Dusk was descending on the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The students and their professors were gathered in the Great Hall, listening to the Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, as he gave the annual Halloween Feast speech and invited them to tuck in and enjoy the entertainment.
As the latest pop group from WWN trooped onto the stage to perform, a couple of miles away in the Forbidden Forest, a cloud of golden dust exploded into existence, sending beams of light in all directions and scaring a flock of birds nesting in the treetops.
With a flash of silver, a tall form appeared in the clearing, hovering slightly above the ground. Silence descended upon the forest as the last few specks of dust fell to earth and vanished. The figure brushed off his midnight black robes, swiftly noting that his trunk was floating serenely behind him.
Harry Potter had arrived.
Albus Dumbledore sat at the Staff Table, peering over his half moon spectacles at the students that sat before him enjoying themselves. He sighed. There was little to enjoy anymore, what with Lord Voldemort and his reign of darkness threatening to engulf the entire wizarding world. He was glad that the feast could bring a little happiness to the school in these dark times.
But Albus was also worried for them. They were young, and they needed to know how to defend themselves from the evils that lay waiting for them out in the real world, but any possible candidates for the Defence Against the Dark Arts teaching position had left to join the fight against Voldemort. As a result, the classes in question were currently being taught by a wizened old witch who could only tutor the students part of the time and who’d as much experience with the Dark Arts as purebloods had with those muggle telly things. In short, not a lot of experience at all.
There was a sudden bang from the region of the Gryffindor table, and the singers on stage faltered slightly. When the purple mist had cleared, the Hall could see four boys currently sporting bunny ears.
“Padfoot!” yelled a bespectacled young man with dark, messy hair who Dumbledore instantly recognised as James Potter, having had the pleasure of seeing him in his office more than a few times for trouble-making. "You're supposed to wait until I say ‘go’ and aim it at the Slytherins - not us!”
“But you said go!” a tall boy, with sleek, elegant hair that flowed to his shoulders, whined childishly, while James glowered at him.
“He said ‘When I say go’!” a boy with prematurely grey-flecked brown hair stated angrily. “Not ‘go’!” It was at that moment that the group seemed to notice that the whole Hall was staring at them with barely suppressed mirth.
To Dumbledore's right, Professor McGonagall, Transfiguration teacher and newly-instated Head of Gryffindor House, rose to her feet, glaring, although Dumbledore was positive he could see a twinkle of laughter in her eyes and a smile playing about her lips.
“Potter!” she yelled. “Black! Lupin! Pettigrew!” The boys in question turned to her, all of them gulping visibly, but before their Head of House could berate them and most probably take points off, Dumbledore stepped in.
“Now, Minerva,” he said gently, “these boys were obviously planning for the result of this, ah, episode to turn out differently, but seeing as it hasn't, is there really a need to scold them for it?” The boys beamed at their Headmaster, before Sirius Black turned to his professor.
“Yes, Minerva,” he said in a perfect mimicry of the Headmaster’s benign tone. “There is no need for that.”
The Great Hall rang with laughter, and McGonagall's lips took on a deadly thin appearance, but before she could prise them apart and reprimand her student’s impertinence, the heavy door to the Hall banged open.
Every head turned to stare at the cloaked figure in the doorway, forgetting the amusing scene between the strictest teacher and the cheekiest student in the school instantly. This new arrival was much more interesting.
The black-clad form was obviously male, with a strong, lithe form and tall build. He simply stood there for several seconds, as muttering began to fill the Hall, before flinging off his hood abruptly. Some of the students gasped. The stranger had raven hair that hung in an untameable mess around his head, unruly locks crowning his forehead, covering the tips of his ears, falling slightly into a pair of curious silver eyes that held such intensity within them that none could summon the courage to meet his gaze.
His fringe, however, did not manage to hide the thin scar that ran from the middle of his forehead, slashing past his right cheek and splitting several times, much like a large fork of lightning. Surprisingly, the scar did not disfigure the man’s face. Rather, it leant it character and charisma, telling of the hardships that he’d obviously been through.
The stranger surveyed his audience briefly, and James felt a shiver run down his back when their eyes locked – the new arrival's eyes held dark shadows of things that one should never have seen, done, or known about.
Dumbledore rose to his feet, his normally twinkling blue eyes chips of aquamarine ice. Whoever this visitor was, he was obviously not here at the Headmaster's request, without his permission, and the students felt a wave of sudden terror sweep through their ranks – what if this man was a Death Eater?
”Who are you?” Dumbledore said, his words as cold as his eyes. “You have no authorization to enter these grounds without my express permission.”
The stranger seemed to consider him for a second. “I mean no harm,” he replied, and many of the students were startled to hear how young his voice sounded – a pleasantly husky tenor that spoke of mild amusement. “I only wish to ask consent to apply for the Defence Against the Dark Arts position. I understand you are having trouble finding a competent teacher.”
His words were met with a shocked silence. Teaching position? But he could hardly be older than nineteen at most – how could he possibly be more competent at teaching Defence than any of the seventh years?
Dumbledore however, thought differently. He sensed great power emanating from this wizard; but whether it was good or evil, he had yet to discover. However, were he an ally to the light, he could well be valuable in helping his students arm themselves against Voldemort or any other evil they could encounter.
The students were waiting with bated breath for their Headmaster's answer. Some students had come to the conclusion that the stranger could hardly be that dangerous, and a few of the female population were already examining the toned, catlike strength beneath his robes. But the man did not pay any attention to this. All his attention was focused on the Headmaster, although James detected a tiny, almost reluctant smirk residing at the corner of his lips.
"Very well," Dumbledore responded, ignoring the looks he was receiving from some of the staff. "Kindly meet me in my office shortly." The applicant nodded, his eyes sweeping the Hall once more, before turning and leaving the room. The door slammed shut behind him and left an eerie silence in his wake.
Sirius Black was the first to break it.
“How did he know where Dumbledore’s office was?” he whispered to James, but his voice carried through the room, leading most people to wonder the same thing.