Chapter Two: Return
Sirius Black scrambled nimbly across the
rocks towards the base of a tall cliff. The sea crashed onto the stony shore
ahead where it jutted out suddenly into the ocean, but where Sirius was, the
stone remained perfectly dry. The water further out to sea looked stormy,
and the boy guessed that it would start to rain in an hour or so. His foot
slipped on a smooth rock, and he returned his attention to negotiating the
passage towards the cliff face.
He reached the looming wall
of stone safely. His heart filled with contentment and love of his native
Cornwall, he turned his eyes along the shore. All down the coastline were
sheer cliff faces and crashing waves. The rock had been slowly eroded to form
steep drops over millions of years by the relentless pounding of the waves
from countless storms.
This was a wild coastline,
forming the very edge of mainland Britain. Countless caves and passages were
scattered along the shore, forming any number of exploration challenges for
the pre-teen Sirius, who considered himself an expert on them. He had no doubt
in his mind that the tunnels had once been used by Wreckers to escape with
the loot they stole from ships lured to their end on the cruel rocks. The
Cornish seacoast was an unforgiving place. Maybe that was why Sirius loved
it so much.
He smiled to himself. A harsh
gust of wind blew his hair out of control, and his cheeks flushed with cold
and exhilaration. He turned, grinning, and met the eyes of a boy who stood
on the beach, watching him sceptically. "See! It's fine!" Sirius called jokingly
to his friend. His pale eyes sparkled as he gestured for the boy to follow.
"Perhaps for you!" James
Potter called back. "You grew up here! If I tried to do that, I'd probably
slip and crack my head open!"
Sirius rolled his eyes at
him, then scrambled back towards him across the rocks. James shook his head
"I didn't mean that you had
to come back!"
"There's an easier way, but
it's longer," he said, taking James' hand and leading him around behind the
rocks. James remained silent.
Sirius noted James' silence,
and guessed that his friend had decided not to comment on his antics. Sirius
would be the first person to say that he was harebrained at times, but he
would also be among the first to say that James Potter could be just as bad.
From the day Sirius met James, they had been friends. That had been a year
ago, and Sirius supposed that their friendship was due mostly to their complementary
sense of humour.
There was only one night
left before the boys would return to the prestigious Hogwarts School of Witchcraft
and Wizardry to commence their second year of study. Sirius' mother had offered
to have James stay for the night and see both boys safely onto the train,
much to her husband's displeasure. Orion Black worked in the Ministry of Magic's
Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and found having just Sirius in the
house taxing enough. He feared that with both Sirius and James in the same
place as him he would lose either all chance of concentration or all sense
of organisation in his study. Sirius, however, thought that both were likely
to happen, and to avoid his father's wrath, had whisked James away to the
beach before either of his parents could meet him.
When the boys reached the
cliff, Sirius told his friend to wait. He walked across the sand towards the
rock, and began to climb. James, watching closely, saw him reach out a hand,
examine the stone, then raise one leg and clamber into a small opening in
the cliff face.
Sirius stuck his head out
of the hole he had squeezed into and beckoned for James to follow.
"Come on," he said eagerly.
"There's a cave, and I think you'll be interested in the inhabitants."
* * *
James, slightly dubious,
followed his friend into the cave, sliding down a sort of rock tunnel into
an opening about the size of a room. He straightened up and looked around.
It was pitch black, and Sirius was nowhere to be seen. James was beginning
to doubt the promises of a pleasant surprise that Sirius had been making all
He felt a hand on his arm,
and jumped involuntarily. Sirius laughed.
"Shh!" he rebuked James mildly.
"You'll startle them!"
"Who?" James asked dubiously.
His question was quickly
answered. Something small, glowing and blue hurtled into the cave, jabbering
squeakily. It approached James and studied him, then shot down and grabbed
"Oy!" James shouted, dancing
after the thing, which was now joined by several more of its kind, who proceeded
to try and remove Sirius' shoes. James could see his friend's face illuminated
sharply by the light of two more of the creatures, and was surprised to see
that Sirius didn't look in the least concerned that the tiny things were terrorising
Sirius said something harshly,
and the creatures stopped in their tracks. One of them jabbered something
angrily at him, and he replied firmly.
James couldn't understand
a word of their dialogue, but Sirius' words had a strange effect on the creatures.
The one that had stolen James' glasses humbly brought them back, and its companions
stopped terrorising Sirius. Three of them flew towards him and hovered meekly
above his left ear.
"What are they?" James asked,
awe-struck. He could see his friend's face glowing eerily in the blue light.
"Cornish pixies," he replied.
"They're everywhere along the coast here, if you know where to look." He reached
out a hand to the pixies, who chattered excitedly, flying around his head.
"Cornish pixies!" James exclaimed.
"But... How do you control them? Most witches and wizards dread the things!"
he watched in fascination as the pixies circled Sirius, flying ever faster.
For all their reputation as terrible troublemakers, they were not attempting
to harm or trick Sirius in any way that James could see.
"It's an old family secret
taught to me by my mother at an early age. Unfortunately, it doesn't work
on large groups. I can't handle more than a few of them," Sirius replied,
ducking as the pixies buzzed around his head. He issued a sharp command, and
they slowed their flight.
"What did you do?" James
asked, amazed. He stared, wide eyed, at the pixies, fascinated by them. He
had enevr thought he'd be able to get a close look at a pixie without having
to fight to keep from being lifted into the air by the creatures.
"I asked them politely to
leave us alone and behave" Sirius said in an even tone.
"No, seriously, what did
you do?" James asked unbelievingly.
"Ah, James." Sirius' voice
was joking. "The real reason most witches and wizards can't control pixies
is that they can't speak Cornish. Pixies speak a variation known as Pixietongue.
Cornish is supposed to be an extinct language, but a small group of witches
and wizards have been passing on knowledge of it to their children. It really
is invaluable to a prankster." He grinned widely, his face eerie in the blue
light of the pixies.
James nodded, dumbstruck.
"Sirius!" a voice called
from outside the cave. "Come inside, out of the cold! Dinner's almost ready,
and there's a storm brewing!"
"Coming!" Sirius replied,
and he and James scrambled out of the cave onto the beach, where a young woman
stood with her hands on her hips.
"Are you going to introduce
me?" she asked softly. Sirius smiled.
"This is James Potter," he
said, pointing to his friend, "and this is my mother, Rosalind."
Rosalind smiled at James.
She was quite pretty, and couldn't be much older than in her mid thirties.
She shook James' hand, her eyes warm and welcoming. They were deep brown and
sparkled mischievously. James could tell immediately, even without his prior
knowledge of Rosalind Black, that she had given Sirius his sense of humour.
The pixies chattered at Rosalind,
who only looked mildly surprised to see them.
"Sirius, you're not bringing
pixies into the house," she said warningly.
"Ah, Mum, take all the fun
out of life why don't you?" Sirius complained.
"I mean it Sirius," Rosalind
said firmly, turning and leading the boys back up the beach. "Your father's
very busy at the moment and the last thing he needs is pixies trashing his
office and dumping his important files into the fire!"
Sirius knew better than to
argue, and with a quick word to the pixies, dismissed them. They chattered
at him in farewell and flew back to their cave.
No-one spoke as the three
of them walked up the beach to where they could make their way safely to the
top of the hill, which jutted out into the ocean before dropping abruptly
into the cliff that housed the pixie cave.
The wind was beginning to
howl and the first heavy drops of rain were falling as James, Sirius and Rosalind
reached the Black house. It sat on top of the rise, looking out over the ocean,
which was now a storm tossed grey. The front garden was neat, and flowers
and herbs of many colours and sizes grew there, giving the house a welcoming
Sirius shook his hair violently
as he reached the front steps, sending droplets of water over his protesting
friend and mother. He then pulled off his shoes and opened the door, bowing
curteously to James.
"Please, come in," he said
formally. Rosalind gave him a reprimanding look, and he grinned at her before
grabbing James' wrist and dragging him towards the stairs. She rolled her
eyes and threw her hands up in despair, before going into the kitchen.
"I'll call you for dinner!"
she yelled up the stairs at the retreating backs of the boys.
Sirius grinned, then pulled
James into his room, shutting the door behind them quietly.
"Soundproofing charms," he
said, striding over to a corner of the room, where what looked like an ordinary
Muggle record player sat. "We can play music as loud as we want. Actually,
we can make as much noise as we want. Pull up some floor." He grabbed a stack
of textbooks that were on the floor and dumped them unceremoniously in his
cauldron. James sat down in the space he had made, and Sirius picked up a
pile of records and placed them next to him. "Take your pick. Mum charmed
this record player for me so it'll work without eclecticity. Muggles, most
James examined the titles
of the records. He hadn't heard of most of the artists, and was absolutely
"Sirius, I don't listen to
"That's a shame," Sirius
told him, reaching over and reclaiming his records. "Great musicians, some
of them. Ah, now this is a good one." He put it in the record player and shoved
the cover over to James.
"Crosby, Stills, Nash and
Young, Deja Vu," James read. Sirius nodded.
"Great guitar and great harmonies,"
he said in a reverent tone.
James gazed around the large
room. For a room so big, there was remarkably little space. It wasn't particularly
messy but there was a lot of clutter sitting around. Sirius' trunk and cauldron
sat at the foot of his bed, both filled with school supplies, which looked
to have been hastily thrown in without much thought being given to neatness
In one of the corners not
taken up by the record player was an ornate wardrobe, which seemed to James
to be wasted on Sirius, who didn't care what he put his clothes in, on the
rare occasions that he ever put them away.
Next to it there was a bookshelf
which had surprisingly few books on it, considering the number of textbooks
Sirius owned. Most of the books in the room were in stacks on the floor. James
could see little difference to the way Sirius organised his space at Hogwarts.
The area around his best friend's bed was always the messiest in the Gryffindor
Here, however, it looked
like Sirius had made an effort to be clean, even if, as James had no doubt,
it was only for the duration of James' stay. All the clutter was neatly stacked,
or in tidy piles. You can't walk in here, James thought wryly, but
at least you can see where the junk is, instead of tripping over something
you didn't see.
A large desk took up some
of the space near the door. It was covered with quills, parchment and textbooks.
Sirius had obviously done at least some of his holiday assignments. The pictures
on the wall above it and to either side varied from posters of Muggle musicians
to two Quidditch team pictures. One of the teams was clad in black with yellow
and orange on their collars and the other wore vivid blue with a picture of
a pixie emblazoned on the front.
and Penzance Pixies read the captions. James had heard of neither of
the teams. He mentioned this to Sirius.
"Hah!" his friend replied.
"The best teams in Britain!"
"Then how come they're not
in the League?" James retorted. Sirius grinned sheepishly.
"They're amateur Cornish
teams. The Cornish Cup each year helps to provide players for the Falmouth
Falcons. And they're not in the League because of, um... Will you believe
James shook his head in disbelief,
returning his attention to his surroundings. He noticed a familiar looking
object leaning against the wall. He frowned, trying to place the black box
and the large object, which looked like some sort of musical instrument.
It was not for a few moments
that he rememebred where he had seen one before. It had been on the cover
of one of Sirius' Muggle magazines. The thing was an electric guitar.
"You never told me you play
guitar," he said accusingly, standing up and gong over to examine it.
"I didn't. Mum gave it to
me as a late birthday present when I got home. And it's not just a guitar.
It's a Les Paul."
James had no idea what a
Les Paul was, but he guessed it meant something good. On closer examination,
James saw that the leads that Sirius had once told him supplied elecrticity
to Muggle electric instruments were missing. It seemed the guitar, too, had
been charmed to work without electricity, for its leads were nowhere to be
"What can you play?"
"Only 'Bad Moon Rising.'"
Sirius picked up the guitar and strummed a few chords, but he was interrupted
by the sound of the door opening.
The man who entered had to
be Sirius' father. He was tall, clad in plain black robes, and his short,
neat hair was black, flecked with grey. His face was lined with worry, and
his stormy grey eyes were stern. He wore a disapproving expression - his brows
were drawn and his lips taut.
"Sirius," the man said sternly.
"Your mother's been calling you. Show some consideration and eat the meal
she's cooked before it goes cold."
"Sorry Dad." Sirius put down
the guitar and scrambled to his feet.
"You must be James." Sirius'
father extended a hand. "Orion Black."
James took Orion's hand and
solemnly shook it, then followed him downstairs, Sirius bounding after them.
It was a quiet, pleasant
meal. The Blacks asked James politely about his study and his parents. He
replied in the same courteous tone, and Sirius rolled his eyes across the
table at him.
It was part way through pudding
that the conversation turned from James to Sirius.
"Your hair's too long," Orion
told his son bluntly as Sirius tucked a loose strand behind his ear to stop
it falling in his food. Sirius groaned. James had heard that his friend's
chin-length hair would not meet with Orion's approval. Sirius opened his mouth
to complain, but he was saved by his mother.
"Orion, let him," Rosalind
said gently. "You're only twelve once."
Her husband frowned at her,
but dropped the subject. Sirius finished quickly and excused himself. James
followed a few minutes later and began searching for his friend.
He eventually found him crouched
in the hallway outside a room James assumed was Orion's study. James recognised
the grin on Sirius' face.
"Uh oh. What'd you do?" he
His friend shot him a mischievous
"I''ve been in the garden,"
Sirius whispered conspiratorially.
It wasn't long before Orion
returned to his study. He pulled open the door and a pair of electric blue
blurs shot out of the room adn intot eh hall. James turned an accusing glare
on Sirius, who was rolling on the floor in silent laughter.
"SIRIUS RICHARD BLACK!" Orion
roared. "COME HERE!"
Rosalind appeared in the
hallway, caught one glimpse of her son, pulled him to his feet and said -
"What have you done now?"
"Cornish pixies again!" Orion
hollered from inside the office. "They've trashed all my files!"
"Oh, Sirius" Rosalind moaned.
"What are we going to do with you?"
* * *
Anita Sanderson leaned on
the fence of the oval in her home town of Middle Turnton in Kent. She scowled
at the white clad figures on the field and watched as the fielder nearest
her dropped what looked to be an easy catch. She moaned. The dropped catch
was her sentence to more agony.
She raised a hand to her
cheek. It was sunburnt. Raven was going to pay for this, Anita promised herself,
scowling. She never dragged him along to her netball games, so why should
she have to watch him play cricket? Just because he was her twin brother didn't
mean she should have to be tortured this way.
"Anita, sit down!" her mother,
Christene, called to her, patting a spot on the picnic mat. "Have something
"Mum, I don't want more lunch
leftovers. I want to go home and have dinner, but mostly I just want to stop
watching Raven hit a silly red ball all over the oval!" Her disapproval was
clear in her tone.
"Anita!" her parents said
"Remind me again why they're
playing this silly game on a Friday?" Anita said grumpily, sitting next to
her little sister on the mat.
"Because their best batsman's
going to school tomorrow!" Ben, her father, told her sternly. His tone made
it clear that her complaints were not apprediated.
Raven hit the ball hard towards
the fence and the fieldsman ran to catch it.
Please... Anita thought.
She groaned as the fieldsman again dropped the ball, and turned away from
the game in dsigust.
A sudden cheer erupted from
behind her, and she turned to see the mejmbers of Raven's team jumping up
and down in glee. Raven, his face flushed, was trotting over to his parents,
dragging his bat on the ground.
"What score did I wind up
with?" he asked as he began to remove his shin pads.
Anita rolled her eyes, a
habit she suspected she had picked up from being too close to Sirius Black
in Defence Against the Dark Arts.
"Raven!" called the captain
of the team, running over to them. "We won! You won it for us"
Anita moaned. This was going
to be a long afternoon.
* * *
Early the next morning, nursing
a case of sunburn and still feeling disgruntled about having been made to
watch cricket, Anita pulled her trunk into the car and flopped into the backseat,
placing her owl's cage on the seat next to her.
"Ready!" she yelled grumpily,
slamming the door after her.
"Anita, do grow up, please!"
Raven told her in a long-suffering tone as he slid into the car next to her,
his fluffy grey cat Ovarson in his lap.
"Shut up!" Anita snapped
back, turning to glare at her brother. He scowled back at he, adn she turned
her gaze to her owl's cage. Greyshield, its inhabitant, was peacefully grooming
himself, paying no attention to his owner's bickering with her brother.
"You spoke first!" Raven said irritably. Anita was about to
reply that he had criticised her before she even spoke to him when she was
"Right you pair, stop it!"
Christene said in a no-nonsense tone as she too got in the car. "I refuse
to drive you to London if you're going to bicker at each other all the way!"
She turned to face the twins. "Oh, where's Alexi?"
By the time they found Alexi
, who had been hiding so that no-one could find her and the twins couldn't
leave, they were no longer early but on the verge of being late. This made
Christene irritable, and all four Sandersons were glad to get out of the car
when they reached the station with half an hour to spare.
"We made it," Christene said
to her children, plainly relieved. "I don't think we'll come with you this
time. You probably don't want your mother hanging around over your shoulder
all the time."
They said their good-byes,
very emotionally on the part of Alexi, and Raven and Anita stepped through
the barrier. Almost immediately, they were almost bowled over by a blur of
red-gold and black.
"Raven!" the blur hollered.
"Hello Paddy," Raven replied
slowly. Anita had often wondered why her aloof brother was friends with Padraig
Connolly, who insisted that he be called Paddy. Paddy was a harebrained Irish
pureblood who found the pranks of Sirius Black and James Potter, who Raven
looked down upon, hilarious. He also had rather a lot of excess energy, which
he was prone to use by racing around the common room at night or through the
corridors in the daytime.
Paddy grinned at the twins.
"Well, don't you pair look
just the picture of happiness!" he said, giving Raven a mock punch on the
shoulder and shooting a wry glance at Anita. "What's up?" His eyes flicked
from Raven to Anita.
"Her," Raven replied, pointing
at his sister, exactly as she said
Paddy gave them a knowing look, unable to wipe the grin from
his face. He grabbed Raven'sa rm and led him away, chattering ceaselessy.
"So, how were your holiday? Did you play any Quidditch, or were you sticking
to Muggle sports?"
Anita slipped away silently,
hoping to find a compartment away from her brother. She didn't want to hear
about his cricketing exploits for the entire trip.
Anita spun around and found
herself face to face with her best friend Lily Evans. Standing just behind
Lily was Remus Lupin, another of their school friends.
"Hello! How were your holidays?"
Anita cried, racing forward to hug Lily.
"Oh, great! What about yours?"
her friend replied. "Oh, you should have heard the fuss Petunia was making,
you wouldn't believe..."
"Watch out for the Mudblood
brigade," a voice drawled from behind them. They spun around and saw Lucius
Malfoy, a fourth year Slytherin, standing with his cronies, Crabbe and Goyle,
and his first cousin, Jorman Bond XXIV. Malfoy's eyes were glinting maliciously
and Bond was laughing.
"Oh, very witty," Lily snapped.
Anita and Remus each placed a warning hand on her shoulder. Being Muggle-born,
Lily didn't know about Malfoys. They were a very rich and, in the opinions
of some witches and wizards, Christene Sanderson and her children included,
very evil family.
Anita could hear Remus hissing
in Lily's ear. "Oh, does poor Mudblood need something explaining to her?"
Bond crowed maliciously.
"Get lost, both of you,"
said a Cornish voice from behind Malfoy.
The Slytherins turned in
the direction of the voice and saw Sirius Black striding towards them, followed
closely by James Potter.
"I don't take orders from
Ministry brats," Malfoy spat, his eyes flashing.
"Care to repeat that?" Sirius
said smugly. Bond opened his mouth to reply for his cousin, but Malfoy nudged
him almost imperceptibly with his elbow. Sirius smirked.
"Is there a problem boys?"
said a stern voice from behind the Slytherins. Sirius crossed his arms across
his chest and grinned at Anita. The man who had come behind him stopped walking
and placed a hand on Sirius' shoulder.
The smirks vanished form
Malfoy and Bond's faces. Anita saw Lily shoot a quizzical look at Sirius,
who mouthed my father. Anita tentatively smiled at Sirius. She had
heard of his father. Bond and Malfoy would have to be polite to a high-ranking
member of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Their families were both
suspected of Dark activity associated with the rise of a Dark wizard known
as Lord Voldemort over the past two and a half years.
Bond and Malfoy turned and
strode away, Crabbe and Goyle trailing them.
"Watch out for them, boys,"
Mr Black warned Sirius and James.
"Yes, Dad," Sirius replied
sullenly. Anita noticed that he looked unhappy now that Bonda and Malfoy had
been dealt with. In fact, he looked in a worse mood than she was in. She also
noticed that his hair was several inches shorter than it had been last time
she saw him.
Sirius glanced at the platform
"We've got to go now, Dad,"
he said hastily, grabbing his trolley and steering it towards the train.
* * *
When they were all seated
and had been joined by Peter Pettigrew, everyone began launching into stories
of their holidays.
"And he had a fit over the
pixies and cut my hair..."
"Standing out in the sun
for hours watching him hit a silly ball..."
"And Rosalind got called
away so Orion brought us in..."
Lily and Remus gave up trying
to talk and just sat listening to their friends' stories. Arabella Cartier
and Sarah Anderson, who were Lily and Anita's best friends in their own houses,
stuck their heads in the compartment, finally putting an end to Anita's complaints
"Where were you? We've been
searching everywhere!' Sarah told them.
"We saved seats for you and
everything!" Arabella added.
"Come sit in here," James
said, gesturing around the compartment. "We've got room. Then we can hear
your stories about the summer."
They did, and their stories
of the holidays, added to those that were already in the process of being
told, lasted up until the lunch cart came around. As everyone sat munching,
the topic of conversation changed to the school year ahead.
"Guess what?" James told
them as he bit into a cauldron cake. "My mother knows one of the governors,
and she says that Professors Base and Esdee have retired, so we get two new
"Yay," Sirius said through
a mouthful of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, "maybe our new Potions professor
won't be a Slytherin. I hated Esdee!"
"Of course it'll be a Slytherin!"
Sarah declared. "After all, who else'd want to spend hours slaving over a
cauldron the way Potions masters do?" Lily and Anita giggled.
"Stop whining!" Arabella
said sharply. "Anyone's got to be better than Esdee!"
"Yeah," Sirius agreed hesitantly,
"but wasn't it funny when he mispronounced Bond's name?"
They all burst out laughing
at the memory of the expression on Jorman Bond's face when Esdee had called
the roll and asked if 'Jawman' Bond was present.
"Sir, it's 'Yorman,'" Bond
had replied sulkily. The Gryffindor boys had been tormenting him ever since,
calling him 'Jawman.'
"Hey!" Arabella said, reaching
for a Chocolate Frog. "D'you know what I heard?" Everyone shook their heads.
"We're getting Bastion for Defence!"
"No!" Anita and Sarah cried,
their eyes widening. Lily had never heard of Bastion, whoever that may be.
"The Auror?" Sirius asked
"He's really famous, he's
got an Order of Merlin and all. I mean, he's a Chocolate Frog card!" she continued.
"And he's really cute!" she added as an afterthought.
James and Peter burst out
laughing at that, but Sirius looked puzzled.
"Mum and Dad didn't tell
me Bastion had retired, so..."
"Oh, Sirius, chill!" Sarah
declared. "But wouldn't it be so wonderful? I mean, he's a great Auror..."
"One of the best," Sirius
interrupted. She glared at him.
"All right! One of the best,
and he's got great experience. Besides, who can resist that tall, dark and
handsome sort?" The girls all giggled, even Lily. Arabella had a talent for
making her giggle.
"Please!" James and Sirius
said in unison.
"Oh, don't worry," Sarah
said, her eyes glinting wickedly. "No teacher could ever take over your position
as studs of the year!"
Everyone burst out laughing,
except Sirius, who looked sulky.
"Come on!" James laughed.
"They were joking about me, too, and I found it funny!"
The conversation turned to
their homework assignments, and Sirius, bored with the new topic, pulled out
some Exploding Snap cards. Anita and Sarah began to flick through their textbooks.
Lily and Remus compared their answers to the Defence Against the Dark Arts
essay Professor Base had set them on dangerous creatures, and discussed earnestly
who they thought would be the best replacement for him.
"My cousin Jim says that
Base was really good at teaching. He was in third year," Remus said softly.
Lily shrugged, then asked Remus whether he had read page eighty-six. He frowned,
then reached for his textbook.
James, Peter and Arabella
were soon roped into playing Exploding Snap with Sirius, and were losing badly
to him when the train began to slow. Lily checked her watch, amazed that the
journey had passed so quickly. Sure enough, it was evening, and the train
pulled into Hogsmeade station as they were gathering their belongings up.
They stepped off the train
into the chaos of the entire school trying to find its way to where it needed
to go. James, Sirius, Remus and Lily managed to keep from being separated
and made it into a carriage together.
"Here we go again!" Sirius
whispered as they filed into the Great Hall, whose ceiling shone with the
light of millions of stars. Lily felt a pleasant thrill run up her spine.
She was so glad to be back.
* * *
As theGryffindors took their
seats, Sirius scrutinised the staff table. There were two people there taht
he didn't recognise. They sat next to each other, and the eyes of many students
were upon them.
One of them, the one sitting
closest to the Gryffindor table, was pale faced and had glinting brown eyes
that looked malevolent. His hair fell to his chin, and was perfectly groomed.
He looked over at them and saw Sirius watching him. He gave a nasty grin that
sent a shiver up Sirius' spine. Not able to stand looking at the man, Sirius
turned his gaze to their other new teacher.
He couldn't have looked more
different. His black hair was short and glossy, and his brown eyes were warm
and friendly instead of cold and hateful. His tanned face was pleasant, and
he grinned at the Gryffindors when he saw them looking at him. Arabella gave
an excited gasp from near Sirius, and he could hear her whispering excitedly
to Lily. He didn't know why she was so excited, but he assumed it had something
to do with the new teachers.
The first years filed in
and the Sorting began. None of the second year Gryffindors paid much attention
to the first years, but when a second group of students filed in too be sorted,
they exchanged puzzled glances and listened carefully. McGongall was addressing
the new students.
"You will be calle dup, one
by one. When your name is called, you will polace the hat on your head and
sit on the stool to be Sorted. Second years first."
Of the second years in the
group, there was not one Ravenclaw, Gryffindor or Slytherin. Nine new Hufflepuffs
sat at the table on the far right. Lily, Remus, Sirius and James exchanged
"Nine? But..." Sirius began,
but before he could finish his sentence, Dumbledore stood .
"Good evening everyone,"
he said warmly, stretching his arms out to indicate the entire Great Hall.
"Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts. Before we begin to eat, I have just a
few announcements I'd like to make. Firstly, I would like to warmly welcome
our new students from Snowdon Academy." The new Hufflepuffs glowed. "We have
taken them in as their own school was closed after and attack by Lord Voldemort."
A murmur ran through the Hall.
"Secondly, students wishing
to try out for their house Quidditch teams are to see Madam Hooch. I remind
you that no first years are allowed to play for their house team.
"Thirdly, I would like to
welcome two new teachers to our staff. Unfortunately, both Professor Base
and Professor Esdee have retired, but I am glad to welcome to the staff Professor
Alkalli, our new Potions master." The pale faced teacher smiled grimly. He
received a loud cheer from the Slytherin table. "He will be our new Head of
"We also have on our staff
Professor Bastion, who will be replacing Professor Base as the Defence Against
the Dark Arts teacher."
Sirius shot a lok at Arabella, guessing that she had recognised
Bastion. From teh expression on her face, he was correct.
"I wonder if he'll sign an
autograph!" she exclaimed.
All her friends giggled.
Sirius rolled his eyes, and returned his eyes to the staff table. He felt
excitement building in his stomach. he had neever seen Bastion before, but
he had heard so much about him from his parents. The man was legendary as
an Auror, and he was uncredibly famous for someone who was so rarely in public.
It was safest for Aurors to remain unseen.
"Now," Professor Dumbledore
continued. "Tuck in."
The tables were suddenly
laden with food. The Gryffindors, following Professor Dumbledore's advice,
began eating heartily. There was no murmur of talk from the second years as
they chewed their food contentedly.
As dessert was appearing
on the tables, the doors into the Great Hall opened.
All talk ceased, and a very
peculiar woman entered. She was very thin, and wore gigantic spectacles that
made her eyes look enormous. She walked dreamily over to the Head Table and
Jim Lupin, a fourth year,
dropped his fork. The second years all turned to him.
"Jim?" Remus asked tentatively.
Jim was his first cousin on his father's side. "Who's she?"
"That's Professor Trelawney!"
Jim exclaimed. "She never comes down to eat with the school! It 'clouds her
Inner Eye,'" he said, taking on a misty tone.
"Well, she's here now," Sirius
"Great statement of the bleedingly
obvious, Sirius," Jim replied acidly. Sirius shrugged, but he was about to
say something scathing, whjen Lily interrupted.
"Stop it!" she rebuked them.
Jim and Sirius turned to
look at her. Her expression was so strict and set that they burst out laughing.
Lily grinned in a good-natured
way. "Well, we're supposed to have fun - "
"Look!" someone shrieked.
The Gryffindors spun in their chairs, scanning the hall.
One of the Snowdon Academy
students, a girl with straight blonde hair, had jumped to her feet and was
standing, amazed, pointing at the Head Table.
The Gryffindors followed
her gaze. Lily gasped.
Professor Trelawney had gone
rigid. Her eyes were wide and staring, and when she opened her mouth to speak,
her voice was not the misty one Jim had imitated; it was low and harsh.
"They are here."
The whole Hall fell silent.
There was no sound - every student was intently listening to Professor Trelawney.
There came the sound of a goblet hitting the floor. The harsh sound rang throughout
the hall, and the embarrassed Hufflepuff girl who had dropped it flushed red.
"The Founders' Four."
Professor Trelawney began speaking again. Bastion gave a strangled exclamation
and jumped to his feet. He stopped half-out of his chair, his eyes fixed intently
on Trelawney. "Slytherin's Heir has been, and now the Four have come. The
only hope in time of need. Our darkest hour is approaching. They must beware.
Disunity could destroy all. The seoncd years hold the key ... That could save
... Us all ... They must know ... Who they are ... "
Professor Trelawney's head
dropped suddenly, then she seemed to return to normal.
"What happened, my dears?"
she asked, seeing the dumbfounded expression on the faces of the students.
"Sybill, I need a word,"
Dumbledore said, leading her away from the table.
The chatter began again,
the words echoing around the hall.
"The Founders' Four?"