A full moon had risen over the tree tops of the Forbidden Forest and a lone owl hooted. There was a howl, lonely and far in the distance—a lost werewolf wandering without companionship. Or, perhaps, a bloodthirsty killer, zeroing in on its prey.
The sky was clear, but the millions of stars that pockmarked the blackness of space were drowned out by the moon's brilliance. The rays of silver light pierced the darkness and alit upon the spires and towers of Hogwarts Castle.
The massive structure was dark except for a lone candle burning through a window here and there. The teachers were preparing their classrooms for the students that would be arriving in two days' time.
Those were ready for the big day were seated in the library. They sat at a round table, in the cushioned seats that were usually used by students while studying. The library was empty save for the silent faculty. A candle flickered briefly before going out, its wax dripping on the floor below.
The minutes ticked by, measured by a grandfather clock that stood near the spiral staircase. Finally, Minerva McGonagall spoke.
"That man is twenty minutes late," she announced, slightly irritated. "I think we should start without him." This suggestion was met with nods of approval. "Professor Moody has announced that he will be a few weeks behind schedule in arriving. We need a substitute to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts until he is available. Are there any volunteers?"
The question went unanswered. The ticking of the clock became one with the sound of the dripping wax as it hit the floor. Plunk plunk plunk.
Finally, Professor McGonagall said, "Severus?"
"I already told you, Minerva," Professor Snape sighed, his voice devoid of all emotion other than annoyance. "I have no time for extra classes this year. I am already scheduled to give Longbottom Remedial Potions."
McGonagall sighed, rejected. Besides Snape, there really wasn't anyone qualified to teach the class.
The doors opened and the Headmaster came strolling in. His white beard tucked into his belt and half-moon spectacles flashing in the dying candle light, Dumbledore took his time approaching the table. He didn't appear at all worried about being late to such a panicky meeting.
"Dumbledore, have you found anyone?" McGonagall asked when the Headmaster sat beside her.
"I have not found a witch or wizard to fill in for Professor Moody, no." Dumbledore said, lacing his fingers together and resting his hands on the table. "I have, however, located a Muggle who is more than willing to assist us."
"A Muggle? Surely you must be joking." Snape snapped.
"No, Severus, I am serious. And don't call me 'Shirley.'"
"All obnoxious and over-used movie quotes aside," Dumbledore continued. "I have found someone who is willing to fill in. I have reason to believe that he will be effective in teaching the students the basics. He may not be able to use magic, but he can prepare them for Moody's upcoming lessons."
"But he doesn't know about us, does he?" Asked Madam Hooch. "Wizards, I mean."
"Yes, actually, he does. He had a run in with a gang of American witches a few years ago," Dumbledore said. "Silly things forgot to wipe his memory . . . not that that's a bad thing, now, is it?"
"Headmaster, please, even if he knows about our world, will he even be able to see the school?" McGonagall asked.
"Enchantments can be lifted just enough to give him sight," Dumbledore assured her. "I have made all the necessary arrangements."
"Are you sure we can't find a wizard or witch to do this?"
"I have tried everyone I know, Minerva. Besides, I have asked the Muggle to stay a bit longer than he is needed, as I believe he will make an interesting project for the Muggle Studies class."
"Well, who is it?" Snape grumbled. "Who is this amazing Muggle of yours?"
With a mischievous wink in his eye and a sly smile, Dumbledore replied, "He goes by the name of Captain Hammer."
A/N: Now it's time for you to hit the "review" button and tell that I'm on crack. You know, just writing these two pages of prologue have made me want to read the Harry Potter series for the third time . . .