Harry was just slipping his knife under his pillow when his hand encountered something and the wrinkling of paper could distinctly be heard. Cautiously Harry examined the thin parcel that had been slipped under his pillow. It was wrapped in ordinary brown paper and tied with a piece of twine; a handy revealing spell Harry had found in a charms book showed that there were no hexes, jinxes, or curses on the package. With a slight shrug Harry used his dagger to slit the twine and allowed it to drop to the floor before folding back the first edge of the paper to reveal a note.
Harry, your father left this in my care and as I once gave my word I am passing this on to you. Be careful in its use, such things are not to be abused.
His curiosity now spiked Harry ripped into the paper, opening the rest of the package, and a silvery gray cloak fell into a fluid pile on his bed. It seemed to shimmer in the light of the fire and felt like soft silk in his hands, it was like water. Such a beautiful thing his father had left him and obviously something of great use if the sender was warning him about abusing it. It wasn't until Harry slipped the cloak on and looked in the mirror to see how it looked upon him that the importance and hidden power of the gift became clear to him. In the mirror he could see nothing more than his disembodied head floating in midair. An invisibility cloak. It would make a most excellent secret weapon. With a smirk Harry tucked it securely away in his trunk before climbing into bed and drawing his curtains like all his roommates had done before him, this was one gift he planned on abusing no matter what the sender had to say about it. Sure he could turn himself invisible without the cloak, but it was tiring and he couldn't hold the spell for too long. If sneaking around the castle had been relatively easy before it had just now gotten easier.
~~ ~~ ~*~
Classes were speeding up in intensity as the teachers began to work the students harder. Well most of the classes anyhow, Binns still droned on in his ghostly monotone and Quirrell's stutter seemed to have gotten even worse if possible. Harry and Blaise still found their lessons to be easy even with the increased workload though it tended to take Blaise a little longer to work a spell than Harry. It was clear that even as a first year Harry had incredible power, and except for two other people no one knew he could perform wandless magic and thus no one could truly comprehend the whole of Harry's growing magical reserves. Yet as any true Slytherin would do Harry downplayed his skills and did not perform to his fullest extent, he also did not reveal the full extent of the knowledge he possessed of spells and magical theory.
So after Harry and Blaise finished their assignments with quick efficiency they were left with free time in which they trained; continued their exploration of the castle and stumbled upon the numerous passageways, many by complete accident; played pranks; and combed the library for useful spells, hexes, jinxes, and enchantments they could put to use. The way their individual studying was going they would be on par with the knowledge held by students beginning their third year by the time they were done with their first year, as well they would know the more advanced incantations they had discovered in the library. Over the summer Harry had griped about the work Trevor had laid upon him and Blaise, but a feeling deep inside him told him that one day he would be thankful for all this studying. But enough was enough for now.
"I'm going to grab one last book to take with us and then we have some pranks to plan" Harry told Blaise as he stood from their secluded table and began to expertly negotiate his way through the stacks.
Each class had its own section of the library as well as the restricted section and a section of works that fit no select category. Determined to get as much out of Hogwart's library as they could Harry and Blaise had come up with a spell that listed the books in each section on a piece of charmed parchment. Then once they read a book they checked it off and turned the title into a link, similar to ones used on a computer, where they added a brief summary of key points the book held that they could use for future reference. Reaching the generalized section Harry pulled out his piece of parchment and tapped the symbol they had assigned to those shelves.
Immediately writing spider-webbed over the paper and Harry scanned through the book titles on the shelf, glancing occasionally at his list as he tried to find a book that caught his attention. Naturally a book finally caught his emerald gaze but the book had no title or author, and the pages were blank. It was not on the list either. If Harry hadn't sensed the magic contained within the blue and silver bound book he would have thought it a journal someone had mistakenly left behind and never used. Snatching up a random book Harry also grabbed the blank one and concealed it in his pocket; he would share it with Blaise later but didn't think he should check it out with Madam Pince. He was sure it wasn't a part of the library and wanted to discover what it was by himself.
~~ ~~ ~*~
Blaise turned and glared at the twins who were sneaking along behind them, the whole group was dressed completely in black and the twins had tried to pull off a muggle commando look for this mission.
"Shut it" she hissed warningly "do you want the teachers to catch us?"
They were currently trying to sneak past the teacher's lounge where a meeting was going on. Harry had been tempted to stop and listen to see what the teachers were saying, but the risk of getting caught was too high and they had plans to see through while the professors were otherwise occupied. Besides, Dumbledore had that uncanny way of knowing when someone was around him. He had known it was Harry at the door of his office the one time Harry had been sent there after trying to transfigure a gossipy Gryffindor into a Dodo bird, he probably would have succeeded too except McGonagall had overheard part of the spell. But that could be explained by warning spells or a teacher telling Dumbledore to be expecting him. What had unsettled Harry was the day he had holed up in a hidden alcove when he had heard someone coming, he was trying to see how long he could go before Blaise found him, and even though no one could see into the alcove except by stepping into it the headmaster had known he was there.
The old coot had called out a cheerful "Hello there Harry, I hope you are well" and went on his way without another word or explanation on how he had known Harry was there.
Once safely past the teachers lounge Harry and Blaise smoothly straightened and began to move swiftly down the hall, the twins following their example with a bit more clumsiness. This plan was a bit late being put into action, it was a Halloween care kit after all, but neither Harry nor Blaise were about to let the toilet paper and sticky string go to waste. For that fact they were dying to use the spray paint as well, a handy charm had ensured that most removal spells and potions would be ineffective against their artwork. Too bad they didn't have any eggs, but they would have rotted if Manuel sent them in the package, and Harry and Blaise still didn't know how to get to the kitchens though the twins had promised to show them some time. It was time that Hogwarts was hit with new pranks-muggle style.
Toilet paper flew across the various classrooms and Fred and George seemed to get as much sticky string on them as the room did. Graffiti soon decorated some of the walls as well in either random scrawling or a few drawings and crude remarks. Fred and George seemed to be using a lot of the red and gold spray paint which worked fine for Harry and Blaise; they would gladly let the blame land on Gryffindor if the twins were daring enough to use their house colors. They also added personal touches to each classroom.
In the transfiguration classroom the twins left a dirty litter box, Harry didn't want to know where they got the poop from. Flitwick's door was rigged so that the feathers he seemed fond of using during their lessons on charms would fall and stick to him, the magical version of tarred and feathered. In Quirrell's classroom they left a few blood-like stains on the desk and a snake curled up on the chair. The twins didn't ask how Harry had gotten a snake or kept from being bitten while handling it, and thankfully weren't around to hear Harry hiss at the snake to stay on the chair until the 'stinky man' came in and then scare him. Binns was a tough one but they finally decided to put a mirror up on his desk in hopes that the dry professor would realize he was a ghost and finally pass on. In the astronomy tower they blackened the eyes pieces and sprinkled silver glitter on the telescope lenses for kicks.
The only classrooms Harry and Blaise hadn't planned on hitting was the greenhouses, it was too much hassle to go outside for a prank like this, and the potions classroom. They knew Snape had wards up around the dungeons and while their head of house no longer chased them down when they left the dungeons at night he would get suspicious if the wards across the hallway near his classroom went off. As it was Harry and Blaise often used the passageway behind the portrait of Lady Alyssa which wasn't warded since Lady Alyssa wasn't supposed to let anyone in through there except Severus, the password had been changed since the troll incident much to the dismay of many Slytherin students who had been planning on sneaking out that way.
Actually most of the Slytherins couldn't find where the doorway was anyhow because from the inside of the Slytherin common room it was merely a blank stone wall and they had come to the conclusion that it was only a one way deal; the only clue that there was a door there at all was the tiny carving of a snake near the floor that happily responded to Harry's whispers in parseltongue. The parseltongue also worked quiet well on Lady Alyssa as well, who as it turned out was the great-great-great-granddaughter of Salazar Slytherin himself.
But Fred and George surprised them once again and proved that they hadn't been considered Hogwart's number one pranksters for nothing. They had found a passageway that got them around the wards Severus had set.
"He only places the wards across the entrances to the hallways" Fred was explaining "and he couldn't ward this passageway because we know he doesn't know about it yet."
"The classroom is also unwarded" George picked up the explanation "because the older students, mainly Slytherins, are allowed to use the classrooms for brewing when they need to for a project and it would take too much energy to keep setting and unraveling the wards around the classroom. That, and there is also a chance that the protective magic could cause reactions with the magical nature of the potions."
Harry gave the twins an odd look "how do you know all this? Eavesdropping?"
The twins grinned back at him "we prefer the phrase listening into conversations that we couldn't help but overhear and putting the knowledge spoken of to good use."
Blaise shook her head and muttered something that sounded like "long-winded idiots."
They had just slipped back into the secret passage the twins had led them through to get past the dungeon wards when Snape came down the hall as he headed towards his personal chambers. The meeting was over then. Nodding a silent farewell to the twins Harry and Blaise slipped quietly through the dungeons towards the back entrance to the Slytherin common room. Lady Alyssa let them in on sight with a discreet wink and Harry and Blaise managed to sneak back into their dorms without waking anyone. Harry smiled as he fell asleep, thinking of the pastel colors that now decorated the cool stone walls of the potions classroom. And boy would Severus be enraged when he found out what the Weasley twins had left him. Harry didn't hate or even dislike the potions professor like most of the other students in the school did, he actually genuinely liked the man, but he would be among the first to admit that Severus Snape was prime pranking material.
Harry and Blaise didn't even try to be around the next morning when the professors discovered the messes that their classrooms had become, for one it would be too suspicious and two they didn't know which teacher would discover the mess first. It would be much better to see the aftermath when the professors came seeking Dumbledore in the Great Hall during breakfast. Tiny Flitwick came in first, feathers covering him and as he waved his arms around wildly he looked so much like a chicken that Harry hoped the house-elves didn't mistake the poor man for dinner. McGonagall was next, her lips were thinned so much that they appeared to be white around the edges; perhaps the twins crack on her animagus form was a bit much for her to handle. By now those that had been in the hall were laughing at Flitwick but everything suddenly went deadly silent. Harry and Blaise winced a bit guiltily as the doors to the Great Hall flew open yet again to reveal their incensed Potions Master. Even sopping wet and sporting colorful soap bubbles his robes still billowed out menacingly around him and his longish hair hung in a wet mass down his back, the familiar tie that usually secured it having disappeared sometime. Not one student or teacher dared laugh for fear of the harsh reprimand or hex that would fly from the professor's volatile mouth. To speak would be to admit to having a death wish.
With a few precise flicks of his wand Dumbledore dried Severus and removed the feathers from Filius. He would take care of the classrooms later. But for now he had to deal with the people around him. Nearly all the students were in the hall now and all but two of the teachers were present.
"I must commend our pranksters on their works this last night" Dumbledore began ignoring the angry remarks from his teaching staff "but must stress that a repeat of this particular prank will not be received in good graces. Classes will be held in alternate rooms until the normal classrooms can be restored to their pristine condition. Teachers, I ask you to check over the contents of your rooms when you are able to ensure that there are no more pranks set up. A list will be posted of the reassigned classrooms after breakfast and-"
He trailed off as Quirrell came careening into the hall, his robes flapping wildly about him as he tripped in his haste.
"S-s-s-s-s-sn-sn" the professor tried to stutter out but no explanation was necessary, for slithering quickly across the stone floor was a snake that kept snapping at Quirrell's heels and hissing angrily.
Most of the hall roared with laughter though most of the girls screamed and jumped up on their chairs, it seemed that even the still pissed Potions Master quirked his lips slightly. Harry though had the added bonus of hearing what the snake was hissing at Quirrell.
"Ssstinkyy manss, I'd bitesss you again but you tasstesss worssse than dead dung beatlesss. Yousss sssmellsss worse than a Thessstralsss butt too."
It was a few moments before anything was done but much to the snake's dismay it soon found itself at the business end of Dumbledore's wand and floating in the air, unable to attack the object of its displeasure any more.
"Ah yes, Severus, if you would be so kind as to take care of our little friend here. I do believe you have no aversion to snakes like some here do." Harry watched as Professor Snape expertly handled the snake as the man gently but firmly held it behind its head and at the tail to calm it down and keep it from being able to attack him.
"I have no problem with snakes and will gladly watch after this little fellow" Severus smirked, but his posture was defensive and Harry suspected that when the Headmaster had been talking about snakes it had been a veiled reference to the Slytherins.
"I was thinking along the lines of setting it free in the Forbidden Forest" Albus hinted to his potions professor.
But the now calm snake was resting comfortably around the Potion Masters arm and it seemed he was planning on keeping it. After all if the snake could upset Quirrell that much-
"Consider it Slytherin's mascot" Snape was saying "as the head of house for Slytherin surely I am allowed to care for the house's mascot?"
The cheery eyes of the Headmaster twinkled falsely and consent was given for the snake to remain. Snape swept off in a swirl of robes, Quirrell's eyes nervously watching the snake all the while.
It was with great apprehension that the first year Gryffindors and Slytherins headed to their temporary potions classroom for their first lesson. They were not really all that fond of facing Snape in his current mood, even if he had seemed to enjoy Quirrell's predicament they knew his foul temper had not yet abated and they would most likely be taking the brunt of it. Well, the Gryffindors surely would at least. They Slytherins were hoping that Snape would still remember to favor them as they were under his care.
"Open your books to page 251" the Professor billowed into the room like a black storm cloud "and begin brewing, you miserable excuse for potion ingredients."
In a flurry of activity everyone hurried to obey and one hapless Gryffindor by the name of Neville Longbottom made his first error of the class and knocked his book to the floor with a resounding slam. Professor Snape was whirling on the timid Gryffindor before the book even hit the floor it seemed and Harry was sure that if the man didn't possess such a great deal of control then there would have been nothing left of Neville except hex marks. They spent the rest of class frantically brewing and triple checking their work for any possible mistakes as they struggled to answer the rapid fire questions their professor was throwing out at them. More than one smoking cauldron exploded that lesson, seeming to add fuel to the fire of Snape's temper. When they were finally dismissed the Gryffindors had lost many points and fled as if a horde of banshees were chasing them. The Slytherins followed almost as quickly even though they had been spared the worst of their head of house's temper and Harry was quite sure that he had heard Snape chuckle as they left.
In fact he had a sneaking suspicion that the chuckle was followed by a cheerful "tormenting Gryffindors is so much fun."
Harry turned to Blaise then "I don't think I'm going to ask for the snake back now. I knew we shouldn't have let Fred and George prank him like that. Snape would have loved the other teachers getting pranked and I don't think he would have minded the room being messed up all that much though he probably would have pretended to, but the soapy water went way too far."
Things settled down over the next few days and it helped greatly that they were finally back in their correct classrooms, things having been restored back to the state they had been in before the prank. Luckily the teachers hadn't been able to link anyone to the pranks though the twins were currently laying low and trying to stay out of trouble. The only thing that had saved the twins from being under great suspicion had been the fact that the main parts of the prank had reeked of muggle influence, thus mostly removing the magically raised twins from suspicion.
Harry and Blaise had also started examining the blank journal Harry had found but were unable to figure out the secret to activating it and had turned their attention back to the other books they had taken from the library.
"Wouldn't your father love to get a hold of this" Blaise suddenly commented gesturing to the book of magical stones she was currently reading so that they could record it in their book log "it speaks of a stone that can turn metal to gold and an elixir that gives its consumer extended longevity. Invented by an alchemist, Nicholas Flamel. Most of the things in this book are magical stones and their properties, a bit on alchemy but not much. I'm not going to read any more, it's pretty boring."
Harry nodded and set aside his book on defense so that he could enter the summary under the book title Magical Stones and their Properties.
"Dad would love that though I don't know how much use he would put it to. Just being able to make gold like that would take the fun out of being a Mafia King for him, though he probably would put the elixir to good use until he grew bored of the thought of a long life. I imagine living forever would get boring after a few hundred years or so and you, me, and Trevor already have a longer life span as wizards. Something like that would be too good to be true."
~~ ~~ ~*~
Fortunately for Harry and Blaise the twins didn't lay low for too long and feeling restless one evening after dinner they decided to seek their partners in crime out. But the twin's behavior was even more suspicious than usual so Harry and Blaise did not approach them but decided to follow their fellow pranksters and kill two birds with one stone by testing out Harry's invisibility cloak at the same time. As it turned out following the twins and wearing the invisibility cloak became their free ticket into the forbidden forest. It seemed that the twins had devised a way to get around Fang and though Fang could smell Harry and Blaise he could not pinpoint their location clearly enough to alert Hagrid to their presence. It was time to explore the forest and prank the twins.
"Did you see their faces" Blaise choked out laughing as she appeared from beneath the invisibility cloak "they were so scared."
Harry too couldn't help but laugh. They had silently stalked the twins through the forest for a ways before purposefully cracking twigs and rustling the bushes all around them. They had also sent out a few frightening noises and Harry had used his wandless magic to stir up dirt and dead leaves so that they swirled around the twins as if attacking while the wind howled menacingly. The twins had finally broken free and started yelling something about demons before running back out of the forest. Harry just hoped that Hagrid didn't come to investigate.
"Come on" Harry said regaining control of himself and pulling Blaise up from the tree she was leaning against "let's do a bit of exploring before we need to head back."
They walked along for a bit before stumbling into a clearing that opened up to the very heavens, yet that was not the sight that had Harry and Blaise transfixed. It was the two figures gazing proudly toward the sky in studious dissection that they were focused on, Centaurs. Before either of them could make another move they found that their presence had captured the attention of the centaurs who were now staring firmly at them. Respectfully Harry and Blaise moved from the tree line and into clearer view before bowing in greeting to the magnificent beings.
"Greetings noble ones" Harry's natural leadership came out as he spoke for Blaise and himself "my name is Harry Potter and this is Blaise Zabini, we are honored to make your acquaintance."
The clear gazes of the Centaurs seemed to penetrate him as they did the very heavens before the chestnut Centaur with red hair answered "I am Ronan and my companion is Firenze. The night forest is not a place for students Harry Potter, take your companion and leave. May the stars guide you."
The Centaurs had already turned back to their interpretation of the stars and the parting comment was a softly spoken dismissal that Harry and Blaise felt compelled to heed. There seemed to be a veiled warning in what had been said for Ronan had stressed that the night forest was not safe but had made no mention of the forest being unsafe during the day, of course Centaurs were naturally vague about things too. Blaise stumbled to a stop next to him and Harry cursed himself for his inattention as he started at what had her transfixed. A luminescent puddle of silver liquid stained the ground in front of them and it fairly hummed with magic.
"What do you think it is" Blaise's question was breathy in the silence of the forest.
Harry shook his head "I don't know but I think we should take some and show to Professor Snape. Do you still have that vial of color changing potion on you?"
After emptying out the vial Blaise handed him and scouring it with a cleaning charm Harry carefully gathered up the glowing substance, careful not to get any on his hands in case it was harmful though inside he instinctively knew that it wasn't. It was always better to be safe than sorry though.
~~ ~~ ~*~
"Where did you get this?" Professor Snape demanded, causing Harry and Blaise to exchange glances.
It was becoming increasingly obvious that they should have tried to figure out what the substance was by themselves, it would have saved them from the trouble it seemed they were about to get into. Reluctantly they told their head of house.
"The Forest," his voice was deadly calm "the Forbidden Forest that just happens to be named such for a reason?"
"Yes sir" Harry's voice was soft but firm as he answered.
The professor sighed heavily "I will have to inform the Headmaster of your discovery of Unicorn's blood in the forest in case something is wrong but shall omit your involvement, Dumbledore takes too much interest in you two as it is."
Harry and Blaise exchanged looks of relief that turned to blank masks as Snape continued "You will of course serve a detention of my choosing when I decide upon suitable punishment."
"Well that went better than expected" Blaise commented as they left the potion master's presence "we knew we couldn't avoid detentions forever and this way the nosey Headmaster doesn't know we are involved."
Harry agreed but couldn't help adding ominously "but our detention could be with Filch."
Both hoped that their head of house would not be that cruel when he made them serve their detention, they were Slytherins after all and he did favor his house above the others.
~~ ~~ ~*~
"Your detention will be served with me this evening after dinner" Professor Snape had held them back after class a few days after they had taken the vial of Unicorn blood to him "meet me at my office and we will discuss your punishment further then."
Harry and Blaise nodded their understanding and continued on to their next class, it would do no good to dwell on what they would be doing for there would be no way out of the detention. As it was they were lucky enough that their head of house was willing to keep quiet about the fact that they had been the ones to stumble upon the puddle of blood in the Forbidden Forest. They also knew that the cover up had cost the professor more work such as actually going into the forest and finding the blood himself, using their vague directions to find it as they had no doubt that the Headmaster would want to see it himself. So after dinner they reported promptly to Snape's office and waited to hear what they would be doing.
"You will be joining me in the forest tonight to help gather potions ingredients as well as keep an eye out for any more Unicorn's blood. I was tempted to make you go out with the gamekeeper but after an incident I have doubled my doubts about entrusting students to his care. Let's go."
Harry and Blaise followed along after Snape and mulled over the comment about Hagrid. His hut had caught on fire the night before and the rumor among the Slytherin's was that the man had gotten drunk and tried to perform magic and caught his bed on fire. A more reliable and less prejudice source had made mention of Hagrid trying to raise a dragon in his hut and hadn't been able to control the beast. Both seemed plausible but there wasn't enough facts for them to decide which was truer, what they did know was that Snape did not believe the man to be responsible. Too bad he was being closed mouth about his reasons on not trusting Hagrid; it might have solved the rumors for them. Snape stopped abruptly in front of the forest they were about to enter.
"Normally I would be assigning such a detention in hopes that you would avoid the forest as you are meant to, but I doubt that such an impression will be made on the two of you so I will ask that at the very least you do not wander off."
Harry rolled his eyes but promised to not stray too far from the professors side and Blaise echoed his agreement, they would have other chances to come to the forest though tonight in itself would be profitable as Snape knew parts of the forest and the various plants and animals that inhabited it. Learning what they could from their teacher tonight would better prepare them for future visits.
"Damn" Severus swore softly before striding swiftly forward.
They had been in the forest for about two hours by then and Snape had been lecturing them on the different plants they came across, but the sight in front of them was not something they had expected to see. A wounded Unicorn labored for breath between two of the trees. Quickly Harry and Blaise moved so that they reached the Unicorn at the same time as their professor and two things happened simultaneously. A black seething mass shot off into the darkness at their arrival and arrows began to fly out of the undergrowth towards professor Snape. If the black creature had not startled them so, the potions master would not have been looking up when the arrows came and many of them would have fatally impaled him; as it was the man had been able to lithely twist his body out of the way so that only one of the projectiles found their mark in his right arm.
Severus cried out in pain as one of the arrows found its mark, tearing fiercely through muscle, but there was no time to be weak and he tried to draw his wand as another volley of arrows came shooting their way. Next to him he saw Harry move forward and throw his hands out, wand clutched tightly in one hand. No words issued from the boys mouth but his desire was strong enough and the arrows bounced off a shield that glowed briefly every time it was struck. Blaise was at his side as Harry was doing this and was making quick work of the arrow protruding from his arm. He had to hand it to her; the girl didn't even flinch as she snapped the arrow off so that only a few inches of the shaft poked out from his arm before binding the wound with strips of cloth she severed from the bottom of his own robes.
A thundering of hooves drew both their attention back to Harry who hesitantly dropped his shield to approach the band of Centaurs that kept unwavering bows trained upon them.
The boy spoke softy as if trying not to set the Centaurs off, his hands out from his sides and wand tucked away to show that he mean no harm "why do you shoot at us?"
Ronan, who was with the group, stepped forward "we meet again Harry Potter and apologize for firing upon you; we believed the dark one there to be the entity hunting the Unicorns. His appearance did nothing to dissuade our conclusions and you we did not take notice of until the casting of the shield of protection. Good evening."
Harry glanced at the professor's billowing robes and realized how the professor could possibly be mistaken for the dark mass that had fled mere moment before the attack, for he assumed the dark mass to be the entity the Centaurs spoke of.
When Harry glanced back the Centaurs were in the process of fading back into the forest with the wounded Unicorn except for the young Firenze.
"Come dwellers of the castle" his tone was solemn as he addressed them "I will escort you to the path near the edge of the cleared grounds. It seems the girl-wizard has tended to the arrow and for now it will keep, we Centaurs will be watching both sky and ground this night so you must not remain."
Silently they followed the blond form of Firenze whose soft hoof-falls barely made a sound in the still night air. In no time he had led them to a path near the edge of the forest though they themselves could not see any path that the Centaur had followed.
"Farewell" Firenze bade them "I will watch for your stars though Mars is certainly bright tonight. Yes, Mars is bright."
Without another word Firenze left them and they made their way to the castle, Professor Snape refusing with every step to go to the hospital wing citing that he could take care of himself and that they had both better get back to the Slytherin dorms or they would be facing a detention of scrubbing out cauldrons. None of the three noticed the black figure following at a cautious distance behind them, their minds too full of the night's happenings to be truly aware of their surroundings.