The dark clouds grew with every second, and the downpour of rain that had threatened to come all day began. Some forks of lightning darted across the landscape like serpents' tongues. I pity the first years on the lake, Harry thought as he approached the carridges. The thestrals tossed their head at the arrivals, their scaley forms a dark reminder of those Harry had seen killed in front of him. "Have a nice train ride Harry?" Hermione asked as they met up at the carridge.

He nodded, "Not bad. I mostly looked over some quidditch stuff; what about yours?"

It was Ron who answered. "Pretty boring. We talked about some patrol stuff, giving the first years tours of the castle, and went over the rules—again." He made a confused face, "What was really weird though, was that Malfoy didn't say one bloody sarcastic thing."

Harry nodded, "He didn't come into my compartment either."

They continued to talk about Malfoy as they got into the carridge with Neville, Luna and Ginny. Finally, after deciding to keep an eye on the Slytherin and switching the conversation to quidditch, the carridge stopped and they got out, heading for the Great Hall.

The students shuffled in, some greeting their friends from other houses as they sat down at their respective tables. Whipsers broke out among the houses, the subject: Selena and Remus. Harry stared at his guardian, a smile on his face. Remus winked, letting him know that all would be explained. Harry nodded and looked at the rest of the staff. Sprout was chatting amiably with Flitwick, Trelawny and Firenze were also talking with each other. The line of light colored robes stopped at a darker trio. Selena was wearing a dark green robe, and was sitting next to Moony. Snape was on her other side, wearing his usual black; the last in the line was Filch, who wore a dark brown tail coat.

Many of the Gryffindors frowned when they saw the new proffesor talking plesantly with Snape and Filch, but brightened somewhat when she also spoke to Lupin, a small smile on her face. The students continued to talk until McGonagall entered with the battered Sorting Hat and put in on a stool, and then left to get the first years.

"Do you think it will warn us again?" Hermione whispered.

"Dunno," Ron answered. At that moment, the large doors opened and McGonagall led the first years into the hall. Harry watched as the hat opened its mouth-like brim and began to sing:

Welcome to a brand new year,

Let us see whom we have here!

This is Hogwarts, your new home,

And let me tell you about the four

Who made me to show what is in store.

Four friends, long past, shared a ready dream, a plan

That they might teach young sorcerers,

And so, Hogwarts then began.

Gryffindor took only those

Who had brave deeds to their name.

Hufflepuff accepted all,

And loved them just the same.

Slytherin allowed only ones

Who were more cunning than the rest,

And Ravenclaw, why

She took those who could pass any test.

Now they were friends but

I am sad to say,

Dear Slytherin left first,

Refusing any longer to stay.

It was then that their friendship broke,

And the school grew further apart,

Yet we can hope, that we'll put our houses aside,

And begin to use our hearts.

We separate from each other,

Until we barely know one anouther,

And though we compete with each other,

We must learn to join together.

Last time I was ignored,

When a warning, I tried to tell,

But if we band together,

I say all shall be well.

Now come right up,

Don't be afraid.

We'll see of what it is you're made;

And put you where you best belong,

Amoung new friends, all year long.

The hall broke out into a polite applause, though the older students were nervously looking at each other. McGonagall opened the scroll and began to call off the names. "Acott, Mailey," was the first.

"HUFFLEPUFF!" the Hat shouted.

"Borgon, Silvia," was the first Slytherin. "Byler, Mike," was the first Gryffindor. His new housemates cheered. "Carter, Kaila" was the first Ravenclaw. When at last "Zocar, Tyler," was put into Ravenclaw, the thirty first years had been Sorted.

Slytherin received five; Ravenclaw eleven; Hufflepuff six; and Gryffindor eight. "A bunch of mini-Hermiones in that lot," Ron joked, earning a scold from a blushing Hermione.

The hall quieted when Dumbledore got up to the podium. "Alas, welcome students, both old and new, to another year at Hogwarts!" he began, face glowing. "I have a few, start of term notices to say before we all are too full to listen to an old man talk." Ron's stomach growled in argreement and some of the newbies smiled uneasily at the Headmaster, who then continued. "Firstly, the Dark Forest is strictly forbidden to all students," he glanced quickly at the Gryffindor table, "Also, a new list of forbidden items has been posted on Mr.Filch's office door; I believe all of the Weasleys' Wizarding Weezes have been added, due to several marvelous displays last year."

Everyone but the Slytherins and first years chuckled. Dumbledore smiled and went on, "Furthermore, I would like to introduce, and re-introduce, two members of our staff. Professor Lupin is going to be the sponser of a study hall for those of you who would like some extra help with your schoolwork." There was a loud applause as Lupin stood up and bowed slightly. "The second addition is Professor Splikvin, who has kindly volunteered to take the role of Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor, good luck Professor Splikvin." Selena got to her feet as the students clapped, Slytherins mainly; she nodded, and sat back down. "Now, the last few words: dig in!"

"Hear, hear!" Ron called as the golden plates before them began to fill. Harry ate and drank happily, talked with his fellow Gryffindors, and occasionally glanced at the head table or Malfoy. Selena caught him looking at the staff table and raised an eyebrow; Harry looked away and didn't look over there again, though he wondered why she had changed her name yet again.

An hour later, the plates cleared and Dumbledor spoke once more, "Now that we are all overstuffed, it's off to bed with you! Good luck tomorrow!"

Sleepily, the students all got up. "Alright, first year Gryffs' this way!" Ron bellowed, "Come on midgets, time to go!"

"They're not midgets Ron!" Hermione protested, "Please follow me, first years!" Harry couldn't help laughing as Ron rolled his eyes. The first years looked at him, but Harry just shrugged and kept laughing.

Hedwig was waiting for him on his bed, a letter from Alex next to her feet. "Thanks girl," Harry said, and gently stroked her head before opening the letter.

Harry woke early the next morning, and teleported to The Hideaway to do his morning workout. He showered, then dressed in the robes he'd brought with him there too, then returned to Hogwarts. I wonder how Dumbledore would react if he finds out I can leave Hogwarts without anyone knowing, Harry thought, pulling his hair back.

Since there was still half an hour before breakfast, Harry penned his reply to Alex and gave it to Hedwig, who was more than happy to deliever it. She couldn't deliver his regular mail in the mornings since she was too noticable. But because Alex knew about Hedwig, Hedwig was allowed to deliver letters to and from Blurnof's Eyestore without misshap.

Ron mumbled in his sleep, and Harry threw a pillow at his friend to wake him up. Ron chased Harry down the stairs; only when Harry darted out into the outside hallway did the annoyed red-head give up his chase. Harry cackled, and headed down to the Great Hall with Neville and Ginny who were both already in the hallway.

Half the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were already seated, and about twenty Slytherins were as well. Ten other Gryffindors were at the tables, so Harry, Neville and Ginny joined them. The rest of the students trickled in, with Selena behind them, getting the kinks out of her neck. Harry smiled at Remus and Hagrid, then began to eat as the owls swooped into the hall with the daily mail. There was nothing of importance in the Daily Prophet (Harry'd ordered it while at Grimmauld Place) but then he got his schedule.

"What'd you get?" Ron asked, looking at his own.

"First is DADA, then Charms, Potions, free-time, Lunch. Then Transfiguration and Care of Magical Creatures." Harry replied, "You?"

"DADA, Charms, Muggle Studies, free time, Lunch. I've got Herbology, then Care of Magical Creatures." Ron said, reading off his schedule.

"I wonder why we have free time," Harry said, "Did Fred and George ever say anything about having something like that?"

Ron shook his head, "Nottha'Ino" he mumbled over the bacon he'd just put in his mouth.

"Don't talk with your mouth full Ron," Hermione said absently.

Ron swallowed. "Yes Herms," Harry surpressed a grin and finished his eggs.

"When do you think I should start S.P.E.W. up again?" Hermione asked as they headed for the DADA classroom.

"Never," Ron mumbled.

"What was that?" Hermione asked, apparently oblivious to what Ron had really said.

"Er—whenever you want?"

She sighed, "Honestly Ronald, you could be a bit more specific."

"Yes Herms," Ron said in reply. He then turned to Harry, "Hey, I found my third form," he whispered.

Harry grinned, "When? What?"

"Last week, it's an alligator."

"Now I know not to get you annoyed when we're alone," Harry joked, "Did Ginny or Hermione find their seconds?"

Ron nodded, "Ginny's a phoenix. Herms is a unicorn; but don't tell 'em I told you, they wanted it to be a surprise."

"I won't say a word," Harry promised as they reached the classroom.

To Harry's surprise, the class was a mix of all the houses, some more than others. "Bloody hell, it's Malfoy." Ron growled.

"And lots of D.A. members," Harry noted with satisfaction as they sat down. When Professor Splikvin entered the room, the students fell silent. She can keep a room quiet just like Snape, Harry thought with a subtle amount of amusement. She sat down at her desk, and began the role call. When the list ended, she tapped it with her wand and stood.

"Welcome to your first NEWT level Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson. My name is Professor Splikvin," she walked around to the front of her desk and leaned on it, arms crossed as she observed them. "Now, before we begin, there is a rule you need to learn. That rule, is respect. No one in this room is less deserving to be so than anyone else. You have all gotten an 'E' or higher on your OWL, and therefore you are all fit to be in this class." She looked around the room, meeting every students' eyes. "You will show respect towards both me and your peers no matter the house, no matter the name, no matter the ability. Should any of you so much as snigger at another student, you will find twenty to fifty points gone from your house, understood?"

"Yes Professor Splikvin." The room chorused perfectly. Thanks to Umbridge, Harry thought.

"Good. Now, I understand your education has been somewhat…scattered, when it comes to defense. I believe you have had only one decent teacher, Mr. Lupin?" they nodded, and she continued. "I am aware that you learned quite a bit on curses from Barty Crouch Jr., disguised as Mr.Moody, as well, so I suppose that could be considered decent; if you don't count the fact that he was in service to Voldemort." Several students winced at the name, while some smiled nervously. She took no note of the winces, instead closed her eyes and randomly selected a name from her attendance sheet. "Neville, please come up; and bring your wand." She said as she looked at the name.

Harry gave Neville a thumbs up of encouragment as the Gryffindor walked to the front. Professor Splikvin nodded, and turned to the rest of the class. "This will work two ways. With Neville as an example of what you have learned, I will know we do not need to cover. I will defend myslefagainst Neville, showing youwhat you will learn." Her wand was nowhere in sight as she said to Neville, "Hold nothing back. I won't attack you. On the count of three, you will begin. Understood?"

"Yes Professor," Neville answered.

She nodded, "Good luck. One…two…three."

"Stupefy!" Neville shouted. Splikvin stepped out of the way. Neville continued to go through every spell the DA had covered, including expelliarmus, the reductor curse, three types of stunners, the jelly-legs curse, petrifying curses, even the infamous bat-boegy hex Ginny had taught him.

Professor Splikvin dodged them all using jumps, sommersaults, back and front flips, twists, cartwheels, and by dropping onto the ground. She raised an eyebrow at the flying bogies, and quickly rolled under them, then tripped Neville with her leg. Once the Gryffindor was on the ground, she finally pulled out her wand and banished the swarm of boegies.

Selena helped Neville up, "Very good Neville, five points to Gryffindor." An applause followed Neville as he returned to his seat, a tiny smile on his face. "Now, what I demonstrated were simple evasive maneuvers." Splikvin began, "Physical maneuvers yes, but effective nonetheless. Many wizards and witches today abandon physical training for more magical practices. I do not agree with this. What would happen if you were to loose your wand? What if your wand was broken? I can garuntee your foe will take advantage of it. Not only does physical training give you a back-up plan, but it helps improve your magical ability. Your reaction time, your speed, your technique; all these things can be improved through physical training. Who knows, you might even be able to wrestle your foe to the ground." The students chuckled. "Thanks to Neville, I know what not to teach you—though I am not familiar with the last hex." Neville blushed, and the Gryffindors all smiled.

She got out her wand, "I need anouther volunteer." Half the class raised their hands. After a few seconds, she nodded. "Draco, could you please come up." Harry watched as the Slytherin walked up from his desk at the back. "The same rules as Neville. One…two…three."

Malfoy immediately began to attack, sending mostly stunners. Each time, Selena blocked them with a shield, face impassive. After his seventh try, Malfoy got annoyed and started to branch out in his selection of curses. Splikvin blocked every single one of them. Once he realized none of his spells would work, Malfoy swung at her with a fist. She dodged it, and pressed her forearm to his neck—he froze. "Drop your wand Draco," she said calmly. Malfoy obeyed. Splikvin levitated it off the floor, and then backed away. "Good attempt," she said, tossing his wand to him. "Five points to Slytherin. Now Draco, tell me, what did I do?"

He thought about it, "You made me use up every curse I knew," he said finally, "you found out what I could and couldn't do, and how I duel."

She nodded, "Correct, you may return to your seat." She pocketed her wand and leaned on her desk once more. "Another thing you will learn in this class, is patience. With patience, you can outwait, outsmart, and outfight your opponent. With patience, you can not only defeat your foes, but learn from them as well. The muggles have a saying: 'Patience is a virtue'. You will find this very true in a duel." She paused, crossing her arms again, "Of course, you will learn of some of the more dangerous creatures in our world, though I will be sure not to ruin Professor Hagrid's plans." The students grinned uneasily. "Tell me, before you begin on your homework—which I will tell you in a moment—do you have any questions?"

Hermione raised a hand. Not surprising, Harry thought.

"Yes Hermione?" Splikvin said.

"Professor, when you did the second demonstration, why did you put an arm to his neck?" Hermione asked.

Splikvin's mouth twitched. "Ah, yes—I'd forgotten to mention that part. I believe one of Alastor Moody's favorite expressions is 'constant viligence,' true?" They nodded. "Well, it is indeed true in any fight." Without warning, an extremely sharp dagger shot out of the professor's sleeve. While the hilt was in her hand, the nine-inch blade was pressed flat against her forearm. Several people jerked back in surprise.

Selena nodded, "It is because of things like these that constant viligence is needed. Expect everything, and anything, even the seemingly impossible." She told them. "Believe me, in this war, nothing is impossible." Checking the watch on her wrist, Splikvin slid the dagger back into the sleeve of her black robe. "We have thirty minutes left, which is thirty minutes to do your homework: I want a summary on today's lesson, as well as a summary of any defensive training you've had, whether it hasbeen in class or not. No less than one foot of parchment, you may begin now."

Coming Up:

more classes



a trip outside of school

fun with Death Eaters

(A/N: Ah, the first chapter of the story. I hope you liked it. A.S.Leif)