12th September 1991
Mark stirred awake. It was still dark. He reached for his watch on the nightstand and glanced at the time. Twelve-twenty-five, the arms glowed. He groaned and sat up. He was unable to sleep again whenever he awoke at night. Looking right, he noticed that the bed beside him was empty.
'Neville was supposed to be back by now' he wondered. Mark had visited his friend in the hospital wing before dinner, and feeling sleepy, had retired to bed early. Noticing that Harry's and Ron's beds were empty as well, he groaned again.
He remembered the challenge Draco Malfoy had presented to his roommates. They had most likely gone to duel Malfoy in the trophy room, which while he appreciated the sentiment of, he knew would turn out to be some stupid trap. The Slytherin would likely not even show up.
He had tried to explain this to them both, but Ron had brought up the issue of honour, and how they'd be termed cowards if they didn't show up.
Mark picked up the book he'd been reading earlier from his nightstand and decided to head to the common room. Hopefully, he might doze off on one of the armchairs. He missed the privacy of his room, where he was able to sit up in his bed with the lights on at night. He could use the Lumos charm here, but that was akin to reading with a flashlight.
Mark found the common room mostly empty; The older students didn't seem to have gotten much homework yet. Slumping in a plush armchair, he opened his book on Advanced Magical Theory. He soon became lost in it and was suddenly interrupted by the portrait entrance swinging in.
Harry, Ron, Neville, and Hermione came in panting and trembling, pale as sheets. Only Harry seemed to have noticed his presence.
"Where were you guys? Neville?" he asked, causing Ron to jump and look at him.
"The forbidden third-floor corridor" Neville supplied reluctantly. Mark frowned at this, and was about to ask why they had gone there when Ron spoke,
"Why in the world are they keeping a thing like that, locked up in a school?" he seemed angry at something. "If any dog needs exercise, that one does."
'What dog?' Mark was about to ask when,
"You don't use your eyes, do you?" came the condescending tone of Hermione. "Didn't you see what it was standing on"
"The floor?" Harry suggested. "I wasn't looking at its feet, I was too busy with its head. If you didn't notice, there were three of them"
Mark was getting irritated about the whole lack of context and decided to just glean the information from Ron.
"No, it was standing on a trapdoor. It's obviously guarding something."
"Seems to be doing its job fine then," commented Mark smugly, now fully informed. This earned him a scathing look from Hermione. Turning back to the two errant boys she said,
"I hope you're pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed - or worse, expelled." She turned and left for her dorms without any further comment.
Ron stared at her, with his mouth open.
"You'd think we dragged her along, wouldn't you?"
"Don't mind her. She's just worried about her place here." Mark replied. Ron looked at him incredulously, but Harry's face showed signs of recognition.
Neville silently made for his bed as well, followed by Ron. Harry seemed to be thinking about something, his brows furrowing for a few moments before he too left for bed.
Mark looked at the book in his hand. He realised he wouldn't be able to concentrate after all that. He could possibly continue if he had a snack, but this wasn't home.
'I should start packing some stuff at dinner to eat later at night,' he remarked to himself, as he too decided to head to bed.
24th September 1991
Harry couldn't believe that it was now almost a month since he'd come to Hogwarts. To be honest he still wouldn't have believed that there was a Hogwarts, if not for the sheer work he was being piled on with.
In addition to the secret Seeker practices, Harry had to attend team practices and reserve practices as well. And all that on top of the classes and homework that all the Professors seemed keen to assign them.
Harry enjoyed his classes, except for the Defence Against the Dark Arts taught by Professor Quirrell. He had been looking forward to the subject, having actually read the textbook twice. But aside from a strong stench of garlic, the turbaned professor had not imparted him with anything new.
His thoughts turned bitter as he thought about Potions. Snape had it out for him before he'd entered the class. Even his Aunt Petunia had never been that bitter towards him. She at least waited long enough for him to screw something up.
Other than Snape and the Slytherins, however, Harry's stay at Hogwarts till now had been great. He had made great friends. Ron was almost always by his side, partnering together in all the class activities, and helping him to accommodate himself to the magical world.
Dean and Seamus had a great sense of humour, especially the Irish slang of Seamus and the muggle references that Dean often employed. Neville was a bit shy and clumsy but had surprised Harry in the quidditch practices. It seemed he was often just nervous to act properly.
Mark was weird. In a way he was like Dudley- obviously pampered at home by the way he acted around others, but that was where the comparison ended. He was no bully and clearly hated the kind, as evidenced by the fistfight he had with Malfoy the day of the flying lessons.
He was clearly intelligent and seemingly performed the best in some of the classes with what looked like little effort. This seemed to irk Hermione Granger a lot, and her growing irritation a not being the best was being noticed by others. Ron took great delight in her plight since she had been condescending to them before.
Ron had been really happy at being selected for the reserve team. He seemed starved for recognition, as Harry had made out during their train ride together. His friend was much more confident in himself ever since Oliver had lavishly praised him for a suggestion about chasing strategies during one of the practices.
Harry's thoughts turned to his new broom. The brand-new Nimbus Two Thousand had been a joy to both hold and ride. It was sleek and shiny, with a mahogany handle, and had a long tail of neat, straight twigs with its name written in gold near the top. In the air, it responded to his lightest touch and was at least three times faster than the one he'd ridden to save Neville's Remembrall.
13th October 1991
Mark collapsed on his bed, his muddy booted feet dangling out. He was exhausted. He mentally cursed Oliver Wood; that madman had worked them all as slaves, making them run around the quidditch pitch ten times. Mark groaned and turned to see his roommates.
Neville was collapsed in a similar position as Mark and had already dozed off. Ron and Dean were already out of their boots and were stripping off their sweat-stained robes, talking animatedly about their practice.
"You guys look chipper," observed Mark. Ron turned to him
"Stop complaining. The reserve practices are just once a week mate," he said, before continuing in an amused tone
"And in any case, you should only blame yourself for giving McGonagall the idea"
Mark groaned audibly. Dean seemed to be holding back his laughter.
"Harry's still out on the pitch, and he has two more practices every week."
"I pity the fool," replied Mark, setting off Dean's laughter. Ron seemed confused, looking towards Mark for an explanation. Mark shrugged
"Muggle reference." He now was sitting on the bed and began removing his dirty quidditch garb.
Quidditch. He had to admit, as much as he hated the physical conditioning that Oliver seemed to insist on, he liked flying a lot. He had tried flying on a Cleansweep which belonged to one of the Chasers, Alicia Spinnet, and needless to say it was loads better than the broom he'd ridden to catch Draco.
Not many students had shown up at the reserve try-outs, despite the popularity of the sport. Most likely the reserve spots were not that lucrative. Mark had dragged a protesting Neville along, who actually managed to become reserve Beater. Ron became the second reserve Beater as he missed out on Keeper to a second-year guy called McLaggen who solely got it due to him trying out on his own broom.
Dean and Mark were the new chasers. While Dean was quicker and a slightly better flyer, Mark had the stronger arms and excellent aim, thanks to the grudging push-ups John had insisted his son do every morning, and the time they had spent playing darts together. In any case, the chances of him playing in an actual game were slim; Angelina Johnson and Alicia were excellent, and Katie Bell was as good, even though she was a year younger than them.
His mind turned to Professor McGonagall who despite her cruel sense of humour, was quickly becoming his favourite teacher. His detention had actually ended up being a one on one discussion with his professor on the underlying magical theory of transfiguration. Mark had been disappointed with the two thick books he'd borrowed from the library, and he had voiced it to his teacher. She had suggested he check out the old issues of Transfiguration Today, a yearly magical journal on the subject.
That had been a goldmine for Mark. He found some of the answers for his questions in old issues from the 1920s, alongside issues of a now discontinued German journal Theorie der Magie. Thankfully they had inbuilt translation charms for French and English, so Mark could read the articles despite not knowing the language. He had spent three days scouring through all of the issues, copying the articles which interested him using a charm he had gotten Fred and George to teach him.
One issue, in particular, had caught his eye; it was published in 1919 and written by a guy called G. T. Darnell. The reason he found it so peculiar was due to the equations being described in it were eerily similar to the ones given by James Clerk Maxwell, a non-magical scientist in 1865.
No other article had made an attempt to use any mathematical formalism in any form, let alone use differential equations. The paper was apparently not that well received, as evidenced by the comments published underneath it since it had not matched with the results of any experiments that had been performed.
The Hogwarts library had also held answers to Mark's questions about his ability. Intrigued at being rebuffed by both Harry and Snape, Mark had by now checked with almost everyone at school. In addition to them both, only Professor Dumbledore and weirdly Professor Quirrell had shown similar immunity. He inferred from this that Quirrell must have been a very competent wizard before the encounter with the vampire if that story was to be believed
In the few books not shelved in the restricted section of the Library, he had found one about memory charms and defences against them. In it were mentions of using what was called 'Legilimency' to ascertain accurately the memories that had to be charmed.
Searching further, Mark had found more references to Legilimency. One said that it was the art of navigating someone's mind and needed a spell to be performed, while another insisted that all that was required was great magical power and eye-contact.
None of this properly explained Mark's ability; he certainly did not require a wand or eye-contact to read someone's mind. Perhaps there were more references in the restricted section, but he had no means to get in there. Not yet.