Progeny of Slytherin: The Beginning of the Riddle

Chapter 24

"I'm telling you, I know what I saw! I wouldn't just use my wand for the sake of it! Everything that I'm telling you now is the truth, you have to believe me." Theodore had been trying to justify his near-death ordeal for the past thirty minutes, his voice slowly growing hoarse over the dragging repetition of his words. Cornelius Fudge was sitting in the Madam's office with the boy alone, absorbing each repeated explanation as if he couldn't catch it the first time. Theodore was growing dangerously annoyed with the Minister, frowning whenever he'd pause for too long after Theodore would finish speaking. Was he going to be expelled from Hogwarts or not?

"Well, a story like that is quite riveting, but vague at the same time. You were in Little Whinging along with the orphanage a few days ago, and you spontaneously casted the Knockback Jinx for no apparent-"

"But I did have a reason," alleged Theodore, frustration still getting the better of him. "I was attacked by… I don't even know what it was, but it was trying to kill me. I wasn't going to just let it rip me to shreds. Besides, there was nobody there to see."

"Theodore…"

"Look, I know I broke the law but you have to believe me, please… I don't want to leave Hogwarts." Theodore pleaded, trying to look as guilty as possible. The Parselmouth was obstinate on the fact that he was in the right and that he didn't deserve expulsion, but he couldn't afford to damage what little chance he had left. For all he knew, everything had already been finalised and Fudge was just here to listen to his final words before they'd be printed in the Daily Prophet, under the headlines which would haunt him forever. They'd take his wand, Viripin, Sawer, his books, and he'd never see Ron, Dumbledore, Harry or Hermione again. His heart twinged ever so lightly at the last two names.

Fudge had entered deep thought again, the consideration of the boy's exclusion still written all over his face. Theodore was hanging on the edge, his entire life depending on the few words that could be spoken by just one man. One man.

"The 'Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery' clearly states that you should be expelled entirely for your actions," said the Minister calmly. The boy's face almost fell into pure shock. He didn't even think that he had the strength to say anything else. "But… seeing as how you seem to be telling the truth, and the situation that is currently at hand with Bla- an escapee… I will choose to 'overlook' this. But this doesn't mean that I'm letting you off so easily!"

"Yes, Minister, sir!" Theodore replied ecstatically, quickly calming himself down as he was given a glance of disapproval from Fudge. "I'll remember this, I promise!"

"You better! You shouldn't know me to be so lenient with these sort of matters. You should count yourself lucky that I know of you, Mr Riddle. Not so many children of your age has had their names circulating in the Ministry, you know. Except for Harry Potter, of course."

'People talk about me in the Ministry? What do they even say?'

"So it's fine now? I'm not in any other type of trouble?" Fudge nodded his head, slightly tipping his lime bowler hat as Theodore gave a quiet sigh of relief. He didn't know what he'd do if he had to leave the wizarding world, and he didn't want to know either. He just dodged a bullet of a lifetime. A very, VERY fast bullet. There was no way that he'd use magic during the summer again unless, of course, an abomination from Hell decides to attack him again.

"Well, Mr Riddle," said Fudge as he slightly struggled to lift his corpulent self from the lilac chair. "I'm sorry to say that I must be going now. The Ministry waits for nobody, not even its own Minister. Please do try to keep this under wraps. I couldn't even imagine how the Prophet would react, given that they'd find out."

"Yes, sir."

"There's a good lad. I should get- oh, I almost forgot! Here." Fudge reached inside his dragon-skinned briefcase and sunk his arm halfway through before he brought out a large, slightly tattered sack. He discreetly handed it to the boy as if he was partaking into something unlawful, and closed his briefcase. "Courtesy of Professor Dumbledore. He suggested that you would not need any overseeing when shopping for your school things, however…"

"However…" Theodore looked at him suspiciously. The man, as said before, was acting suspiciously towards the Parselmouth. Ulterior thoughts and possible motives flashed within Fudge's eyes but weren't fast enough to escape the boy. The man simply sighed and shook his head, fitting his hat before clasping the briefcase handle in his thick fingers.

"Ministry officials will be here to escort you to Diagon Alley and back again, as well as for your journey to King's Cross. I'm sorry if you are against this but it is for your safety."

"I understand."

"Good. I'm glad. Now, I really must go. Let us not find ourselves in this position again eh, Mr Riddle?" Fudge said as he had his hand outstretched to Theodore, who placed the heavy sack of, seemingly Galleons, on the chair to shake it without hesitation.

"I promise, sir." Fudge tipped his hat to the Parselmouth one last time before he exited the office and disappeared through the front door. Theodore could've sworn that he heard the sound of a car engine exploding outside, but he ignored this and left the office instead. He had gotten away with doing possibly the worst thing that a wizard or witch his age could've done without so much as getting a severe warning. Theodore didn't know if it was his luck or if Dumbledore had persuaded Fudge to not kick him out, but he didn't care. He'd be going to Hogwarts for the third time running.

The content Parselmouth heaved the money sack from the chair and left the office for his room. He wasn't surprised to see some of the other kids scurrying off when he opened the office door. He had gotten more visits from other people in a few weeks, than they had in their whole lifetime. Not only that, but he was probably the only orphan at Stuggle's to ever leave the country for a school they had no knowledge of. Amazed, jealous or intrigued, Theodore couldn't deny that they had taken an interest in him. Then again, Theodore never denied that fact at all.

He reached his bedroom door and pushed through gently, careful not to startle the snake and owl inside. He peeked his head through first, listening to the subtle hisses of Viripin tasting the air to verify that it was the boy, before entering the room. Viripin was laying on the boy's bedsheets lazily, with her body semi-hanging off the edge of the bed. Her wounds were still in the process of healing, some having vanished completely while others… didn't. She looked a lot more healthy and stronger than when the wounds were still fresh from that day, but it was hard for Theodore to look at her without feeling at least some guilt. To think that he could've been the one that was mauled by the dog. He shivered as he tucked the sack in his cupboard.

"Who was downstairs for you? Was it Dumbledore," asked the serpent as she perked up upon seeing Theodore ripping open a bag of frog legs.

"No, it was the Minister for Magic. Said that I was off the hook about the whole 'killer dog' thing. For a second there, I thought that I was going to be expelled from school!"

"I'm happy that you didn't. You saved my life back there, so you don't deserve expulsion at all!" Theodore chuckled lightly as he walked over to Viripin with the bag opened up like a makeshift bowl. He placed it in front of the snake's nostrils as he stroked her head gently.

"You saved me, remember? I wouldn't have been here if it wasn't for you."

"And I wouldn't have been here if you never saved me. You were the one who pulled us out of there. How did you do it anyways?" She asked as she snacked on a handful of legs at the same time.

"I Apparated, or something like that. Twice, as well. And I didn't even get splinched." A horrible thought came to his mind. What if Viripin was partially hurt because she had gotten splinched by him? 'No. It was that fucking dog who did this. Man, I swear, if it comes for us again and it hurts her…' It wasn't like he didn't know how. Although he swore to himself that he'd destroy it, Secrets of the Darkest Art: Extended Original Edition was still hidden in his cupboard, collecting dust like it always did from the shop that he stole it from. 'The Unforgivable Curses are known to be the three most heinous spells known to wizardkind…'

The young wizard felt agitation filling him rapidly as he jumped from the sounds of a mad dog barking from outside his window. He found himself breathing very quickly before he calmed himself down, even though the barking didn't stop. Viripin was still gulping down several legs at a time, unaware that the boy was looking away in unsettlement. The barks didn't disturb her nearly as much as it did for the boy, knowing that as long as she was with him, she'd be safe.

"Do you think I should tell the others? Hermione, Ron and Harry?" Theodore asked in near silence. Viripin pondered for a while, then answered the boy's question.

"They're your best friends. If you can't trust them to know things like this, then you shouldn't trust them at all."

"You're right. I should tell them, although not all at once. They'd probably get spooked out, especially Hermione. I think she worries about me too much, you know? Maybe I should tell her first, to get it out of the way when I see her at Diagon Alley."

"Hermione 'worries' about you too much, now? Maybe she-"

"Don't start, Viripin," said the boy firmly as he cut her off at the last second. "She's just being nice, that's all."

"Right. Of course! It's not like she probably wants the two of you to be alone in Diagon Alley for the entire day together." If snakes could smirk, Viripin would've had a great, big dirty one on her face.

"What are you implying?" Theodore returned, slightly annoyed that she was back to teasing the boy.

"What I am implying, my dear Theodore, is that a certain 'friend' of yours, has her eyes on you. Usually, if a girl worries about you that much, then it's quite clear that she likes you. And I thought that it was Louise who'd be the one to steal your heart…" That was it. Theodore jumped to his feet as he frowned heavily at Maibian Adder, not noticing that his cheeks had gone slightly pink.

"Hermione hasn't stolen my heart! Nobody has stolen my heart! She's just my friend! I don't… love her, and she certainly doesn't love me!"

"I never said anything about love…"

"That doesn't mean anything," huffed the boy as he sat back down, arms crossed as well as his face. He looked away, refusing that his eyes should set on the serpent as he felt her slithering across his leg and onto his arm. Viripin rested her head on the boy's chest and nuzzled against his three-haired chin, trying to grab his attention. Even if he was growing older by the second, Viripin never missed a chance to see him act so childish about girls. It was very entertaining for the exotic snake.

"It's not funny, Viripin."

"Alright, you don't like Hermione and Hermione doesn't like you. Satisfied? You know that I'm only teasing."

"Yeah…" The Parselmouth replied as he found himself stroking her head once again.

"Can I come with you? To Diagon Alley?" Theodore scoffed.

"As if I'm letting you outside the room, let alone the building. You're not even fully well enough to-" The barking had gone from alarming the boy in his room, to becoming an insistent nuisance. He lightly moved Viripin's head away from his chest and walked towards the window to see what the commotion was all about.

"Stop it, Dexter! Can't you see that he doesn't like it?!" A girl of around Theodore's age, demanded to a shorter boy on the street in front of the boy's room.

"I'm only playing. It's not like I'm hurting it. Here, you have a go," said the boy opposite her as he handed her a broom pole which looked more like a murky green tree branch than anything. The girl pushed it away and continued to scold him.

"I'll tell Mum, I really will!"

"Go on then. See if I care." The boy bended his knees as he poked a rabid Jack Russel Terrier that was chained to a STOP sign, flinching backwards whenever the dog would snap its froth-filled jaws at him. He laughed maliciously as he did it again, the girl running off to tell their mother of the boy's idiocy.

Theodore was not afraid to yell at the other boy to 'piss off', and he would've done so if he didn't focus his attention to somewhere, or should he say someone, else. For a brief moment, Theodore had set his eyes on a man that resembled someone who was suffering from severe malnutrition and a lack of cleanliness. From a distance, Theodore couldn't see the man's eyes as they had sunken into their sockets, with his filthy dishevelled hair being difficult to ignore. His garbs were even more soiled, having prominent holes and large stains of what could've been blood everywhere. He surely looked homeless and possibly mad. The way his vacant face oddly expressed some sort of insanity to the boy, caused him to look closer until they were both locked in eye contact. Theodore instantly closed the window shut as firmly as possible, and whisked his new curtains across to inhibit any light from coming through.

'Probably one of those cocaine addicts from around the corner that Tristan always used to talk about. He looks like he just escaped from a madhouse!'

"Why did you close the curtains, Theodore?" The serpent asked in near-darkness.

"You can come with me to Diagon Alley…"

The 5th had come so suddenly that Theodore had almost forgotten about why it was important. Just a few days ago, he was nearly killed by a massive dog and now he was out and about in the public, completely free and unrestricted. Well, not exactly unrestricted. Theodore sniffed quietly to take in the foreign scent of the MoM car that was assigned for him. The leather seats were okay, but not as comfortable as Gretchen's car (odd wasn't it?). But he didn't mind. At least he wasn't stuck in a car with someone who he resented. Or at least, now he wasn't.

Theodore was sitting in the back with Viripin on his lap, stroking the serpent as he gazed out through the window to take in London much more slowly, compared to last year. Although the Knight Bus was much more quicker and enjoyable, he appreciated the fact that he could see everything, rather than an elongated blur. He saw various people walking through the streets of London, pressing his face as he saw a street magician performing a tedious card trick to an old man, earning an applause from his audience.

'To think that they don't know real magic. I wonder how they'd react if they saw… god, this is taking forever!'

Forty minutes had already passed since he had left Stuggle's, and it didn't look like they were even a quarter of the way there. The two Aurors that were sat at the front were stoic and hard-faced, one called Proudfoot, the other being called Savage. They both arrived at the orphanage with the same emotionless demeanour that they were expressing now, not even talking amongst each other. Theodore couldn't even speak to Viripin, scared that they'd hear him speak Parseltongue. He didn't know why an escapee had to stop him from taking the Knight Bus. He lifted Viripin slightly and placed her on the seat next to him as he leaned forward.

"Excuse me?" He asked without fear. "When are we getting there? It's been almost an hour since we left and I-"

"Stop talking and sit back down," said Savage bluntly as he made a left turn onto a main road. The boy's face turned dark as he burned his stare into Savage's skull before he sat back down, bringing the snake back on his lap again.

"Prick…" He muttered, turning his head to look outside the window again. As Viripin hissed a little loudly, Theodore could see the Auror swallowing painfully as he kept his eyes forward on the road. Theodore sneered, giving the Maibian Adder an extra pat on her head. It wasn't as bad as being with Gretchen but by God, wasn't there anyone else available to take him to King's Cross? Anyone?

Forty minutes turned into an hour and fifteen as the car turned into Charing Cross Road, a road that Theodore was all too familiar with. There, bright and glowing as it basked in the sun's generous light, was the Leaky Cauldron. It was just how he remembered it. Ancient but still possessing great strength, just a building but almost seeming sentient in that it called for you to walk inside. The Cauldron was Theodore's third home behind Stuggle's and Hogwarts, and it didn't even matter if he wasn't staying. He loved this place.

The car pulled up and parked on the pavement right in front of the Cauldron after an eternity. Theodore exited the car and draped Viripin around his shoulders as he walked over to the boot to retrieve his sack of Galleons. The boy was unable to count how much was given to him by the school's funding, but the sheer weight of it all told him already. He even had to get a backpack for it because his hands would start to sweat from holding it for too long.

He walked over to the inn's door when he realised that he wasn't being followed by anyone. Savage and Proudfoot were still inside of the car, eyes still facing forward. Theodore narrowed his eyes at them and walked back.

"Aren't you coming with me," asked the boy as he crossed his arms quite pompously. Proudfoot sneered as he shot a nasty look at Theodore.

"You're a big boy, no? We're not going to hold your hand when you do your little shopping, you know."

"But the Minister said that-"

"We know what the Minister said," butted in Savage, giving the boy a equally nasty face. "Escort you here, and take you back. Nothing about babysitting you for the entire way."

"But-"

"Stop being a brat and get inside! Jesus…" Anger was bubbling, almost unhinging inside of the boy as he stared at the two Aurors. He gripped his shirt tightly as he clenched his teeth, wanting something to just… burst. No, he didn't. That wasn't him, not anymore. He wasn't going to act on something so crude as anger. What he was going to do, was to walk away… and breathe. That was it. He was just going… to breathe.

"Kid likes to mess around with dirty snakes. Fucking weirdo if you ask me…"

"VIRIPIN, NO!" The Maibian Adder bared her fangs and lunged herself, along with Theodore entangled by her body, at Savage, causing the man to jump backwards by such a large margin, Proudfoot had to push him off. Theodore tugged the snake back and rushed into the Leaky Cauldron, ignoring the Aurors cursing aloud until they were finally silenced.

"What the hell is wrong with you?! You don't do that to Aurors, they're part of the Ministry," scolded the Parselmouth as he rushed into a hidden area, far from the door.

"He called you a weirdo and he insulted me. He shouldn't be talking to you like that." Viripin declaimed. Theodore peered around the corner to see if the pair had walked inside. There didn't seem to be any sign of them. Theodore turned back to the snake, still frowning.

"Doesn't mean that you should attack them! What if they report you and take you away forever? What then? Did you even think about that?" The snake slumped her head down in shame as she looked away from him.

"I… didn't." Theodore instantly eased his tone and expression, not wanting her to feel bad about it at all. He gently lifted Viripin's large head and spoke to her much more softly.

"Look, I just got you back. I don't want you to leave again, that's all."

"I'm sorry."

"It's okay, don't worry about it. Let's just enjoy ourselves and-"

"Theodore?!" He sprung to his feet as he heard his name being bellowed from behind him, scared for a moment that it was either Proudfoot or Savage, when he was met by a person he was most glad to see again.

"Mr Tom! How nice to see you again!" Tom took the boy's outstretched hand as he shook it ecstatically, giving him his usual toothy grin while he led him away from the hidden area. Tom didn't seem to be startled in the slightest that Viripin was casually wrapped around his neck as he carried on smiling at the boy.

"It's good to see you too, dear boy! I hope you haven't, uhh… you know." Theodore lifted his hands up defensively as he knew what he was referring to. He shook his head with Tom sighing happily. "Then I am glad. Are you here for school? It's awfully early for shopping, don't you think?"

"One of my friends is supposed to be here today. They asked me to come with them, probably because they know that nobody else would be here." Theodore curled his lip at the thought of Hermione.

"Ahhh. Makes a lot of sense. Well, Theodore, it's great to see you again. Make sure to stay a little before you leave, alright?"

"Alright, and Mr Tom," called the boy as Tom proceeded to walk away. Tom stopped in his tracks to listen to what the boy had to say. "Have the Padalins arrived yet?" He hadn't forgotten that they didn't say goodbye properly the last time they saw each other.

"I'm sorry, dear boy. Not yet. But they'll come, I'm sure of it." The innkeeper gave the Parselmouth a smile of reassurance before he returned to behind the counter. Theodore was stricken with suppressed sadness, knowing that he'd have to wait for another year until he could possibly see them again. There was so much to tell them, so much to ask. He wanted to know why Ms Padalin didn't tell him the truth when she said she didn't know his father. He wanted to apologise to Erveris for acting the way he did before he departed. All these things, bottled up inside for nearly a year and another one to go.

He straightened the bag on his back as he walked around the pub tables, waving and greeting all the familiar faces from last year. Almost everyone looked the exact same yet they all commented on how he looked so much older. He couldn't lie, he felt a little overconfident with the admiration but soon brought himself down again. He said hello to Gribblegork, who was trapped within a pile of empty beer cups, before he seated himself on a table near the doors leading to the little courtyard behind the inn.

Looking around, he saw no sign of the Grangers as he tapped his fingers patiently against the table. Surely, they should've arrived before him. After five minutes of solitary waiting, he turned his attention to a copy of the Daily Prophet that was near his feet on the slightly grubby floor. He picked it up, not caring for the damp spots that indicated beer and dropped food, and skimmed across the front page. Theodore never read the Prophet from the beginning till the end, and he wasn't going to try that now. Not like he could've anyways, because the front page had snatched his attention so quickly.

Azkaban's First Breakout: Sirius Black Is Free!

His eyes moved over from the alarming title, to the man in the picture that Theodore recognised in almost an instant. Sirius looked a little bit more healthier here, his hair still long but not riddled with dirt. His face was fresh and handsome, with a crazed look all over as he seemingly screamed in his moving portrait. His eyes weren't sunken at all, but there was no mistaking it. The man that was outside of Theodore's window was Sirius Black, the escapee that Fudge was talking about. A man who actually escaped from Azkaban, a place of complete and utter hell, from the sounds of it.

'Why was Sirius Black outside Stuggle's? He looked at me when I saw him… Is he after me? Oh god…"

His hands were trembling as he shakily held the newspaper, feeling them starting to grow clammy. If he could escape from Azkaban, then there was no telling what else Black was capable of. Evading possibly hundreds of Dementors could mean that he was a dangerous wizard. A very dangerous wizard. Possibly just as dangerous as his own father.

"Hey, Theo!" Theodore dropped the newspaper onto the table and looked up at the main door of the Cauldron. Hermione was in front of her parents, wearing a stripped blue jumper along with her hair being free as always. Black was purged from his thoughts as he smiled at the Muggle-born, standing up to greet her properly. The two walked towards each other, meeting in the centre of the inn with Hermione's arms open for a hug. Theodore was about to lift his own when the girl suddenly pulled back, snapping her arms behind her back as she smiled nervously at him. He did find this strange but kept his smile strong as he placed his hands in his pockets.

"Hey yourself. How've you been?"

"Great! I've been good. Sorry for being a bit late, there was a diversion along the way."

"No worries. It's not like we're 'super-early' for getting our stuff." The Parselmouth said jokingly. Hermione rolled her eyes and crossed her arms.

"I already gave you the reason, didn't I? I chose-"

"All four electives, I know. I'm just still surprised that your parents are letting you go through with it." Hermione turned to the two, who were busy counting the coins that would be needed for the day, then back to Theodore.

"Well for your information, they're perfectly fine with it. Of course, this means that I'll have a lot of job opportunities in the future after we take our N.E. . I tried to convince you to choose them as well but…" Theodore purposely coughed, slipping in 'lunatic' between each one as he goaded the girl. "I swear, you aggravate me sometimes…"

Mr and Mrs Granger walked over to the two children, greeting Theodore with the same energy that they had from before. Mr Granger was interested about Viripin's return as Mrs Granger complimented his growing good-looks, asking her daughter what she thought about them. Hermione looked away in extreme embarrassment and declared that they should leave for Diagon Alley right away, and they were off.

After passing through the magical stone wall in the courtyard, the Grangers and Theodore toured through the beloved Alley, again submerged in its wonder as multiple wizards and witches walked alongside them. They wasted no time as they travelled to Gringotts to exchange their Muggle money for Galleons, Sickles and Knuts, and started at the Apothecary. They were met with a surprise as they saw Dean in the corner of the store with his mother and a sibling, who looked a bit too interested in the floating eyeballs on the front counter. They bought all the necessary ingredients (Theodore bought a little extra for Viripin) and exited the shop for the next one.

Flourish and Blott's was much less crowded than last year, reminding the two of the book signing that happened prior their second year. Theodore gave Hermione a little jab and backed off when she flared up for a moment. They both collected the books that they needed, from the first floor and the ground, and a new copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for Theodore. He just hoped that nobody found his old one laying under the tree in the park. He daresay that he hoped the dog wasn't there either. As they purchased the books, the store manager came out from the back with complete exhaustion on his face. Theodore was confused by this, but was told that the class for Care for Magical Creatures had gotten new books, as well as a new teacher.

"How… nice." He said as he watched the manager faint upon leaving the store. Their next place of interest had landed within a pet store, Magical Menagerie, which had animals 'outside' the given variety of Hogwarts. It looked rather dingy and held a peculiar odour that suspiciously smelt of rotting flesh. Mr and Mrs Granger kindly asked their daughter what could possibly be useful for school in the area, to which Hermione replied that she wanted a pet.

"Theo has a Maibian Adder, Harry has an owl and Ron even has a rat. I figured that I should get one as well. Can I?"

"Well, hurry up dear," said Mrs Granger as she pinched her nose slightly. "We must get you a new uniform before the day ends." Hermione thanked her and brought the Parselmouth along to pick out an animal suited to her liking. A cage full of armadillos that had armour made out of rubies and gold, birds that had four wings and a single horn which protruded from their heads, a large orange cat that looked like it had downed a litre of bitter lemon juice, a sloth that seemed too human, and several others that Theodore couldn't say off the top of his head. Viripin had her head floating near each cage, mimicking the noises of the animals as they walked past. Hermione finally settled on the giant squashed-faced cat that was named Crookshanks, after being stuck between choosing him and a beautiful Tawny owl. Viripin hissed at him threateningly, as did Crookshanks vice-versa, causing Theodore to pull her back before she'd attack him.

"What's wrong, you don't like cats," whispered the boy as he brought her away from the cat.

"Yes. I hate cats with an absolute passion. I even hate turning into one. Wait, do you like cats?"

"More of a dog guy, to be honest."

"Very funny."

After promising to be on her best behaviour for the rest of the day, Viripin settled down on Theodore's shoulders, staring dangerously at the cat as if he were prey, not saying that she was prepared to eat him.

The four entered Madam Malkin's afterwards, glad that they could finally get new robes after their little 'adventure' from last year. As they were being measured by Madam Malkin, Hermione admitted to him that she had been lying to her parents about the gaping hole in her jumper from when the Basilisk nearly killed her, and that it wasn't sitting well for her. He wanted to laugh but the memories of the Chamber inhibited him from doing so. He shouldn't laugh when she nearly died down there. Guess it was hard to tell your parents that you were almost skewered by a giant killer serpent, but then again, he had no parents. Or parent.

"Hey look, a Metamorphmagus!" Hermione pointed out at a girl with long green hair, which turned into curly short pink. "Is she a new student? She's got Hogwarts robes on but she looks like she's our age." Theodore gave her a closer look, knowing that he had seen her from somewhere until remembering that it was the girl from last year, who kept on winking at him. Hermione was right, she looked too old for a first year and there was no Metamorphmagus in their own year or above. Perhaps she was just a very mature looking eleven year old.

The Metamorphmagus girl didn't seem to see the handsome boy as she left before Theodore and Hermione, leaving with her family who were conversing in French. Theodore watched her leave before Madam Malkin handed him his new jumper, shirts, trousers and robes, exchanging the money required before he too, left with the Grangers.

"Well, I think we could all use a break. How about we have a little stop at that ice cream parlour around the corner?" Mr Granger asked the children and his wife. They all nodded their heads vigorously, famished and burning from the sun's formally generous, now cruel, heat. They all made their way to Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream, which had without a doubt, the best ice cream the world had ever seen and Theodore hadn't even left Britain before. Theodore had chosen the same one from last year, adding on 'Sweet Carmel Pumpkin' on top to see if it held up to its name. He was careful not to splurge the money given to him as Hogsmeade didn't sound free. Maybe if he had forgiven Draco for the incident before, then there'd be no worries about money but Theodore was not shallow like that. Leeching off the school already made him feel like he was incapable of being independent, so he couldn't imagine how he'd feel if he was with the Malfoys instead.

Theodore and Hermione had a table to themselves in front of the parlour as they had their bowls of ice cream ready to be devoured in front of them.

"So. Are you going to tell me or are we just going to carry on stuffing our faces here?" Hermione swallowed a spoonful of strawberry ice cream, and gently wiped her mouth with a black napkin before she moved her chair in a little bit closer. Theodore did the same, closing himself inwards towards the Muggle-born.

"I already told you that this is big, right? That you can't tell anyone, not even Harry or Ron! You understand?" Theodore nodded his head, nearly sinking his elbow into his sundae as he gave her his full attention. "You remember how I took all four electives, and don't you start with me, Theodore!"

"I won't, I won't! Carry on."

"Well, since I chose all four electives, it would seem impossible to attend each class without there being several clashes of some sorts. I thought that I wouldn't be able to take them, until Professor McGonagall visited my house the third day I got back from King's Cross. My parents and I discussed with her for nearly two hours about it, although it only felt like ten minutes."

"Okay…?"

Hermione sighed as she rolled her eyes at the boy, then reached into her pocket to pull out a golden necklace which looked dissimilar to any other. Theodore looked closely at it, noticing how a miniature hourglass was spinning slightly within the golden ring that had intricate markings all over it. Hermione dangled the necklace in front of Theodore's face like he was a baby entranced by keys until she stuffed it back into her pocket.

"She gave you a Time-Turner?" The Muggle-born nodded as she dug her spoon into her bowl. "How? Why?"

"Well, she said it would've been impossible for any other student, except you if you did the same thing, of course. But my grades and clean record was accountable for the usage of a Time-Turner, so the Ministry allowed me to do so." She explained as she dug in for another spoonful.

"Just like that?"

"Just like that. Wait. Don't tell me that you're jealous, Riddle," taunted the girl as she smirked at the dumbfounded boy.

"Of course not!" He lied. Hermione simply shrugged and carried on eating her half-finished sundae as it was her turn to ask the questions. She asked him how he got here, to which he replied, "The Ministry had two Aurors escort me here for protection." Hermione stuck her spoon in the bowl as she became invested.

"How comes?" He scratched his head, looking to see if anybody was listening nearby before speaking again.

"Well, I was sort of, almost… killed by something."

"What?!"

"Okay, I was definitely almost killed by something. I don't know why I even tried to sugarcoat it…" Theodore's hand was covered by Hermione's cold ones as she wore concern on her face like it was a wedding dress. Something quick propagated through his fingertips to all around his body upon contact, but he didn't pull his hand away for some odd reason.

"Why didn't you say anything in your letter?! You tell me that you found Viripin but you don't tell me that you almost died!"

"I wasn't going to tell you when you'd act like this…" He responded quietly. Hermione pressed her fingertips a little deeper into his knuckles but not too much.

"Well… what happened?" Theodore proceeded to tell her everything about that day, from when he traveled to Little Whinging with the lizard/bunny to when he Apparated away with a wounded Viripin. "You Apparated? Like actually Apparated?" She asked in awe.

"I know, right! I mean, I was this close to having my head ripped off when suddenly… poof! And I did it twice!"

"I'm just glad that you're okay," sighed the girl, hands still holding his. "With Sirius Black out and about, it's not really safe out here. You have to be more careful." Theodore held his hand against his heart as he mockingly swore to it.

"I promise that I will not tangle with mutant beast-dogs and psycho prison escapees."

"I'm being serious, Theo."

"I really do promise, Hermione. Don't worry." He looked down to their hands as she pulled them away, cheeks almost completely red. She hid her face behind her hair as she faced downwards to gulp down the rest of her ice cream as the boy tapped his fingers nervously against the table. How did he not notice that she was just casually holding his hand? Like it was nothing? He watched her finish her sundae quickly as he felt Viripin tickling his ear with her forked tongue.

"Still think that you're 'just friends'?"

"Be quiet, Viripin!" He hissed in Parseltongue. She raised her head slightly as her eyes set on the boy, who noticed her staring. Hermione instead, smiled at the boy, not showing any ounce of the disturbance that she had previously shown upon hearing him speak the language. The two became silent as they swirled their spoons inside their amalgamation of ice cream until Theodore broke it.

"Oh, I forgot! I didn't tell you, did I? About me and Harry. Did he say anything to you?" Hermione shook her head, puzzled. "Right. Right…"

"Well?"

"Remember when you said that you found my mum's plaque in the trophy room? How you knew her name."

"Yeah. Valerie Potter, right?"

"Right! It was- wait, what…?" Hermione's cheeks were back to normal as she smiled at the boy, slightly in a condescending manner. 'Wait, she knows?!'

"In case you're wondering, I checked the plaque the day after we came out of the Chamber. You tripped on your words when you gave the fake surname, so I had to check for myself. Lucky that we made it out alive, or…" Theodore was just left gawking at the Muggle-born, unable to spew out a single word. He had been building up to this moment where he'd tell her that the two cousins met and became best friends by chance, only to find in the end that she knew. He was either careless, or she was just remarkable, and he was leaning towards the latter.

"So you know…"

"I know."

"Wow. I never thought that you'd find out this way… Huh." Viripin was slithering off the boy and next to Hermione, who was free of Crookshanks. She sniffed the girl's open hand and nuzzled against it. As she was gushing over the Maibian Adder, Theodore was leaning back in his chair, just watching the two. Not saying a single word, just observing the snake and Muggle-born bonding simply. Something… something was there, deep inside and it was… burning. But he didn't know what.

The melted ice cream was slurped up from the bowls, and paid for eventually as the children left with Mr and Mrs Granger for the Leaky Cauldron. Viripin was sleeping soundly around his shoulders, forcing him not to walk so fast to avoid her smacking her head against his chest repeatedly. Hermione was disappointed when Theodore told her that the snake hated cats, but still held Crookshanks as if he were a teddy bear. Crookshanks didn't mind, although it was hard to tell, given how unreactive the bow-legged cat would respond to his new owner. They all talked some more until it was time for Theodore to leave with the Aurors, who looked just the same from when Theodore left them, possibly a little more annoyed that he was returning to the car. The Grangers were kind enough to help the boy load his things inside the car, having the boy thank them graciously for it. The books were the last things left when Theodore opened the back seat doors as Hermione stood behind him, clearing her throat.

"You're not going to say goodbye?"

"Sorry," apologised the boy as he removed himself from the car. "Had to put Viripin down nicely. You don't know what it's like when you don't set her down properly. Anyways, I'll see you at King's Cross." Hermione wrapped her arms around the taller boy's neck as he embraced her without hesitation. Her hair was tickling his nose like it always did, but the way it smelled… Theodore snapped out of it as they released themselves from each other. No doubt that Hermione felt something as well, it was all over her face. Theodore even wondered for a fleeting moment, if anything that Viripin had said about the two was true. Just for a moment.

"Remember! Don't say anything about the-" She paused for second and then mouthed the words 'Time-Turner' as he slipped into the car. He gave her two seemingly sarcastic thumbs up, but crossed his heart that her secret would be kept safe with him. Hermione backed away as the car's engine exploded with energy as it started up again. Slowly, the car pulled away as Theodore waved at the family and vice-versa. The Leaky Cauldron and the Grangers were soon out of sight as Theodore made his way home, silent once again with Savage and Proudfoot. Neither said a word about Viripin's little scare, just keeping their eyes on the road and away from Theodore, just how he liked it. Wherever it be for a week, month or year, whenever he'd be stuck inside Stuggle's, Diagon Alley would always prove to him that none of this was a dream. That he was a wizard, that magic did exist. Any time doubt would even try to wedge into his brain, it would always falter. He wasn't dreaming. Magic was real. It was real and so was everything else. There was no doubt about that.

Theodore found himself once again, in the back of a MoM car with the two prudent Aurors who were scowling from Stuggle's to King's Cross. He wasn't so sure of it, but Theodore had a thought that they must've complained to their superiors about him, but were coerced into finishing their task by Fudge himself. Even though he dreaded every second that passed when he was sat in the back with Sawer and Viripin, sparks of joy and content were present whenever he'd see Savage's face twitch in suppressed anger. Like he said before, he preferred this company over Gretchen, but would've been much more grateful had it been anyone else. The Weasleys, Fudge, even the Malfoys. At least he'd have small talk with Draco.

"Are we almost there," hissed the serpent lazily as she butted her head against Sawer's cage.

"Not yet, we still- oh wait, no. I lied. We're here." Viripin was filled with energy once more as she lifted her head to look outside of the window. The front of King's Cross could be seen by everyone, bombarded with the sun's gleam. Theodore exited the car and retrieved a trolley to load all of his belongings from the boot of the car until he was finished. He gave a mundane 'thanks' to the two Aurors, to which they returned with a grunt, and proceeded to wheel himself inside. Of course, the station was always busy so that meant that he had to be careful when he'd pass through the platform barrier. I mean, it never failed before but one shouldn't be so careless. He found himself ready to break into his yearly run towards the pillar when…

"Theodore!" He turned around, almost tripping as he pulled his weighty trolley back. The seven Weasleys, Harry and the Grangers were all walking together like the biggest family you could possibly see, all noticing the Parselmouth before he took off into Platform 9¾. Theodore swerved his trolley around and smiled happily upon meeting them all. Fred and George were the first ones to speak to the boy as they patted him on the back, giving him a brief overview of their trip to Egypt (Theodore held in a raucous laugh after hearing that they almost trapped Percy in a cursed pyramid). He formally shook hands with the Head Boy himself, and informally shook hands with Mr Weasley. He gave a quick hello to the surprisingly less quiet Ginny, and turned over to his three best friends. Harry was the first to say hello as they hugged each other before releasing.

"It feels like I haven't seen you in forever, man! What's up," asked the scar-bearing boy happily.

"Nothing much. Just your typical, average summer holiday." Hermione cleared her throat while crossing her arms. "Okay, well not exactly average…"

"Then you can tell us all about it on the train." Ron added as he put his arm around the slightly shorter boy's shoulders.

"My story can wait. You have to tell me about Egypt, every single bit. Including Percy and the pyramid. I will never get tired of that story." The three boys guffawed with Hermione covering her mouth to mask her laughter about the horrible situation. Everyone had discreetly passed through the barrier in pairs, no longer pelting towards it in a full sprint as it would be too blatant to the Muggles (because now they notice). Theodore was paired up with Ron as they were the second to last ones to pass through before Mrs Weasley and Ginny. They soon entered the platform, again witnessing the grand and mighty Hogwarts Express in all of its glory. Everyone had finally arrived as they began to board the train. The twins were taunting Percy as he was talking to his girlfriend from last year, and soon disappeared into the Express with Lee. Theodore managed to stow Sawer in the animal compartment without meeting any resistance, but Viripin was an entirely different story.

"No! I'm not leaving you!" She hissed as she wrapped herself tightly around the Parselmouth. Theodore had to move to a hidden corner of the platform and spoke to the stubborn Maibian Adder.

"I can't have you in the compartment! You'll freak everyone out! Besides, you'll have Sawer to keep as company."

"Please, Theodore! Don't leave me!" Her pleas of desperation got through to him as he yielded.

"Okay, you can stay with me. But turn into something less… this." She immediately morphed into an actual black bunny rabbit that fitted into the boy's hands, and rested her small head on his fingers as he returned to the others. Mrs Weasley was kissing all of her children as they boarded the Express and didn't hesitate with Hermione, Theodore and Harry. She cuddled the two cousins as if they were her own babies and gave them words of encouragement for the year ahead. She handed them their lunches for the journey and hugged them one last time before they entered the train. Harry was held back by Mr Weasley but Theodore didn't seem too bothered. He, Hermione and Ron waited for him to come back up and the four made their way through the tight pathways of the Express. Theodore opted to go the other direction to find any free compartments, but dropped the suggestion when there was a spare one at the very end.

"Well this isn't exactly free now, is it?"

"Stop complaining, Theo." The four were standing at the open compartment doors as they stared at a wizard who was sleeping soundly without any knowledge of the young teens being present. He was propped up against the window and from the looks of it, looked even poorer than Theodore himself. His robes were tattered and patched, and had several stains all over. He was turned away so he couldn't be so sure, but Theodore could've sworn that he saw deep scars running across his face. It didn't shock him at all. The quartet slowly walked inside and sat down quietly away from the sleeping wizard. Theodore was tickling Viripin under her long ears as he sat himself next to Harry.

"Who is this guy," whispered Ron as he held a sickly Scabbers in his hands. Hermione pointed to the man's briefcase which read 'Professor R.J. Lupin' in bold, on top of the luggage rack.

"Probably the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. We all know what happened to the last one." Theodore murmured, reminding himself of the Memory Charm that backfired when Lockhart tried to use the Parselmouth's wand against him. And from the looks of the newest applicant, it seemed as if history would repeat itself. The Hogwarts Express was trudging along forwards as the four discussed what happened over the summer holidays. Harry told them about Sirius Black's reason for escaping, which included his head on a stick.

"Sirius Black wants to kill you?!" Hermione hissed in a shocked tone before she covered her mouth. Harry nodded as he closed in further. "But why?"

"Dunno. Mr and Mrs Weasley said something about him being a… follower of Voldemort." Ron's face ticked but he didn't say anything. Theodore leaned backwards slowly, now silent and deep within thought. It made sense why he was locked up, if he was one of his father's lot. A Death Eater. If he was one of his followers, then it also made sense if he knew who Theodore was. That's probably the reason why he was even outside of Stuggle's. The lost child of his former master, alone within the Muggle world. Theodore wouldn't have been surprised if Black was after him as well, probably to deliver him to his father, wherever he was…

"Hey," said Harry as he jogged the other Parselmouth with worry across his face. "You alright?"

"I think I saw Black outside my orphanage, one day…"

"Seriously?!"

"How can you be so sure that it was him? I mean, it could've been anyone."

"I saw his picture in the Leaky Cauldron, in the Daily Prophet. He looked a little bit different on paper but it was Sirius Black. He even had rags on that looked like prison clothes. I'm sure that it was him." Ron and Hermione looked at each other than back at the two dark-haired boys with mirrored faces.

"So does this mean that he's after you too?" Ron asked quietly.

"I hope not," whispered Theodore as he held Viripin closer to his chest. "Last thing I need is one of 'his' followers stalking me all over the place. If he could escape Azkaban, then he could surely break into Hogwarts as well."

"That means that you'll have to be careful, the pair of you. You can't be sneaking around the castle like last year."

"What did he even do exactly? I know he broke out of prison, but what was he in there for?" Theodore asked.

"Blew up a street and killed twelve Muggles, including some wizard who tried to stop him. Perry, I think his name was." Ron said casually.

"Yikes."

"I know, right?"

"Do you think they'll catch him?"

"Doubt it," said Harry quietly. "If they can't keep him locked up, then how do they expect themselves to catch him?" Hermione offered to change the subject, talking about how she was looking forward to Hogsmeade due to its history. Ron was looking forward to the sweet shop called Honeydukes, while Theodore was looking forward to it for both reasons. He had spent just enough money so that there'd be some left over for the entire year. It would've been better, if Harry had his letter signed. The Boy Who Lived miserably explained how his uncle refused to sign his permission slip after he blew up his 'aunt'.

"I would've blown him up as well," remarked Ron as he frowned a little. Theodore nodded, ignoring Hermione's glances of disapproval.

"Same. You know, I even saw the Dursleys when I went to Little Whinging with my orphanage." Harry frowned as he crossed his arms.

"The bake sale, right? Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia made me stay in my room all day. Was it any fun?"

"Not exactly, no…" Harry raised his eyebrow as he asked why. Theodore sighed, then told the story of the dog to Harry and Ron, who seemed to be on the edge of their seat, like Hermione. The Muggle-born was even listening to the boy as if she never heard of the story before. Ron applauded him when told that he Apparated twice, while Harry looked a little distant, like he was hiding something. Hermione's hands were wondering near Crookshanks' cage as she flicked the lock open, causing the cat to burst out wildly onto her lap. He immediately dove at Theodore's chest, suddenly being scared back when Viripin decided to return to her original form as she bared her fangs at him like a crazed serpent. Crookshanks then pounced on Ron as he seemingly tried to attack Scabbers, who took refuge in the red headed boy's pocket. Ron was shouting at the cat, shoving him away as he crawled backwards while Hermione tried to control him.

"Fucking hell, Hermione! That's the third time already! If you can't control that thing…"

"No need to swear, Ronald!" She spat back as she picked the cat up and placed him on her lap. "He's a cat, it's what cats do!"

"Yeah, I'm sure that cats attack snakes as well," said Theodore as he looked equally as annoyed as Ron while calming the Adder down. Hermione snootily lifted her nose as she stroked Crookshanks gently as if he did nothing wrong. Viripin didn't bother to change back into a rabbit as she coiled herself on the boy's lap, eyes pinned on the cat as Crookshanks stared at Scabbers underneath Ron's shirt. They were all amazed how Professor Lupin was not woken up by the calamity that just occurred, soon settling down as the train carried its way to Hogwarts.

An hour had passed already as the four were munching on Cauldron Cakes, Pumpkin Pasties, Liquorice Wands and many other sweets that were too good to mention. Professor Lupin was still stuck in his slumber as the children tried to wake him up, to no avail. They continued to talk about Hogsmeade and Ron's trip to Egypt, realising that this was the first time that they were all together upon going to Hogwarts, until trouble had decided to come around the corner. Draco had appeared at the compartment doors with his two goons, Crabbe and Goyle, standing behind him like the sheep they were. Theodore could see Harry and Ron clenching their fists, ready for a fight when Draco suddenly took notice of them. Ready to stir their yearly pre-school commotion, Draco had his hand gripped firmly on the door handle until he saw Theodore glancing at him for a moment before looking away. He released his hold on the handle and ordered his sidekicks to walk away, vanishing as quickly as he appeared. The four of them looked so befuddled at each other, wondering why he didn't even try to insult them like he usually did, but chose to ignore it as they finished their sweets and treats.

The beautiful summer morning had shifted into an ominous rainy night as the lanterns within the Express lighted each corner of the train, swinging uncontrollably at the sudden jolts of the tracks below. Cool mist and steam condensed along the windows, masking the black background of the darkened fields behind them. Theodore always knew that the journey to Hogwarts would always lead into the night, but something felt a little off here. He threw away that feeling as he leaned his head backwards to doze off a little before arriving.

KRRR… BOOM!

Theodore was almost flung straight at Hermione as the lights were completely snuffed. Viripin hissed as she fell out of the boy's lap as some of the luggage from the rack crashed down onto the floor, one skimming Theodore's left ear. He brought himself up slowly, keeping his feet firmly against the floor to avoid trodding on the Maibian Adder.

"Guys… what's going on?" Ron asked in the darkness. Hermione released a yelp as Ron presumably stepped on her foot. "Sorry!"

"Are we there yet? Surely, we can't be, right?"

"I don't know. I think we should-" Theodore whimpered as he felt something smack his groin, slowly falling backwards as he held it in pain.

"Did I hit someone?! Wait, is that Theo? Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry! I'm really sorry!"

"It's… alright, Ginny. Just… sit down…" Ginny moved through the darkness, and sat next to her brother who was staring outside the window, commenting that something was moving out there. Hermione suggested that she'd go ask the driver what was the problem but everyone was against the idea. They all decided to remain in their seats until everything would go back to normal, only to receive a fright from an unfamiliar voice near the window.

"It's alright. No need to panic, it's me." Lupin used his wand to light the tip, filling the full compartment completely. Viripin was wrapped tightly around Theodore's right arm while Hermione was close to his left. Everyone took a deep breath, and sighed in relief that an adult was present. "Do not move. Stay here and-"

The sound of a door creaking in the most eerie of sorts, screeched inside of the entire compartment, forcing the children to turn themselves around towards it. Lupin slowly raised his wand to better see what had been floating through the corridors all this time. The air grew cold as a thin, black-cloaked figure came into light, slowly moving like a spectral being. Theodore couldn't see its face at all, due to it being hidden completely by its hood. The lack of legs, the decaying, rotten hands and the feeling of any happiness depleting within you by the second… This was a Dementor, the Guards of Azkaban. Theodore had only seen illustrations within that book but seeing it up so close was…

The Dementor faced not Theodore, but Harry who looked completely frozen by the sight of it. He was shaking; not trying to turn away, no. Just frozen. All of them were, even Professor Lupin. Nobody could flex a single muscle, not even from their smallest finger. The Dementor suddenly swooped its head to Harry's level, bringing what could've been a mouth, to his own as it inhaled in such an ungodly way, wheezing terribly as something was drawn out from Harry's lungs. The Parselmouth could only watch his cousin having his soul being sucked out from his being as he began to feel a little more empty. Like there was nothing to him. The Dementor sucked in some more until Lupin whisked his wand in the air and muttered an incantation to produce a wisp of light from his wand-tip. It was quick and drove the Dementor outside of the compartment instantly but that wasn't where Theodore's attention was focused on. Harry had collapsed onto the ground without warning, his eyes rolled up into his skull as if he was dead. Everyone snapped out of it and rushed to his side, crowding around him as they tried to wake him up. Theodore knew exactly what it was but he couldn't do anything. Just like all the times before, he couldn't do a single thing…

Hogsmeade was now in full vision as the train resumed its course. Everyone was still shaken from the Dementor attack but not as much as Harry. He looked half-dead. Lupin had given everyone bars of chocolate, which worked somehow, before they arrived. Theodore told Viripin to change into something smaller as she turned into a sleek black rat which looked a lot more healthier than Scabbers. He placed her comfortably in his pocket as he jumped onto the platform with everyone else. They all followed the usual pathway to the carriages after saying hello to Hagrid, and walked briskly among the clumps of students from the older years. The four found an empty carriage with a Thestral hooked on at the front, which seemed to return Theodore's stare. The bony, winged horse sniffed at Theodore's pocket before losing interest as it looked forwards. Soon, the fleet of Thestral-pulled carriages beckoned towards the castle with Dementors floating so high in the sky above.

Finally, they arrived at the castle which still looked as majestic as ever. Ron and Theodore got out first, followed by Hermione, then Harry who sort of staggered. He brushed himself off and followed the three others until he heard his name being called out by Draco from afar.

"Oi, Potter! Is it true that you fainted," mocked the boy as he and his cronies blocked the four.

"Fuck off, Malfoy and get out of the way." Ron said darkly as he had his fist clenched again. Draco didn't take to this nicely as he sneered at him. He closed in onto the red headed boy, trying to intimidate him despite the height difference.

"Did it get you too eh, Weasel? Did you piss yourself when-" Draco turned his eyes on Theodore who raised his brows at him. The blonde boy took a step back and motioned for Crabbe and Goyle to leave the four alone as they trekked up the stairs. Ron flipped him off, but his hand was dragged down by Hermione who saw Professor Lupin coming from around the corner. His scars looked much more prominent in the light from the castle.

They eventually entered through the castle's oak doors, and into the Great Hall that they missed so much. Hermione and Harry were pulled aside by McGonagall, leaving Theodore and Ron to enter the Hall together.

"Why do you think she held Hermione back? I mean, for Harry I understand, but not for her." Theodore shrugged as they found their seats on Gryffindor table. Theodore was seated next to Lavender, who's hair had grown quite poofy and who seemed to have calmed down during the summer. Still didn't stop her from moving a bit too close towards him. Ron had made extra space for Harry on one side, as did Theodore for Hermione on the other, seeing as they were nowhere to be seen.

The Sorting Ceremony had finished quicker than last year, no particular names having any interest to Theodore. Flitwick was McGonagall's temporary replacement and was soon carrying the Hat and stool away, the second Harry and Hermione decided to walk inside. Dumbledore thanked the minuscule wizard before he gave an informing speech of the pressing matters at hand about the Dementors. Theodore noticed that everyone was staring at Harry for quite a while, clearly making the boy uncomfortable with the sudden attention (because he wasn't used to it already).

"…and remember, trouble has a way of finding those who take a simple glance at it. I will advise you not to provoke the Dementors into harming any of you, because believe me… the consequences of your actions will be detrimental. However, let me introduce our newest Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Lupin!" The heart of the applause emanated from Gryffindor table, especially from the quartet and Ginny, as the rest of the school felt a little dull. Lupin simply nodded as the 'applause' died down.

"I would also like to introduce our newest Care for Magical Creatures teacher, Professor Rubeus Hagrid, who will be replacing dear Professor Kettleburn after last year's 'incident'." Every single Gryffindor roared as they gave a standing ovation for the red-faced half-giant. Theodore was beyond joyful that Hagrid was in a position that suited him well, especially after the last year. But he had to admit that he felt a little left out that he didn't choose CFMC when the others did. Any lesson taught by Hagrid would be unforgettable, he was sure of it.

The feast had finally arrived, littering the tables with so much of the food that Theodore missed. He piled his golden plate up like always and tucked in along with everyone else. Everyone was trading stories and jokes that they heard across the summer, some causing others to blow out Pumpkin Juice from their nostrils, namely Fred and George to everyone else. Theodore was busy stuffing his face, unaware of the subtle glances from the Muggle-born next to him. Hermione looked at the hungry Parselmouth wolfing down several chicken drumsticks and smiled when he realised that he had too much in his mouth. They were all wrapped up in the feast that when the desserts were soon finished, an unescapable wave of tiredness washed over every single person, yawns being echoed from every corner of the Great Hall. Dumbledore had excused everyone to leave for their dorms to which they couldn't refuse. After congratulating Hagrid on his new job, the Gryffindors travelled up the stairs and followed the Head Boy to their beloved common room.

They entered through the portrait hole, absorbing the ambient heat from the fireplace as they walked over to their respective stairways. As Theodore yawned while on the first step, he was suddenly pulled back by Ron, who pointed at the large crowd in the centre of the common room.

"What, what is it, man? I want to go sleep," drawled the boy lazily as he was pulled over to the mass of Gryffindors.

"There's a new girl here!"

"There's lots of new girls here. That's what happens when the new year starts."

"She's in our year…"

"What?!"

The crowd dispersed as the new girl came into full vision, smacking the boy with the dumbfounding realisation of who the girl was. Her hair was now blue in a punkish Mohawk. She was taller than most of the other girls but not as tall as Ron or Theodore. Her left eye was a bright cerulean while her right bore a magenta shade. She had a pretty face and an inviting aura that seemed to draw everyone in evidently. Theodore couldn't believe it. She was the same girl from last year at the Leaky Cauldron. The same girl from Madam Malkin's who was trying on the robes for Hogwarts. She looked different but it was her. It had to be. The Metamorphmagus girl widened her eyes at the sight of the handsome boy and held out her hand while she walked up to him.

"You," was all that he could mutter as she shook his hand while smirking at his lost expression.

"Hi…? I remember you." She said in a slight French accent. "Do you remember me?"

"My name is Elvira Pierre-Sayre. It is nice to meet you," said the girl, now more puzzled then amused. Theodore was blinking, still confused on how any of this was possible. "Are you going to tell me your name, or…?"

"Huh…"

Yeaaahhh, so remember when I said that there was going to be a new character from Chapter 6? Yeah, that's her. Talk about long overdue. There was literally no way which I could properly fit her inside the story back then without it feeling contrived, at least to me. So yeah. New OC guys! Because I haven't given you enough already.

Also, there is going to be a little retcon in the later chapters which I honestly forgot about beforehand. I just hope that it'll be the first and last one throughout the entire thing. Anyways, Prisoner of Azkaban is here and we're not stopping. Hope you enjoyed this. Later.