Steam was billowing from the train; it had started to move. Scarlet frowned at the crowded compartment and transformed into a snake before crawling up Arth's arm.

Soon, Harry, Ron, And Hermione came barging in.

Arth raised an eyebrow.

"Hello."

"Hi Arth. There wasn't any other compartment so-"

"Yes I understand, but please be quiet. We have a person sleeping right next to us."

Arth three his head at the man sitting fast asleep next to the window. Harry, Ron, and Hermione curiously glanced at the man.

The Hogwarts Express was usually reserved for students and they had never seen an adult there before, except for the witch who pushed the food cart.

The stranger was wearing an extremely shabby set of wizard's robes that had been darned in several places. He looked ill and ex- hausted. Though quite young, his light brown hair was flecked with gray.

"Who d'you reckon he is?" Ron hissed as they sat down and slid the door shut, taking the seats farthest away from the window.

"Professor R. J. Lupin," whispered Hermione at once.

"How d'you know that?"

"It's on his case," Arthur replied, pointing at the luggage rack over the man's head, where there was a small, battered case held together with a large quantity of neatly knotted string. The name Professor R. J. Lupin was stamped across one corner in peeling letters.

"Most likely the new defense against the Dark arts since Lockhart resigned after what happened last year."

"Well, I hope he's up to it," said Ron doubtfully. "He looks like one good hex would finish him off, doesn't he?"

A faint, tinny sort of whistle was coming from somewhere. They looked all around the compartment.

"What's that noise?" said Ron suddenly.

"It's coming from your trunk, Harry," said Ron, standing up and reaching into the luggage rack. A moment later he had pulled the Pocket Sneakoscope out from between Harry's robes. It was spinning very fast in the palm of Ron's hand and glowing brilliantly.

"Is that a Sneakoscope?" said Hermione interestedly, standing up for a better look.

"Yeah . . . mind you, it's a very cheap one," Ron said. "It went haywire just as I was tying it to Errol's leg to send it to Harry."

"Were you doing anything untrustworthy at the time?" said Hermione shrewdly.

"No! Well . . . I wasn't supposed to be using Errol. You know he's not really up to long journeys . . . but how else was I supposed to get Harry's present to him?"

"Stick it back in the trunk," Arth advised as the Sneakoscope whistled piercingly, "or it'll wake him up."

He nodded toward Professor Lupin. Ron stuffed the Sneako- scope into a particularly horrible pair of Uncle Vernon's old socks, which deadened the sound, then closed the lid of the trunk on it.


"Talking about birthday presents, did you receive mine Harry?"

Harry immediately brightened up.

"Yes, I did actually! It was amazing!"

Arth let out a satisfied nod.

"Well of course, it took me an a week worth of effort to make it."

"Make what?"

Harry raised his arm for everyone to see.

There was a silvery colored watch like mechanism that rested on his wrists. Where the dial of a clock should have been was a thin sheet of metal that had a sleeping lion engraved onto it. Harry lifted the thin metal sheet and revealed a beautiful dial with intricate hands. The hands would make a delicate clicking noise while the hands spun smoothly with no break.

It was beautiful. Too beautiful to be made by a student.

Ron jealously glanced at the watch.

"Why do I not have one? I'm thirteen too."

Arth chuckled.

"I'll make you a different little toy for your next birthday. It's March first isn't it?"

Ron blushed.

"You don't have to, I was you know, just playing around."

Arth clapped Ron in the back before giving a wide smile.

"Ok, I won't give you a birthday present then."

Everyone stared at each other silently before bursting into laughter, only to be immediately silenced by the movement of the sleeping Professor.

"Ron," hissed Hermione, pointing at Professor Lupin, "be careful . . ."

"I wasn't the only one laughing Hermione!" Replied Ron indignantly.

"Shut up Ron! You are going to wake him up!"

But Professor Lupin was still fast asleep.

The rain thickened as the train sped yet farther north; the windows were now a solid, shimmering gray, which gradually darkened until lanterns flickered into life all along the corridors and over the luggage racks.

"We must be nearly there," said Ron, leaning forward to look past Professor Lupin at the now completely black window.

The words had hardly left him when the train started to slow down.

"Great," said Ron, getting up and walking carefully past Professor Lupin to try and see outside. "I'm starving. I want to get to the feast. . . ."

"We can't be there yet," said Hermione, checking her watch.

"So why're we stopping?"

The train was getting slower and slower. As the noise of the pistons fell away, the wind and rain sounded louder than ever against the windows.

Arth, who was nearest the door, got up to look into the corridor. All along the carriage, heads were sticking curiously out of their compartments.

The train came to a stop with a jolt, and distant thuds and bangs told them that luggage had fallen out of the racks. Then, without warning, all the lamps went out and they were plunged into total darkness.

A bone chilling cold grasped the entire train, a type of cold that Arth was very familiar with.

"Dementors."