Time went by quickly, the Gryffindor's celebrated in the common room with high spirits, feasting on the food that Fred and George had snuck out of the kitchen.
Arth was writing on a piece of paper when Harry and Ron walked up to him.
"Arth, where were you? We were at Hagrid's and we discovered something new."
Arth calmly rolled up the paper he was writing on and gave a smile.
"About the three headed dog."
"Didn't we agree on not going back there?"
Ron held up his hands defensively. "We didn't, we just found out what it was guarding."
"How did you find out?" Arth asked skeptically.
"Hagrid told us."
"He told you?"
"More like accidentally let it slip, but yeah. He told us."
"What did he tell you?"
Harry adjusted his glasses before speaking up.
"We found out that whatever it's guarding, it involves Nicholas Flamel."
"What did you say!" Asked Arth, opening his eyes wide with attention.
"Did you say Nicholas Flamel?"
Arth took out the scroll he was writing on and wrote a few words on it before closing it back shut.
Harry hesitates before tapping on the shoulder of Arth.
"Who is... Nicholas Flamel? Hermione is in the library looking for any information but she hasn't had any progress yet. I swear that I've heard of his name but I can't remember where."
Arth woke up from his daze and glanced at Harry and Ron with a complicated gaze.
"Nicholas... Flamel... have you ever heard of the legend of a stone that can give everlasting life and riches?"
Ron exclaimed while furrowing his brows in thought.
"It was... um... my mum told me this story once... it was the sorcerers stone?"
"Philosophers stone actually, but anyways, Nicholas Flamel, is the only known alchemist who has recreated it, at least, in the past millennium."
Arth carefully inspected their faces before opening his mouth into a slight crescent.
"I'm warning you, don't go back into the third floor corridor, the headmaster knows what he is doing. They don't need kids like us to butt in."
"Chill out will you, we aren't going to go back we swear." Said Ron, asserting an air of confidence.
"I don't want to die you know. Lets go tell Hermione Harry."
Arth watched as the two left the room heading off to look for Hermione. After he had made sure that both of them had gone, Arth slumped down into the chair, visibly tired.
"Hahaha, I shouldn't have stayed up all night..."
Arth grumbled to himself and put his books down while placing the paper on the desk. He whistled once to which a black bird answered to.
"My dear Corvus."
The black baby raven had now essentially grown into an adult. Arth didn't know if it was what the school fed the owls or if it was just a magic bird thing but Corvus was at least twice the size of a normal raven.
"I wonder Corvus, if you are just as smart as those owls."
Corvus let out an indignant caw as if he was saying he was way better than them. Seeing this Arth let out a smile.
"Ok, go take this to my parents. Also, don't fight with king when you arrive at the house, ok?"
Corvus shook its head up and down before grabbing a letter and taking flight. Arth watched as Corvus flew away, in his hand was a letter he had received from his parents this morning.
Hello son, hope you are doing well in school. I just wanted to tell you that your mother and I will be out of the house this Christmas, we want to go skiing in the US. Don't mind us and enjoy your time at Hogwarts. Trust me when I say their decorations are no joke. We will leave some time after November. Reply back, don't want to miss your owl, or is it raven? Anyways, stay strong.
Arth sighed and folded the letter neatly on top of the paper he was writing on earlier ago. It was just like his parents to go do something muggle like. It was no wonder they adopted him.
Arth went into his room and got on top of his bed before closing his eyes. He went over the books he had read in his mind before falling asleep.
Time passed by quickly, and mid-December had arrived. Hogwarts woke to find itself covered in several feet of snow. The lake froze solid and the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban.
The few owls that managed to battle their way through the stormy sky to deliver mail had to be nursed back to health by Hagrid before they could fly off again. Corvus had also somehow managed to battle his way through the storm, which Arth was proud of and gave Corvus a nice hot piece of meat. For next few mornings, Corvus walked around with his chest puffed up and cawed arrogantly at anyone who would listen.
No one could wait for the holidays to start. While the Gryffindor common room and the Great Hall had roaring fires, the drafty corridors had become icy and a bitter wind rattled the windows in the classrooms. Worst of all were Professor Snape's classes down in the dungeons, where their breath condensed into a visible fog before them.
Arth had created a small pendant for himself that contained a white flame which was very efficient for warming himself up. However, he was pressured into telling how he had made it by Hermione, who then proceeded to hand them out to fellow Gryffindors.
"I do feel so sorry," said Draco Malfoy, one Potions class, "for all those people who have to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas because they're not wanted at home."
Arth would always silently cast a silencing spell on the three whenever they started to blabber a bit too much. He felt that it would cost less effort than actually telling them to shut it.
When they left the dungeons at the end of Potions, they found a large fir tree blocking the corridor ahead. Two enormous feet sticking out at the bottom and a loud puffing sound told them that Hagrid was behind it.
"Hi, Hagrid, want any help?" Ron asked, sticking his head through the branches.
"Nah, I'm all right, thanks, Ron."
"Would you mind moving out of the way?" came Malfoys cold drawl from behind them.
"Are you trying to earn some extra money, Weasley? Hoping to be gamekeeper yourself when you leave Hogwarts, I suppose - that hut of Hagrid's must seem like a palace compared to what your family's used to-"
Arth casted the spell on Malfoy again wondering when the first spell had worn off before giving a tired glance at Ron and Malfoy.
"Can we just be quiet, I'm a bit tired of all this nonsense between the houses. I don't care if you guys fight when I'm not around but please just don't fight around me."
Arth released Malfoy from his spell, which earned him a glare from Malfoy.
"Do you think that just because you took down a troll, it makes you the king of all first years? Well let me tell you, my father is the-"
A worn out voice interrupted him.
Arth silently gazed at Malfoy who was trying to open his speak with tired eyes.
"Go ask a fifth year student to help you get rid of it, I don't care anymore."
With that Arth stumbled away from the scene looking very worn out.
Hagrid had a worried look on his face.
"Is he ok? He looks very tired, he might be sick?"
"He says he is ok, that he is tired from going to the library and reading books into the night. Don't reckon he's sick though, just tired."
Hagrid let out a sigh of relief.
"Well that's good, ain't to good to be tired all the time though, he needs some rest. Isn't it almost the holidays? How many days you got left until yer holidays?" Hagrid asked.
"Just one," said Hermione.
"That's good, be sure to have fun Hermione. You'll need that rest."
The three of them ran towards the dining hall where Arth was slowly eating a turkey leg.
"You really should eat something other than turkey, having a balanced diet is good for you."
"How late do you stay up. I think that I'm starting to see dark circles spear from beneath your eyes."
"It's ok, I just don't feel good whenever winter comes. I feel like I'm always running on low energy. I do feel like sleeping though."
Arth glanced up and smiled.
"My parents were right."
"What do you mean?"
"The decorations are beautiful."
The hall did look spectacular. Festoons of holly and mistletoe hung all around the walls, and no less than twelve towering Christmas trees stood around the hall, some sparkling with tiny icicles, some glittering with hundreds of candles.
Once the holidays had started, Arth was a bit more active. He would spend the day in the library or in the common room spending time with Harry and Ron.
Ron also started teaching them wizard chess. This was exactly like Muggle chess except that the figures were alive, which made it a lot like directing troops in battle. Ron's set was very old and battered.
Like everything else he owned, it had once belonged to someone else in his family, in this case, his grandfather. However, old chessmen weren't a drawback at all. Ron knew them so well he never had trouble getting them to do what he wanted.
Harry and Arth took turns playing with the chessmen Seamus Finnigan had lent him, who didn't really trust Harry. They kept
shouting different bits of advice at him, which was confusing. "Don't send me there, can't you see his knight? Send him, we can afford to lose him."
However, when Arth took control, they would immediately quiet down. In fact, even though they weren't alive, Ron Harry and Arth could feel respect oozing out of the chessmen when Arth played. To be fair, Arth hadn't lost a single chess match yet, to much of Ron's frustration.
On Christmas Eve, Arth was shaken awake by Ron. Next to him was an equally tired Harry.
"Merry Christmas," said Ron to Harry as Arth got out of bed and put on his robe.
"You, too," said Harry. "Will you look at this? I've got some presents!"
"What did you expect, turnips?" said Ron, turning to his own pile, which was a lot bigger than Harry's.
"I would love a turnip, my mother makes delicious dishes with them," said Arth while looking at his pile. "It seems as though I have received a lot of presents."
Ron glanced at Arth's pile and widened his eyes.
"How did you get so many presents? I thought that you didn't have any wizard friends?"
Arth ripped open a present and raised an eyebrow.
"It's from my first uncle, I think most of this is from my relatives?"
"They send you presents?"
"They did come over to our house a couple times. Although I did think they were weird when I met them, at least I know now that it was because they were wizards."
Harry picked up a parcel Before giving a skeptical remark.
"What is it?" asked Arth while opening his presents.
"A fifty pence."
Ron was fascinated by the fifty pence.
"Weird!" he said, "This is money?"
"You can keep it," said Harry, laughing at how pleased Ron was. "Hagrid and my aunt and uncle - so who sent these?"
"I think I know who that one's from," said Ron, turning a bit pink and pointing to a very lumpy parcel. "My mom. I told her you didn't expect any presents and - oh, no," he groaned, "she's made you a Weasley sweater."
Harry had torn open the parcel to find a thick, hand-knitted sweater in emerald green and a large box of homemade fudge.
"Every year she makes us a sweater," said Ron, unwrapping his own, "and mine's always maroon."
"Huh," exclaimed Arth, "I think I received one too. How does she know me?"
Arth opened the parcel which revealed a black sweater.
"I told her about you in a letter once."
"It's pretty nice, I like it. Give her my thanks for me."
Arth was in the middle of opening parcels when Ron gasped.
"I've heard of those," he said in a hushed voice. "If that's what I think it is - they're really rare, and really valuable."
"What is it?" Asked Arth, a tad bit curious.
Harry picked up a shining, silvery cloth off the floor.
"It's an invisibility cloak," said Ron, a look of awe on his face. "I'm sure it is - try it on."
Harry threw the cloak around his shoulders and Ron gave a yell.
"It is! Look down!"
Harry was now a floating head. His body body had mysteriously disappeared.
"There's a note!" said Ron suddenly. "A note fell out of it!"
"I'd give anything for one of these," he said. "Anything. What's the matter?"
"Nothing," said Harry.
Arth let out a wry smile.
"At least you got something useful, all I got were pretty knives and a few clothes."
Arth revealed ten beautifully crafted daggers and a a black robe that looked as though it was made from the night sky.
"Oh, it's from my third uncle and his wife. Should've known, he did seem to be really into daggers."
Before he could open more presents, the dormitory door was flung open and Fred and George Weasley bounded in.
"Hey, look - Harry and Arth got a Weasley sweater, too!"
Fred and George were wearing blue sweaters, one with a large yellow F on it, the other a G.
"Theirs are better than ours, though," said Fred, holding up Harry's sweater. "She obviously makes more of an effort if you're not family."
"Why aren't you wearing yours, Ron?" George demanded. "Come on, get it on, they're lovely and warm."
"I hate maroon," Ron moaned halfheartedly as he pulled it over his head.
"You haven't got a letter on yours," George observed. "I suppose she thinks you don't forget your name. But we're not stupid - we know we're called Gred and Forge."
"What's all this noise?"
Percy Weasley stuck his head through the door, looking disapproving. He had clearly gotten halfway through unwrapping his presents as he, too, carried a lumpy sweater over his arm, which Fred seized.
"P for prefect! Get it on, Percy, come on, we're all wearing ours, even Harry got one."
"I - don't - want said Percy thickly, as the twins forced the sweater over his head, knocking his glasses askew.
"And you're not sitting with the prefects today, either," said George. "Christmas is a time for family."
They frog-marched Percy from the room, his arms pinned to his side by his sweater.
The dinner was amazing. A hundred fat, roast turkeys, much do Arth's delight, mountains of roast and boiled potatoes; platters of chipolatas; tureens of buttered peas, silver boats of thick, rich gravy and cranberry sauce, and stacks of wizard crackers every few feet along the table.
After finishing, they went back to their room to sleep. Arth was just about to go sleep when he heard a creak.
He saw that Harry's bed was empty. Not wanting to waste energy, Arth went back to sleep.
The next morning, Harry told him about his night adventure.
"You could have woken me up," said Ron, crossly.
"You can come tonight, I'm going back, I want to show you the mirror."
"I'd like to see your mom and dad," Ron said eagerly.
"And I want to see all your family, all the Weasleys, all the Kingscrowns, you'll be able to show me your other brothers, uncles and everyone."
"You can see them any old time," said Ron.
"Just come round my house this summer. Anyway, maybe it only shows dead people. Shame about not finding Flamel, though. Have some bacon or something, why aren't you eating anything?"
"Are you all right?" said Ron. "You look odd."
Harry did seemed as if he was... possessed.
With Ron covered in the cloak and Arth walking behind them, they had to walk much more slowly and cautiously. They tried retracing Harry's route from the library, wandering around the dark passageways for nearly an hour.
"I'm freezing," said Ron. "Let's forget it and go back."
"Yes, it is a bit risky. We might get caught. Every turn we take has a chance of us getting caught."
No!" Harry hissed. "I know it's here somewhere. It's here - just here, yes!"
They pushed the door open.
"See?" Harry whispered standing in front of the mirror.
All he saw was their reflections.
"I can't see anything."
"Look! Look at them all... there are loads of them...."
"I can only see you."
"Look in it properly, go on, stand where I am."
Harry stepped aside, but with Ron in front of the mirror, he couldn't see his family anymore, just Ron in his paisley pajamas.
Ron, though, was staring transfixed at his image.
"Look at me!" he said.
"Can you see all your family standing around you?"
"No - I'm alone, but I'm different, I look older and I'm head boy!"
"I am - I'm wearing the badge like Bill used to and I'm holding the house cup and the Quidditch cup a I'm Quidditch captain, too."
Ron tore his eyes away from this splendid sight to look excitedly at Harry.
"Do you think this mirror shows the future?"
"How can it? All my family are dead let me have another look."
While the two boys argued, Arth inspected the mirror. It was a magnificent mirror, as high as the ceiling, with an ornate gold frame, standing on two clawed feet. There was an inscription carved around the top: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi.
"I don't recognize this language..."
Ron and Harry finally decided on a solution.
"Let's let Arth have a try, he hasn't seen it yet."
Arth was led to where Harry and Ron had stood.
"It's just a mirror, I don't care about seeing my family, or my future, just let me go-"
Sensing that something was wrong, Harry glanced at Arth. His face had disfigured from his normal casual and slightly bored face into one that was cold and in pain.
"... I'm leaving."
Without a seconds pause or any sort of explanation, Arth turned around and ran out the door.
Arth ran away from the memory that haunted him.
'How was your day Arthur?'
He gradually ran faster and faster, wishing that if he ran fast enough, he could escape the warmth he had once sought.
'It's ok, I don't blame you.'
Arth didn't stop, nor did he pay attention to where he went. He just ran.
'I... I'm sorry.'
Arth tripped, which gave him scratches all over his legs and hands. However, he instantly got up and started to run again.
Arth wanted to hide, hide away from the thoughts that plagued his sanity.
Arth stopped in the middle of a stairway and crouched down. He realized that he couldn't run away, no matter how much he tried, and he couldn't hide from something that had already branded itself in his heart.
Arth sat on the stairs weak with a pain that couldn't be healed with magic or time. He placed his face in the tiny comfort of his hands, trying to block off all sights on his face.
The moon stared into the window that the boy crouched under, as if wanting to reach out towards the boy, to comfort him. Yet the shadows covered the boy absorbed the light, casting a dark cloak on a boy, while silently covering the diamond like tears that slid down and dropped to the floor.