Albus Dumbledore stood on the steps of Hogwarts, watching the darkening Eastern sky for any signs of the new transfers from Durmstrang. It had been eighteen weeks since the disastrous end of the Triwizard tournament and the news of Voldemort's return to corporal form. Cedric Diggory, the Hufflepuff Champion, had been killed by Peter Pettigrew as they had wanted no witnesses for the return of Voldemort. After extensive studying on the Triwizard cup, they had been able to locate the location where Edward Potter and Diggory had been port-keyed to. There, they had recovered the corpse of the student but not before the Death Eaters had violated it.
The Ministry had explained that a rogue group that believed in Voldemort had planned it all and stated wild animals had gotten to the body before the Aurors did. But the Diggorys knew the truth.
Albus always had known that Cornelius Fudge would do anything to stay in office but to stoop to such levels had him pondering if the man was capable of fighting the army of the Dark Lord.
And that was not the only concern. After it had been made clear that Ivan Karkaroff was not returning back to Durmstrang, the Bulgarian School Board of Governors had appointed a Stephanos Irfan to the Headmaster position of the Institute. The man had once been a Bulgarian Auror with a prestigious career behind him and was legendary in Bulgaria. He had only met the man once and that was to discuss about the new transfers. The headmaster of the shadowy Institute was interesting to say the least.
"Albus, are you sure it is a sound idea to allow four unknown students to enroll in this year's classes?" Minerva McGonagall asked, her arms crossed over her chest. "They could be spies for You-Know-Who."
A small smile appeared on the Headmaster's face. "My dear, Headmaster Irfan vouches for the young students. They believe Hogwarts to be the only safe location when they heard the news and as a Headmaster, how could I reject sanctuary to four young children?"
The Potions Master huffed, his dark eyes narrowed in annoyance. "I do not see why you have them arrive at Hogwarts a week early before the semester, Albus. Surely, they could have stayed in one of the inns in Diagon Alley?"
The old man looked at the spy for the Order over his half moon spectacles. "I believe it better to have the students here where I can see how they act and react before allowing them to sit with the students, Severus. Also, Irfan informed me that they are Seraphina Riders and have formed a bond with their mounts."
Hagrid clapped his hands. "Seraphinas, did you say, Professor? They be particularly a beautiful beast. How many did they 'ave?"
"Four, Hagrid. The youngest child, Hala Suha, just bonded with hers and Irfan say her brother will be teaching her the last few skills as he has already passed his training with his own mount." Albus had only seen one Seraphina in his life time back when he was a young man of twenty nine.
The Seraphinas resembled the Friesian muggle horses with their powerful yet graceful bodies. Unlike the Friesian horses however, the Seraphinas stood between 18 and 21 hands. The most astonishing feature was their manes, tails, and feathers; instead of normal horse hair, tongues of colored flamed burned. When a Seraphina was exerting itself to its fullest extent, it was reported, small flickers of fire would also burst from their nostrils and flames would strike from their hooves. The sclera of the eyes of a Seraphina would be a light silver color, the irises taking on the color of their fire-manes. Though Seraphinas galloped and trotted like their nonmagical cousins on the ground, they did have the ability to travel through the air; something no wizard had been able to figure out. Such creatures would be a sight to behold in the wild; untouchable creatures of the mountains. The only race that had come to rely on them for transportation and other means was the Blood Elves who lived in the mountains of the Eastern Carpathians.
Which lead Albus to believe that not all of the truth was represented in the documents Headmaster Irfan had given him.
Dark specks appeared on the horizon, growing larger each second.
"It seems our new students have arrived." The group of professors watch in awe as the specks continued to grow until finally the saw the figures on the burning steeds. The group landed just beyond the edge of the Forbidden Forest, galloping then trotting toward the waiting group, the dark traveling cloaks billowing out behind them.
The leader who Albus believed to be the eldest rode a black Seraphina, beautiful emerald green flames burning from the usual spots. The riders on the outside of the last and smaller figure rode the identical golden Seraphinas, black flames blending in with their traveling cloaks. The sister rode between her twin brothers, no doubt for protection, on her white Seraphina, sapphire flames burning lightly. No doubt her mount was a youngling as it was slightly smaller than the rest. All four dismounted, removing their hoods and the scarves wrapped around their lower faces as they took the last steps with their mounts' reins in hand.
"Welcome to Hogwarts. I am Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster, and these are my colleagues who will be your teachers for your years here at Hogwarts. I'm sure your journey was fair?"
"It was, Headmaster. My name is Shyamal Suha." The older Suh quickly introduced his siblings to the professors before the black Seraphina snorted, tossing its head. "I'm sure you would like to continue this further but we have to settle in our mounts as they are not accustomed of being outside the Eastern Carpathian Mountains."
"Ah yes. Since there is some time before night falls, I'm sure it would be no trouble at all if you would eat an early dinner with us." Dumbledore said.
"Of course, Headmaster."
"Hagrid, will you help them settle their mounts and lead them to the Great hall afterword?"
"As ye wish, Professor." The group of teachers followed their Headmaster back into the school as the tall man walked down the stone steps to the group. "Those be fine looking beasts you got there. What be their names, if ye don't min' me askin'?" He commented as he led them down to his hut where he had built a large paddock behind his house.
"Thank you. My steed's name is Isocrates." Shyamal said, brushing his black bangs from his pure-black eyes.
One of the twins spoke up. "As for our steeds, we decided to use names similar to each other. My steed's name is Radomil and Cosmas used the name Radomir for his."
"I named mine Aysu which means 'moon water'."
Hagrid laughed at the expression on the young girl's face. "So ye must be Hala Suha. Professor Dumbledore said ye be new at ridin' a Seraphina."
"Yes, but Shyamal promised me he'll teach me as much as he can as he already passed his training." The group came upon Hagrid's house. "Is that where you live?"
"Yup. I'm the Gamekeeper and Keeper of Keys of Hogwarts and the Care for Magical Creatures Professor." Hagrid puffed out his chest slightly, still feeling proud he was a teacher. "The paddock be around the back. Professors McGonagall and Flitwick 'ave added spells to keep student out of the paddocks for the Seraphinas."
"Who are Professors McGonagall and Flitwick?"
"Professor McGonagall be the Transfiguration teacher 'ere at Hogwarts while Flitwick be the Charms teacher." Hagrid opened the gate for the kids, watching as they led the Seraphinas to the simple stables in the corner closest to Hagrid's hut. The kids were startled when a few house elves appeared to take their possession into the guest quarters in Hogwarts as the dormitories were being cleaned for the new semester. While the Suha siblings attended to their mounts, they talked with the Gamekeeper, gathering a bit of information from him.
They learned of a new professor being assigned to Hogwarts by the Ministry to watch over the running of the school; one Dolores Umbridge.
As they were hiking back up, Hagrid informed them that she was to be particularly assigned to watch over the Defense of Against the Dark Arts class which was taught by Sirius Black, one of James Potter's best friends, the current Head Auror. Another tidbit was that the previous Muggle Studies professor had retired after the return of Lord Voldemort and was now going to be taught by Lily Potter under the name Professor Evans.
Shyamal compelled himself not to run to the castle wall and bang his head against it.
Luckily for him the conversation moved back to the Seraphinas. Damian was explaining the birthing process of the species as they entered the Great Hall. Just like they had been agreed upon, they all stopped to gape at the vaulted ceiling which was now a mix of red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, and blue as the sun set in the west. The orange-grey masses of the few clouds gently rolled in the imaginary breeze.
"That is so cool." Hala whispered as Shyamal took her hand who was making sure she made her way to the table.
"The ceiling was bewitched to take on the appearance of sky outside." Shyamal focused his gaze on the stern-looking woman sitting on the right hand side of the Headmaster.
"Durmstrang never had such features." Damian whispered to Shyamal as the food appeared, steaming dishes of mutton and rice with smaller dishes of steamed vegetables. Jugs full of pumpkin juice stood with a jug of wine for the professors.
"It would be quite astonishing if such a Dark school ever did." His eyes flicked toward a man dressed in black, his dark eyes fixed on Shyamal as he helped himself to the buttered corn.
"This is Professor Minerva McGonagall, our Transfiguration teacher, Head of Gryffindor House, and Deputy Headmistress and Professor Severus Snape, resident Potions Master and Head of Slytherin House." The two professors nodded as the rest of the teachers were introduced. The current Head of Hufflepuff was Professor Sprout who was also the Herbology teacher and Professor Flitwick was the Head of Ravenclaw. Dumbledore gave them a small smile. "Hogwarts prides itself on making the students at home as is humanly possible. Perhaps, after a few days, you will settle into the routines most students settle."
"Exactly what routine do you speak of, Headmaster? I'm not sure if there are differences in the curriculum here at Hogwarts."
"We carry the core classes of Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy, History of Magic, and Herbology with the optional classes of Arithmancy, Care for Magical Creatures, Divination, Ancient Runes, and Muggle Studies. I would like to speak with you over what classes you would like to take during your stay here at Hogwarts."
"As you wish, Headmaster."
"That's settled then." The Headmaster turned to his plate full of mutton and rice, a sprinkling of broccoli on the side.
Shyamal noticed that Professor McGonagall was still interested. The moment his eyes connected with hers, she spoke. "Mr. Suha, I am rather curious as to know why you choose to come to Hogwarts." From her tone, Shyamal knew that she was highly suspicious of them; he would have to be careful around her as not to rouse further suspicion.
"The news of Voldemort's possible return reached Durmstrang almost immediately. Despite that we had started our education at the Durmstrang Institute I have felt that the safest location in Europe was Hogwarts as everyone knows that he feared Headmaster Dumbledore." Shyamal answered quietly, eyes rising to meet the Headmaster's. "After what happened to our parents, I promised to keep my brothers and sister safe."
"Exactly where are your parents?" Professor Sprout asked, the motherly instinct coming out.
All of their eyes dropped to the table. "We don't know. One minute we were running then the next, we were waking up in a small house with an old lady whom we called Aunt Sylvia but her name was Sylvia Suha. She cared for us until she died about two years ago. With some help from the other students and the inheritance she left for us, we were able to continue our education and live in the small house."
"And the Seraphinas?"
"We became friends with a Blood Elf hunter and he petitioned his King to be able to train us as a Seraphina Rider. They've only been to one place outside of the Elven homeland and that would be Durmstrang. I wouldn't be surprised if they are late in settling down tonight before going to sleep." Damian said, scooping more mashed potatoes on his dish. Seeing the confusion on the professor's face, the twin pointed at the small scar he got from Radomil kicking him in the face once when he had been thirteen. "Cosmas doesn't have this."
His twin snorted. "I listened to Master Eachann when he said to not scare Radomil and Radomir after being shoed." Damian was going to retort when he saw the warning glare from Shyamal.
"Headmaster Dumbledore, before we left for Hogwarts, our previous Headmaster gave us the list of supplies you gave him for our education. We didn't have the time to go to Diagon Alley to purchase them as the ride was too long. With your permission, I would like to take my siblings to do our shopping before school starts."
Dumbledore nodded. "That would be appropriate."
"If I may, Albus, I have nothing scheduled tomorrow." McGonagall spoke up. "I also have some shopping to do myself so I can escort the new students to Diagon Alley."
She must be really suspicious of us. Shyamal thought.
"Would that be acceptable to you, Mr. Suha?"
"Yes, of course. I have no knowledge of the areas here so it would be greatly appreciated." Shyamal turned to McGonagall and started working out the plans for tomorrow. Soon the other teachers started conversing among themselves about work and the latest news outside of Hogwarts.
Meanwhile, Albus took the time to study their new arrivals.
Shyamal Suha was an average-sized boy with light brown hair except for the bangs which had been dyed black. His black eyes were hidden by oval eyeglasses, build was lean and wiry, no doubt from extensive physical training. The mannerism he had seen suggested Shyamal was a calm, wary boy who was in control of himself at all times. Dumbledore saw his eyes take in details as if he was memorizing them for later. But the mannerism that struck the Headmaster the most was how the older boy made sure he knew where his siblings were and what they were doing. Something Albus was so familiar with.
The older twin, Damian Suha, was calmer than his younger twin but only be a slight degree. Anyone from outside the group would believe the two brown-haired boys with black bangs were the appointed protectors for their little sister as they tended to flank her at all times. Which indeed might be the case but Dumbledore knew that Shyamal was the protector of the group. But their growing bodies hinted they would be solidly built later in life. They seemed to echoes of another pair of identical twins, prankster who were entering their final year here at Hogwarts. The Headmaster was sure the number of pranks this year would increase. He could only hope the outcome would not be permanent.
The youngest sibling, Hala Suha was still small, barely reaching the height of her twin brothers' shoulders. Dark brown hair fell down around her shoulder, a small clasp holding it from falling into her face. Just like Shyamal, she was quiet but was aware of her surroundings but at certain times like when her brothers were annoying her, Albus glimpsed a formidable temper.
Just then Cosmas swiped a piece of dessert off Hala's plate, who swiftly turned to him, glaring. Words were whispered or rather hissed at which Cosmas quickly returned the piece.
"Cosmas, you know Hala doesn't like people touching her food. If you're really hungry, why don't you steal some off the plates?" Shyamal said, turning away from the conversation with McGonagall. The younger twin nodded before eating. "We'll be going to Diagon early in the morning so as not to catch the rush in the evening."
"Will we be going to a wand shop to see what's wrong with our wands?" Damian asked.
"Yes. Professor McGonagall says someone might have tampered with it or something. Aysu and the others will stay in the paddocks so we'll be travelling by floo." The siblings grimaced. "Finish up. I don't want to wake up late." A few minutes later, Dumbledore was leading the group to their temporary quarters until the term started in six days.
They stopped before a painting with a young maiden petting a baby unicorn. "The quarters in side will house the four of you comfortably. The password is 'sugar quill'." The young curtsied as the portrait swung open. The siblings clambered inside to see a living room with a few smattering of chairs and a couple of tables. In the corner, a fire was roaring, spreading warmth through the room. Large tapestries covered the wall, images of a few popular magical beasts carefully stitched on them. Behind them, Dumbledore continued. "The hallway will lead to three bedrooms. I've guess that that the twins would like to have their own bedroom while you and your sister would like your own. I believe the house elves have already dropped off your belongings here."
"That's thoughtful, Headmaster. I'm sure it will be enough." The siblings smiled before heading to their rooms.
"Good night." Dumbledore left through the portrait, leaving Shyamal staring after him.
Shaking his head, he made sure Cosmas, Damian, and Hala were getting ready for bed. They redid the glamour charms before going under the covers.
Shyamal stared at the darkened ceiling of his room. Their mother was coming to Hogwarts to teach, something that he hadn't counted on. He should have known. Lily Potter wasn't the type of woman to stay at home and do nothing while her husband worked and child went to school. He knew that Lily Potter was knowledgeable in Potions and Muggle Studies while his father was a master at Defense Against the Dark Arts and Transfiguration. How would they handle being in a class with her?
The thing he was dreading was being in the same house as Edward. He had a feeling his older twin brother in Gryffindor. But the feeling inside him whispered the Suha siblings were going to end up there as well. Huffing in the darkness, Shyamal closed his eyes.
They would have to wait and see.