Morning light poured in through the window, and it was this that roused Ted from sleep. The eleven year old wiped the sleep out of his eyes and yawned broadly. For a moment his heart sank, as he thought he was back with the Hemsworths, but then he saw Jerry's black cat perched at the end of his bed, regarding him with surprised yellow eyes. Ted was so elated that he grinned at the cat, and looked around.
The others were still asleep, and Ted realized it must be early, but he slid out of bed and made his way over to Barku's bed. He began to shake the taller boy gently.
"Barku, wake up!" Ted hissed. Barku opened his eyes sleepily.
"What?" the Australian asked tiredly.
"We've got our first classes today!" Ted cried. Barku's eyes widened suddenly, and he sat up.
Ted roused the other boys while Barku groggily slid his pajama shirt off and foraged around for his uniform. They hit the Gryffindor showers and in an instant, they checked their class schedule for today.
"What's it say?" Jerry asked Barku, who stood up, peering at it.
"We've got breakfast until eight-thirty, and then we have a small break from then until nine o'clock to get to our morning class." Barku read.
"Well what classes?" Josh urged.
"We've got Charms with Ravenclaw first, then morning break for an hour. Then we have Transfiguration with Slytherin at eleven o'clock, and lunch at noon." Barku said, scrutinizing the timetable.
"What about for the afternoon classes?" Lane asked impatiently.
"At one-fifteen, we have History of Magic with Slytherin," he read, and Ted's heart sank, knowing he would have another class with Dillon, "and then we've got another small break and Defense Against the Dark Arts with Hufflepuff at half past two. Classes end at half-past three."
"What about dinner and all?" Jerry asked. Ted peered at his own timetable, to relieve some of the questions.
"Every day, we've got dinner at six p.m. until eight, and curfew's at twenty minutes past eight." Ted read.
The boys made their way down to the Great Hall and were in there by eight. Ted noticed Callan and Clifford just sitting down at the Hufflepuff table, looking a bit tired as though freshly roused from sleep, and their hair looked a little damp still.
"Hey Cal!" Ted cried, and Callan waved when he saw his twin, and smiled. Ted sat at the end of the Gryffindor table just across from where Callan sat, so they could talk while they ate. Callan pulled Ted aside before they began and told him about how the new Hufflepuffs gone through the kitchens and been made to tickle a pear on a painting of fruit to get in, and then how they had to tap a certain rhythm on barrels to get into the common room, and he whispered to Ted in great detail what the Hufflepuff basement was like. It sounded pleasant, sunny, and full of flowers and plant life. A wonderful place to be. Ted whispered back to his twin brother the secrets and details of the Gryffindor Common Room, and they went to sit down. There were mountains of eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, ham, and other delightful breakfast foods. Ted helped himself to a bowl of cereal and some bacon. The breakfast was as delicious as the dinner last night was. Ted hugged Callan before he and Barku departed for class. The two of them had decided to hang back a little longer.
They soon saw how erroneous a choice this was as they ended up being two minutes late for their first class. Their teacher was a tiny man with wispy white hair called Professor Flitwick, and he didn't seem to mind their tardiness too much. Ted slid nervously into an empty seat beside William Raleigh.
They mostly encountered a lecture by him and studied some basic wrist movements necessary for proper spell-casting. Ted wasn't at all bored, and had been attentive the whole lesson. When they were let out for morning break, Ted met Callan and the two of them went for a brisk walk out on the lawn together. They made it back fifteen minutes before the bell for their second class, and reluctantly departed.
Ted met Lane and Barku and they headed for their next class, Transfiguration with the Slytherins. Their headmistress, Professor McGonagall, turned out to also be the Transfiguration teacher. She was also the head of Gryffindor House, and they soon observed that she was a very strict but fair teacher. Their first lesson had them put to work trying to turn matches into needles, and no one was very successful, but Ted could swear the end of his match had gone pointy, at least. Barku somehow managed to get his match to smoke up, and nearly caught the desk on fire, but it was not Barku who had done the worst. Ezekiel Zimmerman, the unpleasant Slytherin that had fought Jerry, managed to obliterate his and the resulting miniature explosion hurled him eight feet away from his desk.
Ezekiel was small and dark-haired, with a sour face. He seldom looked happy, and his voice was pitchy and whiny. Josh often said that he was merely "clinging to the coattails of guys like Dillon" and Lane confirmed that he was the following sort, and did so to preserve his own place of popularity. And from what Ted saw already, it seemed to be true. Ezekiel was given a place of importance to Dillon that was only less significant than Ross' role, and Dillon and Ross were genuinely friends.
They then broke for lunch, and Ted flopped down at a spot at the table beside Lane and helped himself to some bacon sandwiches, which was a hot commodity at the table. Callan and Clifford dashed into the Great Hall then, with a boy with light brown hair by them that waved merrily at Josh. It was Ian Turner, a classmate of theirs.
"What classes did you lot have?" Barku asked the approaching Hufflepuff trio.
"Defense Against the Dark Arts and History of Magic." Callan said.
"How were they?" Ted asked.
"Defense Against the Dark Arts was very interesting. You'll be learning Flipendo in there, the Knockback Jinx." Callan spilled.
"And History of Magic was extremely boring." Ian piped up.
With a good half-hour before the lunch break was over, Ted and the other Gryffindor boys headed out to enjoy the warm day. The boys placed their long black robes in the shade of a tree, and began playing ball with a soccer ball that Jerry had hurriedly retrieved from his luggage. Just then, the Slytherins began showing up.
Jerry placed a foot on the ball, scowling at Dillon, who walked by. Dillon's brown hair was combed as it had been that first night Ted met him, and his pale blue eyes scrutinized them, his cheeks a flushed red. Behind him came Ross Keppeler, threatening as ever. His jaw set, his hulking body ready to take on a new challenge. He was bulkier than Barku, but not more muscular, nor stronger. With them was Ezekiel, whose sour face scowled at them all, following suit. They were followed by a very reluctant looking Jake Aarons, whose thick brown hair had been tousled by the wind.
"What do YOU want?" Barku snapped. Dillon only smiled.
"My oh my, I thought we could come play ball with you." Dillon said, stepping closer to them. Josh's arm shot up then, wand in hand. Ross and Liam’s wands were pointed at Josh, but not before Barku, Lane, and Ted’s wands were out. Jake watched both sides, nervous.
"Put that away." Ross thundered.
"Why don't you make us?" Jerry asked, drawing his own wand and pointing it at Ezekiel, who had his pointed at Jerry. The two seemed to have a beef with each other still.
"You don't even know how to use it!" Ezekiel piped up.
"No better person to practice on." Josh snapped. Just then, the fifteen-minute bell rang.
"We'll see you later." Dillon sneered, and he stalked off, followers close in pursuit. Jerry begrudgingly jogged upstairs to put his ball back, As he did, they checked the course schedule. Next was History of Magic, and with the Slytherins as well. They groaned.
"As if it couldn't be worse." Josh groaned, "We get more of them already!"
History of Magic was taught by a ghost named Professor Binns, and Ted, polite as he was, couldn't stay awake for the life of him. He drifted off peacefully to sleep in the middle of Professor Bins explaining to them the Soap Blizzard of 1378, and woke only fifteen minutes before class ended. On his way out of the class, Dillon nearly shoved him again, but only "accidentally" tripped him instead. Ross snickered.
"Don't bother with them." Lane said, leading Ted out of the class as Josh and Jerry struggled to keep Barku from having a go at Dillon. They trooped downstairs to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, which was apparently being taught by a Mr. Rollins.
Mr. Rollins had thick jet-black hair and green eyes. His face was kind and friendly, and he was supposedly the most excellent Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher that the school had ever seen. The desks were connected and had a long, bench-like seat. Ted immediately noticed that there was a seating chart, and shuffled over to discover he would be sitting beside Shakhan Wise.
Defense Against the Dark Arts was great fun, and Mr. Rollins spoke greatly of Ted's well-developed Knockback Jinx to the class, making him flush with pride. They all sauntered out of class, excited for the next lesson, where Mr. Rollins would bring a magic meter to test how powerful their Knockback Jinx was.
It was with great gusto that Ted headed down to the Great Hall to eat dinner that night. As he ate fried chicken, he noticed the other boys from his dorm were listening intently to Victor and some older boys, talking about long scratches they had seen in the dirt near the grounds. There was a buzz about what it could be, and all the first years and second years listened with wide eyes and bated breath; they were too inexperienced to ward off some of the suspected creatures mentioned.
Dinner ended on a high note after the subject changed to classes, and they trudged up through the hallways to bed. As they did, Ted peered out the windows on his way up the Marble Staircase. Whatever it was, the older boys made it sound quite large.
The dread of the unknown was left at the window though, as Ted was safely in Gryffindor Tower now. The older boys, not wanting the younger students hovering around them for details, had gone to their own dormitories to discuss the matter of the beastly scratch marks, leaving the common room nearly empty. Ted and Josh settled down at a table and worked on their History of Magic introductory paper, where they had to go through a tedious sum-up of their syllabus for the semester, while Barku, Jerry, and Lane worked on it at a bigger table. By the time a half-hour had passed, they lay in their beds and drifted into a pleasant sleep.
Their classes were mostly enjoyable. History of Magic classes, which were taken twice a week by them during the afternoon sessions on Monday and Thursday, proved to be always boring. Professor Binns had an astounding ability to lull every one of his students to sleep, save for Taylor Martins and Rowena York, who both jotted down notes in a fury.
Ted had come to know all the Gryffindor girls by Wednesday. All of them were rather pretty. Tayler Martins had brown hair and was very responsible in nature. She always got her work done well before fooling around. She was well-loved by the other Gryffindor girls, being friendly and kind.
Rowena York had nearly been a Ravenclaw, and one could tell. She got her work done before all the other first years in Gryffindor, and loved to read and learn. She mostly didn’t break rules if she could help it, but had a mischievous streak in her.
Jennifer Jones had short dark hair and was very chatty, but also friendly. She spent a good deal of her time with only the girls in her house.
Gwendolyn Curtis, however, was very headstrong and brave, a true Gryffindor to the core. She had short brown hair and bright green eyes, and seemed to enjoy nothing more than playing pranks or fooling around with her friend Emilie.
Emilie. Yes, red-haired Emilie Coulson was the current object of Ted’s affections, and had been since the very moment Ted had seen her. She was brave, mischievous, straightforward, and had a bit of an attitude. Ted mostly only admired her from afar.
In that first week, they had come to know Filch, the caretaker. He was loathed by all, and even the usually amiable Ted found himself in sour spirits when the man came tottering down the hall with cleaning supplies, punishing anyone that made too much of a mess or too much noise. His cat, Mrs. Norris was just as bad as he was. In fact, she seemed to be an extension of him that was smaller, quicker, and harder to see.
Ted and Callan found themselves late for Transfiguration on Wednesday. Though McGonagall would probably cut them some slack, Filch wouldn't have it. After three locked doors and a trick staircase, Ted and Callan cursed when Mrs. Norris prowled around the corner of the corridor, meowing.
“Filch’s cat.” Ted hissed. “Now what?”
“We run the other way.” Callan said. “I’ll take two more trick staircases and a maze over Filch.”
The twins turned tail at once and fled, and did not stop until they put considerable distance between themselves and the cat. They were about ten minutes late to McGonagall’s instead of five, but she pardoned them in the instance, and they both sighed with relief.
Almost as bad as Filch was Peeves. Ted had run into Peeves one Thursday morning as he headed to Herbology, and Peeves was a flying menace. He had yanked on Ted’s ear as he rocketed by, and he then threw wads of paper at Ted and Barku as they ran down the corridor, trying to avoid being pelted with other things. He had a fondness for throwing things at the first years. Ted had also suffered when walking on rugs, for Peeves liked to pull rugs right from under the student body as well.
The classes were, by and large, enjoyable though. Charms was always a treat with Callan, for he seemed to have a knack for spell-casting and was able to show Ted how to properly execute the wand motions needed. The two would hunker down at a spot on the grounds near to the castle and practice their spells. So far, the Knockback Jinx was all that they had learned, but they would learn the Lumos Charm soon.
While Callan was arguably one of the best first year Charms students, Ted found a particular interest in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Professor Rollins was a most enjoyable teacher, and had earned the place as Ted’s favorite. Callan enjoyed Rollins as well, but his favorite was Professor Sprout, a squat little witch with a smile on her face that taught Herbology.
Herbology was another interesting class, devoted to magical plant life. They found themselves currently studying the powerful Dittany, which had healing properties. Ted often had to borrow Callan’s Herbology journal, for he missed crucial bits and wrote too hastily sometimes. Callan managed to keep a neat and perfectly organized notebook, and the information registered in his mind. Lane, too, seemed to excel at Herbology, and earned twenty points for Gryffindor when he was able to quickly name the plants they had studied thus far at the end of one lesson, earning a broad smile from Professor Sprout.
Transfiguration was an amazing class too. Professor McGonagall transfigured her desk into a pig, and that excited them all a great deal, but she told them they were not ready for that kind of magic yet, and set them at transfiguring matches into needles for a few days. Ted had successfully produced a needle, and though it was kind of pointy, it was still the color the match had been. It was better than Barku’s needle, which would still catch fire if one struck it against the desk, as Ted was reminded when Barku, showing off, had tried it and nearly set the desk aflame for the second time that week. Shakhan Wise had managed to produce a perfect, shiny needle on his first go, and earned one of Professor McGonagall’s rare smiles.
On Thursday after classes, Ted found Callan in the entrance hall looking gloomy. At once, Ted clattered ahead of his friends, rushing to his brother, who had emerged from the corridor leading down into the dungeons.
“What’s the matter, Callan?” Ted asked. Callan shoved his quill back into his bag bitterly, and refused to speak of it, but warned Ted that tomorrow would not be a fun day.
Ted got up bright and early on Friday morning. His last class was Double Potions with Slytherin, meaning he would only have one class, as they had Friday afternoons off. After shaking the other boys awake and heading into the now-familiar Gryffindor bathroom for a shower, Ted found himself trotting down the stairs to eat a hearty meal before his final class.
As Ted sat, turning to speak to Callan, Ares suddenly swooped down with a letter for Ted, like the owls all around them were doing. It was the first letter that the twins had received this term so far. The other boys in Gryffindor had all received letters every morning from home, and Brutus tended to bring sweets and knickknacks from home to Barku in addition to letters. Dillon, too, received gifts from home, which he opened at the Slytherin table in the most showoffish way possible, loudly exclaiming what a “shame” it was that some children didn't get anything back from home, because they weren't wanted there to begin with.
Ted ushered Callan over, and his twin sat beside him on the long seat at Gryffindor table, huddling close as they opened the letter.
“What’s it say?” Callan asked. Ted held the letter up and read it.
“Dear Ted and Callan. I know you get Friday afternoons off, so I was wondering if you’d like to have tea with me at around three today. I want to know how you two are holdin’ up. Send a reply back with Ares. From Hagrid.” Ted read.
Callan pulled out a bit of parchment and wrote their reply, accepting the offer before giving it to Ares, who took off once more. Class was due to begin. Callan urged Ted to keep his cool no matter what.
It can’t be that bad, Ted thought to himself as he headed down into the dungeons. The dungeons were terribly cold compared to the rest of the castle, and Ted felt better seeing Barku fasten his robe shut too, shivering.
Potions was held in one of the cold dungeons, in a room with large tables and jars of pickled dead animals and things floating around in it. Ted averted his gaze from the walls, trying to keep his breakfast in, and he was caught off guard when a man strode in another door leading into the room.
The man had a bitter look to him and was dressed in all black. His hair was a very light blond, so much so that it was nearly white. Ironically, his name was Professor Snow. His icy eyes locked on Ted.
“Mr. Morgan, what is the main use of aconite?” Professor Snow snapped suddenly. Ted paused. He had not had time to crack open his Potions book, and had no idea what the answer could be.
“I...I’m not sure, Professor Snow.” Ted replied nervously.
“A point from Gryffindor, for a lack of effort.” Professor Snow said, and Dillon smirked. Ted was so shocked that he opened his mouth to say something, but Barku gave him a quick dig in the ribs.
“Don’t push it. He can turn nasty, I've heard.” Barku whispered.
Matters were made worse. Ted and Barku had partnered to make a Shrinking Solution, and when their potion made a small explosion, it knocked Dillon and Ross’s cauldron over, spilling their potion all over the room. Ted and Barku leaped back, and Lane and Tayler, who worked behind them, clambered onto their desks, which must have been charmed, for the potion had no effect on them. However, Dillon cried out as his hands were reduced to tiny little hands resembling those of a baby, and Ross fell as his feet were shrunk down considerably. Ted and Barku, unable to help it, smirked at one another at the sight. Professor Snow brought out a potion and set about curing those affected, and with a flick of his wand, the potion was cleared. Ted had turned and was explaining how funny it was to Lane, grinning, when he felt a hand upon his shoulder. He and Barku turned around.
“So,” spat Professor Snow venomously. “You two think it’s funny to sabotage the potions of other students, do you?”
“N-no sir.” Barku stammered. “But we-”
“Silence!” Snow hissed. “For your self-righteous actions, I will be docking points. Ten points from Gryffindor.”
“Ten?!” Ted protested, shocked.. “But that’s unfair. We didn't even do it on purpose!”
“I am the judge of what is fair and what isn't.” Snow snarled. “Make it fifteen for your outburst, Mr. Morgan.” And with that, he strode away.
Ted slunk out of the dungeons that day, Barku’s hand lingering consolingly on his shoulder. It was his first week and he had already lost sixteen points for Gryffindor, subtracting most of the twenty-point lead that Lane had earned them. His spirits were low when Callan met him in the Great Hall.
“I knew Snow would be harsh on you lot in Gryffindor.” Callan said to Barku. Clifford bounded behind Callan, grinning and waving at Ted until he saw the depressed look on Ted’s face.
“Snow?” Clifford asked.
“Snow.” Callan confirmed.
They headed to the library to do their homework, and once their History of Magic homework and Charms assignments were completed, they headed downstairs and through the grounds, to a cozy looking-little hut. Time for tea with Hagrid. Barku and Clifford joined them, for Callan had asked them to tag along to help improve Ted’s mood.
Callan knocked on the door of the small wooden hut. There was a loud barking which made them all jump back, and the door opened.
“BACK, FANG!” Hagrid roared before he turned to look at them. A warm smile broke out on his face.
“Well if it isn't the Morgan twins. And who are these fine young fellers with yeh?” Hagrid asked.
“This is Clifford and Barku, our friends.” Callan explained. Hagrid turned to Ted.
“You alrigh’ Ted?” Hagrid asked, noticing Ted’s depressed look. “You lot’d better come in.”
Hagrid’s hut was warm and welcoming. It was one room. Hams and pheasants hung from the ceiling, and a copper kettle hung over the fire. In one corner was a tremendous bed with a colorful patchwork quilt. His pink umbrella and crossbow lay propped against a dresser. There was a table with a few chairs near it, and two big armchairs tucked against the wall on one side of the room, near to the windows of the hut. They sat around this table, Hagrid taking a huge seat near the fireplace and Barku in the armchair nearest the door. There came another knock on the door and they saw Lane there, beaming.
“He’s another friend of ours.” Callan said, and Hagrid shrugged and let him in. Due to a lack of chairs, Ted ended up sharing the other armchair with Lane, which was big enough for both of them. Hagrid doled out the cups of tea, and with them came treacle fudge. Barku had eaten his helping of treacle fudge, and was scratching Fang. It was very apparent to Ted that Barku was comfortable around dogs, and that he was very fond of them.
“Why’s Ted upset?” Hagrid asked after a sip of tea. Ted’s teeth were glued shut by the treacle fudge, and thankfully Callan answered for him.
“Professor Snow gave them a rough time and docked Gryffindor sixteen points.” Callan explained.
“Aw, Ted, there’s no reason ter be down about it. Snow’s rough on everyone.” Hagrid said.
“Has anyone ever lost sixteen points in a lesson?” Ted asked glumly.
“No one will even care, Ted.” Hagrid reassured. The rest of the time was enjoyable, and just as the sun began to set, there was a knock on the door. Hagrid warily opened it. It was Tayler.
“You guys need to come inside, quick.” she said. Behind her stood Victor, holding his wand, which was lit.
Sensing the urgency, Hagrid ushered them out the door.
“Stay close to me.” Victor said, and they obeyed. Victor’s eyes were alert as he led them up to the castle. They traveled into the Great Hall.
“I’ve recovered the missing students! They were safe with Hagrid.” Victor cried loudly, amid gales of applause. Professor McGonagall smiled at him.
“Thank you Victor.” McGonagall said. “Now as I was saying, one of our students was chased by an unknown creature of some sort. There will be no more trips out to the grounds past sunset. All students must be with at least one other student when traveling on the grounds. Things will stay this way until we discover what it is and remove it.”
Dinner was eaten in silence, but when everyone was sent up to bed, whispers broke out among them.
“I heard it was a werewolf.” Josh exclaimed as they entered the common room
“How would a werewolf get this close to Hogwarts?” Barku asked.
“Beats me.” Jerry said. “Who says it’s even a wolf? Could be a Manticore for all we know! All we know is that it’s fast!”
“Or an Acromantula.” Barku said, smirking wickedly.
“A Dementor, possibly?” Lane asked. “Or a leftover Blast-Ended Skrewt!”
“We’ll never get anywhere if we stay up all night, guessing.” Ted said. “Now let’s get to bed.”
So they all grumbled and headed up to bed, putting on their pajamas. Even though Ted had effectively ended their conversation about what it could be, he couldn't help but wonder what it was and what kind of year he would have as he drifted off to sleep.