Story Title: The Foreign Exchange
Story Summary: The start of third year soon proved to be a bit of a shocker to both students and facility alike when Dumbledore stood at the end of the Sorting Feast and announced the new addition of a few new things.
Disclaimers: Don't own anything Harry Potter, that the rights of J. K. Rowling. Only own original characters, plot twists and the general mayhem caused.
Author's Note: This starts at the beginning of Harry's Third Year.
Chapter One: An Unexpected Announcement
Despite all the dubious excitement of the Dementor encounter on the train, the students seated at their house tables couldn't help but be excited and more than a bit curious. There were rumors flying around regarding a myriad of topics, but the most discussed one was the rumored reaction of the famous Boy-Who-Lived. The low buzz lulled a moment when the doors opened to admit three figures before picking up strength once again.
As Harry, Hermione and Professor McGonagall entered the Great Hall and made their way down the center aisle formed by the long House tables filled with students, Hermione noticed Professor Flitwick carrying the Sorting Hat and its stool through the door.
"Oh," she exclaimed softly, "we've missed the Sorting!"
The three parted ways as Professor McGonagall headed toward her empty seat at the staff table, while Harry and Hermione set off as quietly as possible in the other direction toward the Gryffindor table. People everywhere looked at them as they passed along the back of the hall, and a few of them even pointed at Harry. Trying desperately to ignore them and not quite succeeding he had only one main thought. Had the story of his collapse traveled this fast?
Giving his head a slight shake at the depressing probability, he and Hermione sat down on either side of Ron, who had saved them seats.
"What was all that about?" he muttered to Harry.
Harry shrugged and looked around the Great Hall when he noticed there surprisingly appeared to be a few seats extra this year.
"What's with the empty seats?" he asked Ron.
"Don't know mate but I bet we're about to find out."
They both turned to look at Hermione at her "Shhh!" and twisted back around when she pointed towards the head table.
"Welcome!" said Dumbledore, the candlelight shimmering on his silvery beard. "Welcome to another year at Hogwarts! I have a few things to say to you all, and as one of them is very serious, I think it best to get it out of the way before you become befuddled by our excellent feast…"
Dumbledore cleared his throat and continued, "As you will all be aware after their search of the Hogwarts Express, our school is presently playing host to some of the Dementors of Azkaban, who are here on Ministry of Magic business."
When he paused, Harry couldn't help but remember Mr. Weasley's words said regarding Dumbledore's reaction to the Dementors' placement.
"They are stationed at every entrance to the grounds, and while they are with us, I must make it plain that nobody is to leave school without permission. Dementors are not to be fooled by tricks or disguises — or even Invisibility Cloaks," at this little aside, Harry and Ron glanced at each other. "It is not in the nature of a Dementor to understand pleading or excuses. I therefore warn each and every one of you to give them no reason to harm you. I look to the prefects, and our new Head Boy and Girl, to make sure that no student runs afoul of the Dementors."
"On a happier note," he continued, "I am pleased to welcome two new teachers to our ranks this year.
"First, Professor Lupin, who has kindly consented to fill the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher."
At the mention of Harry's savior, only those who had witnessed the event were heard loudly above the scattered applause. Harry found his focus drawn to the threadbare man when he suddenly heard Ron's voice in his ear.
"Look at Snape!"
Harry turned to look and saw the resident Potions master, Professor Severus Snape, staring down the staff table at Professor Lupin. While common knowledge that Snape wanted the Defense Against the Dark Arts job, everyone including Harry was startled at the expression twisting his features was beyond anger.
Loathing. Unfortunately, Harry knew that expression all too well for it was the same look Snape wore every time he set eyes on Harry.
"As to our second new appointment," Dumbledore continued. "Well, I am sorry to tell you that Professor Kettleburn, our Care of Magical Creatures teacher, retired at the end of last year in order to enjoy more time with his remaining limbs. However, I am delighted to say that his place will be filled by none other than Rubeus Hagrid, who has agreed to take on this teaching job in addition to his gamekeeping duties."
The three friends stared at each other stunned, then joined the applause, which was particularly thunderous at their table as Hagrid hid his red-faced grin hidden by his beard as he sat staring down at his enormous hands.
"We should've known!" Ron roared, pounding the table. "Who else would have assigned us a biting book?"
Harry, Ron, and Hermione were the last to stop clapping, and as Professor Dumbledore began speaking again, they saw that Hagrid was wiping his eyes on the tablecloth.
"Well, I think that's everything of importance-" said Dumbledore. At a nudge from his Deputy Headmistress, he stopped and leaned down to listen as she whispered something in his ear.
"Ah, you're quite right my dear. It had completely slipped my mind."
""That's not all that he's lost," muttered Ron and Harry choked down a laugh when Hermione smacked him on the arm. Ignoring the indignant "Ow!" , the pair turned their attention back on their head master as he began to speak.
"As some of you may already know, and the rest not yet have heard more than rumor, but the rumor is indeed true."
This completely silenced the quiet murmur that had pervaded the room. Both student and faculty alike turned their undivided attention to the white-haired man.
"Over the past few years I have received requests for the reinstatement of an exchange program and-" he broke off to beam his smile to all present "-the process is complete."
More than one student noticed that more than one brow at the head table was raised in question and wondered as to the cause. The facility for their part was very confused… particularly Minerva McGonagall. Never had there been such a program existed during the entire history of Hogwarts, so the reinstatement of one was pure fiction. This obvious lie was the primary reason, but as the headmaster continued, it proved not the only one.
"As you are undoubtly aware, there appears to be a few more students than usual this year and there is an excellent reason for this quite unexpected influx." Dumbledore paused to breathe and took in the mixed expressions as he scanned the assemblage with twinkling eyes. "Over the course of the next few days, several more students will shortly be leaving their home and be on the way to attend our splendid school. Now I expect you all to make them feel right at home and I know you will all have a splendid year"
With a flourish of his hands, Headmaster Dumbledore clapped his hands. Everyone just stared at the man in such stunned shock and surprise that they sat motionless a minute or two after he proudly smiled and announced-
"Let the feast begin!"
Author's Note: Hope you like this so far.