Disclaimer: All recognizable Harry Potter characters
belong to JK Rowling,
A blast of cold air rushes by. Looking around, can't
see a thing. It's all dark, but what was that? Just around the corner,
a speck of gold, perhaps bigger. The speck gets closer, closer, and then…
Nothing. Nothing at all. Where'd the speck go? It
was so shiny, so nice. The broomstick turns by itself. Wonder where it's
leading me. A wall in front. A dark brown wall. Getting dangerously close.
I think I'm going to crash. Ah, no…!
Open my eyes. Wow, I'm not dead. The broomstick turns
right around again. The wall is gone. In its place, a red book. The book
flies into my hands. Opening the cover. 'Helpful in every respect,' the
front page says. Good. Helpful things are good. Flick through to the middle,
Hey! The book's ripped from my hands. A howl. Now
I see. Some wolf has got it. My hand reaches out. The wolf bounds away,
the red book in its mouth. Stupid thing won't give it back. Grr.
My broomstick gives chase, after the wolf,
through a whole bunch of corridors. It's all dark, which means
the wolf has the advantage. Until…
Argh! Bright light. Bright, bright light. Rubbing my
eyes. Must it be daylight already? Feels like I had just gotten into bed.
Sitting up, and the room comes slowly into focus. Deserted, I see. Is
it really that late?
Rolling myself over to the edge of the bed. A quick look
at my watch. It's 8 o'clock. No wonder everyone's gone down already. I
Pajamas off. Robes on. One foot in, other foot in. Lacing
up boots. I think I'm done. Walking over to the door. Merlin, I'm hungry.
But what's this? There's a note lying on Seth's bed. Walking over to pick
it up. A piece of parchment, neatly folded in thirds. A letter he forgot
to owl? Turning it over.
Can't be a letter, seeing as it's addressed to me. 'Hey
Wood,' it says. Guess I can open it then.
It wasn't my idea to leave a note, but I was
overruled by Percy. Anyway, we all woke up early but didn't want to
wake you right away, cos you looked like you needed
the sleep. We also didn't want you to miss class, so we decided to
open your curtains. As soon as the sunlight hit you
in the face, you'd be awake. If your sight's gone fuzzy, I'd just
like to say it wasn't my idea.
So they pulled my curtains open? How come I didn't notice?
Sneaky people. I let the note fall back onto Seth's bed. He can get rid
of it himself. Smug git.
Out through the door and down the stairs. Funny I never
noticed yesterday, but the stairs definitely creak. Into the common room.
The fire's all burnt down, leaving only a few dying embers. Gives the
room a nice feeling.
Into the corridors. All walls made of stone. The torchlights
have all gone out, letting the sun warm the castle. Down the main stairs.
I hope the Great Hall is this way. It was dark last night and I couldn't
tell which way I was going, so retracing my steps is out of the question.
Big, big room. Huge oak doors on one side, big windows
all around, looks familiar. The entrance hall, maybe? Off to one side,
wooden doors lead to another room. Yes, I think it might be the Great
Quietly now. Push the door open a bit, sneak a peek,
and yes! Definitely the great hall. Everyone must be here. Looks like
there's a lot more people that yesterday. Slipping through. A gentle push,
and the door closes without a sound. Now, where are the Gryffindors? Looking
through the sea of people. Can't see anything useful. It's all a blanket
of heads. Black, blonde, red, and greyish-brown? Since when do
people have grey hair? On closer inspection, I see, blue eyes? It's impossible
to tell. Could be…Seth?
Walking closer, I see Seth, (or whoever he is) talking
to a red-head. Percy, no doubt.
'Ah…Oliver,' Percy smiles, catching sight of me, 'good
'Morning to you too'
'We er…saved you a seat.' Seth gestures to the one at
the end of the row. A smile on his face that doesn't seem to reach his
'Thanks.' I sit down. Grab the toast and start munching.
'Here's your timetable,' Seth says, pushing a slip of
paper my way, 'I don't see the point though, seeing as we all have the
'Hm…' Reading the slip. 'We have potions first.'
Seth nods. 'Bummer, huh?'
'I really wanted to have Flying lessons.'
Seth looks surprised. 'I didn't think you'd need lessons.
From what Percy's told me, (Percy told you?!) you're pretty good.'
Just great. First day of Hogwarts and everybody knows everything about
me. Seth looks at me, puzzled.
'No, everything's fine. I just don't like Potions,
'Who does?' A fake laugh. 'Hours in a dungeon, waiting
for soup to turn the right colour? Not for me. I prefer Transfiguration.
A little spell, a little wand-waving, and I could turn this dratted
cereal into a chocolate bar.' Seth pokes his breakfast with a fork. Pushes
it away with a glare.
'But in Potions, you could make the cereal taste
like chocolate.' Percy adds helpfully.
'But it'll still look like cereal, won't it? If the eyes
aren't satisfied then the tongue won't be. Besides, I like my food to
taste like what it looks like. Otherwise the natural order of thing's
get messed up and it all goes downhill from there.'
Percy's clearly taken aback. I can tell because he opens
and closes his mouth a few times in rapid succession.
'The natural order,' he says, hesitates and then
continues, 'what do you mean by that?'
A pause. Seth's turn to look uncomfortable. His light
blue eyes rake over everyone in the hall. Looking for inspiration? He
opens his mouth to say something, but then thinks better of it and shrugs
'The balance of good and evil,' he starts, now with more
confidence, 'things should be what they are. When they are what they're
not meant to be, it messes the system up. Such as cereal tasting like
chocolate. If the cereal wanted to taste like chocolate, it should have
the decency to look like it as well.'
Is there anyone out there as confused as I am? Because
I have no idea what Seth was talking about. Nobody else does either.
Percy looks stuck for words so he stares down at his porridge and
twirls his spoon about. The eavesdroppers hastily look away. To think
that this brain-buster came from an argument about Potions.
Ouch! A punch on the shoulder. Look behind me and I see
'Oliver, I noticed you weren't at the start of
breakfast today.' He says. Really? How observant of you.
'Yeah. So?' A chuckle. Merlin, why do annoying people
have to turn up when I least expect them? Why do they have to turn up
at all? Puts me off my food.
'There was an announcement you would've liked to have
Silence. Well? What are you waiting for? Suspense? Come
on, can't be that bad. Go ahead and tell me already.
'Quidditch trials are on next week,' He finally says.
Really? Cool. I'm definitely coming to watch. Seeing as I can't get on
a broom myself, least I can do is watch other people. Want to see what
the team's like. See how good a captain Matthew is.
'Next week when?' Matthew does a big exaggerated shrug.
'Don't know really. It's not up to us to decide. Madam
Hooch does. If it rains, then we have it at night.' A pause, he takes
a big breath and continues, 'speaking of Madam Hooch, when do you Gryffindors
have your first flying lesson?'
'This afternoon. Do you really have Quidditch trials
in the middle of the night?'
Matthew nods. 'It's good for the atmosphere. Makes Quidditch
seem almost romantic. Flying by moonlight, nothing better. Girls come
to watch. Then afterwards…' he lets the sentence trail off and winks.
Grins maniacally. I don't get it.
'But isn't it hard to see the players with no lights?'
Immediately his face becomes somber.
'You'll learn later on…' Slap on the shoulder, 'the beauty
of having trials by moonlight.'
Suddenly he leans over my shoulder. Sneaks a peek at
'You have Potions first?' A serious look on his
face as he shakes his head, 'poor, poor shmucks…'
And then he walks away, laughing silently. I don't see
how having potion's first is so funny.
Not like he can avoid it all together. He is better off
than us in one area, though. He's already done 5 years of it, and has
only got 2 years left. Lucky bugger.
A tapping on my shoulder. What now? Can't a guy eat in
'Lessons start. We better pack.' Percy's voice. Look
up, and people are starting to get up and leave. Seth's disappeared already.
Oh, right. Grab my toast and take a swig of pumpkin juice. That'll do
'Has anyone seen my quill case?' A shrill voice.
'Don't think so. What colour is it?'
'Grey. It should be somewhere here.'
'This might be it…' a hand extends towards a grey lump
on a bed, but then it jerks back quickly. 'Percy! What is your rat doing
on my bed? Get it off!'
An annoyed voice. 'Really! It's just a rat!' Stamping.
Then squeaking as said rat is whisked away.
Welcome to the first morning in Gryffindor tower.
'I think this is it.' Seth's crisp, no-nonsense voice
filters through the air. His hand reaches down, and neatly plucks a grey
quill case from the floor. Dusts it off and hands it back to Ben.
'Oh! Thanks a bunch!' Ben's delighted. I can tell because
his dimples are showing.
Heaving my Potions textbook into my bag. Oof!
It weighs a tonne. I'll never be able to carry it down to the dungeons.
Looking around. Have I forgotten anything? Quills? Check. Ink-pot? Check.
Parchment? Check. Didn't know how much I'd need, so I packed the whole
box. Better safe than sorry. That's about it, I think.
'Aren't you taking your herbology books as well? We'll
need them after lunch.' Percy asks.
'Nah, I'll just fetch it later. Don't think it'll fit,
anyway.' Percy takes a look at my bag.
'Oh, I see. You've still got the hard-cover edition.'
Glances at his own copy, 'yours is also a lot bigger.'
Yeah. Bully for me. My parents were too stingy to get
me my own copy, so they gave me my older brother's. Never mind the fact
that it's twice as big as everyone else's.
Ring-ring-ring. The Hogwart's bell? I didn't know
they had one.
'We better go,' Percy says, 'I know my way to the dungeons,
so you can all follow me.'
That's good. Cos I sure don't.
'You open it.'
'No, you open it.'
Merlin's beard! Anyone would think we were a bunch of
Hufflepuffs, for crying out loud!
'Come on guys, it's only Snape.' They don't look convinced.
A silence, then Ben whispers,
'Why don't you open it?'
'Me?!' A pause. 'Fine then. I will!' Pushing through
to the front. Slowly turning the doorknob, thank Merlin it doesn't make
a noise. Carefully now, give the door a little push, and it opens.
Dead silence. No one's in the room.
'Let us see!' Someone from the back. One of the girls,
I think. The line surges forward as we enter.
'No one's here,' Seth remarks, 'sure this is the right
room?' A nod from Percy. Nothing to do but sit and wait, I suppose.
Taking our seats, as the Slytherins file in. They throw
us a couple of dark looks, but no one actually has the nerve to speak.
It must be the vibes from the room. The smoothness of the cold dungeon
walls, the quiet flicker of the torches, all command silence. No one dares
to disturb it.
As far as I can see, everyone's already here. 20 heads
I see, 10 Gryffindors and 10 Slytherins. Not mixing of course. That would
be too much.
A loud bang. Everyone looks up, as Snape walks into the
dungeon. Slams his books onto the table. Everyone winces and inches back
He stomps behind his desk. Mutters a few words under
his breath, as a chair comes whizzing into the room. It settles behind
Snape, and he sits down.
A collective whoosh, as everyone dares to breathe again.
'I see,' he says, ' we have the Slytherin/Gryffindor
first-year class. Correct?'
A pause as Snape surveys the room with a look of loathing.
Each student seems to shrink a bit under his gaze.
'Albert.' A pause. Then a 'present' issues from someone
in the back row. A Slytherin, no doubt. Satisfied, Snape continues.
All the way down to, 'Wood?'
Another long stare at us. Then, Snape reaches into a
drawer, and lifts out a stack of parchment. Turns to sneer at us.
'These,' one pale, bony hand on the stack, 'are your
test papers.' What!? Ignoring the gasps from around the room, he
continues, 'as I do not wish to have a repeat of last year, where one
stupid student misinterpreted the instructions and added a porcupine quill
before taking the cauldron off the fire, and thus rendered the classroom
useless for a week, I wish to gain an accurate idea of your…talents
before letting you work with potent ingredients.' A glare around the
room. Almost a whisper, 'I do not want a repeat of last year. Are we clear?'
Nobody answers. Then a voice from in front, 'We're perfectly
Snape looks shocked that someone dares to answer back.
'A point from Gryffindor for answering back to a teacher,'
he says silkily. Seth looks outraged. He opens his mouth again,
but the only thing that comes out is 'Ouch!'
I think Ben must have kicked him. Good thing too, otherwise
who knows how many points we would have lost?
A piece of parchment is shoved under my nose. Can't even
see what it says, the writing's so tiny. 'First-years-Potions Test 1-Page
1.' Page 1? You mean there's more?
Another piece flutters onto the desk. Same size print.
Just as unreadable as the first. Wonder if I can borrow Percy's glasses?
'Quiet!' Snape barks. Apparently the murmurs of outrage
have gotten too loud. He's sitting down at his desk, an evil leer on his
face. A watch in one hand and another stack of parchment in the other.
'You have 30 minutes to complete this exam, textbooks
may be used,' a sigh of relief goes round the room, '-but I sincerely
doubt they will help much.'
Thump. Glares from around the room. What? I can't
help the fact that my textbook makes a noise every time I open it. Now,
what's the first question?
List, in point form, all the uses of Monkshood. Monkshood?
What's that? Something that monks wear on their heads? Somehow I don't
think that's the answer.
Another thump as I turn to the index. More glares. Oh
go boil your brains. Monkshood, monkshood…ah, here it is! Page 218.
Scratching down the answer. There. One question done,
39 more to go.
'That test wasn't very challenging.' Percy declares,
as soon as we're out the door, 'It was mainly more of a 'see who can copy
from the textbook fastest.'
'Suits me.' Ben shrugs; adds, 'maybe he likes people
who can work fast.'
'90% of potion making is just waiting.'
'Really? I always knew it was a waste of time.'
And so the argument continues. Funny thing is, the only
person who hasn't said anything so far is Seth. He's walking in front,
head bent low and staring at the ground. Walking faster to catch up to
'A dull lesson eh?' He blinks, then smiles.
'Dull doesn't cut it. Needs a stronger word. But I don't
think we should complain. Herbology's next, and from what I've heard,
it's not exactly "thrills 'n' spills" either.'
'You hear a lot about the classes, don't you?'
'Yes. Mainly since all my relatives come through here.
They tell me lots of stories. Some of them are quite crude.'
'Must be fun. My relatives come here as well but they
don't tell me anything.'
'Yeah well, some stuff is better unheard.'
'Didn't I just say it was better unheard?' And that seems
to be the end of the conversation. Seth walks faster, leaving me behind.
Somebody has secrets…and I want to know what they are. If only my stupid
brother would tell me. But no, all he ever said was how good the Gryffindor
team was when he was here. Won every year, he said. Couldn't tell me anything
A/N: A shame to leave it there, but I encountered a major
attack of writer's block in the middle of potions, so I quickly finished
it off. If I left it until the writer's block wore off, I doubt you'll
see this chapter till September.
Anyway, as usual, comment's, question's are appreciated.