didn't recognise. He pulled the letter free from its ankle and began to read it.
I were wondering if yers would like ter have tea with me tonight at me hut?
"It's from Hagrid," James told the other marauders. "Inviting us round for tea."
"Oh yes lets," Remus smiled, "we've not seen him since last year."
James quickly scrawled a reply, Thanks Hagrid. We'd love to. The Marauders.
Professor McGonagall was making her way down the table handing out timetables. James began to read his copy of the Daily Prophet. "Nothing interesting," James sighed in relief. "Thank Merlin." He tucked it away as McGonagall stopped in front of him.
"Don't forget you boys have detention tomorrow night," she told them as she gave them their timetables. "I've written to your parents as well."
James glanced at his timetable, "what have we got today?" Sirius asked.
"Look for yourself," James laughed. "Merlin that's one seriously busy morning. We've got care of magical creatures, divination, transfiguration and potions, all before lunch."
"This afternoon is quiet though. Just an hour of defence and then we've got the rest of the day off."
"Yah!" Sirius laughed bitterly, "Perfect – we can do all the homework they're bound to set!"
"Is that sarcasm Mr Black," Remus laughed, "Twenty marauder points I believe are in order."
The boys laughed happily. "Rem, you're with us nearly all day today right?" Peter asked.
"Yeah – except I'm not taking divination and I've got arithmancy before dinner."
All of the Gryffindor third years were taking care of magical creatures except Frank and Alice. The rest of the class was mainly made up of Slytherins. Walden Macnair was happily telling his friends that he'd love to be an executioner for the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures. One of the Slytheirn girls, Miss Bulstrode giggled as she patted his arm gently, "you'd make a great executioner."
The marauders sat at the back table with the Gryffindor girls on the table directly in front of them. Professor Kettleburn entered the classroom. "Welcome class… take your seats please and quieten down… This lesson will be one of the most interesting subjects you will have the chance to study whilst you are at this school. We will be studying a wide range of magical creatures. I will teach you about feeding, maintaining, breeding, and proper treatment of the various creatures. If you achieve in this subject you could go into a variety of fields like that of the magizoologist. If you could take out your textbooks…"
James pulled out his copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Professor Kettleburn smiled, "this year we will be covering flobberworms, salamanders, ashwinders, augureys, billywigs, chimaeras, clabberts, fairies, gnomes and golden snidgets. As we progress the creatures that we will be studying may become more dangerous. In your fifth year we will have a chance to study the Hippogriff and if you stay with us until N.E.W.T. level you will be able to study interesting creatures like the acromantula, the basilisk, dragons," several students sat up to listen at the word dragons, "trolls, sphinxes… but today we will be starting with the Golden Snidget. The Quidditch fans in the room may have some prior knowledge. Can anyone tell me anything about the Golden Snidget?"
James' hand shot up, "Mr Potter?" Kettleburn smiled.
"The Golden Snidget is a small golden bird with fully rotational wings, best known for its early use in Quidditch until it was replaced by the Golden Snitch. I believe sir, that it was first introduced into Quidditch in 1269."
"Very good, Potter," Kettleburn nodded appreciatively, "ten points to Gryffindor."
"Although barbaric it became something of a tradition, the catching of the Golden Snidget. It eventually completely revolutionised the way modern Quidditch was played. Sadly as a result of the Snidgets use in Quidditch and the popularity of the sport of Snidget-hunting has depleted the species considerably. About a century after Barberus Bragg introduced the Snidget into Quidditch, it became apparent that the Snidget was close to extinction and Elfrinda Clagg (the Chief of the Wizards' Council at the time) declared it a protected species. There is a reservation in Somerset that is trying desperately to improve the Snidgets population. The most notable factor in the protection of the Snidgets was the introduction of the Golden Snitch to the game."
Professor Kettleburn pulled a box out of a cabinet beside his desk. He opened the box and out flew a little round bird. It had golden feathers and a long, thin beak. It had bright red eyes and could fly ridiculously fast. It zoomed across the room above the students' heads. "If it comes near you please be very careful, if you grip it you could crush it to death – it's very fragile."
The little bird flew down and hovered just in front of James' face. It tweeted softly. The girls in front had turned around to see it. James outstretched his hand to stroke it. He was sure it had let out something like a purr. He could feel its heart buzzing in its chest. The small bird flew closer to James and nuzzled into his neck. "Looks like you've made a friend Potter," Kettleburn smiled, "what position do you play in Quidditch?"
"Chaser but I prefer seeker," James whispered in response.
"That explains it. It likes seekers. I guess it's something to do with the fact you can follow it with your eye… it's like you are worthy of it."
"Sadly I have to return him to the Modesty Rabnott Snidget Reservation," Kettleburn frowned, "or I'd have let you keep him. Can you bring him over here James?"
James sighed, before gently holding the bird in his hands being very careful not to hurt it. It tweeted softly. It didn't struggle at all. It trusts me.
When the bird was safely back in its box, James returned to his seat and Professor Kettleburn began to explain the homework; an essay on the Ashwinder Snake. James sighed, he'd have much rather written a paper on the Snidget. "Your essays are due in tomorrow morning," Professor Kettleburn told them before retiring to his office.
Remus left the other Gryffindors as they headed off towards their divination lesson. He decided to start his essay in the library. He saw Frank sitting at a table alone so he joined him. "Already got homework?" Frank asked.
"Yeah," Remus sighed. "What about you?"
"Nah… just thought I'd get some reading done before Transfiguration."
"Makes sense," Remus nodded. He pulled out his textbook and quill and paper and began his essay on the ashwinder snake. The Ashwinder is a serpent that is created from the remains of any magical fire that is allowed to burn unchecked. They are found throughout the world and have red eyes and pale-grey skin. They are rather thin and rise from the embers of a dying fire. The ministry of Magic classify them as XXX. They lay their eggs in dark corners, leaving an ashy trail behind them. They only live for a few hours and will collapse to dust when they have laid their eggs…
Alice had joined the other Gryffindors in the divination classroom. "Do not sit!" The professor told them, "I will assign you seating so that you will get the best grade in your O.W.L." The teacher was a very old woman, "My name is Professor Lifflilee. Mr Black and Miss McKinnon at the back, Mr Potter and Miss Evans, Miss Britney Simon and Mr Greenock, Mr Pettigrew and Miss MacDonald, Miss Stone and Mr Kyle, Miss Meadowes and Mr Jakes, Miss Prewett and Mr Stebbins."
"There are a variety of methods of divination and we will get a chance to try our hats at them all hopefully. There is astrology, cartomancy, crystal-gazing, dream interpretation, fire-omens, heptomology, palmistry, ornithomancy, ovomancy, tessomancy and xylomancy just to name a few…"
"Today we will begin with tea leaves. You will work in your pairs, reading each others' tea leaves. You will find the tea leaf symbols in your textbooks. James opened his copy of Unfogging the Future and began to look through the list of symbols. He snorted loudly.
"What?" Lily snapped.
"Nothing," James replied as he went to collect a teacup from the wall. James felt incredibly tired. The room was too warm. He made his way up to the front of the room to fill his cup. Lily was just behind him. They quickly drank their tea before exchanging teacups. After several minutes, Lily looked up, "do you see anything?"
James replied sceptically, "no… maybe the sun? that means 'great happiness' so at least you are going to be happy."
Lily laughed, "Thanks. I think I see an acorn in yours so that's either windfall or unexpected gold. You never know you might end up rich."
James laughed, I kind of already am, he thought to himself.
The old teacher made her way over to their table, "let's see what you have got?" She grabbed Lily's cup out of James' hand. "Ah the cross and the falcon. You will suffer child at the hands of a deadly enemy." Lily turned slightly white. The professor continued turning the cup, "I fear your path is not a happy path. What about yours boy?" She took James' cup from Lily, "How strange… you have exactly the same… Your paths appear very similar… I wonder… I wonder…" She went about the room looking at each of the pupils' cups. The Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff students were given happy readings whilst each of the Gryffindors received terrible readings. Sirius was told that he had the skull – there was danger in his path. Marlene had the falcon and the sun – a deadly enemy but great happiness. Alice was told that she had a deadly enemy as well, as was Pete. Kate was told that she would be attacked – she had the club. Mary's was the worst, she was told that she had the grim, the omen of death. The Gryffindors didn't know what to say in response.
After divination the Gryffindors made their way to Transfiguration. They were particularly quiet as they sat waiting for their teacher to arrive. They were all thinking about Mary's tea leaves. Professor McGonagall looked at her class when she entered the room, "what on earth is wrong with you all? You all look like you've seen a ghost!"
Lily began to explain, "P-professor, we just have divination and well…"
James frowned, "The thing is, all of us Gryffindors had bad predictions… about deadly enemies and suffering and attacks… but the other students they all had happy things like the sun. Then Mary got the Grim."
"I see…" Professor McGonagall frowned, "Well I cannot say that I hold much by divination. I think it is very woolly. I suppose you do have a deadly enemy… you ten especially. You have already fought against his followers. You have already taken your stand and called him your enemy. No one else at this school has done that as of yet… As for the rest, we do not know what awaits us but I very much doubt that Mary is going to die before the year is out."
"Now this year we are going to be covering some very interesting magic," Professor McGonagal smiled excitably. She transformed briefly into a cat and then back into her human form, "Animagi."
James sat upright, suddenly listening attentively. "Many of you will never even try this branch of magic and others of you will never succeed and maybe one or two of you will manage it."