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"Arina! Wake up!" Parvati Patil swatted my face with a pillow.

 

I rolled over and looked at the clock. "It's too early." I groaned. There were two more hours until breakfast, and I wanted to sleep for at least one more.

 

"Maybe you're so sleepy because you were up too late." sniffed Lavender.

 

After I got the piece of paper out last night, I got a glimpse of some words. Then it burst into flames.

 

Right on my lap.

 

That's why I screamed.

 

Then, in the blink of an eye, the flames were gone, and so was the paper. Not blown out. Just there- and then disappeared. There wasn't even a smell of smoke.

 

My scream woke my roommates, who were... well, grumpy was an understatement. They didn't believe my "flame theory". 

 

"Oh yeah, you wake up to find a piece of burning paper? That suddenly disappears?" Parvati had scoffed.

 

"You're going to bring everyone up here! And you woke me up!" Lavender said irritably.

 

"Are you sure that's what happened?" said Hermione anxiously. She was the only one who seemed to partly believe me. "If so, you ought to tell a teacher."

 

"No, it's fine." I said hurriedly. I still wanted to keep my discovery to myself. Especially the part about the message on the paper.

 

No good comes to thieves.

 

What did it mean? Was it about the ring? I hadn't stolen it, it was in my vault, and Hagrid told me I could, right?

 

The ring and paper were both gone. The paper vanished along with the flames, and I looked everywhere, but didn't find the ring. All that remained was the little pouch and the message in my mind.

 

Too much awake to go back to sleep, I decided to take a jog before breakfast. I slipped on some normal (Muggle, I guess) clothes (robes are too hard to run in), and rushed out to the grounds.

 

As I went out the castle door, Rosalyn Schwarz brushed passed me.

 

Out of all the girls in my dorm, Rosalyn was the one I knew least about. She hadn't said a word all through the evening, not even at night when I woke everyone up. She had just thrown me an annoyed look.

 

Right now, she didn't spare me a glance, she just started running, her long curtain of dark hair hiding her face.

 

I started to jog too. "Out for a run?" I asked Rosalyn, and then realized that the answer was obvious.

 

"What else does it look like I'm doing?" Rosalyn replied.

 

That was the first time I heard her voice. It was quiet, like she was reluctant to speak, but her words were stubborn.

 

"Do you like running?" I asked, as we passed the quidditch field.

 

Rosalyn shrugged. "Like it, no. Need it, yes."

 

I was puzzled by this short answer, and inquired further. "Why do you need it?"

 

"What do you run for? To get away from things." Her voice was sharp, and she ran ahead.

 

I was kind of surprised, but if she was going to be disagreeable, I didn't want to talk to her. I veered to the side, running down the hill to the lake. I sprinted down, feeling like I was flying.

 

I remembered doing this on the hill behind my house. My sister and I would run down and then lie in the grass. It was also a good place to sled in the winter.

 

I slid to an abrupt stop right next to the lake, feeling a twinge of sadness. That was all a long time ago, and I had not seen Daisy in a long time. She was working far away, and all I had of her in the past year or so were some letters, and a short visit. Even then, though, she looked pale and tired, and she slept all day. And Dad was always busy with his projects at work.

 

So I had learned how to have fun by myself.

 

"Don't be late for breakfast!" shouted a voice to me, and I looked up suddenly to see Rosalyn jogging away.

 

~                                   ~                           ~                        ~                                ~                           ~                              ~                            ~                                ~

 

At breakfast, when I was eating some toast, a small, a colony of owls flew into the room.

 

"What is that?" I asked Ron Weasley, who was sitting next to me.

 

"Ow-ail" He replied, his mouth full of scrambled egg.

 

"What?"

 

"Owl mail." He repeated, after swallowing with difficulty.

 

"Ahhh." I said. A large, black owl swooped down and neatly dropped a letter on my lap. Ron threw me an envious look as he wrung the coffee out of his letter.

 

I smiled when I saw the name Katie Alberry. Oops. I hadn't written to her. It read:

 

Dear Arina,

Hi! This is so cool! Meet my owl, Polnoc ("Midnight" in Slovak). Isn't she beautiful?

How's Hogwarts? What house did you get into? Tell me all the news!

I miss you so much! It's so dull around here, with no one to play tricks on.

Today our school started too, and it's really boring without you. Mr. Asper said that we shall learn about historical myths and stuff, and I couldn't hold back a giggle when he started talking about "false 'sightings' of witches and wizards". He glared at me, and moved me to another spot. He's really on the warpath this year; he moved three people and at least two got lines to write.

Tell me when you have your first classes! What are they like? Who is your favorite teacher?

There isn't much news here. Willow is pining for you. Ha! Get it? I know, I know. My jokes need work.

Anyway, I miss you so, so, so much! Write back SOON!

Hugs and kisses,

Kat of Katrina

 

Late that evening, I picked up a quill and wrote:

 

Dear Katie,

Polnoc certainly is beautiful! Great name!

Hogwarts is fun! I got into Gryffindor. Classes are interesting, but really hard. I don't really have a favorite teacher. They are Professor Flitwick, Sprout, McGonagall, Quirrell, Binns, and Snape, but Michael's probably told you all about them.

Hahah! I'll bet those were real sightings. I read that they have to use Memory Charms for people who see wizards and witches. Poor you! Is that the same teacher who let us go on a field trip to the sweetshop last year?

Tell Willow that I miss her too! There are no dogs here, only Mrs. Norris the cat,  who belongs to Filch, the caretaker. Your jokes rule! It's okay if only I get them (wink). I miss you too!  Luckily for me, the Weasley twins, two Gryffindor third formers, are ALL about tricks. And finding ways to sneak out of Hogwarts.

Tell me all about what's going on back home!

 

I paused, my eyes traveling over to my trunk, where I had buried the pouch. Katie was my best friend. Could I tell her about what happened last night? I added:

 

Something strange happened last night. I had kept something in a little pouch in my trunk. Last night, I had a strange dream and for some reason, I felt I needed to find the it. I opened the pouch, but it was empty, except for a scrap of paper.

I unfolded the scrap of paper, and it grew hot. When I finally unfolded the miserable thing, it was burning me. Then it burst into flames, and disappeared.

Isn't that strange? Do you have any idea of how that happened?

Write back soon!

Love,

Rina of Katrina

P.S. Please keep the burning paper a secret.

 

I slipped down to the owlery and found Peace. I gave her the letter, and she flapped off. "To Katie." I whispered. "Take this to Katie."

 

This was the first time I had used owl mail, and I was hoping it worked.

 

I was walking quietly back when I turned the corner and walked wham! right into Professor Snape.

 

Yikes. I thought. "Sorry, sir." I said quickly, and tried to rush off, but he put out his hand to stop me.

 

"What are you doing out at this time of the night?" Snape's voice was cold, giving me the peculiar feeling like I had just jumped into the lake.

 

"Uh..." I stuttered. "Posting a letter?"

 

"And you are?"

 

Oh no. I groaned inwardly. Have I already broken a rule? But I was sure that there was time before we were supposed to go to bed.  I hope he doesn't take points. "Arina Williams, sir."

 

"Williams?" He stared at me for a moment. "You seem nothing like-oh! Very well. You'd better get back to the common room, there's only half an hour before bedtime. And don't let me catch you out like this again."

 

"Yes, sir. But-" I silenced myself. I didn't want to lose points on my first day. Snape glided away and I fumed. It wasn't even bedtime yet!

 

~                    ~                     ~                      ~                         ~                              ~                                   ~                                      ~                                           ~

 

Dear Arina,

Who's Filch? And Snape and Flitwick? Sprout? Are you kidding? Michael doesn't tell me a thing about what happens at Hogwarts. I write him a nice, polite letter, saying: WHAT'S GOING ON? TELL ME! And he writes back: Stop it, I'm studying for NEWTS.

What are NEWTS?  You'd better not reply that you're studying for some nastily exhausting exam too.

That is so weird! Was anything written on the paper? What was in the pouch?

ANSWER ME!

Love,

An impatient Katient

 

Dear Katie,

Filch is the caretaker. Snape, Flitwick, Sprout, and Quirrell are professors, along with McGonagall.

You really do write nice polite letters! So does your brother! I would just ignore you (just kidding, I would send you a Howler ;).

What is a Howler? It's this letter where when you open it, you hear the message of whoever sent it (usually a screaming one, because they're mad at you). On mine, I would screech "I AM STUDYING."

 

A day ago, Rosalyn got a Howler. A very loud voice screamed "What did you do? WHAT DID YOU DO? You miserable, terrible child! Don't ever do that again!" over and over.

 

I wondered what Rosalyn had done. So far, it didn't seem like she did anything. Except run, maybe.

 

Back in the moment, I continued.

 

NEWTS are Nastily Exhausting Wizard Tests (haha).

The thing was

 

I hesitated. I wasn't sure if I wanted to share this. But how else was Katie to understand?

 

The thing was a ring. There was a message before the paper disappeared: No good comes to thieves. But I'm not a thief, because I got the ring from my vault at Gringotts (the wizard bank). Got to go now!

Love,

Arina

 

I did have to go, it was our first Potions class with the Slytherins. I wondered what Potions would be like. So far, the most exciting class was probably Transfiguration or Charms, mostly because those were the ones where we did the most.

 

The most boring class was History of Magic, the only one taught by a ghost. Professor Binns had a low, sonorous voice, and he droned on and on, making everyone want to go to sleep.

 

There was also Herbology, with Professor Sprout, where we learned all about plants, and Astronomy every Wednesday at midnight.

 

And Defense Against the Dark Arts. That sounded the most promising, but it turned out that Quirrell seemed kind of scared of his own job, and his classes were not very interesting.

 

I finished my toast and Hermione and I went upstairs to get our books for Potions. Rosalyn was up in the common room, scribbling at a letter.

 

"We have double Potions now." Hermione reminded her, and Rosalyn looked up, her eyes scornful.

 

"I know, Granger. Would you like to tell me how to get to the classroom too?"

 

"Shut up." I told her, as Hermione opened her mouth.

 

"It's in the dungeo-"

 

Rosalyn glared at poor Hermione, who shrank back slightly.

 

"Come on." I murmured to Hermione, dragging her up the stairs.

 

We were soon seated in the straight-backed chairs, down in the dungeons. I shivered in my seat. It was cold.

 

As Snape called roll, I looked around the room. There were many jars along the walls, filled with strange things.

 

When Snape came to my name, he gave me a sweeping look. "And... Arina Williams."

 

I nodded slowly.

 

Snape swept around the room as he called out names, his long robes falling to the floor, and almost hiding his feet. For a second I had the strange idea that he didn't have feet. Then, of course, I looked at him and was reminded with a glance that Professor Snape was definitely not a ghost. He was very life-like.

 

"You are here the to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making." He whispered. "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 … " For a moment, just a fraction of a second, Snape's coal-black eyes glowed like an inky sky. Then it was gone, and the cold, dark, endless holes were back. He continued. "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."

 

I shivered again, this time not from the cold. He was a bit too life-like.

 

He stopped speaking, and complete silence reigned in the room. I looked at my classmates: Hermione, who looked feverishly excited; Lavender and Parvati, who seemed mildly interested; Harry Potter (who had apparently defeated the greatest dark wizard that ever lived, hence the excitement about him) and Ron Weasley, who shared a look; and Rosalyn, who seemed to be taking no notice at all of what Snape was saying, and was possibly asleep.

 

"Schwartz!" Snape suddenly spoke, his voice sharp. "Are you paying attention?"

 

"What else is there to do?" Rosalyn drawled. I guess she is awake. She'll get into trouble for that.

 

Snape seemed to double in size, and he loomed over the class. "Does it amuse you to relate the obvious?" Snape sneered. (There was a snicker from the Slytherins.) "Five points will be taken from Gryffindor House."

 

Hermione looked positively furious at this, and turned a mega-glare onto Rosalyn, who shot a look back.

 

I sighed. It was going to be a very long lesson.


Hi everyone! Sorry for that chapter, I know it was boring, especially after last chapter. Please read and review- even if it's only to tell me how bad it is! I will try to post more (more exciting ones) soon!

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