At last, the desserts too disappeared, and Professor Dumbledore got to his feet again. The hall fell silent.
"Ahem -- just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few start-of-term notices to give you. First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well."
Dumbledore's twinkling eyes flashed in the direction of the Weasley twins.
"I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors. Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact Madam Hooch. And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor
on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death."
Harry laughed, but he was one of the few who did. "He's not serious?" he muttered to Arth.
"Must be," interjected Percy, frowning at Dumbledore. "It's odd, because he usually gives us a reason why we're not allowed to go somewhere -- the forest's full of dangerous beasts, everyone knows that. I do think he might have told us prefects, at least."
"And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!" cried Dumbledore. Arth noticed that the other teachers' smiles had become rather... Stoney and he soon understood why.
Dumbledore gave his wand a little flick, as if he was trying to get a fly off the end, and a long golden ribbon flew out of it, which rose high above the tables and twisted itself, snakelike, into words.
"Everyone pick their favorite tune," said Dumbledore, "and off we go!"
Arth watched horror as the whole whole school started to sing, awfully.
"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts, Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling With some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare and full of air, Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing, Bring back what we've forgot,
just do your best, we'll do the rest, And learn until our brains all rot.
Everybody finished the song at different times. At last, only the Weasley twins were left singing along to a very slow funeral march. Dumbledore conducted their last few lines with his wand and when they had finished, he was one of those who clapped loudest. By this point, Arth realized that he'd rather be a muggle than sing that song again.
"Ah, music," dumbo said, wiping his eyes, which caused visible veins to pop out of Arth's forehead.
"A magic beyond all we do here! And now, bedtime. Off you trot!"
The Gryffindor first years followed Percy through the chattering crowds, out of the Great Hall, and up the marble staircase.
The people in the portraits along the corridors whispered and pointed as they passed. They climbed more staircases, yawning and dragging their feet, and came to a sudden halt. A bundle of walking sticks was floating in midair ahead of them, and as Percy took a step toward them they started throwing themselves at him.
"Peeves," Percy whispered to the first years. "A poltergeist." He raised his voice, "Peeves - show yourself"
A loud, rude sound, like the air being let out of a balloon, answered instead.
"Do you want me to go to the Bloody Baron?"
There was a pop, and a little man with wicked, dark eyes and a wide mouth appeared, floating cross- legged in the air, clutching the walking sticks.
"Oooooooh!" he said, with an evil cackle. "Ickle Firsties! What fun!" He swooped suddenly at them. They all ducked.
"Go away, Peeves, or the Baron'll hear about this, I mean it!" barked Percy.
Peeves stuck out his tongue and vanished, dropping the walking sticks on Neville's head. They heard him zooming away, rattling coats of armor as he passed.
Ron let out a sigh. "What a pity that he dropped his sticks on Neville, he needed those brain cells for the already dreadful memory he has."
Harry sniggered while Arth just cooly smiled.
"You want to watch out for Peeves," said Percy, as they set off again. "The Bloody Baron's the only one who can control him, he won't even listen to us prefects. Here we are."
At the very end of the corridor hung a portrait of a very fat woman in a pink silk dress.
"Password?" she said.
"Caput Draconis," said Percy, and the portrait swung forward to reveal a round hole in the wall. They all scrambled through it - Neville needed a leg up - and found themselves in the Gryffindor common room, a cozy, round room full of squashy armchairs.
Percy directed the girls through one door to their dormitory and the boys through another. At the top of a spiral staircase - they were obviously in one of the towers -- they found their beds at last: The six four-posters hung with deep red, velvet curtains. Their trunks had already been brought up. Too tired to talk much, everyone else pulled on their pajamas and fell into bed.
"If you guys are already this tired, how will you last in the school year?"
However, no one answered. They had all fallen asleep.
Arth sighed again and took out a book.
"Why do I get the feeling that staying with these people will make me tired?"
A tiny caw sounded from one of the cages. Arth glanced at it and realized it was his Corvus.
"Come out here Corvus," said Arth while opening the cage. He fed the happily jumping Corvus some leftover meat that he had purposely snuck from the dining hall.
It took Arth a few minutes to realize that what he fed Corvus was chicken. Feeling a bit weird at the sight of Corvus munching happily at the chicken he decided it was best to not mention it. Although the shop owner said Corvus was a normal raven, it showed some signs of intelligence.
After skimming through all of his course books once, Arth decided it was time to sleep. He placed Corvus on a small makeshift ledge he had created and watched as Corvus started to roost. He then put away his books and went to sleep.