The Sugar Quill
Author: JK Ashavah (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Secret of The Founders Four  Chapter: Chapter Two: Return to Hogwarts
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Chapter Two: Return to Hogwarts


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 in exasperation.

"I didn't mean that you had to come back!"

Sirius grinned.

"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 day.

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 his glasses.

"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 him.

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. Sirius grinned.

"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 feel.

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 of them."

James examined the titles of the records. He hadn't heard of most of the artists, and was absolutely lost.

"Sirius, I don't listen to Muggle music."

"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 or organisation.

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 boys' dorm.

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.

Tintagel Tigers 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 bad luck?"

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 seen.

"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 asked.

His friend shot him a mischievous look. "Wait."

James shrugged.

"Okay."

"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 to eat!"

"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 in unison.

"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.

"Eighty-three," Christene replied proudly.

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 interrupted.

"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

"Him."

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.

"Annie!"

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 clock.

"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 about cricket.

"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 professors."

"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 in bewilderment.

Arabella nodded.

"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 bewildered expressions.

"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 Slytherin.

"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 sat down.

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 told him.

"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?"

 

//
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