A/N Not mine, JK Rowlings. Sorry about the long update, I had a succession of colds, and didn't feel up to much.

Chapter III

Cauldrons and how to make them explode

The next day, Damien entered the great hall, heading, once more, for the Gryffindor table. It felt unreal, as he sat down, to be immediately with a timetable by one Hermione Granger, a sixth year prefect. The first lesson was DADA, with Remus Lupin, followed by Charms and Transfiguration, yet his eye was drawn to a lesson the day after, Double Potions, taught by one of the older members of the order, the only person Dumbledore could get at such short notice. As he looked, first to the Ravenclaws, then to the Slytherins, both Christopher and David waved. Smiling he waved back, and then winced, as David was forcibly made to stop by an older student. He had obviously been told about house rivalries, but, just as obviously, couldn't care less when the people in question were his friends. Crabbe and Goyle, the huge sixth year apes, cracked their knuckles suggestively, as they noticed him looking at them, then, suddenly, Draco Malfoy locked eyes with him. There was a half-veiled threat in his eyes.

Once outside the hall, he found himself pushed against the wall by a sneering Draco, the walking walls not far behind.

"What did you think you were doing, in the Great Hall? No Gryffindor mudblood is going to befriend a pureblood like Peters, right, mudblood? Cos if you do, well my friends and I will just have to puree you, and you wouldn't like that, would you? Peters is my cousin after all, and you, well, you're just not the right sort, now are you?"

With that, Goyle punched him, hard on the jaw, as Crabbe beat his upper body. By the time they had finished, there was nothing Damien could do except slump against the wall, as the corridor became dizzy, and he passed out.

As he came too, he could hear voices he recognized, talking in low, worried tones. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley seemed to be explaining how they had found him. The voices stopped, suddenly, as they realized he was awake, and Pomfrey was at his bedside in an instant.

"Well, young one, you've had a nasty time of it. Misters Potter and Weasley found you, leaning against the wall outside the Great Hall. Can you tell us who beat you? Do you remember?"

"Sixth year Slytherins, Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle, they told me… to keep away from David, one of the friends I made on the train. They called me a mudblood and beat me!"

Dumbledore looked very grave as he said, levelly,

"They'll have to be expelled; of course, they can't just get away with almost killing someone!"

Damien's face betrayed the shock he felt, as the true meaning and weight of Dumbledore's statement washed over him.

"They almost killed me?"

"One of the ribs they broke punctured a lung, if it hadn't been for these two, you would have died. Also, they broke your jaw and your nose."

"You said, one of, how many ribs did they break?"

"They broke three of them, my boy. They obviously enjoyed beating you. Although the bones are healed, as well as most of the bruises, I am afraid that that black eye of yours must heal on its own."

Damien lay there deep in thought, as Dumbledore cleared his throat.

"I am afraid that I must ask you to leave now, as I have a private matter to discuss with Damien. Poppy, if you may, can you vacate, as he is the only patient currently. I will cast a silencing charm on the door, as this is very important."

"Yes Albus, I will. But I must limit it to ten minutes, this boy needs rest."

"Of course you may, Poppy. It may not even take that long."

Once they had gone, and Dumbledore had cast the charm, he looked down at the skinny boy in the bed, and shook his head sadly.

"You'll never have a good life, will you, Severus? And yes, I'm calling you by your real name. The three boys will be expelled, though, whether you want it or not. I simply can't risk them doing it again." His eyes had stopped twinkling during the speech, and finally, he sighed, and left the room.

Damien was shivering. He had long since gone back to sleep, but he had woken up sweating and shaking violently. The fact that he had almost been killed struck him anew as he lay there, longing to go back to sleep. In the morning he remembered nothing about the night before.

He was informed that he could go, and left, relieved. He didn't like the Hospital Wing very much, (actually a complete understatement), and was instead looking forward to whatever lesson he had. He pulled out his timetable, and grinned. Potions, the best subject he could think of. He started towards the Dungeons, before noticing a rather lost looking boy.

"Hello, who are you, and what class are you in?"

"I'm Oscar, I've got Herbology, but I don't know where!"

Sighing, he trekked to the greenhouse, with Oscar chatting animatedly all the way. When he arrived, Professor Sprout stopped, eyes widening slightly. She visibly relaxed, however, on noticing the colour of his tie.

"Gryffindors are in the dungeons. They are in the main part of the school."

Damien blushed, visibly, before relinquishing his hold on Oscar and departing. It was a very out-of-breath boy that reached the Dungeons, just in time for the lesson.

The Professor looked at him, disapprovingly as she shook her head. She was heard to mumble the following.

"First years, they'd lose their head if it wasn't screwed on!" She let out a gusty sigh, as he scrambled to sit next to David, before clearing her throat.

"I am Professor Bones. I have a Journeyman Potion's degree, so am definitively qualified to teach you. Potion's is a difficult subject, liked by few, loved by a tiny minority of the wizarding world. Now, as this is your first year, as it is mine, I will take the register, and you will raise your hand as your name and house is called. Please only answer your own name, as not just I, but at least half your classmates, will not know you. Any pranksters will be serving detention. As you are first years, I do not mind if your cauldrons explode, as you will not know any better. Now, to begin the list,

Bataan, Greta, Slytherin"

A mousy-haired girl raised her hand, frowning.

"Curtis, Adam, Gryffindor"

A blonde boy, who had been the least talkative of the Gryffindor year-mates, raised his hand uncertainly.

"Grant, Damien, Gryffindor,"

Damien smirked, as he waved slightly.

The teacher scowled all the way through the rest of the list, stopping after David's name to glance at their table, confused.

"A Gryffindor and a Slytherin? Oh well, your funeral!" she muttered, tolerantly.

Damien of course knew just how to make the easy potion on the board. However, just as he knew how to make it work, he also knew how to make it explode. He mixed a perfect potion, before adding a drop of water, and ducking, pulling David with him. It exploded, in a riot of noise, colour and a very bad smell, which made the teacher groan.

She looked over through the smoke, to the table, where both boys were hiding, and laughed. She just laughed. Both children had blackened faces, but looked to be unharmed. However, their cauldron had somehow grown legs, and was tap-dancing merrily.

Finally, as she managed to stop, she said, briskly,

"Right, you two, here, now, what happened?"

"We don't know professor," David enthused, looking confused.

"It just, exploded. We followed the instructions on the board, but, it just did." Damien added.

"Well, water could have got in," Professor Bones said, smiling. "It's alright, you didn't do anything wrong, it just happened. Go and sit down again."

The two did, sheepishly, sniggering slightly.

As they left the room, David started to laugh.

"Her face, she really believed that it was an accident!"

"But, it was!"

"Yeah, Damien, whatever you say. I mean it wasn't like you added that water on purpose, after all."

"O.K, I might have, but the explosion was amazing. I'm going to be her worst student."

"Nuts, you are, totally nuts. If you can do it, why don't you?"

Damien shrugged, and then brightened as he caught sight of Chris.

"Hey, Chris, how goes the garden science."

Chris laughed, then rolled his eyes.

"I wasn't paying much attention. I've been thinking, how about we form a secret gang? You know, with nicknames and everything."

"Why not, but, we don't have nicknames."

Christopher pulled out a parchment, on which he had jotted three names. The others whistled.

"Yeah," David said, "these'll work. Shadow really fits Damien, and Quaffle'll work for you, Owl's O.K, but, who's Oak?"

"That would be me," a familiar voice said, shyly, "I helped him out; so, I'd like to join if you'll have me."

"Course, Oscar, we'll have you. Glad you want to join in."

The four put their hands in the center of the table and looked around.

"We need a general name, one that fits the group."

"I've got one," Damien put in, "How about the Outlaws. That's what the teachers will probably try to make us, after all!"

The others nodded, before putting their hands in the circle again, and crying, with one voice,

"To the Outlaws!"

Their first prank happened the next day. Blaise Zabini sipped his Pumpkin juice, then choked. Steam was coming out of his ears and slowly seeping across the floor. The entirity of Slytherin house laughed at his misfortune, before looking around, half-afraid that they, too, would become victims of the unknown prankster. McGonagall raised her voice above the ruckus to yell out random names, giving them detentions that were unfair, before she looked suspicially at the first years, and froze.

Was that a smirk adorning one of her Gryffindor's faces? Yes, it was. She groaned aloud as she remembered what had happened over the summer. Of course, it had to be something to do with Severus. He had always been a prankster, and a little think like being eleven wouldn't stop him. Clearing her throat, she looked at him, engaging in a staring match she knew she couldn't win, before turning her gaze to each of the other tables in turn, looking for a partner in crime. One student on each table looked either guilty, or smug, in the case of the Slytherin.

Sighing, she gave up. If, as it seemed there was one in each house, then they would not be very popular with anyone. Three of the four houses would dislike, greatly, members of their own having anything to do with a Slytherin, and said house would definitely have something to say about a percieved friendship with either Gryffindor or Hufflepuff.

She knew, that though they were currently friends, there was plenty of trouble coming.


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