Well, here is a really short first chapter for the sequel. Hope you enjoy it. I didn't want to keep you waiting too long before you saw what I had in mind.
Thank you very much to everyone who took the time to read and review the original story. I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of responses I got for the last chapter. I loved writing it and I hope you enjoy continuing with me as I explore the possibilities of what would have happened during fourth year.
Thanks again! Your support and comments make all the effort worth while.
The Hogwart's Express was churning full steam ahead as Harry gingerly made his way down the aisles in search of his friends. In years past, this day would have brought him immeasurable joy and comfort as the train sped towards the Scottish castle that Harry called home.
This year was different, though.
This year, the brightly polished scarlet engine was taking him further and further away from his home with each passing minute. He was slightly comforted by the thought that his godfather was going to be at Hogwarts when he arrived and had promised to visit with him after the traditional welcoming feast. Harry was sure that he would be able to settle in to school easier if Sirius was going to be able to spend just a bit more time with him. Maybe his godfather would even consent to accompanying him to the Gryffindor common room for a little while. He was sure that Sirius might enjoy spending a few moments in the familiar surroundings of what had been his school house as well. He wondered which dorm room Sirius and his father had shared. He would ask his godfather which beds they slept in. It was always fun learning new things about his parents.
With this comforting thought in mind, he pushed forward, checking the carriages as he went until he found the one containing his two best friends. As he pulled open the door, he could hear the excited chirping of the little Scops owl that Sirius had gifted Ron with earlier. The tiny creature was banging irately against the bars of his cage and Ron had draped a ghastly looking burgundy cloth with ratty lace over it.
"What is that?" he asked, pointing to the shabby fabric. Ron blushed and turned his embarrassed look over to the window, avoiding Harry's question. Hermione gave Harry a hard glare, telling him silently to shut his mouth, as she answered in a matter of fact tone.
"They're Ron's dress robes, of course," she stated haughtily. "His Mum got him a more traditional set. Aren't they fancy?" she insisted, her eyes fiercely daring Harry to contradict her. Harry caught the meaning and struggled to compose himself.
"Oh, ah sure. They're brilliant," he agreed, thinking uncomfortably about the dark green, much more sedate set packed safely in his trunk. Thankfully, Sirius had picked them out. Harry didn't know what they were supposed to look like, but he suspected that what Ron had wasn't it.
Ron had had enough. He let out a huff of air and turned back to face them. "Don't push the man, Hermione. Anyone can see that they're rubbish," he scowled.
Harry dropped down on the seat next to Ron and clapped his hand on his friend's shoulder in sympathy. "Don't worry about it, mate. It's not as if we ever use these things at school anyway. When was the last time you saw any of the students in them?"
Ron's face fell. "I don't know, but Percy was hinting pretty heavily that we would need them this year. Wouldn't tell me why, though. I think my dad knows, Bill and Charlie too. They all kept teasing us about some big event going on at school. Percy was strutting around like a real prat. Wish I could have jinxed him," he sighed, longingly.
The threesome sat and pondered the possibilites for a while until they heard the familiar cry of "Anything from the trolley, dears?"
Harry saw Ron and Hermione reach for their money pouches and waved them off, producing the pouch his godfather had given him. "It's on Sirius today, guys. He gave this to me just to buy stuff from the trolley." With that, he proceeded to procure a large armload of pumpkin pasties, cauldron cakes and various other sweets.
"Must be nice to have a filthy rich godfather," Ron remarked offhandedly, as he packed his cheeks with Droobles. Hermione shot him a death glare and he gave her a confused look.
"What?" he mumbled through a mouthful of confections. Hermione huffed and elbowed him sharply in the ribs.
"I'm sure Harry doesn't care about how much money Sirius has, Ronald," she scolded angrily. Immediately, Ron's face turned sheepish.
"I'm sorry, mate. I didn't mean it like that," he apologized. Harry smirked at him and waved it off.
"It is nice," he admitted. "It's nice just having a godfather. I wouldn't care if Sirius had nothing at all, as long as I still got to live with him."
Ron and Hermione just stared at the sincerity in their friend's words and face. Normally, they all tried hard not to think about Harry's lack of parents and the hard home life he had previously endured with his heartless aunt and uncle. After a long awkward moment, Harry decided that the atmosphere had become all too serious.
"Too bad I'll have to watch how much trouble I get into this year. That'll be something new, anyway," he snorted, trying to lighten mood. "Sirius wasn't exactly shy about telling me that he expects me to behave myself. Don't know how I'm going to pull that one off with the luck I normally have at school."
The gentle ribbing was working as he saw Ron and Hermione start to chuckle. Ron grinned widely as he threw Harry another chocolate frog.
"Bad luck, mate. You're in the same boat as we are now," he teased. Hermione, her teeth chattering from the mouthful of ice mice she was consuming, just nodded sagely.
Harry gave the two a disbelieving look. Seeing that his friend wasn't getting the picture, Ron huffed impatiently.
"Come on, mate! You didn't think that we just got away with all of that stuff, did you?" he asked incredulously.
"Um..I..ah..no?" Harry stammered. They had never mentioned anything to him about it at all.
Hermione, her tongue warming back up, rolled her eyes. "Oh, honestly, Harry. The troll, first year? I lost my allowance for a month when McGonagall told my parents," she huffed.
Ron nodded. "I was grounded for two weeks as soon as I was home for the summer. And, I got smacked with Mum's spoon." Harry's eyes went wide as Hermione continued.
"Going after the sorcerer's stone, when we disobeyed the rules to stay away from the third floor door? Mum and Dad took away my library privileges for half of the summer!" she shrieked, as if the world had ended. Ron choked up some Bertie Bott's and coughed for several minutes before recovering. "Yeah, mate. I had to spend a month de-gnoming the garden. And, I got smacked with Mum's spoon." Harry smirked. He was beginning to sense a pattern here. Ron refilled his mouth and went on.
"The car, second year? You know about the Howler. You don't know that I had to spend a month scrubbing every square inch of the house. And," he finished with a little smile, " I got smacked with Mum's spoon." Hermione nodded this time. "The little mistake with the Polyjuice Potion? When Madame Pomfrey had to get rid of the cat face for me? I lost a trip to Paris for that."
Harry held his hands up in defeat, a look of genuine remorse on his face. "Sorry about all that, you guys. Really. How come you never said anything to me about it?"
His two friends stopped the jesting for a moment and stared at each other uncomfortably. Harry frowned. "What?"
Hermione reached over to put her hand on Harry's knee. "We..we didn't want to say anything to you, Harry. Because, well...you know." She shrugged and turned her gaze away from him.
"Because we didn't want to remind you that we had parents and you didn't, mate," Ron finished quietly.
Harry looked at the two of them, a large swell of affection for them building up in his chest. They really were the two best friends a bloke could have.
"Yeah, well, at least I'll join you in the dog house now," he snorted affably. "In case you didn't notice, Sirius is not really one to sit by quietly when I get into trouble."
The two shot sheepish looks at him, especially Ron who had still not forgiven himself for getting Harry into such deep water over the grove incident. Feeling extraordinarily fond of them and completely mischievous to boot, he shook his head sadly with a disbelieving look on his face.
"You two did all of that stuff with me, knowing how bad you would catch it, and yet you did it anyways? A couple of nutters, the both of you! What am I even thinking hanging out with you?"
His reward was an intense and immediate pelting with a shower of Bertie Bott's and ice mice, the three mates giggling madly as Harry covered his head to shield himself from the flying pastilles.
The rain was still coming down in buckets when the train arrived at the station in Hogsmeade. Holding tightly to their possessions as they made mad dashes for the carriages, the three fourth years clambered aboard, thankful to be out of the torrential downpour. The gratitude didn't last long, though. As they dashed into the castle, they were immediately assaulted with large red balloons filled with water. Looking up, the could see Peeves the Poltergeist laughing maniacally above them.
Muttering words that would surely have gotten his mouth washed out with soap if his godfather had heard him, Harry cursed the translucent imp as he poured water out of his trainers and onto the castle floors. He grumbled in discomfort at the requirement of having to wear his uniform the first night back. His wool pants and jumper were wet and itchy, his robe soggy and his tie was rubbing irritably at his neck.
Cold, wet and extremely hungry, they filed their way into the Great Hall. Taking places at the Gryffindor table, Harry was verbally accosted by Colin Creevey, a pint sized third year who practically worshipped the ground that Harry walked on. Harry, stomach growling irritably and soaked to the skin, tried very patiently to endure the boy's overactive enthusiasm as he pointed out his little brother who had just fallen into the lake out of the boats and was currently sporting Hagrid's furry coat, drenched beyond all comfort.
Harry and Ron held their empty stomachs impatiently as they sat through a rather longish version of the Sorting Hat's welcoming song. Harry would have given almost anything for someone to hex the decrepit thing shut if it meant that dinner would arrive that much more quickly. Although he had eaten plenty of sweets on the train, he was really regretting not heeding Sirius' advice to tuck into a decent breakfast that morning. Scowling, he knew that if his godfather could see him right now, he would certainly not hesitate to say "I told you so". Annoyed, but still slightly amused, Harry wondered if all parents took satisfaction when their children realized that they were right about things, or if it was just his parent.
Parent. He liked to say the word in his mind.
Speaking of which, he looked around and didn't see his godfather anywhere around the Great Hall. Harry had just assumed that Sirius would meet him for dinner. But, then again, he did say he would see him after the feast. Maybe whatever project he was working on for Dumbledore had him busy right now, but he would search Harry out afterwards.
Finally, the sorting began. As luck would have it, Gryffindor was the recipient of the newest little Creevey and the table applauded its approval. As the names were called out and the house was announced, Harry felt his attention wander around the room settling, for a pleasant moment, on the Ravenclaw table. He briefly caught the eye of Cho Chang. A beautiful Ravenclaw with long black hair and a pretty smile. Of course Harry was familiar with her as she played seeker for her house's Quidditch team. Attractive and a Quidditch player. Harry felt an unfamiliar fluttering in his stomach as he gave her a rather goofy little smile and received one in return. Face flushed with embarrassment, he returned his attention to the head table where the headmaster was standing to give his annual welcome speech.
"Tuck in," the smirking headmaster declared.
Thankfully, for the ravenous boys, the tables magically loaded with food, heavy enough to make the solid oak fixtures practically groan under the weight. Harry filled his plate dangerously high and was soon shoveling steak and potatoes into his mouth at an indelicate pace. Across the table, Ron had gone completely silent as he used both hands to expedite his food's trip from plate to mouth. So happy were they to finally be feasting, they barely noticed the conversation between Nearly Headless Nick and Hermione. It wasn't until Hermione threw her cutlery down with a clatter that they each swallowed a large mouthful to be able to ask her what the matter was.
"House Elves!" she screeched, as if that answered all of their questions. Seeing the blank, stunned looks on the boys' faces, she huffed and forced herself to explain.
"Hogwarts uses house elves."
Harry looked at Ron, who looked right back at him. They didn't really understand what the problem was and, seeing that, Hermione became even more enraged.
"Our dinner, was made with slave labor!" she cried out. Now half of the table had stopped eating to see what the problem was.
"Hermione," Harry began, careful not to provoke another outburst, "we have house elves at Celestial Court. You know that. My whole birthday party was done by them."
"That's..that's different," she sputtered. "Sirius told me himself that he would free any of his elves that wanted to go."
"But, then, how do you know that Hogwarts wouldn't do the same?" Ron asked, dumbfounded. Hermione had had enough. Throwing her napkin on the table, she glared at the redhead. "Oh, shut up, Ronald!"
She sat at the table, with her arms crossed, and refused to take another bite. Harry looked at Ron, who looked right back at him. They both shrugged and continued to snorkel their way through several courses.
After pudding was served and consumed, while Hermione huffed about all the hours the poor elves must have slaved away to make the fancy pastries, the headmaster clinked his spoon against his gold goblet in an attempt to get everyone's attention. In the din of the after dinner conversation, it took a fair few moments to get the large number of students to quiet down and listen to what Dumbledore had to say.
It went along as it usually did. Filch had registered yet another complaint regarding contraband items, they now numbered in the four hundreds. The Forbidden Forest was out of bounds, blah, blah, blah. Harry was full to the brim and getting very sleepy. The idea of peeling off his wet sticky clothes and donning a soft pair of pajamas before climbing into his nice warm bed in the dorm was wildly appealing at this particular moment in time. He had to keep reminding himself that his godfather was on the grounds somewhere and they would meet up for a bit before the students were sent to bed. He should probably unpack a bit and Hedwig needed attending to.
Looking across the table, he could see Ron practically dropping off as well. While Harry had consumed a shocking amount of supper, his redhead friend broke the laws of physics as he packed away an amount that could not possibly be resting comfortably in his lanky frame.
Harry forced his eyes open, staring in rapt concentration at the charmed ceiling. The weather outside had not improved and the sky was gray, ugly and menacing. Entranced, he felt Hermione tug at his sleeve and jerked her head pointedly towards the headmaster. Blinking rapidly, Harry picked up the speech in progress.
"It has been many years since the last time an event of this magnitude has been held here at Hogwarts. The Tri-Wizard Cup has traditionally been a friendly competition between the three largest wizarding schools in Europe. On Halloween, our castle will play host to the young ladies of the Beauxbatons Academy as well as the proud sons of Durmstrang."
Ron leaned over and whispered conspiratorially to Harry. "Lots of rumors about Durmstrang, mate. They don't just teach Defense against the Dark Arts there. They actually teach the Dark Arts themselves," he croaked, in awe.
"Unfortunately," Dumbledore continued, "due to the requirements of the tournament, the Inter-House Quidditch Cup will not take place this year."
Harry practically jumped to his feet in disagreement and he wasn't the only one. All around the room were the plaintive cries against the cancelling of the school's favorite sport. Harry shot a look over to Fred and George Weasley who were so distraught that they seemed unable to croak out a complaint. The twins just sat there, wordlessly mouthing harsh criticisms. Harry felt a small hole rip up in his stomach. What would he do without Quidditch?
It didn't seem to help that this bothersome tournament was only for students that were seventeen or older. At barely fourteen, Harry had no chance at all being involved in any way in the event that had pushed his beloved Quidditch out of the way. Not that he wanted to. After hearing about how past champions had died in their pursuit for eternal glory, he happily passed on the idea. He had never had any trouble attracting death threats on a regular basis to begin with. No need to go start searching for them on his own. He thought, for a moment, about what Sirius would do to him if he tried to enter something frivolous with a high casualty rate. He shuddered at the possibilities. There was no doubt that his godfather would go completely mental.
Off to the side, he heard the Weasley twins already starting to plot a way around the age restriction. He honestly didn't see Molly looking too kindly on their participation either, but he held his tongue. At least Fred and George were almost the right age. They would turn seventeen in the middle of the tournament.
His mind started to wander again as to the whereabouts of his godfather. Surely he would have found a way to find Harry by now? His attention was diverted by a large crack of thunder in the enchanted ceiling. The room went dark for a moment in the after shock of the lightening bolt. He noticed several students looking off to the side and he caught a glimpse of the most odd looking man he had ever seen.
The man's face was almost entirely mutilated and he seemed to have a vivid blue fake eye that whirled in its socket disturbingly. He was large, thick and walked with a limp. He ambled his way over to the professor's table and took a seat, grabbing a plate of sausages and sniffing them suspiciously. While the students sat on their benches, taking in the questionable sight, a large grin spread across the headmaster's face as he introduced the man.
His name was Alastor Moody and he was, apparently, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.
Harry knew that name. So did Ron, it seems, as it was Ron who explained to Hermione that Moody was a former Auror and responsible for filling half the cells in Azkaban. While Hermione tried hard not to look repulsed or impressed by the grotesque man who was now gnawing on the sausages like a predator, a memory clicked inside Harry's mind.
"I've heard about him. He was Sirius' mentor at the Auror Academy. Really talented. Had most of Voldemort's (he ignored Ron's squeak at the use of the name) supports scared out of their wits that he would come for them. Sirius told me that the Ministry chucked him recently. Seems to have gone round the twist," he informed his friends.
Ron nodded in agreement. "Yeah, Dad said the same thing. Said they call him 'Mad Eye'. Probably for more than one reason."
Hermione blinked rapidly, regaining her composure. "Well, at least we'll have a DADA teacher who is worth something. Obviously a decorated ex-Auror would know a thing or two. After lucking out with Professor Lupin, I was afraid that we might get stuck with another nutter like Quirrell or Lockhart."
They halted their whispered conversation when Dumbledore cleared his throat again.
"I have one more final announcement this evening. As some of you may know, Professor Sinistra has taken a well deserved sabbatical this year to do an intense study on white dwarf stars. As such, it is my great pleasure to introduce our new Astronomy professor."
As the new professor came out and sauntered elegantly towards the main table, a collective gasp fell across the entire Great Hall. At the Gryffindor table, a bushy haired brunette let out a small gasp, a lanky redhead spit pumpkin juice across the table and the messy black haired boy, trying to avoid his mate's liquid projectile, stood up in joyful recognition.
"Please welcome, Professor Sirius Black."
A/N yeah, yeah. You knew that this had to be coming, right? You didn't think that I would let Harry off that easily, did you? Of course, Sirius is following him to Hogwarts if he's not going back to the aurors. We know he doesn't do well alone in houses, right? ;) I promise, next chapter will be longer!