Boarding the Hogwarts Express on September First was just as rushed as always, the twins running off to meet with their friend Lee Jordan while Percy hugged his parents goodbye and hurried to the prefect compartment, his Head Boy badge displayed on his robe proudly. Ginny, though, remained with him and Ron as they went to search for an empty compartment to wait for Hermione. Harry didn't mind, though, seeing as Ginny had made almost no friends last year because of her possession by Tom Riddle.
Their usual compartment was filled with what looked like first years so with a sigh, the three went to find an empty compartment. It seemed that they hadn't needed too as Hermione flagged them down soon after, having grabbed a mostly empty compartment already.
It was mostly empty do to the fact that there was a grown man sleeping on one side of the benches on the compartment, wearing ragged robes and looking as if a good shave wouldn't be out of the question. The magic on the man, however, was strange to look at and Harry frowned as it seemed to actually take the form of an animal for a second. 'Weird,' he thought as he attempted to catch a glimpse of the animal again with no luck.
'Very,' Gabriel agreed.
"Who is he?" Ron asked, eyeing the man in curiosity. The brown haired sleeping man didn't stir at Ron's voice and stayed fast alseep.
"Professor R.J. Lupin," Hermione answered promptly and the two redheads turned to look at her in surprise. Hermione just rolled her eyes. "Honestly, it's on his suitcase!"
So it was, Harry blinked reading the engraved name plank in silence. The trunk was worn and looked older than the professor himself. Harry wondered if the man was using the trunk for sentimental reasons or financial reason, as it looked like the trunk had four names carved into the old leather.
"How have you both been?" Hermione asked and they descended into conversation from there.
Ron had all sorts of tales to tell them about Egypt while Hermione had gone to France for the holiday and had her own fair share of stories to tell them. In comparison, Harry's summer was rather boring (ignoring the whole archangel of the lord revelation) and Harry contented himself with listening to everything that Hermione had learned as well as the pranks that the Twins had pulled.
His trunk shook a bit above his head and Harry blink as he realized that he'd hadn't yet let out Havoc and Tinker. Standing up on the compartment booth, Harry unlatched his trunk and two blue pixies filtered out into the room followed closely by The Monster Book of Monsters. The book practically pounced on Harry, purring as its spine was stroked.
Hermione giggled at his and Harry shrugged, settling the book on his lap to pet. Crookshanks, Hermione's new cat, came over to sniff at the book before deciding that it wasn't a threat and returning to her owners lap. "I'm beginning to see a pattern," the bushy haired girl teased. "Two pixies and our sentient Care of Magical Creatures book. What are you going to adopt next?"
Harry stuck his tongue out at her and laughed when his book did the same. Ron and Ginny nearly fell over themselves laughing as Hermione giggled happily in her seat. "That reminds me," she said suddenly. "What electives are you both taking?"
Ron had signed up for Care of Magical Creatures and Divination as he thought that they would be easy O's. Hermione gave him her most disapproving look before turning to Harry. She looked pleased when she learned that he had signed up for Care of Magical Creatures and Ancient Runes. Talking to Bill and Charlie at Christmas last year had made Harry more than interested in each subject. That Hagrid was now teaching the class was a surprise bonus and he couldn't wait to see how the large man handled having his own class.
Hermione, much to Harry's shock, had signed up for everything. "'Mione," Harry said as she finished explaining why she had chosen each of the classes. "You're going to burn yourself out if you do all of those classes! Do you really need Divination and Muggle Studies?"
Hermione frowned at him. "But wouldn't learning how to tell the future be incredibly useful? And it would be fascinating to learn how wizards see muggles!"
Harry looked at Ron, who was rolling his eyes. "Hey mate," Harry said, catching his friends attention. "Why don't you tell 'Mione why you think Divination is an easy O?"
Ron blinked, frowned, before nodding after he caught on to what Harry was doing. The thirteen year old wizard had done some research on the subject over the summer and had learned that Divination was basically useless if you weren't gifted with the sight ('Or if you weren't a prophet,' Gabriel interjected) and other than Luna, he hadn't met anyone in their school who had the sight. Ron began explaining as much to an increasingly annoyed bushy haired girl.
"Then why don't they tell us that before we sign up?!" the girl demanded, angry. "If it's such a waste of time, surely the professors will want to make sure that the time of the students isn't wasted!"
Harry shrugged. "It's not like I know," he reminded her. "I just know that all authors agree: Divination is useless if you don't have the sight. That's why Arithmancy was invented."
Hermione sighed sadly and nodded. "I'll ask Professor McGonagall to drop the class after the feast," she muttered, rather disappointed.
"You should drop muggle studies too," Harry told her but he knew it was a lost cause when she just huffed at him.
"Look on the bright side, 'Mione," Ron said in an attempt to cheer their friend up. "You'll still have the book to study even if you drop the class."
Hermione did perk up a bit at that and Harry shared a grin with Ginny as they watched the two. "I wonder when they'll figure it out," Harry whispered to the girl and was rewarded with a giggle.
Their conversations died down when the train came halting to a stop, the lights flickering out as it did so. "What happened?!" Ron asked and Harry could only just see the glow of his magic in the oppressing darkness that had suddenly filled the train. That alone set off all kinds of alarm bells in Harry's head and Gabriel was alert in their mind as they waited for whatever was going to happen to happen.
A cold presence began filling the room and Harry's became visible as the air grew icy around them. He could hear Ginny sobbing quietly from right next to him and he could see Ron and Hermione shrink in on themselves. There was a distinct ringing in Harry's ears as faint pictures of people he had never met seemed to be standing before him, their voices a near whisper in his mind.
Suddenly the sleeping professor was awake, his wand pointed at a skeletal creature that was floating in the door. Gabriel was shuddering in his mind and Harry felt his body echoing him, seemingly unable to stop the rapid shudders that wracked his frame. "None of us are hiding Sirius Black underneath our robes!" The professor told the creature forcefully. "Leave!"
The creature didn't listen to the man, advancing menacingly into the room, its head turned in the direction of Harry. 'Move!' Gabriel yelled in their mind. 'Get out of here now!'
He was about to do just that, his body tensing as he readied himself to make a break for it, when a golden light filled the room and the creature screeched, flying backwards as quick as it could until it was out of the compartment altogether and fleeing down the corridor. Professor Lupin lowered his wand, the tip still glowing brightly as it warded off the creature.
Near silence filled the room, Ron attempting to comfort his still sobbing sister and Hermione moving over to rub Harry's back soothingly as the shudders began to fade away. "What was that thing?" he croaked, Gabriel silent and tense in their mind.
"A Dementor," the professor answered, his voice surprisingly smooth despite how gruff and ragged the man looked. "They guard Azkaban prison. I suspect that they searched the train in search of Sirius Black."
"Why would Black be on the Hogwarts Express?" Ron demanded, looking more protective of Ginny than Harry had ever seen the other boy. The redheaded boy was nearly wrapped around his sister as if he could ward off any threats to her by hiding her from sight. Ginny didn't seem to mind all that much as she leaned into her brother's protective hold.
Lupin didn't answer but Harry saw his eyes flicker over to look at Harry. The black haired boy pretended not to notice and only half listened as Lupin informed them to stay in their compartments while he went to talk to the conductor.
Once the man was gone, Harry quickly told them all what he had overheard from Mr. Weasley earlier in the week. Ron seemed to grow red in anger the more he heard and Hermione's face fell as she realized that another year at Hogwarts had brought yet another threat. Ginny seemed to calm, her face still pale but fixed into a mask of determination. "Black won't get anywhere near you!" the girl proclaimed, brown eyes gleaming in promise of pain should he even try.
Ron seemed about ready to burst from anger. "Why the bloody hell is someone always after you?!" He finally exploded. "Those Dementors aren't about to help! Is the Ministry daft? That thing was just about as ready to attack you as it would be Black!"
Harry rather agreed with the redhead and he could hear from Gabriel's rather inventive curses that the archangel did as well. "The Minister is the one that threw Hagrid into Azkaban so he could be seen doing something," Harry reminded the redhead while Hermione looked scandalized at the very thought of someone in power doing that. Harry had forgotten that she had already been pertrified by that point in time and he didn't envy her, having to find everything out after the face. He doubted that he would have been as okay with it as she seemed to be.
Professor Lupin returned before they could discuss anything else, carrying a pile of chocolate in his hand. He passed one out to each of them. "Eat these," he told them. "Chocolate helps negate the effects of Dementors. You'll feel better."
Harry opened the chocolate frog he was handed, catching it quickly with his hand and taking a bite out of the squirming candy. The feeling of cold immediately faded from his body and warmth took its place. Harry felt his wings wrap around him in an attempt at comfort, one that he wasn't sure whether or not it was from him or from Gabriel.
It didn't take long for the Express to arrive at the station and Harry felt slightly bitter that if they Dementors had waited fifteen minutes, he might not have been forced to deal with them. 'There's something off about them,' Gabriel said as Harry picked up his book (he'd have to give it a name as referring to it by title or by 'it' just felt wrong) and motioned for the pixies to get inside his pockets as they filed out of the compartment. Professor Lupin gave Havoc and Tinker an odd look but didn't comment, waiting until they were all out of the compartment before sliding the door closed as he was the last to leave.
Walking towards the carriages that would take them up to the school, Harry jerked in surprise when he saw winged skeletal horses hooked up to the front of the carriages. 'What are those?!' Harry asked in surprise, making sure not to say anything aloud as no one else gave any sign of seeing the gaunt horses.
'No idea,' Gabriel replied. Their wings ruffled in agitation on their back and Harry shuddered as the appendages went through Ron's shoulder as if it wasn't even there. The feeling greatly reminded him of walking through a ghost. 'You'll get used to it,' the archangel tried to reassure him but Harry wasn't sure he could ever get used to that strange feeling.
Climbing into the carriage, Harry pulled his wings in until they were wrapped tightly around himself, glad that the others couldn't see them as they would be obscuring his face if they could. 'Another year, another threat,' Harry remarked as the carriage passed a floating Dementor.
'I really wish this wasn't a theme,' Gabriel bemoaned and Harry agreed, clutching his book just a tad bit tighter to his chest, fingers stroking the spine in an effort to calm himself.
So much for being the safest place in the world.
Dumbledore didn't shed any light onto the situation with the Dementors and warned them not to sneak around the school while that Azkaban guards were here. The Headmaster sounded displeased with the presence of the horrible creatures and most of the school seemed to take his warning to heart; even the Twins looked more serious than Harry had ever seen them.
With that word of warning, the feast began and Harry carefully cleared a spot for Ruth (the only name that his copy of The Monster Book of Monsters seemed to like) who purred as it stole a bit of his potatoes. Harry wasn't sure how it was possible for Ruth to eat but he decided not to question it for the sake of his own sanity. 'We have sanity?' Gabriel wondered. 'We talk to ourselves on a regular basis and we've adopted a sentient book for a friend, not to mention the two pixies that now live in our pockets. Sanity left a long time ago.'
'Hush,' Harry shushed him as the people around them began to stare. Harry just shrugged at them before beginning to eat his own meal. It wasn't like he hadn't done stranger things previous years (like inviting Havoc and Tinker to stay with them in the first place). "What ever happened to Lockhart, anyways?" Harry asked as Lupin was introduced as the new Defense Professor.
"I forgot that you wouldn't know," Ron blinked at him. "The pansy claimed that he had known where the Chamber was the entire time. Snape-"
"Professor Snape," Hermione corrected and Harry had to wonder why she even bothered anymore. Harry would show respect to the man when he earned it and not a moment before. Being a Professor and acting the way he was, Harry very much doubted that would ever happen. 'Asshole needs a severe attitude adjustment,' Gabriel gripped in their mind and Harry felt his wings ruffle themselves in what was probably agreement. It would take awhile before he got the new body language that they brought with them.
"Yeah, him," Ron nodded to her and she huffed at his blatant dismissal of the man. "He suggested that if Lockhart knew where the Chamber was that the fraud should go save Ginny. That cowardly peacock was gone before morning. Packed up and just left. The papers are all talking about it and Mum's gone and burned his books. Seems that she didn't like that he left Ginny to die. Bloke better hopes that she never finds him."
"Well at least something good came out of it," Harry muttered and Ron shot him a grin. They turned to look at Ginny, who was being hugged by a babbling Colin, the boy reassuring her that he didn't blame her at all. It seemed that Ginny hadn't lost that friendship, at least.
"I for one don't miss him one bit," Hermione grumbled and Harry had to fight with himself to keep from teasing her. She had, had a crush on the man the year before and it was rare that Hermione was ever wrong. "His classes were absolute rubbish! I don't think I learned a single spell from that man!"
The ultimate sin in the world of Hermione Granger: a professor not teaching properly. Not that they didn't deal with that everyday in potions but the fact that she had vouched for the blond haired pounce didn't seem to be sitting well with her. 'At least Lupin seems like he'll be an alright Professor,' Gabriel said, sounding hopeful. 'He'll have a lot to make up for, though.I don't think we've learned anything worthwhile in Defense since our first year and he has to deal with the Fifth and Seventh years as well. Getting them ready for their OWLS and NEWTS is going to suck.'
'I definitely don't envy him any,' Harry grimaced at the thought. It was a good thing he had just read most of Lockhart's classes away. Besides the Ravenclaws, he bet that none of his other yearmates had even thought of that. 'Snape seems to hate him.' He blinked in surprise at the venomous glare his potions professor was sending the new DADA teacher. 'Wonder how they know each other.'
'Well Snape's a glorified bully so anyone he dislikes is alright with me,' Gabriel said gleefully. 'Judging from their ages, I would say that they went to school together.'
Harry frowned around his mashed potatoes. 'How can you tell?'
'See the way their magic is so bright around their chests?' Gabriel asked. Harry nodded, pretending to be paying attention to Ron and Hermione's conversation. 'Well, that isn't magic. That's their soul. Soul reading is rather easy and I'll teach you how to do it later but for now, I'd say that Snape and Lupin are less than a year apart in age. They probably were in first year together.'
'Huh,' Harry thought and studied the glowing light that he now knew was a soul instead of magic. 'I guess that makes sense. If Snape was a Slytherin, I bet that Professor Lupin was a Gryffindor.'
'With the way Slytherins and Gryffindors fight?' Gabriel snorted. 'I'm not taking that bet even if you paid me to.'
Harry held back laughter, smiling brightly instead, listening to his housemates around him laugh and joke.
It was nice to be home.