New Classes and New People
Over the next few days, Harry heard alot about he famous Neville Longbottom, also known as the Boy Who Lived. Apparently, Neville's home was attacked by the terrorist Lord Voldemort when he was three. Both of his parents were mindwiped and Neville survived the Killing Curse with nothing but a jagged scar on his forehead. Nobody knew what happened that night, but that was the night that Voldemort was turned into a greasy red smear on the wall.
Everybody seemed to talk about Neville in reverence, and it wasn't until Harry actually met him, did he understand why. It was on the way to Transmutation when Harry ran into Neville. Literally. Neville was a tall guy with spiked blonde hair, baby blue eyes and a chiselled chin that would make any man jealous. His jagged scar was on display proudly as he strode through the hall in his bomber jacket, white shirt and blue jeans.
"Oh man, sorry about that. I'm still getting used to the school. Oh, you're Neville Longbottom, aren't you?" asked Harry, grabbing hold of the offered hand and standing up.
"Yeah, nice to meet you. You a first year?" asked Neville, smiling down at Harry. Harry nodded.
"Yep, just started a few days ago. I'm on the second floor of Gryffindor Dorms with Frank and Ron" Harry said, rubbing his hands on the seat of his pants, wiping away any dust.
"Oh yeah, I know those two. Quite the pair. Where you off to, anyway?" asked Neville.
"Oh, Transmutation with McGonagall" Harry said, shrugging and readjusting his shoulder bag.
"Don't get on her bad side, she can get nasty. Well, I better be off, nice meeting you..." Neville trailed off, not knowing the boys name.
"Oh! I'm Harry, Harry Potter" He said, nodding at the Boy Who Lived. Neville nodded and strode off, a hand raised in farewell. Harry wondered for a minute where his bag was, and decided the mage probably had some kind of magical storage device on him. Harry let his mind drift to the castle itself.
There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday; some with a vanishing step half-way up that you had to remember to jump. Then there were doors that wouldn't open unless you asked politely; or tickled them in exactly the right place, and doors that weren't really doors at all, but solid walls pretending. It was also very hard to remember where anything was, because it all seemed to move around a lot. The people in the portraits kept going to visit each other, and Harry was sure the coats of armor could walk.
The ghosts didn't help, either. It was always a nasty shock when one of them suddenly glided through a door you were trying to open. Nearly Headless Nick was always happy to point new Gryffindors in the right direction, but Peeves the Poltergeist was worth two loked doors and a trick staircase if you met him when you were late for class. He would drop wastepaper baskets on your head, pull rugs from under your feet, pelt you with bits of chalk, or sneak up behind you, invisible, grab your nose, and screech, "GOT YOUR CONK!"
Harry was strongly tempted to research a nice powerful exorcism spell. Maybe he'd get a medal for services to the school.
Even worse than Peeves, if that was possible, was the caretaker, Argus Filch. Harry managed to get on his bad side on his very first morning. He completely forgone Frank's warning to avoid the cranky caretaker, and suffered for it. He had been trying to get through a door, which just had to be the forbiddon corridor that Professor Dumbledore had mentioned at the feast. He got a nice mouthful from the caretaker, and managed to escape after an explosion nearby drew Filch's ire. He was around the corner and he could still hear the old man muttering about gnomes.
Filch owned a cat named Mrs. Norris, a scrawny, dust-colored creature with bulging, lamp like eyes just like Filch's. She patrolled the corridors alone. Break a rule in front of her, put just one toe out of line, and she'd whisk off for Filch, who'd appear, wheezing, two seconds later. Filch knew the secret passageways of the school better then anyone (except perhaps the Weasley Twins) and could pop up as suddenly as any of the ghosts. The students all hated him, and it was the dearest ambition of many (including the Nefari, not liking that a creature that resembled their kind so much could be so shrewd) to give Mrs. Norris a good kick.
And then, once you had found them, there were the classes themselves. There was a lot more to intermidiate magecraft, as Harry quickly found out, than flicking your wrist and saying a few funny words. Back in High School, most of the spells he did were simple ones that didn't require that much study to master.
The classes he chose, Sorcery, Elementalism, Technomancy, Alchemy and Transmutation, were quite complex and difficult. For his first class, which just so happened to be Transmutation, McGonagall gave the class a stern talking to the moment they sat down in her first class.
"Transmutation is some of the most complex and dangerous magecraft you will ever learn at this fine Collegium. Ever since the Reveal, new methods have been found that not only expand the uses for this type of magic, but also include more hazards. For this reason, we will be learning this course thoroughly and carefully. No shortcuts," she said. "Anyone messing around in my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned."
Then she waved her hand and turned a small puppy on the desk into a chimeric mix of Dog and Lizard and back again. They were all very impressed and couldn't wait to get started, but soon realized they wouldn't be creating any chimeras for a long time. After taking a lot of complicated notes, they were each given a match and started trying to turn it into a needle. By the end of the class, only a nefarian girl called Zeeva Guth-Jenk-teth had made any difference to her match; Professor McGonagall showed the class how it had gone all silver and pointy and gave Zeeva a rare smile.
Three times a week, Harry and Heidi attended Elementalism set outdoors with Professor Sprout, where it became clear that the bush that seemed to be growing out of her back was really a tree spirit that had adopted Sprout as its mother. They spent that lesson learning to meditate and listen to nature and feel the wind, the heat, and strength of the earth and the gentle lapping of the lake nearby.
Professor Flitwick, the Sorcery Teacher, was a tiny wizard who had to float above his desk to be able to see them all. He spent that lesson giving a lecture on the uses of Sorcery and how to give their magic form.
The class Harry had been looking forward to was Technomancy, and he wasn't disappointed. The first thing that Harry noticed, was that his class wasn't in the castle nor in any of the other buildings. Rather, it was in an underground hanger-sized garage under the laker. He found the entrance by asking one of the older students, and being directed to a large metal door he didn't notice earlier sticking out of a large hill near the lake. Once inside, they found the classroom was cluttered with bits of machinery, car parts, bike parts and shells of old Nefarian ships. There was even an old WW2 Bomber Plane hanging from the ceiling. There were a row of chairs in the room, but no tables.
"Excuse the lack of tables. They were used by my old class to build a submarine out of wood. Those poor sons of a bitches" a voice said. A young man left the shadows, dressed in a grease stained lab coat, old jeans, an old t-shirt, boots and a pair of goggles on his head. His hair was bright yellow and sparking randomly. Harry noticed his hair was giving off light. His eyes were as dark as obsidian "Just take anything that has a flat surface"
The professor sat down behind a car bonnet that had been removed from the rest of the vehicle. Harry dragged a plane wing from the corner of a room and balanced it using some bricks while everyone got their own random desk.
"Now, welcome to Technomancy 1. My name is Dedric Circuit. In this module, we will be focusing on enchanting and building whimsical and wonderful gadgets. Now, the origins of Technomancy comes from one man, my father Polythemus Circuit, who dreamed of uniting the magical and mundane worlds together with magic and technology combined. After the Great Reveal, he had the oppotunity to follow his dream, and discovered the art of Technomancy. Mostly, it is used to make fomerly dangerous mundane technologies safe and efficient. With Technomancy, we now have several planes, ships and spacecrafts that help protect the planet from any hostile alien life. Fortunetly, we have not been attacked by any hostile life forms, but it is reassuring that they are there. Any questions?" asked Professor Circuit, squinting over at the group. A spark shot off from his hair, and landed on a pile of papers, setting them ablaze. Circuit pressed a button and a small helicopter came over and extinguished the blaze with a burst of water. Heidi Bones raised her hands, and Circuit called her on.
"What's with your hair?" she asked, causing the class to snicker at her boldness. Circuit smiled.
"Oh this? When I first started learning Technomancy, I used a far too strong charge of electricity to supercharge a wardstone. The resulting explosion infused my hair with a electrical/magical mixture. My hair has become a wardstone that stops fire-based spells and levitation spells from affecting me. The reason for this is that my hair projects an invisible field around me that zaps any flames that come into contact with it. Levitation spells do not work because my field can disrupt the electromagnetic frequency that make up most spells like Wingardian Leviosa and Levicorpus. Any other questions?" said Circuit. Everybody sounded impressed, and Harry could tell the rest of the year will be quite the treat.
Harry was very relieved to find out that he wasn't miles behind everyone else. There was so much to learn, that not even Heidi Bones had a head start.
Friday was an important day for Harry. He finally managed to find his way down to the Great Hall for breakfast without getting lost once. As Harry realised it was Friday, he wondered when he'd learn enough to fight in a Mage Battle.
"What have you got today?" Harry asked Frank as he cut up a rare looking steak.
"I got double Battle Magecraft," Frank said, before looking at Harry's schedule and wincing. "Ouch, you have Double Alchemy with the Slytherins. Snape's Head of Slytherin. They say he always favors them - you'll be able to see for yourself and tell me if it's true"
"Wish McGonagall favored us," said Ron. Professor McGonagall was head of Gryffindor House, but it hadn't stopped her from giving them a huge pile of homework the day before.
Just then, the mail arrived. Harry hadn't gotten used to this by now, but it had given him a bit of a shock on the first morning, when about a hundred living and mechanical avians had suddenly streamed into the Great Hall during breakfast, circling the tables until they saw their owners, and dropping letters and packages onto their laps.
A certain silvery owl fluttered down and landed on the table next to his plate. This was Hedwig, a enchanted clockwork owl his father had created for him when he was a toddler. She was modelled after a female snowy owl and looked very steam-punkish, complete with a funnel on her back that spewed white steam for no discernable reason. She was programmed with artificial intelligence, and was given a speech circuit on Harry's tenth birthday.
"Good Morning Master Harry!" Hedwig said, her voice sounding like a middle-aged woman.
"Morning Hedwig. Anything for me today?" asked Harry, popping a piece of bacon into his mouth. Hedwig seemed to tut at the salty and oily breakfast item.
"Yes, from a man named Hagrid." Hedwig said, and dropped a small letter onto his plate. Harry picked it up and opened it.
I know you get Friday afternoons off, so would you like to come and have a cup of tea with me around three?
I want to hear all about your first week. Send us an answer back with Hedwig.
Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts
P.S. A very impressive MechOwl
"What did Hagrid want?" asked Frank, who had finished his steak and was drinking deeply from his water goblet.
"Wants to have tea at three. Wanna come? You can invite Susan if you want" Harry said, taking a pen out of his bag. Frank shrugged, and Harry took that as a yes. He scribbled on the back of the letter Yes please, and I might bring some friends. See you then. and gave it to Hedwig, who clutched it in her metal talons and flew off.
It was lucky that Harry had tea with the gamekeeper to look forward to, because the Alchemy lesson turned out to be the worst thing that had happened to him so far.
At the start-of-term dinner, Harry had gotten the impression that Snape disliked him, judging from the scowls he got from the man. By the end of the first Alchemy lesson, he knew he'd been wrong. Snape didn't dislike Harry - he hated him.
Alchemy lessons took place down in one of the dungeons. It was colder here than up in the main castle, and would have been quite creepy enough without the pickled animals floating in glass jars all around the walls. As he entered the room, a foot stuck out into the aisle and tripped Harry, sending him to the ground. A blonde boy sniggered slightly, and Harry couldn't help but feel he'd met him before. He gave the boy a glare and went to sit next to Zeeva from Transmutation. Harry jumped along with everyone else when the door banged open and the tall dark and greasy form of Severus Snape glided into the room.
He then proceeded to do the roll call and stopped at Harry's name.
"Ah, yes," he said softly, "Harry Potter. The son of Police Chief Potter... quite the honor"
The blonde boy and his friends sniggered quietly behind their hands. Snape finished calling the names and looked up at the class. His eyes were black like Professor Circuit, but had none of the excitment and cheerful warmth. They were cold and empty and made you think of dark tunnels.
"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of Potion Making, or Alchemy as the Terran Republic feels the need to call it these days," he began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every word - like Professor McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort. "As there is little foolish wand or hand waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through the human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the sense... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death - if you aren't a big bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."
More silence followed this little speech. Harry glanced at Zeeva and noticed she was on the edge of her seat and raising her hand. Snape looked at her.
"Yes, Miss Guth'Jenk'teth?" he asked, sneering a little at her. The alien girl smiled at him.
"Sir, are we going to be learning how to use Potions to enchant and disenchant magical objects?" she asked. Snape thought about it for a second.
"We will be learning this in your sixth year, but for now we will stick to basic potions. Potter!" said Snape suddenly, making Zeeva jump. "What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"
"Uh, I think this was on Potioneering with the Stars last month... Uh... I think it makes the Draught of the Living Death" Harry said, hoping he got it right.
"Potter, how would you go about collecting a bezoar?" Snape asked, his lip curling into a sneer. Harry blinked.
"Do you want the traditional or modern way?"
"Either one Potter!"
"Uh, well, the way my Dad gets them is to feed our pet Goats with oats boiled in an Enchanting mixture, which speeds up the development of a bezoar by ten days. We then use a switching spell to switch the bezoar with fresh water" Harry said. Snape twitched a little.
"What is the difference, Potter, between monkswood and wolfbane?" asked Snape.
"Nothing. They're the same plant right?" asked Harry, smiling a little. Snape looked a little red in the face, and he turned to the rest of the class.
"Well? Why aren't any of you copying this down?"
There was a sudden rummaging for notebooks and pens. Over the noise, Snape said, "And a point will be taken from Gryffindor House for your cheek, Potter"
Things didn't improve for the Gryffindors as the Alchemy lesson continued. Snape put them all into pairs and set them to mixingup a simple potion to cure boils. He swept around the room in his long black cloak watching them eigh dried nettles and crush snake fangs, criticizing the Gryffindor (sans Zeeva for some odd reason) and praising the Slytherins. Harry found out that the blonde boy was Mercutio Malfoy, the younger brother of Draco Malfoy. Snape was just talling everyone to look at the perfect way Malfoy Jr had stewed his horned slugs when clouds of acid green smoke and a loud hissing filled the dungeon. Tyrande Woodwind, a Wood Elf, had somehow managed to melt Godric Bronzehammer's cauldron into a twisted blob, and their potion was seeping across the stone floor, burning holes in peoples shoes. Within seconds, the whole class was standing on their stools while Tyrande and Godric got into a heated argument.
"YEH CLUMSY TWIG! I TOL' YEH TO WAIT TO UNTIL I TOO' THE CULDRON OFF THE HEAT!" Shouted Godric, his wrinkled face crumpled in anger. Tyrande glared at the little dwarf.
"Well, if I'm a twig, that makes you a stump! And dumb as one as well" Tyrande said, folding her wood-coloured arms.
"ENOUGH!" snarled Snape, clearing the spilled potion away with one wave of his hand. Next to the dwarf and elf, a Nefarian girl that Harry didn't know whimpered as boils started to pop up all over her flat nose.
"Take her up to the hospital wing," Snape spat at Ginny Weasley, who just so happened to have been in that class. Then he rounded on Harry and Zeeva, who had been working next to Godric and Tyrande.
"You - Potter - why didn't you tell them not to add the quills? Being the son of the Police Chief not enough? That's another point you've lost for Gryffindor."
This was so unfair that Harry opened his mouth to argue, but Zeeva kicked him behind their cauldron.
"Don't push it," she muttered, "I've heard Snape can turn very nasty."
As Harry climbed the steps out of the dungeon, Frank hurried over to him and upon seeing his expression, asked him what was wrong. "Cheer up, Snape's always taking points off of Ron's brothers."
At five to three Harry, Ron, Susan and Frank left the castle and made their way across the grounds. Hagrid lived in a small wooden house on the edge of the Forbidden Forest, and seemed to be the only thing that had never changed after the Reveal. In a paddock off to the side, Harry could see a couple strange creatures grazing. They were built like gorillas, only with scales instead of fur, and four eyes. A pair of bug-like antennae poked from above their upper eyes, and their mouth held three rows of rotating razor sharp teeth. They also walked like a gorilla, but their forelegs and hindlegs ended in hooves that seemed to morph into talons at the last second. Finally, two scorpion like tails arced over their bodies lazily as they eyed the group with lizard-like eyes.
"Oh look! A Wigsillian Org Beast! I wonder how Hagrid got a permit to raise them?" Frank said, smiling at the creatures from Nefari Kita.
Harry shrugged and knocked loudly on the heavy wooden door. They heard a frantic scrabbling from inside and several booming barks. Then a large hairy face appeared in the crack as he pulled the door open.
"Hang on," he said. "Back, Fang!"
He let them in, struggling to keep a hold on the collar of an enormous black boarhound.
There was only one room inside. Hams and pheasants were hanging from the ceiling, a copper kettle was boiling on the open fire, and in the corner stood a massive bed with a patchwork quilt over it.
"Make yerselves at home," said Hagrid, letting go of Fang, who bounded straight at Frank and started licking his cheek. Like Hagrid, Fang was clearly not as fierce as he looked.
"This is Frank Lee, Ron Weasley and Susan Bones" Harry told Hagrid, who was pouring boiling water into a large teapot and putting rock cakes on to a plate.
"Another Weasley, eh?" said Hagrid, glancing at Ron's freckles. "I spent half me life chasin' yer twin brothers away from the forest. And Miss Bones! I knew your aunt when she was at Hogwarts, did you get into Hufflepuff as well?"
"Yep, I'm a Hufflepuff through and through." Susan said, bringing a rock cake up to her mouth, but wisely put it down when she noticed Ron and Harry grimacing. Frank was shovelling the cakes down without even chewing. Sometimes, Susan envied her boyfriends ability to eat large quantities of food and not get fat.
Harry and Ron were delighted to hear Hagrid call Filch 'that old git'.
"An' as fer that cat, Mrs Norris, I'd like ter introduce her to Fang some time. D'yeh know, every time I go up ter the school, she follows me everywhere? Can't get rid of her - Filch puts her up to it"
"Speaking of hideous creatures, where did you get the heard of Wigsillians outside?" asked Harry, causing Frank and Hagrid to scowl at the description.
"Oh yeh, the 'Ouse Elves were complainin' abou' the quality o' the Org Milk that got imported from Nefari Kita, so Professor Dumbledore got me ah Breeders Permit" Hagrid explained, puffing his chest out in pride.
Harry told Ron, Susan and Hagrid about Snape's lesson. Hagrid, like Frank, told Harry not to worry about it, that Snape liked hardly any of the students.
"But he seemed to really hate me."
"Rubbish!" said Hagrid. "Why should he?"
Yet Harry couldn't help thinking that Hagrid didn't quite meet his eyes when he said that.
"How's yer brother Charlie?" Hagrid asked Ron. "I liked him a lot - great with animals."
Harry wondered if Hagrid had changed the subject on purpose. While Ron told Hagrid about his brothers work in trying to rebuild the dragon population (apparently, before the Reveal, wizards and witches didn't see the fine line between endangered and rare.), Harry picked up a piece of paper that was lying on the table under a tea cosy. It was a cutting from the Daily Terran, the worldwide newspaper:
GRINGOTTS FIRST NATIONAL BANK BREAK-IN LATEST
Investigations continue into the break-in at the London Branch of Gringotts on the 31st July, widely believed to be the work of Dark Magi or members of the Terran Rebellion.
Gringotts Goblins today insisted that nothing had been taken. The vault that was searched had in fact been emptied the same day.
"But we're not telling you what was in there, so keep your noses out if you know what's good for you," said a Goblin spokesperson this afternoon"
A newly turned fifteen year old Harry walked down the street of London, ducking out of the way as a man on a broom shot by him. Harry shook his head slightly and went into Tom's Family Cauldron, the new entrance way for the hidden alley. Many said that Diagon Alley still remained unplottable since the wardstones were so old, they were permanent. Others said that there was a building in Diagon Alley under Fidelus that was hiding the notorious Cursed Dagger, a radical group of Nefari and Mundane Racists that worked against purifying the human race by killing all Hybrids and Nefari they come across. They were the work of many attacks, like the Little Whinging Massacre, the Devon Fire and Fight for Fordshire. They said the magic of the Fidelus was fueling the previously inert wardstones and while the Fidelus stood, the Alley would be hidden from Mundane eyes forever.
Harry shook his head of his musings, and continued to the bank known as Gringotts, where his families fortune was currently being held. He passed through the doors into the reception area. Harry didn't feel like actually going down to the vault, so instead he went to one of the ATM's and topped up his Bank Card. The Bank Card was a small translucent card with circuits like veins running across the surface. It worked by keeping a certain amount of digital currency known as Credits. The topping of the card involved paying the same amount of Galleons, Sickles and Knuts in wizarding currency in exchange for the credits.
Harry left the bank with his card and went to buy what he needed for his school.
Harry was jerked from his flashback as he felt Susan's hand on his shoulder. I looked over at Susan, who looked a bit worried.
"You okay Harry? You've been staring at that page for a few minutes." Susan said. Harry looked back down at the newspaper clipping, staring at the moving image of the goblins searching a small vault.
"Yeah, just realised that break-in at Gringotts happened on my birthday" Harry said, frowning a little. Ron dropped a rockcake he was inspecting for fault-lines.
"Break-in? But nobody ever robs Gringotts. Usually it's the other way around" Ron said, rubbing his beardless chin thoughtfully. Harry resisted the urge to call the ginger on it, and instead pondered about the people he came across that day. Now that he thought about it, he did see a man wearing a turban that day. But that could have been anyone. It's not that odd to see a Middle Eastern Wizard or Mundane in London these days. Ever since the world governments became one, the Middle East worked hard to smooth out most of the rough patches the terrorist group most affiliated with Iraq had created. Once terraforming technology had been suggested, Middle Eastern Scientists worked with the Nefari to change the Middle East from a hot and desolate desert, into a more habitable place. With most of the heat gone, the Middle East became a much more friendly place. Turns out they were never angry. They were just overheated!
Mercutio Malfoy, son of Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Malfoy nee Black, was the most rare kind of brother. He did not fight with Draco Malfoy, nor did he loathe him. Instead, he worshipped him and aimed to be JUST like him, and that included latching onto one person and becoming their worst enemy during their entire time at Hogwarts.
Sadly, Harry was that one person. Still, first year Gryffindors only had Potions with Slytherin, so they didn't have to put up with Mercutio much. Or at least, they didn't until they spotted a notice pinned up in the Gryffindor dorm lobby which made all the first years groan. Flying lessons would be starting on Thursday - and Gryffindor and Slytherin would be learning together.
"Typical," said Harry darkly, "Just what I always wanted. To be left on the ground while everyone is flying around. Bet Mercutio would get a laugh about that."
He had been looking forward to learning to fly more than anything else.
"You don't know you'll make a fool of yourself," Ron said reasonably. "Anyway, you can't do any worse then how I did. First attempt to fly, and I went right into a tree. The sad thing, was that there weren't any trees around!"
Harry had heard a lot of stories about First Year Flight Class. Before the Reveal, the class would be a one day course featuring flight on broomsticks. Ever since the Nefari brought with them Self Levitatioon Magic, Flight Class consisted of them learning how to levitate on the first day, fly laps around the Quidditch Pitch on the second day, and come up with alternatives for flight for fun on the third day. Ron and Frank gave examples of their favourite ways to fly, Ron's consisting of blasting fire at the ground and launching himself like a rocket, while Frank preferred to sprout large blonde feathery wings and use those to fly.
The girl who had gotten the brunt of Godric Bronzehammer and Tyrande Woodwind's failed potion, named Tianna Longbottom'teth, adopted sister of Neville Longbottom, had never flown or been near anything that could fly, on account of her birth parents dying in a malfunctioning Shuttle-Craft inbound from Nefari Kita. Frank and Alice Longbottom ended up pulling her from the wreckage and adopted her into their family, before their untimely mindwipe at the hand of Lord Voldermort. Tianna had a fear of anything that could fly, and understandedly why.
Ariawynn Shadowmoon, the Shadow Elf from the feast, was just as nervous about flying as Tianna was. This was something you couldn't learn by heart out of a book - not that she hadn't tried. At breakfast, all the First Year Gryffindors sat at the same table (several tables merged together to make one big enough) and Ariawynn shocked everyone by attempting to bore them to death with several books on flight. Tianna was hanging onto her every word, desperate for anything that would help her get out of the class. But everybody was pleased when Ariawynn's lecture was interrupted by the arrival of the post.
Harry hadn't had a single letter since Hagrid's note, something that Mercutio had been quick to notice, of course. Malfoy's Lethrr'Blakka cross Eagle, or Flethrr'Blakka, was always bringing him packages of sweets from home, which he opened gloatingly at his table.
A large owl-like creature with brown feathers, tan spots on its wings and a feathered ridge above its eyes the same colour as the spots brought Tianna a small package from her grandmother. She opened it excitedly and showed them a glass ball the size of a large marble, which seemed tp be full of white smoke.
"It's a Remembrall!" she explained. "Grandmama knows I forget things - this tells you if there's something you've forgotten to do. Look, you hold it tight like this and if it turns red - oh ..." her whiskers drooped, because the Remembrall had suddenly glowed scarlet, "... you've forgotten something ..."
Tianna was trying to remember what she'd forgotten when Mercutio Malfoy, who was passing their table, snatched the Remembrall out of her hand. A clawed hand latched onto his hand and squeezed tightly, causing Mercutio to drop the Remembrall. Tianna catched it and held it to her chest, as her saviour came into view. Frank and Ron stood there, Frank holding Mercutio wrist.
"You alright there, Malfette? You better not be harrassing my kin" Frank said, eyes glowing blue and shackles raised. His tails were whipping about behind him, and he only let go when Professor McGonagall came striding over.
"Mr Malfoy, Mr Neh'Gara'teth-Lee, no unauthorised fights. You want to duel, you make an official challenge" she said curtly, looking over her spectacles. Mercutio rubbed his wrist.
"But Professor, 2nd Years and above can't challenge First Years. Neh'Gara'teth-Lee would have an unfair disadvantage" He said, sneering a little at the Hybrid, who growled softly.
"Enough, Frangja'Dera'sa. Now, what happened here?" she asked.
"Malfoy took my Remembrall and these two stopped them" Tianna said helpfully. McGonagall sent off Malfoy, and Frank sat down with the First Years. "Frangja'Dera'sha? What did you mean by kin. We're not related"
"Please, call me Frank. And while it's true we're not related by blood, we are related in spirit. All Nefari are connected in the Spiritual Plane. Our race are a very close-knit lot, and we have evolved to stick out for each other. Think of us as a Pack Species. Now, I best be off. I have Physics and How They Work with Magecraft. Shakra'Ella'Ley!" he said, bidding goodbye in Nefari. He ran off, followed by Ron.
At three-thirty that afternoon, Harry, Ginny, Ariawynn, Colin and the other Gryffindors hurried down the front steps into the grounds for their first Flight Class. It was a clear, breezy day and the grass rippled under their feet as they marched down the sloping lawns towards a smooth lawn on the opposite side of the grounds to the forbidden forest, whose trees were swaying darkly in the distance.
The Slytherin's were already there, and seemingly at the head of the year group was Mercutio Malfoy, who was regaling a tale of years racing his brother through the streets of London. On the ground was a bag full of what looked like belts. Harry knew these were Safety Belts, charmed to prevent the wearer from flying too high, and from hitting any other fliers. They were quite old, and Harry had heard Fred and George Weasley complain that they would fail every now and then and let you go too high, or would cancel out your spell in mid-flight.
They stood around, and waited for their instructer to arrive. After a few minutes, the students began to talk among themselves. Questions like "Where is the teacher?" and "Should we just leave?" floated among the heads like cartoonish speech bubbles, when suddenly they heard a low thudding. Everyone fell silent as the thudding came closer, and clearer to reveal it was the sound of beating wings. It was coming from over the forest, and as the class watched, a winged form came over the treeline. The form landed gracefully and Harry could see that it was a middle-aged woman with grey hair, bird like yellow eyes and a taut face. She wore an outfit that while tasteful, it allowed her to be able to use her large, feathery white wings effectively. The outfit consisted with an open back blue top, white trousers and black boots. On her wrist, she wore a silver brace with a red, blue and gold gem embedded on the back of her hand.
"Welcome to your first Flight Class. Today, we will be focusing on simply levitating, and hopefully if everybody can get it, we can do a couple laps around the perimeter. Now, everyone come get a Safety Belt... yes, no shoving" Madam Hooch said, holding the bag open. Once everyone was wearing a Safety Belt, she told them to stand in two rows, facing each other. Slytherin's on one side, and Gryffindor's on the other.
"Now, in order to fly, we must first concentrate on finding our magic. Any one who has flown before would know how. For those who do not know, our magic, or core as some people would prefer to call it, is where all of our inherent magic comes from. Beside our cores, we also can use the magic from our surroundings, or even from magical weapons. A fine example of this would be The Frost Lord Zygamyst, who used the all-powerful Staff of Frost forged by Frost Dwarves millions of years ago, despite being completely mundane and without magic. To find your cores, close your eyes and feel deep inside of you. After a minute, you should feel a slight tingling warmth." Hooch said. Everyone closed their eyes and concentrated. Most of them looked content, while some looked like they were trying to go to the bathroom. Harry could feel the warmth almost immediatly. He tried to direct it around himself, and gasped when the floor vanished from his feet.
He opened his eyes and stared wide-eyed at the sight before him. Everyone but Ariawynn and Tianna were floating above the ground.
"Come now Longbottom'teth, Shadowmoon, put some feeling into it!" Hooch said, flying above them once again. Perhaps magic responded to fear, since there was a quaver in Tianna's voice that said all too clearly that she preferred to keep both feet on the ground. Ariaynn tried to do it, but all she did was do an odd little hop before falling back tot he ground. Madam Hooch showed them how to steer and gain altitude without looking like a flailing baboon. Harry and the other first year Gryffindor's were ecstatic to learn that Mercutio had been doing it wrong for years.
"Now, when I blow my whistle, I want you to rise up, turn in a circle once, and come back down for a smooth landing. Don't be upset if you can't do it at first. Not everybody can master flight. On my whistle - three - two -"
But Tianna, probably nervous about being left on the ground, pushed off the ground hard and shot up like a bullet before the whistle touched Hooch's lips.
"Come back, girl!" she shouted, rising into the air to fetch her, but Tianna seemed to jerk away from the Flying Instructor. Twelve feet - twenty feet. Harry saw Tianna's frightened eyes and shaking form look down at the ground, saw her gasp, and pass out from fright. With most of her brain functions in standby, Tianna's magic cancelled the flight spell, and she began to fall.
WHAM - a thud and a nasty crack and Tianna lay face down on the grass in a heap. The safety belt she was wearing must have broken off and drifted away, because she wasn't wearing it any more.
Madam Hooch was bending over Tianna, her face as white as the girls.
"Broken tail," Harry heard her mutter. "Come on, girl - it's all right, up you get."
She turned to the rest of the class.
"None of you is to move while I take this girl to the infirmary! I see a single person in the air and they'll be out of Hogwarts before you can say 'Grav Ball!' Come on, dear"
Tianna, her face tear-streaked, clutching her left tail, hobbled off with Madam Hooch, who had her arm around her and her wings retracted.
No sooner were they out of earshot than Mercutio burst into laughter.
"Did you see her face, the great beast?"
The other Slytherin's joined in, though the one Nefari in the house of snakes walked off to one side with a scowl.
"Shut up, Malfette," snapped Colin Creevey.
"Ooh, stickin' up for Longbottom'teth?" said Broice Grungebeard, a dwarf of the Dark Iron Clan. "Never thought you'd like fat little pussy cats, laddie"
"Look!" said Mercutio, darting forward and snatching something out of the grass, "it's that stupid thing Longbottom'teth's grandmother sent her."
The Remembrall glittered in the sun as he held it up.
"Give that here, Mercutio," said Harry quietly, clenching a fist and summoning a plume of fire. Everyone stopped talking to watch. The Malfoy Brother smirked and waggled his finger mockingly.
"Ah, ah, ah, Potter. Best not start a fight outside of Mage Battles. The son of the Police Chief wouldn't want to set a bad example, would he" Mercutio said. Harry gritted his teeth as those who did not know this gasped.
"Give it here!" Harry yelled, thrusting out his hand and sending the plume of fire at Mercutio. It grew in size, and Mercutio waved his hand, summoning a wave of water to extinguish the flame.
"Stop Harry! You're not allowed to fight during class!" Ariawynn yelled out, though for her it was more like another person talking normally. Harry ignored her and jerked his fist up, causing the ground underneath Mercutio to shake and crack. Malfoy jumped from the breaking ground and Harry shot another blast of fire at the boy. Once again, Mercutio countered with a wave of water, and sent an icy blast at Harry.
The boy felt the ice crystals pierce his skin and shouted in pain. A green energy surrounded him and he felt the pain vanish. Harry turned to see Ginny Weasley lowering her hand, still glowing a soft green. In the next few seconds, the two year groups broke out into a miniature war. Spells were flying, healing spells were cast and grass was torn up, soaked, singed and turned into quicksand. Due to Elemental Magic being the most simple, most of the students used that. Harry had only just managed to wrestle the Remembrall when there was a blast.
Everyone stopped in an instant, and not because of any spell, but rather because the one who yelled was Professor Minerva McGonagall.
"WHO STARTED THIS?!" She shouted, and from her softly glowing neck, it was apparent she was using a voice amplifier charm. Everyone pointed at Harry and Mercutio as one, the Gryffindor's and the Slytherin Nefari pointing at Mercutio, and the Slytherin's pointing at Harry.
"Never - in all my time at Hogwarts -"
Professor McGonagall was almost speechless with shock, and her glasses flashed furiously, "- how dare you - you could have all killed each other -"
"It wasn't his fault, Professor -"
"Be quiet, Mr Creevey -"
"But Malfoy -"
"That's enough, Miss Weasley. Potter, Weasley, Shadowmoon and Creevey, follow me, now"
Harry caught sight of Mercutio, Broice and Gregard's (another Dark Iron dwarf and the twin of Broice) triumphant faces as they left, walking numbly in Professor McGonagall's wake as she strode towards the castle. He was going to be expelled, and he was dragging his friends with him. He wanted to say something, maybe explain that Ginny, Ariawynn and Colin had nothing to do with this, but he couldn't find his voice. Professor McGonagall as sweeping along without looking at them; they had to jog to keep up. Now he'd done it. He hadn't even lasted two weeks. He'd be packing his bags in ten minutes.
Up the front steps, up the marble staircase inside, and still McGonagall didn't saying anything. Harry looked at the other three nervously. Ginny's face remained firm, and Colin looked physically sick. Ariawynn was worse. The small amount of confidence she had managed to build up was visibly falling as her face turned grey instead of it's normal black. McGonagall stopped outside a classroom. She opened the door and poked her head inside.
"Excuse me, Professor Whisperwind, may I borrow Cane for a moment?"
Cane? thought Harry, bewildered; did they still use canes?
But Cane turned out to be a person, a skinny human fourth year boy who came out of Whisperwind's class looking confused.
"Follow me, you five," said Professor McGonagall, and they marched on up the corridor, Cane looking curiously at Harry, Ariawynn, Ginny and Colin.
Professor McGonagal pointed them into a classroom which was empty except for Peeves, who was busy writing rude words on the blackboard.
"Out, Peeves!" she barked. Peeves threw the chalk into a bin, which clanged loudly, and he swooped out cursing. Professor McGonagall slammed the door behind him and turnd to face the three boys and two girls.
"Potter, Creevey, Shadowmoon, Weasley, this is Sydney Cane. Cane - I've found you new teammates."
Cane's expression changed from puzzlement to delight.
"Are you serious, Professor?"
"Absolutely," said Professor McGonagall crisply. "They're all naturals. I've never seen anything like it. Was that your first time dueling, you four?"
Harry and Colin nodded silently, while Ariawynn and Ginny shook their heads. Harry didn't have a clue what was going on, but he didn't seem to be being expelled, and some of the feeling started coming back to his legs.
"He was able of overcome Mercutio Malfoy in a fight, and we all know how well versed they are in duelling. Only got hit by one attack, and was healed straight away by Miss Weasley. And Shadowmoon used her inherent shadow-morphing abilities to sneak behind the enemies. Creevey is also well-versed in Transmutation, animating a nearby gargoyle without even realising it!"
"I did?" asked Colin, looking around confusedly.
Cane was now looking as though all his dreams had come true at once.
"Ever seen a Mage Battle, you four?" he asked excitedly.
"Wood's captain of the Gryffindor Battle Team," Professor McGonagal explained.
"Their just what I need, too," said Cane, now walking around the group and staring at them. Ariawynn blushed under his scrutiny. He pointed at Harry, "An Elementalist," nodded at Ariawynn, "A Shadowmancer," he pointed at Colin, "A Transmutator," finally, he looked at Ginny for a minute, "and a Healer".
"I shall speak to Professor Dumbledore and see if we can bend the first year rule. Heaven knows, we need a better team than last year. Flattened in that last battle by Slytherin, I couldn't look Severus Snape in the face for weeks..."
McGonagall peered sternly over her glasses at Harry, Ginny, Ariawynn and Colin.
"I want to hear you're training hard, Potter, or I may change my mind about punishing you."
Then she suddenly smiled.
"Your mother would have been proud," she said. "She was one of the founders of Mage Battle, you know."