"Next to the tall kid with the red hair."
"Next to the one carrying books?"
"Did you see his face?"
"Did you see his scar?"
"I don't know worse, being surrounded for being famous or having to go through people pointing at you like some exhibit."
People started to follow Harry from the moment he left the dormitories this morning. This caused Harry to be on edge the whole time.
Arth believed, no knew, that if Harry and Ron were left to their own devices in finding their classes, they would get lost like baby lambs.
There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday; some with a vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember to jump. Then there were doors that wouldn't open unless you asked politely, or tickled them in exactly the right place, and doors that weren't really doors at all, but solid walls just pretending. It was also very hard to remember where anything was, because it all seemed to move around a lot. The people in the portraits kept going to visit each other, and the coats of armor could walk. Arth could vouch for it since he had seen it in person.
In summary, it was very difficult for students to find out how to get to places. Except for a very few individuals.
"Ron, that's the wrong staircase, that'll lead you to the dungeon."
"Harry, that door is actually just a wall, so stop trying to force yourself in."
"Is it really that hard to memorize how to get to classes?"
Harry and Ron glanced at each other before facing Arth with a wry smile.
"It's not us who's abnormal, it's actually you who memorized the interior of Hogwarts."
"Yeah, sometimes, I wonder if you really are an eleven year old like us."
A dust colored cat with lamp like eyes appeared and meowed.
Arth started to frown.
"From now on, you guys will follow my direction. Otherwise we will be late to class."
"Can I please kick her once?" Asked Ron flaring spitefully At Mrs. Norris.
"That's animal cruelty Ron."
"I refuse to accept that thing as an animal."
Filch owned a cat called Mrs. Norris, a scrawny, dust-colored creature with bulging, lamp like eyes just like Filch's. She patrolled the corridors alone. Break a rule in front of her, put just one toe out of line, and she'd whisk off for Filch, who'd appear, wheezing, two seconds later. Filch knew the secret passageways of the school better than
anyone (except perhaps the Weasley twins) and could pop up as suddenly as any of the ghosts. The students all hated him, and it was the dearest ambition of many to give Mrs. Norris a good kick.
The classes were, in Arth's opinion, fabulous.
They had to study the night skies through their telescopes every Wednesday at midnight and learn the names of different stars and the movements of the planets. It was very relaxing and soothing because Arth had already memorized the location
locations of most of the planets and stars already. Plus, the view was breathtakingly beautiful.
However, Harry and Ron were totally clueless about most of them, they couldn't find the star even when Arth described it for them.
Three times a week they went out to the greenhouses behind the castle to study Herbology, with a dumpy little witch called Professor Sprout, where they learned how to take care of all the strange plants and fungi, and found out what they were used for. Another absolutely amazing class.
Easily the most info packed class was History of Magic, which was the only one taught by a ghost. Professor Binns had been very old
indeed when he had fallen asleep in front of the staff room fire and got up next morning to teach, leaving his body behind him. Binns droned on and on while they scribbled down names and dates, and got Emetic the Evil and Uric the Oddball mixed up. Or that's what he had heard from older students.
Professor Flitwick, the Charms teacher, was a tiny little wizard who had to stand on a pile of books to see over his desk. At the start of their first class he took the roll call, and when he reached Harry's name he gave an excited squeak and toppled out of sight. Arth was starting to have doubts on whether these people were teachers of the best wizard school in the world.
All of Arth's suspicions were blown away when he met Professor McGonagall. Professor McGonagall was different. She wasn't a teacher to cross. Strict and clever, she gave them a talking-to the moment they sat down in her first class.
"Transfiguration is some of the most complex and dangerous magic you will learn at Hogwarts," she said. "Anyone messing around in my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned."
Then she changed her desk into a pig and back again. They were all very impressed and couldn't wait to get started, but soon realized they weren't going to be changing the furniture into animals for a long time. While disappointed, Arth just shrugged it off. He doubted he could do it on his first try anyways.
After taking a few notes, they were each given a match and started trying to turn it into a needle. At first Arth had trouble with transforming the match.
"Hmmmm, how exactly does one change wood into metal? Or is it that the sheen is actually wood with silver color? But how does it get the color? And how does one destroy or crest mass? Interesting..."
"Shut up Arth, you giving a stronger headache."
Harry and Ron didn't show too much success either.
Harry had furrowed his eyebrows while pointing at the match while Ron had accidentally snapped the match in half due to anger.
By the end of the lesson, only Hermione and Arth had made any difference to their matches; Professor McGonagall showed the class how it had gone all silver and pointy and gave Hermione a rare smile while she complimented Arth on how his had started to resemble a needle.
Arth had realized one crucial factor when casting transmigration spells. Screw muggle science.
The class everyone had really been looking forward to was Defense Against the Dark Arts, but Quirrell's lessons turned out to be a bit of a joke. In fact, it was Arth's most hated class.
All he did was share personal experiences that seemed to be fake. For an example, when Seamus Finnigan asked eagerly to hear how Quirrell had fought off the zombie, Quirrell went pink and started talking about the weather. For another, they had noticed that a funny smell hung around the turban, and the Weasley twins insisted that it was stuffed full of garlic as well, so that Quirrell was protected wherever he went. The class was a waste of time.
Friday was an important day for Harry and Ron. They finally managed to find their way down to the Great Hall for breakfast without getting lost once. Although Arth did help point the way once or twice.
"What have we got today?" Harry asked Ron as he poured sugar on his porridge while Arth was reading a book.
"Double Potions with the Slytherins," said Ron. "Snape's Head of Slytherin House. They say he always favors them - we'll be able to see if it's true."
"Wish McGonagall favored us, " said Harry.
"She isn't that strict."
"That's because you are an abnormal bookworm."
A bunch of screeching noises resounded throughout the hall and a bunch of owls descended like holy messengers.
Arth had gotten used to this by now, but
it had given him a bit of a shock on the first morning, when about a hundred owls had suddenly streamed into the Great Hall during breakfast. In fact, King, his parents' Great Horned Owl came with a letter from his mother, which he responded to quickly.
Hedwig, Harry's owl, dropped a letter and ate some food off of Harry's plate before flying away once more. From the midst of owls, Arth could see a small black bird cawing happily towards him.
"Come here Corvus."
Like a loyal dog, Corvus landed on Arth's shoulder and nibbles affectionately on his ear.
Ron looked on with jealous eyes.
"Wished I had an owl, bloody useful. However, how is it that your crow seems so adorable when compared to owls?"
"It's a raven, did you hear that Corvus, people think you are adorable."
After feeding Corvus, a bit of food, he watched as his crow cawed happily and flew out in a wobbly manner. After looking around, he did see a lot of girls eyeing Corvus with curious looks.
"My, my, how my crow has grown..."
"Yep, he is no longer invisible like you."
Arth started at Corvus who was receiving more attention by the minute and compared himself to it.
He... he felt like dying.
People had finally started to recognize Ron as Ron instead of "boy with red hair," while Arth was still "boy with books." Arth wanted to see if there was a potion that could make oneself more visible, or noticeable.
Seeing that Harry was engrossed with his letter, Arth leaned in close.
"What is it about?"
Harry smiled, "Hagrid is inviting me to a cup of tea on Friday at three, want to join."
"Fine with it, will he have some food?" Asked Ron.
Potions lessons took place down in one of the dungeons. It was colder here than up in the main castle, and would have been quite creepy enough without the pickled animals floating in glass jars all around the walls.
Snape, like Flitwick, started the class by taking the roll call, and like Flitwick, he paused at Harry's name.
"Ah, Yes," he said softly, "Harry Potter. Our new -- celebrity."
Harry flushes while Ron started to frown.
Draco Malfoy and his friends Crabbe and Goyle sniggered behind their hands. Snape finished calling the names and looked up at the class. His eyes were black, cold, and empty and made you think of dark tunnels.
"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potionmaking," he began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every word -- like Professor McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort. A sign of a good teacher.
"As there is little foolish wand-waving
here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses.... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death - if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."
Arth was starting to get excited. Although a bit cold, Snape was teaching the essence and necessity of potions. Arth looked around to see the others reactions. Harry and Ron exchanged looks with raised eyebrows while Hermione Granger was on the edge of her seat and looked desperate to start proving that she wasn't a dunderhead.
He should've expected this. Ignoring the other students, he wrote down Snape's speech, word by word, in his notebook.
"Potter!" said Snape suddenly. "What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"
Arth flinched as he had almost screamed out the answer. Looking at Hermione furiously waving her hand did not help either.
"I don't know, sit," answered Harry.
Snape's lips curled into a sneer.
"Tut, tut -- fame clearly isn't everything."
He ignored Hermione's hand.
"Let's try again. Potter, where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?"
Harry looked as though he didn't have the faintest idea what a bezoar was. Somewhere in the class, Arth heard Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle laugh.
"I don't know, sir."
"Thought you wouldn't open a book before coming, eh, Potter?"
At this point, Arth was on the point of groaning.
"What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?"
At this, Hermione stood up, her hand stretching toward the dungeon ceiling.
"I don't know," said Harry quietly. "I think Hermione does, though, why don't you try her?"
Arth went pale, just as how Professor McGonagall was one not to cross, Arth was sure that Snape belonged to the same group. A few people laughed; Harry caught Seamus's eye, and Seamus winked. Snape, as expected, was not pleased.
"Sit down," he snapped at Hermione. "For your information, Potter, asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of Living Death. A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from most poisons. As for monkshood and wolfsbane, they are the same plant, which also goes by the name of aconite. Well? Why aren't you all copying that down?"
Everyone started to write down the answers to the questions except for Arth. This did not go unnoticed by Snape.
"Did I not make myself clear Mr..."
Arth felt like crying.
"It's Arth, Arthur Kingscrown."
Snape analyzed Arth with his cold, calculative eyes.
"Why are you not copying down the answers Mr. Kingscrown?"
"Ah... that's because I wrote them down while you were speaking."
As to show proof, Arth handed his notebook over to Snape.
Snape read the contents carefully and suddenly froze.
"Why did you copy my speech about the essence of potion making, Mr. Kingscrown?"
A bit embarrassed, Arth replied, "It is because I saw importance in your speech professor Snape."
Snape looked at Arth with an emotionless gaze before he turned around and continued on with his class.
"And a point will be taken from Gryffindor House for your cheek, Potter."
Harry groaned but didn't stop writing the information down.
Things didn't improve for the Gryffindors as the Potions lesson continued. Snape put them all into pairs and set them to mixing up a simple potion to cure boils. He swept around in his long black cloak, watching them weigh dried nettles and crush snake fangs, criticizing almost everyone except Malfoy, whom he seemed to like.
Harry and Ron were in a pair next to Neville and Seamus while Arth was paired with Hermione.
Arth weakly smiled at Hermione. "Hi..."
However, she coldly ignored him. Arth sighed.
He started to scan the room for anything entertaining, he was sure that Hermione wouldn't mess a simple potion up. His eyes froze when he got to Neville.
"Ah, wait Neville, don't add the porcupine quills-"
It was too late.
Neville had somehow managed to melt Seamus's cauldron into a twisted blob, and their potion was seeping across the stone floor, burning holes in people's shoes. Within seconds, the whole class was standing on their stools while Neville, who had been drenched in the potion when the cauldron collapsed, moaned in pain as angry red boils sprang up all over his arms and legs.
"Idiot boy!" snarled Snape, clearing the spilled potion away with one wave of his wand. "I suppose you added the porcupine quills before taking the cauldron off the fire?"
Arth winced before turning around to hide his face. However, when he faced the other way, Hermione was gazing into his eyes. Caught off guard, Arth raised his eyebrows.
It took Hermione a while to answer.
She turned away and glanced at Neville with a worried expression. "Nothing."
Neville whimpered as boils started to pop up all over his nose.
"Take him up to the hospital wing," Snape spat at Seamus. Then he rounded on Harry and Ron, who had been working next to Neville.
"You - Potter - why didn't you tell him not to add the quills? Thought he'd make you look good if he got it wrong, did you? That's another point you've lost for Gryffindor."
Harry opened his mouth to argue, but Ron kicked him behind their cauldron causing Harry to shut his mouth.
After exiting the dungeon an hour later, they walked towards Hagrid's with a depressed Harry.
"Cheer up," said Ron, "Snape's always taking points off Fred and George."
"I guess," said Harry, with a little bit more vigor.
At five to three they left the castle and made their way across the grounds. Hagrid lived in a small wooden house on the edge of the forbidden forest. A crossbow and a pair of galoshes were outside the front door.
When Harry knocked they heard a frantic scrabbling from inside and several booming barks. Then Hagrid's voice rang out, saying, "Back, Fang -- back."
Hagrid's big, hairy face appeared in the crack as he pulled the door open.
"Hang on," he said. "Back, Fang."
He let them in, struggling to keep a hold on the collar of an enormous black boarhound.
There was only one room inside. Hams and pheasants were hanging from the ceiling, a copper kettle was boiling on the open fire, and in the corner stood a massive bed with a patchwork quilt over it.
"Make yerselves at home," said Hagrid, letting go of Fang, who bounded straight at Arth and started licking his face. Happy for the attention, Arth gave him an equal amount of love.
"This is Ron, and the other one is Arth." Harry told Hagrid, who was pouring boiling water into a large teapot and putting rock cakes onto a plate.
"Another Weasley, eh?" said Hagrid, glancing at Ron's freckles. I spent half me life chasin' yer twin brothers away from the forest."
The rock cakes were shapeless lumps with raisins that almost broke their teeth, Ron was immediately depressed as he was expecting good food.
They told Hagrid all about their first -lessons.
While they were talking, Harry glanced at a newspaper on the table underneath a tea cozy.
Harry let our a gasp.
"Hagrid!" said Harry, "that Gringotts break-in happened on my birthday! It might've been happening while we were there!"
Hagrid seemed to be a bit nervous at Harry's words. Arth on the other hand, was too busy playing with the dog to intercede. Who cares about a robbery.
As they walked back to the castle for dinner, their pockets weighed down with rock cakes. Harry seemed to be deep in thought while Ron was trying to get rid of the rock cakes. Arth was... reading a book.