Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Shades of Gray

Chapter 9: The Academy

by Shadow_Rebirth 16 Reviews

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Characters:  - Published: 2008/09/19 - Updated: 2008/09/20 - 7378 words

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Title: Shades of Gray: The Academy
Author: Shadow Rebirth
Beta Reader: StormyBabe1988
Rating: T/PG-13
Warnings: Death, blood and gore, language, spoilers
Chapter WC: 7,133
Story WC: 45,744
Last Edited: November 17, 2008
Posted: October 16, 2008
Summary: Harry has a dark secret: He isn't a wizard. But that certainly doesn't mean he can't do magic. It was too bad it also meant that in the face of fanatical governments and enraged demigods, Voldemort was going to be the least of his problems. AU, Gray!Harry, foreign school, vampires, werewolves, politics, no pairings.

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Shades of Gray

Chapter 9
The Academy

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It took the group nearly fifteen minutes to get to the Square. It was even busier than it had been the day before when Harry and Ryan had first arrived. The group carefully maneuvered their way across the Square to the hotel. Once inside, they split up—Harry and Ryan were on the second floor while Zahra and Senka both turned out to be on the fifth floor. Once Harry arrived at his room, he too bid goodbye to Ryan and then slipped inside.

Glancing around at the hotel room, Harry found that Damion's things were already gone; he must have already come and gotten them. Harry picked up the few items that he had unpacked and placed them back in his trunk. His familiar was still around his shoulder, and he didn't feel like moving her, so Harry left the runespoor alone. Instead, he simply locked his trunk, shrunk it, and then placed it in his pocket. Then, with one last glance around the room, he silently left.

A quick look around the hall told Harry that Ryan wasn't done yet, so the mage made his way back down to the lobby. To his surprise, it was almost completely filled with nearly two hundred people. They all appeared to be around sixteen years old—most likely all the first years.

Harry glanced around for a moment longer to see if he could see anyone that he recognized. When all he saw was a sea of faces however, he just leaned back against a nearby wall to wait.

Harry stood there observing his peers for several minutes until he heard someone come up next to him. A glance up revealed that it was Damion and Azrael.

Damion nodded composedly in greeting. Next to him, Azrael did the same before folding his arms in front of him and leaning against the wall. Harry glanced down as he felt some brush against his leg. As soon as he did however, he immediately froze. Sitting there, looking up at him, was what appeared to be a gigantic leopard. Sitting as it was its head reached up nearly to his chest. Harry guessed that standing it would be about as high as his waist.

"Uh, Damion," Harry began, keeping his eyes fixated onto the beast. "Is that...?"

Seeing Harry's expression, Damion grinned. He then reached out a hand and pet the large cat. It growled happily at the touch and the loud rumble sent a shiver down Harry's spine.

"This is Nyx, my familiar," he told Harry. "She's a nundu."

Harry just continued to stare blankly at the beast before him. A nundu...? Harry remembered reading about them in a book in Hogwarts. It had said that they were gigantic leopards that moved silently despite their size and whose breath caused disease potent enough to wipe out entire villages. It had never yet been subdued by fewer than a hundred skilled wizards working together. Nundu were often considered more dangerous even than dragons, and Damion had one as a familiar...!

Harry caught another bit of movement from the corner of his eye and, after looking up, he froze once again. Next to Azrael was another large beast. This one, however, was unlike anything that Harry had ever seen before. It had the lead of a lion, the body of a goat, and a dragon's tail. Over all it was about five feet in length and stood up to Azrael's waist.

After a moment of staring, Harry realized that it was a chimera. Again, he was quite shocked. To his knowledge, there had only ever been one successful slaying of a chimera. Did everyone here have such incredibly dangerous familiars—for he was sure that it was Azrael's familiar—or just the vampires?

Just at that moment Zahra and Senka approached the three. Harry grinned upon seeing the two. He may have only met Senka not a half an hour earlier, but it was still good to see some more friendly faces.

"Senka," Harry began, stepping away from the wall that he'd been leaning against. "This is Damion Noctis and Azrael Draconis. Guys, this is Senka Williams."

Senka nodded serenely at the two, who replied in a similar manner. Damion and her locked eyes then and began to stare at each other, as if locked in a battle of wills. Well, Harry thought, they both did have pretty piercing gazes...

The group of five stood silently for another minute, waiting to leave. Just as it turned three o'clock Ryan suddenly came rushing down the stairs. He immediately spotted the group and walked over to them while sheepishly rubbing the back of his head.

"Hey guys," he greeted. He opened his mouth to say more, but before he could the fayerie from the day before, Professor Cyan, spoke up.

"If you are not a first year, leave the room now," she said loudly. Everyone quickly quieted down. "If there are any first years that are not here yet, don't tell me; it's their problem for not being on time. Everyone else, please follow me. Do not wander off; you're not children and I'm not going to treat you like you are. If you get lost, then you can find your way to the school on your own."

Professor Cyan than turned on her heel and walked out of the hotel. In streams, the crowd in the lobby began to follow her. Harry, meanwhile, couldn't help but raise an eyebrow, once again quite glad that he wasn't taking Healing this year.

Getting out of the hotel took a little while. Considering that there were two hundred people trying to get through a single door, it really wasn't all that surprising. Once Harry and his friends had finally gotten out they found themselves swept up through the sea of first years moving down one of the four main streets of Myrddin, heading toward one of the gates. Harry struggled to stay with his friends and they only just barely managed it.

Harry was surprised to learn, as they neared the gate, that the gate exited to the land outside of Nuuk. It seemed that Myrddin actually was on the edge of the city.

It took a little while for everyone to make their way through the gate. Once everyone had passed through however, they found themselves standing around in a group just outside the gate.

Harry and his group of friends edged themselves around the outside of the group so that they were closer to the front. What Harry saw there made his eyes widen: There was a mass of stables right in front of them. Said stables could probably house hundreds of horses.

And, indeed it seemed that it did, for, to Harry's shock, there were several hundred horses lined up in front of the group of new students. They weren't just any horses however; Harry recognized them as abraxans; a breed of winged horses that were basically immensely powerful giant palominos. Their large wings stretched out nearly ten feet on either side of them.

The abraxans were all attached to sleek black carriages in teams of two. Though fairly similar to the ones at Hogwarts, these carriages looked as though they could hold about six people. Plus, they didn't have wheels, which made they look like odd giant boxes.

"These, if you didn't know, are abraxans," Professor Cyan told the large group. They will be taking you to the Academy. During the school year, you will be able to use the abraxans to get from the school to Myrddin and back. You'll be able to use either a single abraxan or a carriage, if you're a part of a group. Now, everyone please find a carriage."

The sixteen year old quickly rushed forwards. Harry and his group shared a look before heading to one of the carriages off to the side. True to Harry's earlier thought, the carriage fit the six of them in perfectly. Harry, who'd been the last one into the carriage, shut the door behind him and then took the last empty spot in the corner, across from Damion.

Through the carriages open windows Harry could see out and watch everyone scramble around. 'Like ants,' he observed with no small amount of amusement. '/They all look like ants, even though the carriages aren't much taller than them./’

It took about five minutes for everyone to get into their carriages. Once that was done, the abraxans acted on some unheard signal and suddenly took to the sky.

Harry immediately grabbed the side of the carriage as it jerked. Several people gasped as they suddenly rose off the ground. In fact, it seemed that Senka was the only person in the carriage who didn't react at all; she just sat there, looking as composed at usual. In front of them, the two abraxans pulling their carriage beat their powerful wings and soared forward.

It took another five minutes for Harry to become fully accustomed to riding in a flying carriage. It was pretty stable though, so he guessed that the carriage was spelled to fly. The mage concentrated on the wood of the carriage beneath his hand then, acting upon instinct. True to his thoughts, he noticed that he could feel the carriage hum with magic beneath his hand; it seemed to be saturated with energy.

Harry turned his thoughts away from the carriage beneath him to the landscape that they were flying over. It was green beneath them, he noticed, and forested.

"I thought that Greenland was supposed to be mostly rocks and ice," Harry murmured out.

"That's what the muggles and wizards think," Damion stated. Blinking, Harry looked up at the vampire, who was smirking. "They know how big Greenland is, of course, and they think that they've explored all of it. But they haven't. Muggles—and by extension, wizards—have actually only explored a very small amount of the country, along the edges. They believe that they've crossed it entirely, of course, but that's just what our enchantments make them think. The reality is that most of Greenland—the wild, uninhabitable part—has been enchanted and 'tucked away' from the world. Most of Greenland is now a magical creature reserve."

Harry blinked again, surprised. Greenland had been turned into a reserve? That was...interesting...

Seeing Harry's pensive expression, Damion's smirk widened. "The land is very different than you'd think," he continued, "And has all different types of terrain. You'll find almost every type of magical creatures here, including some that wizards don't even know exist."

At the moment Ryan, who was leaning slightly out of the window on the other side of the carriage, gasped in surprise. "Look!" he exclaimed excitedly. "A barghest! I've never seen one before."

Following Ryan's example, everyone quickly looked outside to the ground below. There, Harry caught a glimpse of a shadow running through the trees beneath them. It crossed into a meadow suddenly though, and four others suddenly appeared out of the forest behind it.

They were large dogs, Harry noticed, almost as big as Nyx, Damion's nundu. He continued to stare at them for a moment, before suddenly realizing that they looked exactly like the Grim. Harry felt himself paling; could he never escape the Grim? It seemed to follow him every where he went, and not just in the metaphorical sense. But what was it that Ryan had called them? Barghests? He was sure that he'd heard of them before in English legend as basically the equivalent of Grims.

"Doom dogs," Senka murmured, staring down at the large dogs with interest, "Hell hounds, Grims." Harry guessed that these were all other names for the barghests. A light smile came onto the elf's face. "They can only be found here in Greenland now." Damion absently nodded his agreement as he too watched the beasts run through the forest.

Ryan, meanwhile, seemed to be completely star struck. He watched the barghest run with complete awe in his face. Harry guessed that it was a werewolf thing.

The rest of the flight lasted just over two hours. During that time, Harry learned just what Damion had meant when he'd said that the terrain was varied; they passed over a rainforest, part of a desert, some mountains, and a vast plain. Currently they were flying over a forested area again, though it wasn't as thick as it had been before. It was quite a strange experience to see so many different landscapes in one area, but Harry figured that he had seen stranger things.

Finally something manmade came into view—well, technically not man made—and Harry leaned further out his window to get a better looked. As they approached he let out a gasp.

It was castle, or, rather was castle-like. It didn't have the turrets and towers of a castle. It was, however, a large, sprawling building. Harry figured that it couldn't be more the three stories tall, but it covered at least a square mile of land. The building was made of out some sort of silver material that shined in the afternoon light. It wasn't metal—though Harry wasn't sure how he knew that—but rather seemed to be some sort of a silver stone; Harry had never seen anything like it before.

Harry and everyone else in the carriage continued to watch the building as it drew steadily closer. It appeared to be a fairly complex building with several different main complexes close together and many winding halls connecting them all. It also had vast grounds in the immediate area. Said grounds included a gigantic garden and many paths snaking along. Harry thought that he saw a large stable and pasture off to the side as well, doubtlessly for the abraxans.

Harry kept his eyes fixed to the building as the carriage descended to the ground. Soon they landed with a light thump in the middle of a grassy area just before what Harry knew was the Silvermoor Academy of Magic. Everyone in the carriage waited until they came to a complete stop, then they quickly piled out. Harry, being closest to the door, was the first one out and he took that time to get a good look around him and take stock of his surroundings.

It seemed that most of the carriages had arrived already and the last few were coming in just behind them. Most of the other students were gathered up ahead, near where the gigantic black front gates of the school were. Harry paused for a moment and then began to make his way toward the gates as well. Behind him, his friends began to follow.

By the time that Harry made to the group by the front gate, just about all of the first years had arrived and gathered. Once again Harry led his friends around the edge of the group so that they were closer to the front.

Now that he was so close to the building, Harry could see that it was indeed made of some silver stone. The large black doors though seemed to be made completely of obsidian.

Standing in front of the large group of students was Headmistress Mikhailov. Harry recognized her immediately; he had seen her only a month ago. The Headmistress stood before the students, waiting patiently until everyone had gathered. Once they had, she began to speak, and everyone instantly went silent.

"Welcome, first years, to Silvermoor Academy of Magic," the older ice elf stated loudly. "I am Silvia Mikhailov, your Headmistress. Before you are the doors to the Entrance Hall. Once you pass through these doors you will officially be students of the Academy, the most prestigious school in the magical world. Several of your number will not graduate from this school, be due to their own reasons or death." Everyone grew fairly solemn as the Headmistress spoke, realizing the truth of her words. "Several of your number will become immensely powerful and recognized throughout the magical world." Here some people perked up and several of the more cocky students even smirked. "But all of you," Headmistress Mikhailov continued, ignoring the reactions, "Will have to work your hardest to succeed. You are the best of the best. Act like it, or you may find that the world is not quite as forgiving as you'd first thought."

And with those sharp words, the Headmistress turned around and the great obsidian doors opened up before her. She then strode inside and the students quickly poured in after her.

Harry once again found himself swept up into the crowd as they moved forward and was brought into the large Entrance Hall. Large, however, was an understatement; he was pretty sure that it was bigger than the Great Hall at Hogwarts! The walls themselves were made of the same smooth silver stone as the outside of the building. However, within the Entrance Hall the walls were completely covered with intricate carvings. Unfortunately, he couldn't get close enough to see exactly what the carvings were of.

On the other side of the Entrance Hall was a long hall—an actual hall, unlike the Entrance Hall—with many large archways acting as doors along the way. The Headmistress continued to lead the group down said hall, before turning into the first archway on the left. The archway, Harry noticed, was the largest of all of the ones that he could see, reaching nearly up to the ceiling.

The first years quickly followed after the Russian ice elf and found themselves standing in what appeared to be a huge dining area. There were hundreds upon hundreds of tables set up all around the room, which in itself could probably fit two or three of Hogwarts Great Hall within its walls. At the front of the room, opposite from the archway, was one long table; the staff table, Harry guessed. It seemed that some things were pretty similar to Hogwarts, at least in some sense.

Once everyone was crowded around in the large room, Headmistress Mikhailov spoke up once more. "This," she explained, "Is the Banquet Hall. You will come here each day to eat your meals. More precise schedules will be included in your timetables, which you will receive later. The building you are currently in is known as the Alpha Building. The other main buildings of the school include the Beta, Gamma, and Delta Buildings.

"The last main building, and the largest one, is the dorms. The dorms are where all of the students—from all years—stay. The dorms, unlike many other schools, are one room per person. You are all allowed to choose which room you would like. Whichever room you choose will be yours for the rest of your stay here at Silvermoor Academy. This year, first years will be occupying floor number two. Fourth years have floor one, second years have floor three, and third years have floor four; we rotate each year as a floor opens up due to graduating students. I advise you to be careful not to wander into the floors of other years uninvited; they might not appreciate it." The Headmistress smirked darkly.

"You will find the dorm building by going straight down this hall—" The Headmistress motioned to the long hall that they had just come from. "—and exciting through the large double doors at the end. There you will find what is known as the Crossways. The Crossways is the large outdoor intersection which you will all find yourself using to get to different buildings. The largest building straight across the Crossways is the dorms; you won't be able to miss it.

"Starting in just a moment, you will have one hour to get unpacked and settled in. You may do whatever you want with your rooms. I suggest that you make them comfortable; they will be your main homes for the next four years." The Headmistress paused and then waved a hand absently. "Now go find your dorms."

Immediately following her dismissal the group of students turned about and moved back into the hall. Harry walked calmly next to his friends as the whole group of first years surged forward, following the Headmistress's directions.

The hallway was indeed pretty long and they passed many doorways as they went. Harry guessed that they were some of the classrooms. The building that they were in—the Alpha Building, apparently—seemed to be pretty large. Before long however, the dark haired mage saw a large pair of obsidian double doors come into view. They were not as large as the main front ones—/those/ ones had to be at least fifteen feet tall—but they were still pretty big. The students in front pushed the doors open and continued on.

The sight on the other side of those doors was fairly surprising. They led outside, that much was clear, Harry thought as he stepped beyond the doors. Stretching out before them was a covered stone walkway, kind of like the ones at Hogwarts. It led to a large, circular stone area that had to be at least two to three hundred feet in diameter.

Staring at it as he approached, Harry guessed that it was the Crossways. His assumption was solidified by the fact that there were three other walkways, besides the one that he and the others were walking along, attached to it. From what Harry could see, those walkways led to the other huge buildings on the grounds.

Glancing at the area outside of the stone walkway and either side of him, Harry saw numerous plants and trees. He could also see innumerous pathways winding their way across the grounds. That must be the large gardens that he'd seen from the air.

The students continued to move forward across the large area known as the Crossways. The stones beneath their feet caused the noise to be amplified, making the entire area ring with the racket of the students' voices and footsteps.

True to the Headmistress's word, one of the other stone walkways stretched out on the opposite side of the Crossways. Said walkway lead to a building much taller than any of the other ones—it had four floors. The building was also very wide and numerous balconies could be seen on each and every floor. Some of the rooms had balconies then? Harry grinned at the thought.

The first years all immediately recognized the building for what it was; the dorms. The group rushed forward across the stone walkway toward the large archway the led into the dorm building. As Harry walked through it himself, he noticed that the archway was just about as tall as the one that led into the Banquet Hall, and even wider.

On the other side of the tall archway was what appeared to be an atrium. The floor was made of mosaic tiles and was completely devoid of any furniture. Harry estimated that the area was just a little smaller than the Crossways. From the atrium there were multiple black spiral staircases leading upward to the different floors. The black almost looked sinister, considering that even the dorm building was made out of the strange silver stone.

Harry noticed that there were two staircases leading up to each floor—and only that floor. That equaled six staircases, since there were just three smaller archways that led into the first floor.

After a moment's pause, Harry began to head toward one of the staircases that lead to the second floor. He could hear others, including his five friends, following his lead.

The staircase led to another stone archway, which led into a long carpeted hall. Harry began to stride down that hall, passing many doors along the way. After a bit, he finally came to another hall running perpendicular to the one he'd been walking down. Harry smirked slightly; by his calculations, this was one of the halls that ran against the outside of the building, meaning that they had balconies.

Harry turned right at the intersection and walked for only a little bit further before coming to a stop. In front of him was dark wooden door with "372B" on it in silver letters. Ryan, Zahra, Senka, Damion, and Azrael came up behind Harry. They glanced around for a moment before choosing their own rooms as well.

Harry was honestly a bit surprised that they had followed him like they had. After all, even if the six of them were becoming friends, they had only just met within the last two days. He didn't have a problem with it of course—he supposed that he was used to being a leader—but it still perplexed him a bit. Wasn't Damion the heir to one of the most powerful vampire clans? If he was, then why did he just follow Harry's lead, with that amused smirk on his face all the while?

Pushing his questions out of his head, Harry turned the handle of the door before him and stepped into his new room. The room was quite a bit larger than Harry had expected—but of course it did make sense since he would quite literally be living in it. It was also sectioned into two parts, which had any empty doorway connecting them.

The first room, which Harry was standing in, appeared to be a square shaped living room/study type area. It was big, but it had two basic couches, two comfy chairs, and a coffee table on one side, and a desk and a book shelf on the other side. Somehow the room managed to be spacious, even though it was completely filled up.

Done with looking at the front room, Harry stepped through the doorway and into the second room, which appeared to be a bedroom. Against the wall there was a bed, with a nightstand next to it. Across from the bed was a wardrobe and, on either side of that, were two doors. The wall across from the doorway that Harry was standing in was mostly filled up with a slide door and a balcony.

Harry did a quick check of the two doors in the room and found that one of them led into a closet, and the other into a bathroom. He snooped around the area for another moment, checking everything out. Then, when he was finally satisfied, Harry turned his attention back to the balcony and approached.

The view outside of the balcony was quite peaceful; Harry's room apparently was on the backside of the dorm building, so all he could see was trees and nature, with no buildings in sight. Harry smiled lightly and then turned back to his room. Right, now it was time to start changing things.

It took him only a few minutes to change things to look the way he preferred. Grinning at the work that he'd done with the room, Harry then turned his attention to the empty doorway that connected the front room and his bedroom. He wasn't quite sure what he wanted to do with it; he didn't want people to be able to see into his bedroom, but he didn't want to put a door there either.

Suddenly an idea came into Harry's mind, causing him to grin widely. With a slight bounce in his step, the mage headed over to the doorway and got to work, using his magic extensively.

Finally, a couple minutes later, Harry stepped back and admired his work. In the doorway, there was now a curtain, for lack of a better word, of gray mist. He couldn't see through to the other side, and neither could any one on the other side.

Harry stretched his hand toward the mist and then grinned when it went straight through as if nothing was there. He had charmed the mist to solidify upon contact, so that no one could pass through. If a person's magical signature was keyed into it like his was, however, then they could pass through the barrier like nothing was there. Harry continued to grin, almost amazed with the idea that he had come up with.

Harry continued to stare at the mist for a moment before suddenly twisting his magic slightly. Instantly, the mist became transparent, so that he could see through to the other side. Now he could see through the barrier, but no one else would be able to.

Harry chuckled lightly and then walked straight through the curtain of mist. He had to wrinkle his nose slightly at the room on the other side; it looked even worse now that he had fixed up his bedroom. And so, with a sigh, Harry went about fixing the front room as well.

Once he was done Harry sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He loved the way that his dorm looked now, but all of that extensive magic had made him tired...And hungry. Harry was definitely glad that they'd be eating soon. Harry sighed once more; now all he had to do was get everything unpacked.

It took Harry well over fifteen minutes to get completely settled in. He transferred all of his clothes and items into the closet and wardrobe, although some of his more important items were left locked in his trunk, which was resting at the foot of his bed. He had also moved all of his books into the two new bookshelves that he had. The books that he didn't care if people saw or read were placed in the bookshelf in the front room. The rest of the books were in the bookshelf in his bedroom, which was now spelled to allow no one but him take them off their shelves.

The last thing that Harry had done in his unpacking was to create a large aquarium tank for his runespoor. Said tank was about five feet long and two and half feet wide. It was now resting up against the same wall as the balcony door was on, with his contented familiar inside. The tank had no lid so that she could come out whenever she wanted.

Harry let out a breath—now definitely tired and hungry. He was about to collapse back on his bed, when a loud knock suddenly came on the door to his dorm.

Harry blinked, surprised. Then he let out a sigh and, with one last forlorn glance at his bed, headed out into the front room. He paused before the dark wooden door that led out into the hall and then turned the handle.

Standing on the other side of the door was a grinning Ryan. Harry quirked a grin in reply, and then opened the door wide, silently inviting the werewolf in.

Ryan blinked as he stepped into Harry's dorm, surprised. He stared at the blood red walls for a moment, then at Harry, before finally just shaking his head without a word. He saw the comfortable couches and chairs out of the corner of his eye and then quickly made a beeline for them. He immediately plopped down on one of the couches and made himself comfortable.

"Man," Ryan groaned. "How come your dorm room is so much more awesome than mine? All I've got is plain furniture..."

Harry raised an eyebrow. "I had to change the rooms myself you know," he drawled.

Ryan blinked and then immediately colored. "I knew that," he muttered.

Harry simply chuckled in reply, leaning against the back of the other couch. Ryan continued to glance around the front room, when his gaze finally landed on the doorway to Harry's bedroom. Upon seeing the Curtain of Mist—which Harry finally decided to call it—his eyes widened.

"Cool!" Ryan breathed, jumping up. He rushed over to the doorway and stopped before it. Tentatively he reached out to touch the mist and then breathed in sharply, his eyes widening even further, when it solidified into a hard wall beneath his touch.

Harry chuckled once more as he moved to stand next to his friend. He then reached his hand out, and it went straight through mist unhindered. Ryan's eyes widened even more.

"How come you can go through it?" he asked almost indignantly.

Harry just gave him a cheeky grin. "Because that's the way I spelled it to work. I can see through it too." Ryan sniffed in mock resentment, though the effect was ruined by the slight grin that crossed his face.

"Man," he said, moving back to the couch, "You really do know how to use your magic." He sank down into the couch once more, draping himself across it.

Harry opened his mouth to reply when suddenly another knock came at the door. This time it was Damion standing outside, his hands shoved in his pockets and looking for all the world like he'd never been more relaxed. Harry held back a grin and held the door open for him to enter. The vampire did so with a polite nod to Harry, which was returned.

Similarly to Ryan, Damion raised an eyebrow at Harry's room, but did not say a word. Instead he simply inspected it silently, cocking his head slightly when he saw the Curtain of Mist. Once he was satisfied—though exactly what he was satisfied with Harry didn't know—he sat down on the couch opposite the one Ryan was currently covering.

Harry moved to join the two when another knock came at his door. He froze in mid motion and found that the corner of his eye was twitching slightly. Silently—and ignoring the amused looks that Ryan and Damion were giving him—Harry opened his door once again.

Now both Zahra and Senka were standing outside the door. Harry stared blankly at them for a moment before sighing and once again holding his door open for the two. He was just about to close the door again when Azrael stepped out of his own room. Harry sighed again and held his down open all the while, while jerking his head, motioning for the vampire to join them.

Once everyone was inside, Harry finally shut his door before magically locking it. He then purposefully strode over to one of the chairs in the room and dropped down into it. Senka was seated across from him, in the only other chair, while Azrael had joined Damion on one of the couches. Zahra approached the remaining seat next to Ryan, shoved the werewolf's feet off the spot, and then sat down as well.

Now that they were all seated, Harry let his head drop backward against the back of his chair. Of course they had chosen his dorm to all gather in.

"You know," Ryan commented, "We should create someway for all of us to easily come here from our own rooms."

Harry gave the werewolf a flat stare, to which Ryan replied with a simple grin. Harry heard chuckles from someone else as well, but he wasn't sure who.

"Or how 'bout not," Harry replied wryly.

From there the group descended into meaningless chatter, which even Senka and Azrael eventually took part in. Before they knew it, another half an hour had passed and they were due down in the Banquet Hall.

Harry and the others stood up from their seats and stretched before making their way out of the dorm. Harry carefully locked his door behind him, spelling it so that no one but him could open it; he'd already done the same with the balcony door. He then followed his friends out of the dorm building and back into the Alpha building. Once there, they all traveled down the hall—which was dotted with a few other first years—and into the Banquet Hall.

To Harry's surprise the Banquet Hall was already almost completely filled with students; it appeared that all of the other years had already arrived. It was only the first years that were still trickling in.

After pausing in the entrance to the Banquet Hall for a moment, Harry spotted an empty round table off to the side. He then picked his way around people, heading toward the table. Once again he could hear his friends following behind him. Why they kept leaving decisions up to him was beyond him, but he didn't really mind.

Once he reached the table, Harry chose a seat where he could see most of the room and have very few people behind him. Some people might call him paranoid, but he preferred the term "prepared", especially considering how his life had gone so far.

Glancing down at the table once they were all seated, Harry noticed that plates and silverware for all of them suddenly appeared. Enchanted tables, Harry thought curiously. Sure enough, when he lightly touched the table he could feel magic humming along it. Harry also couldn't help but wonder if these tables were anything like the ones at Hogwarts; those were magical too. And on that train of thought, did magical beings have house elves too? Some of them were certainly as high-class and snooty as some wizards that he could name.

Harry looked thoughtful a moment, before turning his gaze to Damion, who was watching him amusedly. "Do magical beings have house elves?" Harry finally asked.

Damion blinked, surprised by the sudden—and seemingly random—question. "Not really," he finally answered, composing himself. "A few do, but most hire actual servants. It's much better than having little creatures running around your house."

Harry couldn't help but chuckle. "True enough."

Before the conversation could continue further menus suddenly appeared on everyone's plates. Harry blinked, taken aback, as he stopped himself from jumping up in surprise. Noticing that everyone around him was picking up their menus, Harry followed suit and felt his eyes widen at the expansive list of dinner items that he found.

"One of the interesting features of Silvermoor Academy is their menus," Damion commented offhandedly as he read his own menu. Most of the other people at the table look up at, interested. "Surprisingly, they work a lot like a muggle touch screen. You lightly tap an item to select it, tap it again to unselect it if you decide that you don't want it, and then once you've chosen your full meal, you tap the 'Done' at the bottom of your menu."

Harry looked down at the bottom of his menu and, sure enough, the word "Done" was there. Curious, he tapped a random food item on the menu and it immediately highlighted itself. Harry tapped the same item again, and it went back to normal.

Harry felt himself grinning despite himself. This was ingenious! And considering that there were only dinner items—and drinks and deserts, he noticed—on the menu, he guessed that there were different menus for each meal.

Harry took a few minutes to scan the menu—which held a surprisingly large variety of food items, before finally choosing a couple things and pressing down on "Done". Instantly, the menu in his hands disappeared and food appeared on his plate. Harry managed to control his surprised reaction, but he couldn't help the small smile that came onto his face. Already his stay at this school was quite interesting.

The rest of the dinner was fairly uneventful, with only a bit of small talk going around the table. Damion even ate as politely, Harry found, while Ryan practically wolfed his food down. He was a werewolf, granted, but his actions also kind of reminded Harry of how Ron ate.

Quickly, Harry pulled his eyes away from Ryan. He really wasn't ready to deal with homesickness yet. He knew that he was going to miss his friends, but he had to do this if he ever wanted to defeat Voldemort, gain control of his powers, and simply fit in the world. Plus, he was already starting to form a group of new friends...

Before Harry knew it everyone had finished dinner. Once the clanging of silverware on plates had completely died down, the Headmistress Mikhailov stood up from her place at the head table. Immediately the entire banquet Hall went silent as the students shifted their attention onto her.

"Welcome, everyone," the Headmistress began, "To yet another year at Silvermoor Academy." She paused then and smirked. "I believe that you'll find that we have a particularly...interesting...group of students this year. As usual, you will find your schedule in your room tomorrow morning. Classes will start first thing tomorrow after breakfast. In the meantime, everyone have a good night."

As soon as she'd finished, conversation immediately started up again. Most of the students were curious about the Headmistress' earlier comment about the first years. Harry started at the Headmistress for a moment more before finally sighing and turning his attention back onto his friends, who were whispering among themselves.

Five minutes later found Harry and his friends walking down the halls of the dorm building, approaching their rooms. Harry stepped up to his door and then called over his shoulder to the group behind him.

"Can you all come here? I need to key you all in."

The group blinked collectively, but walked over anyway. "Key us in?" Ryan asked curiously.

"Yes," Harry replied absently as he reached out to his door with his magic, "So that you can get into my room."

Harry looked up then, and waved Ryan over. The confused werewolf stepped up next to him.

"Place your hand on the door handle," Harry instructed. Surprisingly—to Harry—Ryan immediately did so without an ounce of hesitation. Harry paused for a moment to look at Ryan, before turning his attention back onto the door and quickly proceeding to copy Ryan's magical signature and imprint it onto the door handle. Once it was done Harry nodded and looked back to Ryan.

"Now try to open the door," the mage said. Ryan twisted the door handle and it came straight open. Harry grinned, "Good; it works then."

Ryan matched Harry's grin with one of his own before shutting the door once more and stepping back. Damion stepped up next and Harry repeated the process and him and the other four.

When Harry had finally finished with everyone—and after Zahra's wry comment of him apparently expecting to be murdered in his bed with all the security features that he was putting on his room—he bid everyone goodnight and then stepped into his room.

Harry quickly bypassed the front room and headed straight to his bedroom. Unsurprisingly, it looked as though the sun was only just beginning to set, despite the late hour. Harry knew that it would look like this for the rest of the night, before brightening up the next morning; apparently, in Greenland the sun never set during the summer, due to the tilt of the earth. Of course, this also meant that during the winter the sun would never rise. In fact, in just a few weeks, by the end of August, it would start getting darker and darker.

With a sigh, Harry waved his hand and the blinds drew across the sliding door, blocking out the sun. Then, after getting undressed and mumbling a goodnight to his runespoor, he collapsed into his bed and sunk into blissful sleep.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A/N: This chapter actually dragged on for a lot longer than I expected. But I needed to get all of the descriptions of the school in. Next will be Harry's classes and then the story will finally start to pick up and we'll get to the actually action. That I'm going to enjoy writing.

Please review!

--S.R.
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