Albus Dumbledore sank into his chair and studied the young-looking man across from him. A moss-colored cloak hung off the youth's shoulders, held fast by a gold chain fashioned in the shape of oak leaves. His eyes were piercingly blue above high pointed cheekbones. His chin was smooth and also somewhat pointed, his nose long, but handsome, and his light brown hair fell neatly just below the turned collar of the green silk tunic he wore. The hair almost covered his gently curved ears, but pointed tips stuck out just enough to be seen.
"Well, Ryan," Dumbledore smiled. "When the Elves agreed to send an answer, I didn't think they meant an envoy."
The other shrugged gracefully, with long, delicate hands turned palm up. "I volunteered. There are things we cannot discuss over long distances. And I wanted to visit Hogwarts again, when I had a good excuse."
"Yes, of course. The council has reached a decision then?"
"It has." He frowned. "My friend, the Anvasse take a very long time to decide anything. But in some cases, the answer is clear. The Seven Houses will not stand with Voldemort."
"I sense a But. They will not actively stand with us, either, will they?"
The Elf Ryan looked somewhere far away. "Not exactly. They will not leave their enclaves in the forests. If a servant of the Dark Lord, or even Voldemort himself, were so foolish as to enter Anvasse land, you may be sure we will dispose of the interloper in our own way. But do not look for a host of my brethren to muster on the day of battle."
"I see." Dumbledore detected his guest's private opinion on the matter. The Elf contemplated Dumbledore in the same manner, though the natural patience of his people made him seem somehow older than the white-bearded, aged wizard who sat across the desk. "There is another reason you were sent to Hogwarts to meet me, is there not?"
"Yes. We understand Severus Snape has embarked on a mission to rejoin the dark forces as a spy."
Dumbledore frowned. "It's a risk, certainly, but we need someone inside."
"It will not work, Albus. You have a much better source of information here. However, you cannot exploit it yourself." He held up one hand in an elegant staying gesture. "I know, as Headmaster you have methods of discovering what happens here. How well I remember," he smiled wryly. "But even you cannot find out everything that is said and done, and this source would not willingly talk to any teacher, even the head of his own house."
Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, I think I know who you mean, Jorian." The name was a lilting, rolling sound. "What do the Anvasse propose?"
"I am to remain here for the duration, as a conduit of information for my people. What we receive is often old or out of date. Generally it does not matter, but when events move so swiftly, we need accurate intelligence."
The Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry locked eyes with the youthful emissary. "You just said this source will not talk to a teacher…"
"Precisely. In any case, do you think I could pass for a human teacher after all this time? No, I must be close to him, close enough for him to take me into his confidence and pass on what his parents tell him. I must be a student in his class, in his very house. I will—'transfer,' I believe it is called—to Hogwarts as a fifth year student."
Dumbledore sighed. "Even if we could allow this, the Ministry would object."
Ryan waved his hand again. "I am licensed for proper wand use by the Ministry. I have licenses in six other countries; it had to recognize them. Remember, the laws against non-humans using wands were passed long after I was a student at Hogwarts. They had their function at the time, those laws, and the time will come when they will be modified again. No, the Ministry is not the problem. However, I must appear to leave and then return as a student, or Voldemort's sources at the Ministry will know there is an Anvasse here."
"True." Dumbledore sighed. "You'll have to be Sorted—you and all your family were in Gryffindor, weren't they?"
"The Sorting Hat does nothing more or less than the wearer tells it to, Albus. You know that. It and you may be the only people at Hogwarts who remember me from back then—it was over a century ago. There's the ghosts, of course, but they won't be a problem. And naturally I will have to charm myself to appear human, and a little younger. I shall have to use the name, though. I have to be a 'pureblood' to get close to the target."
"Yes…what about old school records? The trophy room?"
"What about them? The Anvasse have not sent their offspring to magical school for additional training in a hundred years, not even the ruling families. If anyone actually recognizes the Pelerand name, I can simply say that it must be some ancestor. Albus," he leaned forward and was almost apologetic. "You don't have a choice. The Anvasse tasked me with this as our price for our support. Of course we will protect ourselves, and we may yet convince the Council to stand with you. But to do that, we must have up to date information. And you know as well as I that the more often a fact changes hands, the more likely it is to be distorted, lost, or captured."
"Yes. But if you pretend to leave the country, return, and are caught…."
"The Muggles have a term: 'disavowed.' Do you know what it means?"
"I see. Your actions will be denied by the Anvasse council and you will stand against any Ministry violations on your own. I don't like that at all, Jorian."
"Who among us is beyond risk, Albus? Think. It is for the boy's own protection, as well. He and Voldemort share a loathing for the Potter boy. It may well be that the Dark Lord will try to use him as a vessel to strike at Harry. You might not know until it's too late. Someone close to the boy could watch for signs of possession or influence."
The Headmaster thought for a long time. "Yes," he sighed, "I suppose you are right. You will of course share any information you do gather with me as well as the Anvasse?"
Ryan grinned. "We understand each other perfectly, Headmaster."
"Very well. I will make the arrangements and include you in the roster."
"Good." He rose, and his liquid smoothness while sitting transformed instantly into a powerful energy, like a wild creature about to strike. "I'll stay the night, and we can work out the details. I'll leave early tomorrow before anyone sees me. I'll need to go to Diagon Alley for my things—you have the professors' lists? Good. And then I shall have to board the train at King's Cross like the others, shan't I?"
The station was crowded and noisy. Children ran about the platform, greeting their friends, saying goodbye to anxious parents, and generally enjoying the last few hours before the school year officially began. Ryan moved quietly through the throng, rolling his trunk on a little set of portable wheels which he had attached to one end. He slipped onto the train and looked for an empty compartment. He navigated the corridor with the ease of an experienced traveler, though he had never taken this particular train before.
As he passed up a partially full compartment, its door slid open and a red-headed young man poked his head out. "Oi! You the new teacher then?"
Ryan glanced down immediately, wishing he had a mirror. Was his disguise charm in need of replenishment? Was he that obviously older than the others? His confusion must have been patent, for the boy laughed at him, and was soon joined by an identical face. "Just joking—we didn't recognize you. I'm George, and this is my brother Fred."
"Hallo." Ryan grinned. "Call me Ryan."
"I thought we knew everyone who goes to Hogwarts," Fred said casually as they insisted that he sit with them.
"Transferring." Ryan told them briefly, not wanting to get too chummy. He recognized them from the Daily Prophet archives, and of course, the family resemblance. These were Weasleys. It wouldn't do to get too friendly with Gryffindors. Although, alliances are always a good option, he thought. And he didn't want to meet his target too soon.
"Transfer student?" George said dubiously. "I don't think I've ever heard of that before."
"Yes, awfully mysterious, George." Agreed Fred. "Transferring from where, then?"
"Another school," Ryan told them with a one-shouldered shrug. "Are those fireworks in your bag?"
"Yeah," the twins smiled wickedly, accepting the change in subject without really noticing. "It's our last year, so we've really got to make it count," Fred explained.
"And that means setting off firecrackers?"
"Firecrackers, stinkbombs, and our own private stock as well." And George launched into the theory and genius behind Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.
Ryan let them amuse themselves, thinking of his own share of pranks from the Hogwarts he remembered. Apart from a disturbing reliance on stinkbombs, these two seemed industrious enough.
"What kind of detentions do you lads get for all this?" He broke in at one point.
"Detentions?" They frowned. "Oh, the usual—polishing silver in the trophy room, dusting the hallways and classrooms, anything Filch wants us to do, really."
"And you don't mind it?" Ryan asked, knowing the answer.
"Depends on how well the joke goes, doesn't it?" George said blankly.
"I guess it would, at that."
"How about you?" Asked Fred, his curiosity returning now that they had exhausted their inventory, and sold nothing. "Why did you say you were transferring?"
"I didn't." He smiled. "Let's see this Laughing Lozenge again—you say it took three hours for the fumes to wear off?"
The lunch cart came around soon afterward, and they filled up on pasties and chocolate frogs. Ryan ate a pasty delicately and watched the countryside out the window. The compartment door slid open again and a boy with dreadlocks came in to sit beside him. "There you two are. I've been looking all over. I was stuck with—who's this then?" He asked, seeing Ryan for the first time.
"What? It's Angelina Johnson, Lee, obviously. She's had a little change," George began, but Fred swatted him soundly.
"Ryan, this is Lee Jordan. Lee, this is Ryan…er…"
"Pelerand," Ryan said, supplying the surname. "I'll let you chaps catch up. Excuse me." And he stepped into the corridor to find the bathroom.
"What's his story?" Asked Lee as soon as the door shut, helping himself to a chocolate frog.
"Transfer, he says," George said. "I've never heard of that, have you?"
"No. Maybe his parents moved to England or something."
"He's English, all right, you heard him talk. That's Mayfair, as ever was."
"Yeah. Maybe he's been expelled from somewhere else."
The twins liked the sound of that at first, but then Fred said, "Wait. When Ron told us about Hagrid being expelled all those years ago, didn't he say they'd snapped his wand?"
"Oh, yeah." Silence fell as they tried to guess a better reason.
"Did he say he'd transferred from another wizarding school, specifically?" Lee asked.
"Yes, he—" started Fred.
"Nah, he didn't," finished George. "Remember? He just said, 'Another school,' all secretive like. Downright snotty, if you ask me."
"But he liked our joke stuff," Fred pointed out. "And he seemed to understand about everything. I don't think he's a Muggle-born, George."
Another awkward silence fell. "So, last year, hey, boys?" Lee said brightly.
"What about the house team this year? Think we'll pull any decent players to replace Wood, Johnson, and Bell?"
They were still talking about quidditch when Ryan returned. Lee Jordan immediately began to ask pointed questions.
"So…do you play quidditch?"
"No. No good at it," Ryan told them.
"But you know what it is," Lee pressed.
"Of course." He appraised the young man who slid over to let him sit down again. "Trying to figure out if I'm Muggle-born or not?"
"No," both the twins said immediately.
"Yes," Lee said firmly, with a glare across the compartment.
"Not." Ryan told him. "I understood only Slytherin house was so concerned with Muggles versus purebloods."
"Oh, we're not concerned, we just…wondered," Fred said apologetically.
"Ah. I'm from a wizarding family, lads. 'S'all good."
"Why are you transferring, then?" Lee asked directly.
"Because….my family felt I should finish up at Hogwarts." Ryan told them. It was a statement calculated to be wholly unconvincing, and it succeeded. The boys were even more suspicious than before, but something in the way he said it also seemed to indicate that probing further would do no good.
They talked about quidditch some more, and school, inevitably. When the twins found out Ryan was to be entering his fifth year, they grew excited. "Our little brother Ron's in that class," George told him. "Yeah, and of course Harry." Said Fred.
"Harry…Potter?" Ryan lifted his eyebrows, feigning surprise.
"That's right. And our Ron's his best friend, to boot. You'll see, just you wait. We'll get you settled in Gryffindor in no time," George assured him.
"Hm." Said Ryan, knowing he had other plans. "This sorting…how does it work, exactly?"
"Well, it's different for everyone," George began.
"Yeah, I had to wrestle a troll," said Lee.
"And I had to hex a witch while standing on my head," Fred told him.
Ryan snorted. "What do you think I am, eleven? I'm not a firstie, lads. Really. What sort of test is it?"
"What test did they give you at your other school?" Lee asked slyly.
"Which one?" Ryan retorted. "Come on, tell me," he continued hurriedly, letting his voice whine just a tiny bit. "Is it a lottery, a chamber with doors, what?"
"Oh, no," said Fred. "Everyone has to find out the same way. We won't tell." And he crossed his arms and nodded his head decisively.
"Right," echoed Lee and George, aping him. "Unless…." George said slowly.
"You tell us the truth about where you went to school before and why you're switching."
Ryan held George's steely gaze for a few moments, challenging him silently. Then he deliberately slid his focus out the window and said, "Be that way, then." He decided to sulk a little while, for effect.
Accepting his reticence, but no less friendly, the boys fished out their cards and they invited him to play exploding snap for the rest of the trip. As the train pulled around a bend and Hogsmeade appeared in the distance, Fred announced that they should all change into their robes. Lee went to find his trunk and get his things together. Ryan simply pulled his robe over his regular clothes—jeans and a tee-shirt—and produced a belt which he used to give the shapeless cloth some definition around his waist. It had no buckles; he merely wrapped the tail around and down, almost like a tie, to cinch it.
"Never thought of doing that before," Fred said. "Looks a little funny, though, with the muggle clothes underneath."
"Professor Lupin wore a belt sometimes, didn't he?" Pointed out George.
"I've never liked robes much," Ryan said truthfully. "Belts at least make them a little more useful. And stylish."
"Get the fashion hound," George said, hooting. But just then the train pulled into the station and he lost his balance, falling against the seat. Fred also stumbled. Only Ryan reflexively stayed on his feet.
"Right. Here we are," he said, offering them each a hand to pull them up.
They unloaded their trunks ("Dead clever, those wheels," observed the Weasley twins), and bustled out with the other children out of Hogsmeade station and into the waiting carriages. As Ryan glanced up at the imposing castle on the hill ahead, he couldn't help remember his real studies here, so long ago….
Jorian Jorianele Melianele Peleranel, latest scion of a lengthy ruling line of the Anvasse, waited at his table for the new first-year students to be sorted. Among the first to be called was "Dumbledore, Albus," and a shy-looking young boy went and sat on the stool. The hat covered the boy's forehead, but quickly called out "Gryffindor!" and Jorian cheered along with the rest. "Good," he thought. "That will make life easier."
"Hey, Ryan, that's the kid, right? The one you're to look out after?" His friend Cygnus asked him over the applause.
"Yes. He's the one."
"Didn't he have a brother…." Asked Perseus Hardwicke, one of their roommates.
"Aberforth. Cheeky git. Squeaked through here, I understand, a few years ago. Only got an 8 on his N.E.W.T.S. Mother says Albus has a lot more potential, though."
"Right. I remember him now. Ravenclaw, wasn't he?"
"That's the one."
But the boy now came among the older students, chewing his lip nervously. "Is this seat taken?" He asked formally.
"Sure, go ahead," said the dark-haired Cygnus breezily, but then ignored him. "Ryan, why don't you try out for quidditch this year?"
"No, thanks." Ryan smiled at his friend's yearly joke. He hated flying, and everyone knew it. "I'll gladly use you for target practice, though," he offered, riposting as he did every year.
"No, thanks," Cygnus echoed in perfect imitation. Then they all cheered as the hat added another Gryffindor to their ranks.
Ryan turned his attention to the young boy who watched them gravely. "Didn't you make any friends on the coach?" He asked with genuine concern.
The boy shrugged. "I was reading." He must have read a great deal, for he wore wire spectacles that made him look even more frail than his thin form and light auburn hair.
"Hang on…Weasley! Come here a second," he ordered, and a red-haired, gangly youth pushed his chair out from the table and complied. "Weasley, this is Dumbledore." The two boys shook hands. "Weasley's going to fag for us this year; we arranged it end of last term. If you like, he can show you the ropes. He's only a year ahead of you, Dumbledore, so you won't be in too old a crowd." He winked as he said this, but the little boy just blinked at him.
"What's fagging?" He asked.
"Oh, you know, I help out," Weasley told him in good humour. "I fetch things, and get the older boys' boots polished for them, and clean up around the dormitory. It helps them get all their work done," he explained.
"What about your work?" Dumbledore asked.
"Well, they help with that, do you see, plus it pays!" All the boys laughed a bit.
"That's right," Cygnus said. "Three shillings and sixpence a week to fag for the three of us—that's to say Hardwicke, Pelerand, and me. Say, Dumbledore, you wouldn't be interested in helping Weasley out, would you? I'd swear he's been shoving things off on the house-elves. What do you say? Whip him back into shape, give him some competition, what?"
"Stop it, Cyg," Ryan said, rolling his eyes. "You may ignore him anytime you like, Dumbledore. Anyway, first-years have too much to worry about getting used to this place to fag for the older fellows. But if you stick to Weasley, and young Longbottom over there, you'll know your way around in no time." He pointed to a blond boy busily chatting with "Wilkes,Wendolyn," who had just been Sorted into the house.
"I've only ever been to boys' schools. But I notice there are girls here. Why is that?" Dumbledore asked.
"That's how it's always been. Muggles may feel the sexes must be segregated to learn, but we've always used Hogwarts as a way to meet our future wives, haven't we, Potter?" Cygnus suddenly leaned across the table at another, even older boy, wearing a Prefect badge. He was sitting with a very pretty witch, who scowled at the interruption.
"Shut it, Black," the Prefect said testily, causing the others to laugh again.
"Nevermind Potter," Cygnus told the new boy. "He's always uptight. It's our mission in life to untwist his knickers, isn't it Ryan?"
"That or get the house-elves to over-starch them."
"Mister Pelerand!" Yelled the Headmaster, who had been calling for quiet….
"Mister Pelerand?" An older woman with a greying bun and a severe look called to him behind thick glasses. A crowd of young students trailed behind her.
"Yes, ma'am," he said, coming over to her from his carriage.
"You're to accompany me and the first-years, Pelerand. Leave your trunk here."
They proceeded together up to the main entrance of the school. The professor led them into a side room off the main hall and launched into her usual speech to new students, explaining about the traditional sorting into houses, and admonishing them all to behave themselves and honour whichever house they were selected to be in. She was not the same professor who had prepared Ryan's first-year class, so many years previously, but the speech itself had barely changed.
"Mr. Pelerand, you may feel a little foolish about all this," she said sharply, misinterpreting his nostalgic, lopsided grin for embarrassment, "but we make it a policy that all students are sorted before the whole school. That includes transfers." She stressed the word ever so slightly with disapproval. "You will be sorted when the first-year students are through."
"Yes, ma'am." He said, dutifully looking serious again. Then they all went into the hall.
The Sorting Hat finished its annual song with a flourish to the applause of the students in the Great Hall. Professor McGonagall held up a parchment with all the first-years' names and began to read. One by one, they sat on the stool, put on the cap, and awaited its pronouncement. Inevitably the cap would shout "Gryffindor," "Hufflepuff," "Ravenclaw," or "Slytherin," and the child would join the table whose students cheered.
Ryan waited at the back for the first-years to finish up. He could feel the whole school glancing at him curiously, since transferring students were practically unheard of in the wizarding world. He was obviously too old and tall to be a first-year, but no one had ever seen him before.
Finally the last student, "Zawicky, Evan," joined Ravenclaw and Professor McGonagall said, 'Pelerand, Ryan, Fifth Year."
Ryan stepped forward with a dubious look and put the cap on while everyone was silent around him. But his attitude was an act; inwardly he put all his attention to directing the sorting hat to place him in Slytherin house. It wasn't easy. As soon as the cap touched his head, it began "Gr—"
"Slytherin." He told it decidedly.
The voice spoke inside his head. "Haven't I sorted you before? It was Gryffindor, wasn't it?"
"Yes," he thought back patiently, "But this is a special case. Slytherin, please."
"I don't know…" the hat said. "I'm not sure I can change things once…"
Ryan "spoke" to the hat forcefully. "You were created to do one thing: name the house that is foremost in the mind of the subject. It has to be Slytherin, so say it!"
"Well, all right, if you insist—SLYTHERIN!" It shouted the last word.
Ryan took off the cap with relief, but all he showed was a faint sneer not unlike that of the blond boy sitting near the head of the table with two large and stupid-looking boys flanking him. As Ryan took his place, he glanced over at the Gryffindor table and could see Harry Potter and his friends making their own assessment. Fred, George, and Lee seemed quite disappointed. The only seat left at the table was next to the house ghost, the Bloody Baron. Silver blood spattered his translucent robes.
"Your Excellency," Ryan said, bowing out of habit as he sat. This caused a small ripple through the table, but the Baron grinned maliciously.
"I haven't been addressed properly in over a hundred years. You! Malfoy," he went on, jabbing a finger at the supercilious blond boy. "You could use a lesson or two in manners from this one. What's your name again?"
"Pelerand," Ryan said, tucking in to his food.
"Pelerand…." The Baron rolled the name around in his mind. "Wasn't there a Pelerand family went to Hogwarts a long time ago?"
Ryan shrugged. "Think so."
"Transfer student, eh?" This was Malfoy. "Transferring from where?"
Ryan smiled coldly. "Another wizarding school." Several Slytherins laughed. A few of the girls whispered to one another. Ryan went on, his tone dripping with disdain. "Malfoy, is it?"
"That's right. Which one? Durmstrang?"
"Perhaps." Ryan smiled at the girl sitting across from Malfoy and winked. She blushed.
Malfoy turned red too, but it was with frustration. "Come on…. Well, why'd you leave then?"
"Why don't you ask the Headmaster? He has my file."
Malfoy sniffed derisively. "I've never heard of someone transferring halfway through school. There must be a reason."
"And there is." Ryan smiled again, dismissing the topic and asking for the butter to be passed. The girl near Malfoy jumped up to get it for him.
Seeing that it was useless to pursue the newcomer's past, Malfoy instead decided to regale the table with his knowledge of Hogwarts' strengths and weaknesses, providing his own biased orientation for Ryan and the first-years. Occasionally, older students would put in a comment or two, but Malfoy by far held the group's attention. He pointed out each professor and assessed their subject and their teaching. He praised Snape, now absent, and wondered aloud about the two professors they didn't recognize. One was possibly Snape's substitute in Potions, and the other had to be their new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.
"Know anything about the Dark Arts, Pelerand?" He asked in a superior tone.
"Well, Dumbledore won't let us really learn anything here, only how to defend against them, but I've studied a little on my own, of course." Several heads bobbed in assent, echoing the boy's statement. "Oh—and one more thing. You'll need to watch out for him," Malfoy went on, pointing across the hall to where Harry sat at the Gryffindor table.
"Is that Harry Potter?" Ryan asked quickly.
Malfoy rolled his eyes. "Of course it is," he whined. "He's pathetic, actually. And a muggle-lover. How about you," he asked, rounding on Ryan again, "Where do you stand on muggles? You are a pure blood, aren't you?"
Ryan smiled. "About as pure as it gets," he muttered.
"I said, yes."
"Oh. Well, you never can be too careful who your friends are. Look at Potter. That girl next to him is Hermione Granger, a bossy, know-it-all mudblood who thinks she can do real magic just from reading books. And then there's Ron Weasley, whose family are wizards back as far as anyone can remember, but look at him! Not the right sort at all, don't you agree?"
"Quite," Ryan said, afraid to say more.
"Poor too, naturally. See what associating with mudbloods gets a wizard family these days?" He peered at the newcomer. "How about your family, Pelerand? What side are they on?"
Ryan looked him right in the eye. "Their own, of course."
Malfoy opened his mouth to ask another pointed question, but the girl beside him broke in. "Oh, don't pester him, Draco. I think he'll do Slytherin proud. Won't you?" She batted her eyes down the table at Ryan.
"For you," he promised her. All the girls giggled. Malfoy blushed deeply but concentrated on his meal from there out.
"I'm Pansy Parkinson," the girl told him. The Baron had floated off at some point, so she came down and sat in the empty seat, leaving Malfoy scowling. Ryan smiled and nodded and gave Pansy every appearance of paying her attention, but merely shrugged his shoulders back at the other boys, who seemed torn between laughing at Malfoy and fearing to be on his bad side.
After dinner, Dumbledore rose and addressed the students. "Welcome to another year at Hogwarts. I have as usual, a few brief announcements. Remember that the Forbidden Forest is off limits to all students. Quidditch trials are open to second-year students and above and will be held on Saturday. And I would like to introduce two new teachers to our little family…Professor Tamarov, who will be taking over Muggle Studies, and Professor DuBois, your new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher. I trust that you will treat them with the respect and courtesy you extend to all our professors."
"Muggle Studies?" Malfoy groaned as they stood to leave the great hall a few minutes later. "Every year, it gets worse. Dumbledore infests the school with more and more Mudblood students, and now a new Muggle Studies teacher?"
"I heard What's-his-name was retiring," a seventh year student agreed. "I'd rather hoped he'd let the whole subject die out. Should have done," he muttered.
"Larkin? He wasn't old enough to retire," argued an older girl.
"Maybe someone convinced him," yet another boy said menacingly. An awkward silence fell.
"So…where's Professor Snape?" Chirped a little first-year boy.
"Who knows? Presumably he'll turn up," said the seventh year.
But Malfoy grinned wickedly and winked at his gorilla companions.
Although the entrance to Slytherin's common room was through the dungeons, the dormitories were midway up one of the towers. Several of the Slytherin girls tried to make sure they were standing next to Ryan on their way up, but most were quelled by a look from Pansy Parkinson. Once up the several flights of winding stairs, the rooms were quite warm and comfortable. Their trunks were set by their curtained four-poster beds, which had been turned down, and a fire crackled merrily in the hearth. Ryan followed the boys to their bedroom and noted with relief that his trunk was safely delivered and undisturbed.
"Have you picked out your classes, then?" Malfoy asked him.
"Yes—over the summer. McGonagall gave me this just now, though. I suppose they had to wait and find out what house I would be in before they could assign my class times." He held out a schedule. Since he had access to Malfoy's, he'd made sure he was in most, but not exactly all of the other boy's classes. To duplicate his schedule would look too suspicious.
"Oh. Well, I suppose you'll need to do a lot of work to catch up to how things are done around here."
"We'll see, won't we."
Malfoy sniffed doubtfully. "Well, if you need any help, just ask."
"I'll do that."
They climbed into their beds and Ryan waited for the others to fall asleep. He passed his hand through the air a few times and felt invisible wards form around the bed and his belongings. Only then did he allow himself to sleep….
Funny, how being back at Hogwarts played on his subconscious. He dreamed of his own first experience of the big four-poster beds, although Slytherins' curtains were apparently green, not red. His roommates for seven years, Perseus Hardwicke, Geoffrey Bramdon, Meningus Moran, and Cygnus Black, all gazed on their new quarters with the same awe and pleasure as countless generations of Hogwarts students before and after. Their trunks were set at the foots of the beds, and as usual the house elves had guessed well, or else their brand of magic had ways of discovering the best arrangements.
They changed into their nightshirts, getting over the awkwardness by trading more facts about themselves. The first topic was ages and, logically, birthdays.
"Mine's in December," volunteered Bramdon. "Almost at Christmas. I'll be twelve."
"I just turned eleven last June," Meningus told them.
"Mine's not until January," said Perseus.
"August," grinned Cygnus. "What about you, Pelerand?"
Ryan hesitated, folding his traveling cloak carefully. "Erm, I'm not sure."
"Not sure? Are you an orphan, or something?" Perseus asked.
"No, but—we don't use calendar months."
This stumped them for a bit. Then Cygnus said, "Well, what do you use?"
"So, how do you reckon it—you do keep anniversaries, right?" Cygnus prodded. He was rather like a dog with a bone, worrying it until he had completely destroyed the problem.
Ryan nodded to answer the question. "I was born on the eve of the first waxing gibbous moon after the vernal equinox."
"Ten or eleven years ago?"
"Right. So—vernal equinox, that's about the end of March. When's our first Astronomy class?"
"Tuesday evening," Moran supplied.
"We can look up the phase of the moon on the vernal equinox ten years ago. Then we can find out how long it took for the moon to be waxing gibbous, can't we? Then you'll know our date for your birthday."
The other boys responded enthusiastically, but Ryan frowned. "You use the same date every year, don't you?"
"Yes," all five boys said at once.
"But will that be the same moon phase every year?"
"Oh." Five voices said in ragged chorus.
"Well…you'll have two anniversaries, won't you? One for the calendar year, and one when the moon is right." Cygnus said brightly.
"Quite right," said Bramdon, and "Here, here," said Perseus, followed shortly by a simple, "Brilliant," from Moran.
Ryan nodded once in consent. They had collectively solved their first problem. But mostly, it was his gratitude to young Cygnus Black that sealed the friendship between them.
And turning in his well-warded sleep in the Slytherin dorm, Jorian muttered to himself, "April 12th."
A/N: Okay, I have to admit I came up with this idea long before I realized how many other people have inserted transfer or new students into the school of witchcraft and wizardry. While I maintain that we'll need a new wing of the school soon to house them all, I felt this was different enough (and not a Mary Sue) to warrant placing it up here. I also want to say that while I'm sure there are some really smashing stories out there about the kids in their fifth years and beyond, I haven't read many of them, or many tales involving transfers, because I didn't want to be influenced. So if I've repeated anything that's been done before, well, it's not intentional. I also want to say it's really fun playing with everyone's ancestors, and there's more of that to come. Suggestions? Comments? Speak now before the next piece gets uploaded. Cheers.