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The Slytherin Years

Chapter Text

“Get up you freak!” Lady Petunia yelled.

Hurriedly, I sat up and waited for her to open my cupboard. She yanked it open and start ordering me “out, out!”

She grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and pulled me out when she decided I wasn’t going fast enough today. “It’s my dear Duddykins birthday and you need to make his birthday waffles! I want them ready when he comes down or no food for you today!” She threatened.

I scurried into the kitchen and started the special waffles I made once every two weeks. It had been only three days since I had last eaten but I would like to eat today.

I was just taking the waffle off the stove when Dudley stomped down the stairs, screaming for his breakfast.

I hurried, scraping it onto a plate and setting it on the island. Grabbing the whipped cream and syrup, I hastily put them on. I smiled, relieved. I’d get to eat today. I started cleaning up the waffle ingredients so I could start on Lady Petunia and Lord Vernon’s breakfast.

“Mummy! Harry didn’t finish my special breakfast!” Dudley yelled.

My eyes widened and I turned around, realizing that I hadn’t put on the sprinkles that made it his birthday waffles instead of just regular waffles.

“HOW DARE YOU RUIN MY DUDDYKINS’ BIRTHDAY BREAKFAST! YOU ARE GETTING NOTHING TO EAT FOR A WEEK!” Lady Petunia hollered.

“Dudley, show him that this is not any way to treat you,” Lord Vernon said. “But we still need our breakfast.”

Dudley gave me a deadly grin. “Happy birthday to me,” he whispered.

---

“We can’t just leave him here! What if he blows up the house!” Lady Petunia argued.

“I don’t want him to come,” Dudley cried.

“We have no other choice Dudley, how about we let you have him for the whole weekend? Does that work for you? We’ll even get you new boxing gloves while we’re out.” Lord Vernon assured.

I whimpered, remembering how Dudley had broken his last pair of boxing gloves. He had filled them with rocks and then he hit me with them. A sharp rock had sliced through the padding and cut my arm up.

I was not looking forward to this birthday present.

---

I was squashed between Dudley and Piers Polkiss in the backseat of Lord Vernon’s car. Sorry, he had instructed me to call both him and Lady Petunia ‘Aunt’ and ‘Uncle’ today - something they hadn’t allowed me to do since I was very young. I had almost forgotten they were my aunt and uncle.

‘Uncle’ Vernon had beat me before the Polkiss’s arrived, warning me not to let anything happen. The thing was, I had no control over odd happenings. They just kind of happened.

Like my fast growing, unruly hair that I had to get cut once a week. And the fact that my cuts healed faster than Lord Vernon deemed possible. And the time Lady Petunia had found a warm blanket in my cupboard when I had pneumonia despite me not being able to leave the locked cupboard.

But none of that would happen this time. I would be good, nothing would happen that they could punish me for.

That revelation didn't last long. Parked outside was an ice cream stand. Dudley and Piers got large sundaes and before anyone could stop her, the lady handed me a cheap lemon pop. I tried to give it back but she gave me a suspicious look and the Dursleys quickly paid, herding us away.

Lor-Uncle Vernon gave me a discreet smack upside my head and he whispered a promise of another foodless week. I gulped and hastily devoured my pop, it would be the last thing I’d eat in a while.

However, that was proven wrong when the zoo cafeteria or whatever it was, messed up Dudley’s order. The Dursleys ended up giving it to me when the waiter gave them an odd look for switching it out when I had no food in front of me. Uncle Vernon promised a good whipping when we got home as I ate.

After lunch Dudley and Piers dragged us to the snake house. It was dark and damp and made me think of my cupboard under the stairs. I longed to be back there now, it would have been far better than waiting for me to mess up in public.

Dudley moved on from the large python once he got tired of trying to make it move. I sindled up to the glass and gazed at the creature in sympathy.

“I bet you get that all the time huh? People disturbing you, trying to force you to do things you don’t want to. I bet you miss the rain forest.” I said, wishing I knew some form of freedom.

The snake blinked at me and turned its head to the sign.

I squinted at the blurry lettering, trying to read it through my generic, non-prescription glasses the Dursleys had bought me when my teachers insisted.
Bred in captivity.

“Oh, I know what that feels like,” I said, connecting with the snake even more. It didn’t know freedom either.

“Oi! It’s moving!” Dudley screamed, shoving me to the ground and pressing his face to the glass.

When the glass vanished and Dudley crashed through, I barely heard the snake’s thanks as all I could think was how much this punishment would hurt.

---

It was my first day out of my cupboard in weeks and all I wanted to do was crawl back in. There had been a letter for me when I got the mail and I had panicked. I hid it in the shorts I was wearing but of course since they were Dudley’s old ones, the letter slid right out.

I was locked in my cupboard for another week, water only.

---

They were driving Lord Vernon mad. On Sunday, he had us pack and even yelled at Dudley for taking too long, something that had never happened before.

As he drove, I mournfully gazed out of the window. Who would have thought that I would be able to miss a bedroom? The Dursleys had allowed me to sleep in Dudley’s second room on the fourth day of the letters, trying to throw them off, but the addresses had changed from my cupboard under the stairs to the smallest bedroom.

Lord Vernon was grinning wickedly as he checked us into a hotel. I slept in the tub as Dudley had a tantrum for missing five of his telly programs.

In the morning we were off again, after receiving about a thousand more letters and me a harsh but quick punishment.

---

I was going to die the second this giant of a man left. He had given Dudley a tail and he just expected to get away with it? Well, he probably could but I was wary of the punishment coming my way.

“We’ll leave in the morning to buy your things Harry, don’t forget your sausages.” He said, plopping onto the couch and easily drifting off.

We? So he didn’t plan on leaving me here to deal with the consequences?

Chapter Text

“Hagrid,” I probed, “I don’t have any money for this stuff.” The Durselys had made it very clear they would not be encouraging this at all, much less paying for my supplies.

Hagrid laughed. “You? Not having any money? Harry, your parents left you a fortune! We just have to go to Gringotts to pick it up. Trust me Harry, I’m sure you’ll have enough to pay for your things.” he said with a twinkle in his eye.

 

And he was right. Turns out I had a small fortune hidden away from the Durselys. Turns out there was another thing hidden away in Gringotts, though I didn’t dare ask Hagrid what was in the grungy little bag that he shoved deep into a coat pocket.

---

“I’ll be back, just going to grab a bit o’ grub, ‘lright Harry?” Hagrid said. I nodded and he smiled through his massive beard. “Madam Malkin will get you all fit.” He said, pointing out the robe shop.

“Okay, thank you,” I said.

Hagrid waved me off. “Don’t mention it, I’ll be back.” And then he left.

I carefully walked through the crowds, keeping my head down. I didn’t want a repeat of the Hog’s Head, especially without Hagrid. I murmured my thanks when a mother and her daughter held the door open for me as they walked out and I slipped in.

“Hogwarts, dear?” A squat woman - witch, sorry - questioned, adjusting her mauve robes. I nodded meekly, staring at all of the bright, vivid colors. Some robes had sparkles or feathers or fur. There was a whole rack that held moving patterns.

“Alright, up you go. Right next to that young man other there. He’s getting Hogwarts robes too.” She said, gesturing to a stool as she went off to grab some fabric.

I climbed onto the stool beside the pale, thin faced boy. He looked regal, what with his arms thrown out wide and his head tilted up. The image was enhanced my the second witch at his feet, pinning his black robes. He smiled over at me but didn’t move his head. I wondered about that.

“Hello, Hogwarts too?” He asked. I nodded but he didn’t continue questioning so I guessed we were done. “Sorry, I can’t quite see you. I'm not allowed to move at the moment. Was that a yes?” I flushed. It was silly of me to assume that he could see me.

“Yes, I’m going to Hogwarts.” I said.

He made a satisfied humming sound. “My father’s next door buying my books and mother’s up the street paying for my wand,” said the boy. Wands, I still had to get one of those. “Then I want to look at racing brooms. It’s rubbish that first years can’t have their own. They listen so much better when you own them. Maybe I can have my father send me mine,” He mused.

I was a little over whelmed. He hadn’t said anything overly mean or pretentious - it sounded like he had good reason to want a broom - but I couldn’t help but feel that this boy was used to getting what he wanted.

“Have you got a broom?” He asked, still not moving his head.

How did I explain that I barely knew what a broom did? “No,” I said, staying on the safe side.

“Play Quidditch at all?” Did you need brooms for that? Was it competitive sweeping?

“No.”

“Oh,” he said, “I like to play. Father says it would be a crime if I’m not picked to play for my house, but that’s just him. Though I can’t say I wouldn’t love to play for my house. Say, do you know what house you’ll be in yet?”

House? I was feeling more stupid by the minute. “No.”

“Well that’s alright. No one really knows until they get there anyway. But I know I’ll be in Slytherin, all my family has been - imagine being in Hufflepuff, I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?” He still didn’t look at me.

“You can let your head go,” the witch said as Madam Malkin came back and draped a black robe over me.

“I say, look at that man,” the boy said, now that he could look straight ahead again. Hagrid was there, standing in the window holding two ice creams and grinning widely.

“That’s Hagrid,” I said, proud to finally know something, “he works at Hogwarts.”

The boy nodded. “Oh, I’ve heard of him. He's sort of like a house elf there isn’t he?”

House elf? I was back to feeling stupid. “He’s the gamekeeper.” I tried.

“Yes, I heard he’s sort of savage, living in a hut on the grounds.” The boy said. I frowned, not liking this boy very much. He wasn’t being very nice to a man he had obviously never met.

“I think he’s brilliant,” I said, giving him a cold look. I didn't like that he was making fun of the only person to care about me since I was a baby. And even then, I could't remember my parents loving me.

The boy looked over at me confused. “Why, is he with you? Where are your parents?”

“They’re dead,” I said, not feeling like talking to this boy for longer than necessary. Even if he wasn’t as bad as Dudley.

His face fell a little. “Oh… sorry.” He cleared his throat and looked away. “Where they… never mind.”

“Dear, how do they feel? Not too loose?” Madam Malkin asked, standing up.

They did feel a bit saggy, especially in the arms but there were more kids waiting for robes and Madam Malkin was looking a little tired. Anyway, what did I know? I haven't had any clothes that fit me ever. They were all Dudley's hand-me-downs. “They’re fine,” I said.

“No they aren’t, do you think you could fix the arms a bit? They’re far too saggy.” The boy said. “They’ll catch fire like that if he were to go near a potion.”

Madam Malkin gasped. “You’re right, I’m so sorry I didn’t notice. We had a group of Beauxbaton girls in here earlier and they had more than a few demands to fill. My head is still buzzing with spells to fix lace trimmings instead of taking proper measurements. Here, I’ll fix that.” She snapped her fingers and a wand whooshed across the shop and into her hand. She waved it, muttering something under her breath. My sleeves magically fixed themselves.

“Thank you,” I said, though to the boy or Madam Malkin I didn’t know.

---

“Hagrid, what is Quidditch?” I asked as we were eating.

“I keep ferget'in ya don’t know nufing about our world Harry.” Hagrid said. “I never played so I don’t know all the rules but there are about seven players on the pitch fer one team and four balls. I heard a Muggleborn compare it to Muggle soccer once.”

I recalled the confused games of soccer we played back at school. I wondered how you played with four balls when it was hard enough with one.

“Hagrid, what’s Slytherin and Hufflepuff?” I asked.

“Those are houses at Hogwarts. There’s four of ‘em altogether and your house is sort of like your family while yer there. Ya don’t have to eat with your house or only be friends with people in your house but you do sleep with the other kids in your house.” Hagrid explained.

“Oh okay,” I said wondering what the other two houses were but deciding that I wouldn’t push my luck with Hagrid.

“I think potion ingredients are next.” Hagrid said, cleaning up our empty plates.

I grinned. Potions was one of the subjects I was looking forward to the most. I’ve been cooking since I was five and I assumed potions would be similar. Just instead of Lady Petunia’s bland spices it would be beetle eyes and newt tails and other exciting things.

We headed to the apothecary where I got easily distracted. There were so many cool things and I wanted to know how to use all of them. The jars were labeled but their shelves had more details. Nothing too extensive, just the basics of what they could be used for.

Hagrid chuckled at my excitement and started telling me a little about what potions might be like.

“You’ll be learning under Snape. He’s a bit strict but no worse than ol’ McGonagall. As long as you study and don’t goof off much you’ll be fine.” Hagrid said, taking the basic set of potion ingredients from the shopkeeper. “He knows what he’s doing, been teaching fer a few years now. Heard a few kids liked the speech he starts all first years off with.”

I giggled, imagining a grown man practicing his speech in the mirror, stopping in the middle to rewrite it. I think I’d like Potions.

---

“Last thing is yer wand - oh Harry! I just realized I haven’t gotten yeh a birthday present.” Hagrid said.

My eyes widened. “Oh no Hagrid, I’m fine - really.” I knew that Hagrid wasn’t the Durselys but the only thing they gave me for my birthday were birthday scars. I had ten lines on inside of my thigh, right above my knee where it was hidden by Dudley’s baggy hand-me-downs. They hadn’t had time for the eleventh yet.

“Nonsense, I’ll get yer animal, an owl. How ‘bout that? Cats make me sneeze and toads went out of fashion years ago.” Hagrid said.

Ten minutes later we were leaving Eeylops Owl Emporium, a large cage that held a snowy white owl in my arms. I couldn't believe it, she was gorgeous and so friendly! I couldn't decide on a name quite yet. I wanted something spirited but kind, something that would portray her personality.

“We’ll go to Ollivanders to get yer wand.” Hagrid said. I wondered if there were other places to get wands, Hagrid sure phrased it like there was another shop.

I followed Hagrid into the shop and was amazed at all the thin box towers stacked everywhere. I found it hard to believe that there were enough wands left over for other shops.

“Ah, Hagrid oak, sixteen inches, rather bendy if I recall and with a core of dragon heartstrings.” A hunched old man said from behind a counter. “Snapped after you were expelled no?”

Hagrid gripped his pink umbrella. “Yessir. I still have the pieces though.”

“You don’t use them though do you?” He snapped, glaring at Hagrid suspiciously.

The giant man looked fearful and shook his head. “No sir, of course not sir.” The man - Ollivander I assumed - nodded but his face was still suspicious. Though maybe it wasn't him. The sign had said they've been in business a looong time.

Hagrid coughed and changed the subject, clutching his pink unbrella just a tad tighter. “We’re jus’ here fer Harry’s wand. He’s going to Hogwarts now Mr. Ollivander.” Ah, so I was right.

Ollivander turned his beady gaze on me and grinned. “I know just the thing,” he said.

He picked up a random wand and swished it. A light exploded but he barely cringed. “Oops, wrong one.” He said, picking up another and swished it instead. A tape measure whizzed out of no where and smacked me in the head before shaking out and beginning to measure every inch of me. And I mean every inch. It measured between my nostrils as Ollivander disappeared behind a pile of wand boxes.

Suddenly a thought struck me. “Hagrid, is it possible to have more than one wand?” I asked.

Hagrid went to answer but Ollivander reappeared. “That’s preposterous boy. Where in the great wizarding world would you get such an outlandish idea like that? The wand chooses the wizard you know.” He growled and I was glad that he didn’t have that exploding wand in his hands anymore.

I cleared my throat, wondering if he expected me to answer. When he didn’t stop glaring I went ahead. “Well sir, you picked up a wand and it… backfired but a different wand worked just fine.” I said, trying hard not to blink as the tape measure checked the length of each individual eyelash on my right side. Luckily it moved up to my scar, where it seemed to be measuring each individual strike, or leg as I fondly called them.

“That’s different, now try this one out. I have a feeling about this.” He said, shoving a box into my hands.

I opened it and pulled out the wand. My head started hurting, a sharp pain in my scar. “Holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple.” Ollivander whispered. “The phoenix that supplied your wand with its core gave another, just one another. It made a brother wand, THE brother wand that gave you that scar. Yes, I do believe that’s perfect for you.”

I frowned, not liking the way it made my head hurt but I could deal with it. “Thank you,” I said, carefully putting the wand down. The pain instantly went away and I wondered why, however I didn’t complain. Ollivander didn’t seem nice like Hagrid.

We paid seven galleons and left.

Hagrid smiled at me as we started walking back to the Leaky. “Well Harry, time to head back. I hope I helped ya some, what with getting’ away from those Muggles fer a bit. I can’t believe they didn’t tell ya ‘bout Hogwarts.” He said, shaking his head.

I gave him a forced upward tilt of my lips. Going back to the Dursleys? I wasn’t going to make it til school started.

 

---

 

My last month with the Dursleys was heaven. Hagrid had dropped me off after shopping with a threat and he had even managed to extract a promise that they’d bring me to the train station.

To be honest, I think it helped that I had my own wand. I think they were scared of it. Of course that made me carry it around all day and night, despite the head aches I got when I touched it with my bare skin. Anything to get them off my back.

It was odd though, getting used to having so much free time. The only other time they had treated me like this was when Lord Vernon had hosted a French business associate for two weeks. They let me sleep on the couch and I actually ate breakfast AND lunch everyday. I had never eaten at the table with them before.

Of course now they weren't as nice. I wasn’t allowed to eat anything I didn’t cook and I wasn’t allowed to use their ingredients if I wasn’t cooking for them so for the first five days I cooked breakfast and dinner. They didn’t protest when I kept a few scraps out of the leftover container. Or when there was barley enough food for leftovers they didn’t say anything about me eating it. After those first few days though I just… wasn’t hungry. After that I only made dinner, occasionally cooking breakfast if I was hungry.

What I found most shocking, was that I had no chores. None. I almost didn’t know what to do with all of my free time. Almost.

I studied all of my magic books, inside and out and tried to learn everything I could.

In effort to learn a little bit more about the magical world I was entering, I read my History books. Sadly they were only slightly more exciting then Muggle history books. A lot of dates, a lot of pointless fighting, a lot of ‘important’ dead people, and too many stupid decisions.

I did, however, find a name for the snowy owl Hagrid gifted me. Hedwig had been a famous witch known for being raised by goblins. The book painted her in a bad light but I thought she was amazing. She spent her whole life fighting for the rights of so called ‘dark creatures’. The goblins I had met at the bank didn't seem so dark. Maybe a little misunderstood is all. A few of them even smiled at me when Hagrid wasn't looking. Hedwig was only forty when Nicolas Flamel and Dumbledore put a stop to her movement by murdering her. The book said that her death was the beginning of a very successful friendship between Flamel and Dumbledore. Sadly that was all the information I could find on her.

My other books were far more interesting but the two I was looking forward to the most were Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Potions seemed to be just like cooking albeit with different ingredients. I had been cooking practically since I could walk so I would be good at Potions at least. Not to mention I loved to cook. I had mastered the eight or so meals the Dursleys ate, the menu only changing for the hols, and I was more than ready for something different.

Defense was kind of self-explanatory. I would love to learn how to defend myself and others from Dudley and his gang. I could make people’s lives so much easier. Just the thought of it made me smile.

I rolled onto my back and grinned up at Hedwig. Together, we'd take on what ever Hogwarts could throw at us. Maybe with the help of that boy from Madam Malkin's. I still couldn't decide if he was nice or not. I guess we'll find out.

Chapter Text

“Get out,” Lord Vernon said, the car still running. Hastily I climbed out with my trunk along with Hedwig - being extra careful with my only friend. The Durselys hadn’t revoked my food privileges since Hagrid had visited so I was at full strength. It made me feel good to not struggle too much when I lugged around my trunk.

As soon as I had closed the car door they sped off, leaving me to wonder if they would be back to pick me up when school ended.

---

I wanted to yell in frustration. No one had been able to help me find platform nine and three quarters. There was platform nine, and there was ten. As four different people had told me, there was no platform nine and three quarters. There wasn’t even a train that left at eleven.

“Full of Muggles - wait up boys, now where is that platform?” A cheery but extremely loud female voice asked. I turned and saw a gaggle of bright, eye catching red heads.

I watched as she directed her children through the support beam the held the signs for platform nine and ten. I hurried over to them. “Pardon me Ma’am, but I was just wondering how you…”

“How you get to platform nine and three quarters?” she filled in with a smug smile. I nodded, a bit taken aback. Her expression looked a bit how Lady Petunia's looked when she managed to get a visitor to ask her the question she had been hinting at them to ask. “It’s alright dear. It’s Ron’s first year too. You just rush through the barrier, best to do it at a run or else the barrier might think you’re just a Muggle resting your cart against the barrier.” She advised.

“Thank you,” I said, backing up and giving myself room. I had to maneuver around the red head boy around my age. He must be Ron. He didn't move one inch and I almost ended up knocking into his trolley because of the bum wheel mine had.

I took a breath and ran for it. There was an odd tingle that ran through my body and I stopped out of shock. Lucky I did too, or else I would have crashed into a rather friendly looking girl. "Sorry," I said.

She smiled and shrugged it of. "No problem firstie."

Before I could ask what she meant she was gone. No one ever just brushed me off. I was always, always punished for any trouble I may cause, even if I managed to avoid causing any.

I looked around and saw three different trains. One was blue, another was black but the one waiting at platform nine and three quarters was red. It was kind of an ugly red if you asked me but no one ever did that.

I hurried towards the back of the train and rushed on, ignoring the red haired family argue about blown up toilet seats. I wondered if that was a common argument in wizarding households.

I struggled to lift my trunk into the compartment due to my short stature. “Need some help?”

Behind me were two of the boys from the wizarding family that had helped me. They looked like twins. I ducked my head and nodded. “Please.”

They took my trunk and easily lifted it between the two of them. “Thank you,” I said.

“No problem, this is your first year right?” I nodded. Was it that obvious?

“Are you Muggleborn?”

“We haven’t seen you around Wizarding London before.”

“And our Mum doesn’t recognize you either.”

Muggleborn? What did that mean? “Uh, I was born in the muggle world… I think.” I shook my head, looking up at them. “I don’t know, my parents are dead.”

They gasped and apologized. “Are you-”

“Harry Potter?”

Oh. I nodded, reaching up to flatten my hair over my scar a little better. “Yeah, I’m him,” I said. It felt easier to talk about ‘The Harry Potter’ like this. Distancing myself from my famous image. Hagrid hand't explained much. What if I messed up? Can you mess up being famous? If you couldn't, I'd certainty find a way.

They grinned and gave me a bow before their mother called for them. “FRED, GEORGE!”

“Oi, we’re coming women,” one of them shot back. They winked at me and walked off.

“Guess who we ran into.”

“Harry Potter.”

“George, you better have behaved yourself.” The voice from before scolded.

“He did Mum, we saw the scar and asked.”

“Yeah, he didn’t seem upset.”

“Mum, Mum, I want to meet Harry Potter. Please oh please.” A whining voice begged.

“No Ginny, the poor child will be oggled enough this year. Maybe Ron,” her voice got quieter and I couldn’t make out the rest of what she said.

I settled into my train car and looked at all of the parents waving to their kids or giving them a last hug as they hurried them onto the train. What would that be like? Would my parents have been the late type or would we have been on time? Maybe we would even have been early. I sighed, this was why I hated talking about my parents. I'd never know so what was the point of speculating?

“We’ll send you loads of owls!”

“We’ll send you a toilet seat Ginny!”

“George!!!”

“I’m Fred. Honestly women, and you call yourself our mother?” I heard the twins’ laughter as the train pulled away from the station.

The youngest boy - Ron - entered my compartment. “Mind if I sit here?” he asked, although he was already walking to a seat.

“Oi Ron,” one of the twins said.

“We’re going to see Lee.” the other finished.

“He’s got something to show us.”

“Hey Harry, we didn’t introduce ourselves did we?”

“I’m George,” the one who had spoken first said.

“And I’m Fred.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” they said together, then left with a wave.

I thought that there would be a few awkward minutes but Ron launched right into it. “Are you really Harry Potter? Do you have the scar from You-Know-Who? Can I see it?”

“Oh uh, yeah I guess,” I said - and though I didn’t like sharing any of my scars, I pulled up my bangs and showed him.

“Wicked,” he whispered, “ do you remember anything?”

I frowned, uncomfortable with this. “No,” I said tersely. He didn’t need to know about the green light I sometimes had nightmares about.

He looked disappointed and I took this moment of silence to ask a few questions of my own. “Is your whole family magical?’ I asked.

He nodded. “Well, except this one cousin on my mum’s side but we don’t talk about him.” He made a face and muttered something about squids.

Maybe I could question this boy about the magical world and learn a few things but before I could say anything the asked another questions. “So where did you grow up? I reckon if you grew up in our world your guardian would’ve been too excited to not say anything for eleven whole years. They would have told someone and then they’d let it out and the whole wizarding world would know.” Ron said.

I gluped, for once glad that I had been sent to live with the Lord and Lady. “I grew up with my Mum’s sister and her family,” I said.

“They’re Muggles aren’t they?” He asked, eagerly continuing before I could say anything. “Blimy I bet you ruled the household didn’t you?”

Before I could figure out why he thought that, the door opened and in came the pale, thin faced boy from Madam Malkin’s. Behind him just outside the door were two stocky, mean looking boys. They had a distinct bodyguard air to them that a few of Dudley’s stronger friends had.

“Why didn’t you tell me that you’re Harry Potter?” the boy asked.

“Sod off Malfoy,” Ron said, with a bite to his tone.

Malfoy looked over at Ron and took him in. “You’re a Weasley. My father warned me about you,” he said, his voice wavering just a tiny bit as he took a step nearer his bodyguards.

“Me? My family doesn’t need to be feared. Your family on the other hand,” Ron sneered.

“Malfoy turned back to me. “Harry, please don’t believe anything he’s told you about me. I promise I’m a good person.”

I looked him over he looked just as scared and lonely as I felt. “He hasn’t told me anything about you,” I answered truthfully.

“The Malfoy’s followed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” Ron blurted out. There it was again, Hagrid had told me about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, how he had killed my parents along with many other wizards. Did the Malfoy’s really follow him?

“My Mother tells me that it wasn’t fully our fault. Once he knew it was safe, Father came back and gladly gave Dumbledore and the Auorors the information they needed.” The boy said. “And either way, I’m not my Father. I can make my own decisions and choices.”

“You really shouldn’t hang around Draco Malfoy,” Ron ordered, turning to me now. “You’re Harry Potter and he’s just a stuck up son of a Death Eater.”

I frowned at Ron, but I was reluctant to stand up for Draco. Ron didn’t look that strong but neither did Piers and he knew all the right places to hit that made his weaker punches hurt worse than a solid hit from Dudley or another one of his goons. I had no doubt that Ron had a few magical tricks up his sleeve too. Of course, Draco had two rather large goons to aid him and he probably had some tricks himself.

“If you stick with me I can guarantee no one will mess with you. My family has gained some level of respect over the years in Hogwarts. We’ll also always have your back, and there’s quite a few of us to keep and eye on you.” Ron declared smugly. “Draco here is hated and has no siblings to watch his back. Even these goons of his are temporary, probably bribed by his father.”

I frowned, torn. Draco seemed nice but Ron sounded far scarier. I didn’t want to be on the bad side of so many people before I even arrived at Hogwarts.

I glanced over at Draco and his expression fell. However, I was glad that he seemed to understand. He gathered himself up, his regal air returning from when he had begged me to believe that he was a good person.

“Fine, but listen here Potter, you’ve just let a wonderful opportunity pass you by,” he said, although it sounded like he didn't believe his own words and left.

“I have no doubt about that,” I murmured, guiltily watching them go.

“I’m so glad that you made the right choice Harry,” Ron said, smirking.

 

I ended up buying Ron two arm loads of sweets and I had two more enemies by the time we reached Hogwarts. Neville - Ron had insulted his toad saying that it was even worse than his hand-me-down rat Scabbers - and Hermione - who Ron had belittled due to both her brains and her ‘motor mouth’. I don’t think Ron liked her Muggle parents much either but he didn’t mention that.

I followed Ron off the train and lit up when I heard Hagrid calling for the first years. I raced over to him, leaving Ron behind. “ 'ey ‘arry, nice ta see ya. 'op in a boat. FOUR Ta A BOAT EVERYONE, FOUR Ta A BOAT!” Hagrid called, turning around to help Neville into a boat with Hermione and two other boys.

I saw Draco climbing into one with Greg and Vincent and I thought about joining them so that I could apologize but a girl was already climbing in with them, chatting more than Hermione.

“Come on Harry, I want to get a good boat,” Ron said, grabbing my arm and yanking me towards a boat that already held a pair of identical girls.

I distracted myself from Ron’s talking by looking at the view. The castle was breathtaking and I couldn’t believe that I was getting to live here for the whole school year.

We climbed out of our boats and Hagrid led us to the front door, leaving us in the hands of one stern looking woman called Professor McGonagall.

She led us past where I assumed the other students were, and into a small, empty chamber off the hall. We were crowded in together closer than we would normally. I had someone’s elbow in my ribs and another foot on mine but I didn’t complain, I actually took comfort from the familiar ache and there wasn't any real pain.

Professor McGonagall than turned and regarded us. ‘ “Welcome to Hogwarts,” said Professor McGonagall . “The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like you family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of you house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room.

“The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rule breaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.

“The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting.”

Her eyes lingered for a moment on Neville’s cloak, which was fastened under his left ear, and on Ron’s smudged nose.’ (Professor McGonagall, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, page 114.)

---

I was still taken aback by the ghosts when Professor McGonagall called us into the Great Hall. She placed a four legged stool down in front of everyone before setting a beat up pointed hat on top of it.

' A large rip opened near the base of the hat and it began to sing. “Oh, you may not think I’m pretty,
But don’t judge on what you see,
I’ll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I’m the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all!
There’s nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can’t see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brace at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry,
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true,
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin,
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folks use any means,
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don’t be afraid!
And don’t get in a flap!
You’re in safe hands (though I have none)
For I’m a Thinking Cap!” '
(The Sorting Hat, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, page 117-118)

Once the hat - and the mighty applause - quieted, Professor McGonagall unrolled a fairly long scroll and began calling names.

“Abbot, Hannah.”

A blonde girl slowly made her way up to the stool and lifted up the hat. Professor McGonagall took it, let Hannah take a seat, and then placed the hat upon her head.

It took a minute but then that rip opened up again and the Sorting Hat called out, “Hufflepuff!”

One of the tables erupted into loud cheering as the other three - four if you counted the long teacher’s table - politely clapped as Hannah went to join her new ‘family’.

“Bones, Susan,” Professor McGonagall called.

Another girl walked up and got The Sorting Hat placed upon her head. “Hufflepuff!” It called again.

More applause. Oh god, what if no one clapped? Would my whole house hate me? What if the Hat couldn’t even decide to what house to put me in? I wasn’t smart, or brave, cunning, or loyal really. I lied to the Dursleys a few times, how was that loyal?

“Boot, Terry,” Professor McGonagall said.

A nice looking boy walked up to the stool. “Ravenclaw!” The hat cried after a few minutes.

A different table started cheering and I guessed them to be the Ravenclaws. Mandy Brocklehurst was next, according to Professor McGonagall, and the Hat put her in Ravenclaw too.

Lavender Brown, a short girl with a determined look and gold glasses went to Gryffindor while a dark haired Millicent Bulstrode went to Slytherin.

“Justin Finch-Fletchley,” Professor McGonagall called. The boy standing next to me walked up and got placed in Hufflepuff. He smiled, seemingly happy with it.

Would I be happy in my house?

Seamus Finnigan joined the Gryffindors and then Professor McGonagall called up Hermione. The bushy haired girl all but ran up to the hat and shoved her head under it. After just a moment it proclaimed Gryffindor for all to hear.

“Come on, that girl is a Ravenclaw if anything,” Ron complained next to me.

I ignored him, hoping that the noise of the Gryffindor table cheering would be enough of an excuse. Secretly I was happy for her. Gryiffindor seemed like a good house. “Longbottom, Neville,” Professor McGonagall said.

Neville tripped on his way up and his toad fell out of his robe. He quickly scooped Trevor up and scurried over to the chair. He too was proclaimed Gryffindor. Ron complained about him as well when Neville ran off with the hat still on his head.

Morag MacDougal went to Hufflepuff and then it was Draco Malfoy’s turn.

He walked up to the hat with confidence but there was something lacking. He didn’t seem to truly believe in the arrogance he pretended to have. The minute The Sorting Hat touched his perfectly slicked back blond locks it screamed out, “Slytherin!”

The Slytherin table exploded with whoops and whistles as Draco ran over to them with a twitchy smile and weak knees, joining his previously sorted body guards.

Lily Moon, Theodore Nott, and Pansy Parkinson went to Slytherin, the Patil twins went one to Gryffindor and one to Ravenclaw while Sally-Anne Perks went to Hufflepuff.

“P-Potter, Harry,” Professor McGonagall said, stuttering over my name but quickly collecting herself. I noticed she was particularly stiff when she placed the hat on my unruly locks.

‘Harry Potter, a challenge.’ a voice - the Hat said in my mind. I could tell because it had that strange flat, mono-tone quality to it that sounded more like when I thought to myself then when anyone talked to me. ‘Hmm, decisions decisions. Not a bad mind, plenty of bravery, and I see a great potential for loyalty here. But - how peculiar - you’d do quite well in Slytherin. Yes, as odd as that is I do think you’d thrive there. But Gryffindor would surely be more… typical. What about you kid, any preference?’

I bit my lip, wondering if I had to reply out loud. There was a chuckle and The Sorting Hat said, ‘I can read your thoughts boy. No need for anyone else to hear this.’

Both Gryffindor and Slytherin seemed to have pros and cons. Ron seemed to have no doubt in his mind that he was going to Gryffindor with his family so that was a con. But I had already made friends with Ron so that was also a pro I guess. Slytherin had Draco and that was both a pro and a con. He was probably mad with me for rejecting his friendship but if I went to Slytherin I could apologize easier. But did I want to? If I went to Slytherin Ron would hate me too, along with Draco and Hermione and Neville. Maybe I should just go to Hufflepuff, I could learn to be loyal - at least according to The Hat. And what about the song? Was I cunning or brave? Would I do anything to save my own skin?

‘Well then, seems you have much to learn.' The Sorting Hat said. 'It is my job to find the house you’d best be suited too, better be-’ “Slytherin!” ‘Good luck kid.’

There were a few gasps but they were quickly drowned out by the thundering applause of the Slytherin table. I grinned and hastily gave back the Sorting Hat as the chants of ‘Ha-rry, Ha-rry’ began.

I was greeted by hugs and people tousling my hair and friendly grins all around. I was herded down the table, passed from one kid to the next until I was allowed to sit down with the other first years. I tried to open my mouth to talk to them, to apologize to Draco but Professor McGonagall had already captured their attentions again.

Ross Raymond went to Gryffindor while Mary Snor went to Hufflepuff. Dean Thomas went to Gryffindor and Lisa Turpin to Ravenclaw. Then Ron Weasley went up and - just as quickly as Draco - was sorted into Gryffindor. I saw him being embraced by his brothers.

Blaise Zabini joined us at the Slytherin table and then it was over. Professor McGonagall took the hat and the stool and put them away. I tried to talk to my housemates again but then Dumbledore started talking, the Headmaster that Ron had told me about due to the card in the chocolate frog box. I remembered reading about him when I found Hedwig's name too. I wasn't sure how I felt about him. Ron painted him in a good light but I still trusted my first instinct from when I read about him.

After he said his… admittedly very odd words we were allowed to eat. I gaped at the feast that had simply appeared, then I remembered myself. I had an apology to deliver.

“Uh, Draco?” I tried, addressing the boy opposite me.

He glanced up at me but then looked back at his food. I swallowed thickly. I should have known that this would happen. He probably didn't even want to be friends with me, the freak. Especially not after how I treated him. I shouldn't talk to him, I didn't want him to get beat up because he talked to me. “I’m really sorry Ron was mean to you and I did nothing to stop it,” I said.

He shrugged but otherwise didn’t answer me. There were a painful few minutes before everyone got over the food and I was swept up into the chatter.

“So you’re really Harry Potter?”
“It’s nice to meet you.”
“I can’t believe that I get to go to Hogwarts with THE Harry Potter. And he’s in my year and everything!”

I smiled and talked a bit with everyone, eating a few bites of everything but my stomach quickly started to feel painfully full. I still wished I could apologize to Draco.

An older girl plopped down next to me. “All righty firsties, I’m Nora Boragon and I’m your Slytherin Prefect. One of them, Horus is over there stuffing his face with pumpkin pastries at the moment. I just thought I’d let you all know that we’ll be leaving soon and to find either me or Horus. Don’t go out of this hall without a Prefect or a teacher.” She instructed. “Any questions?”

Theodore raised his hand. “Who’s our Head of House? My dad mentioned that each House had one but he didn’t say who since we didn’t know what house I would be in.”

“Is it a student?” Lily Moon asked.

Nora smiled. “A Head of House is never a student, its more of which teacher is most responsible for you and your house-mates. See your Head of House as the adult of our little family and us Prefects as the wise older siblings. And Severus Snape is our Head of House. He‘s also teaches potions.”

I couldn’t help but giggle at her analogy. Treating us like one big family made everything feel all cozy and nice. Of course I was also nervous. If this was like a family, who would do all the chores? I didn’t want to be the one but I also don’t think I’d be okay with it being anyone else. What if it was me and I failed because I didn’t know how to do wizard chores?

“Potter? Are you alright?” Draco asked, putting the attention back on me. I flushed with all eyes on me but nodded.

“Er, yeah. Sorry, I’m fine, thank you.” I stuttered.

“Wait, which one’s Snape?” Theodore asked.

“Oh, he’s right there next to Professor Quirrell.” Nora said pointing to a hook nosed man with greasy ink black hair.

He glanced at me and suddenly there was a shooting pain in my head, centering on my scar. I flinched and for once it I wasn’t ready for the pain. I was mortified. Hogwarts had distracted me so much that I had forgotten to be ready. I steeled myself, promising to never let my guard down again.

I turned away from Snape’s glare and went back to listening to Nora giving advice.

Chapter Text

“Follow me, follow me,” Nora said, a big magical banner of bright green light above her declaring ‘FIRST YEARS’.

I followed the others, trying to stick somewhat to the back away from Draco. Theodore - who had asked everyone to call him Theo - was next to me and Blaise too. Horus was behind us, probably making sure we stuck with the group.

I looked over and saw the other prefects throwing up magical light banners as well. Ravenclaw had a blue one, Hufflepuff yellow, and Gryffindor threw up a red one last, somewhat reluctantly.

Nora led us out of the Great Hall and took a left before going up the first staircase we came across. “Watch this third step. It’s a tricky, just jump over it and you’ll be fine.” Nora called, demonstrating by placing one foot on the third step. It vanished and most of our first year group gasped.

“Be careful,” Horus said, watching each kid like a hawk as they jumped over the slowly reappearing step.

We were taken up another - moving - staircase before Nora talked politely to a suit of armor. It moved aside, revealing a long winding tunnel that we then went down. I noticed that it had a downward slope to it. We reached a dead end but Nora simply shoved the stone wall and it swung open. When I looked back I saw that it was a picture frame, one that held a moving painting.

“Hurry up now, don’t want to dally,” Horus said, gently touching my shoulder to herd me back to the rest of the group. I liked his touch, it was gentle like Hagrid’s but softer and more timid, like Horus was wondering if he could touch me.

I smiled at him and sped up so as to catch the rest of the group. Our surroundings were darker and there were no more windows. It smelled kind of damp too but it had a nice cozy feel to it. It made me think of my cupboard.

“Nora, I’m going to talk with Tracey, Jana, Harry, and Millicent.” Horus said. Nora gave him a knowing look and nodded, leading the rest of our year down the hall.

We nervously gathered around the blond Prefect and waited for him to speak. He placed a hand on the back of his neck. “So you’ll notice something your pears all have in common.” He started. “They’re all purebloods. People don't consider Slytherin as the… the fairest house. They say we’re kind of a messed up family but Slytherins are very loyal to each other. We protect our own and have the second lowest amount of blood purists aside from Hufflepuff. Some Purebloods think that since they only have magical blood that makes them better - that their status is higher - but that’s not true at all.

“There are many studies that prove them wrong but some of them still believe in the old ways. Mostly its so ingrained into them by their parents that its hard to overcome it but you'll find most older students couldn't care less. Being halfbloods or muggleborns, you might get bullied. If that happens I want you to immediately go to a teacher or Prefect. Head Boy and Head Girl are always an option as well. I don’t want you to ever think that the others are better simply because they think they have 'purer' blood. That doesn’t matter. As long as you are hard working and diligent, you will do great.” Horus gave us a grin. “I promise that I won’t let anything happen to you.”

“Thank you Horus,” Jana said with a smile.

“Don’t thank me for being a good Prefect, much less a decent human,” He said, “now let’s catch up with the others.” We followed him and I couldn’t help but ponder over what he had just told us.

So some wizards were racist. Of course I had another reason for people to dislike me. Aside from not knowing anything about the wizarding world I now had blood status to deal with. I was going to have enough trouble making friends as it was and now I learned that some of my housemates wouldn’t like me because of yet another thing I had no control over?

“Oliver Tree.” Horus said in front of a stretch of stones. A few of the stones vanished - just enough so that we could walk on through. “Sorry guys, I made the mistake of letting Marcus choose this month’s password.” Horus apologized.

I wondered why he was apologizing.

“Why are you sorry?” Tracey asked.

Horus blinked at us. “Ah… you’ll find out. Hopefully not until second year at the very least but I have no doubt you won’t find out.”

I frowned as Horus walked us single file through a small, thin tunnel and stopped us at an oak wood door. “Now this is the tricky part. If you don’t get it right there’s a booby trap. Adrian got this idea a few years ago when he tried to visit a friend in Hufflepuff and found out that they have their entrance rigged. You have to place your ring finger - doesn’t matter which - and then you say the password or else it won’t work. Also, the first door we went through has to be closed in order for this one to open.” He explained, placing his ring finger to the door. “Nora picked this one. Purple Garlic.” The door opened and voices could be heard.

We went in and my breath was taken away. It was surprisingly warm in here and yet there was no fireplace. There were tons of chairs and loveseats and couches all either in green or sliver. There were a few sleek looking blankets and various pillows scattered around. There were dark wooden tables where a few students were playing a game that kept creating tiny, colorful explosions. There were a few desks with comfortable looking chairs where you could work alone but there weren’t many. I saw a pair of older kids across the room sitting on the floor looking up at an angled and rounded glass wall that seemed to show an underwater scene. You could only see a few fish and plants but it was still really awesome. And the entire room was bathed in a blue-ish light from the glass wall that reminded me of the aquarium house at the zoo Dudley had dragged us in to see the sharks.

“Good you’re here.” Nora said. “Can you take the boys up to their dorm? We shouldn't hang out in the common room all night and be late for our first day.”

Horus nodded. “Come on guys. Let’s get you settled.” I joined the boys as we followed Horus out of the warm common room and down a hall that had a sign hanging from the top labeled ‘BOYS’. “If any girls try to enter this hallway they are instantly repelled. The same goes for their dorms. So keep that in mind.”

The other boys chuckled a little while Blaise got a look of deep concentration. I wondered why the girls weren’t allowed to visit us in our rooms and the other way around.

Horus stopped us at the first door which was labeled 'FIRST YEARS' and opened it for us. We filed in and saw six beds, all with large trunks at their ends and a nightstand on one side. There was a door that probably led to a bathroom that we would share. The other boys quickly claimed their beds, their trunks appearing the moment they decided. I walked over to the bed farthest from the bathroom and waited for my things to appear. It took a moment but they did. Well, my trunk did anyway.

“Horus? Where’s my owl?” I asked, getting a little nervous.

“Oh, all owls stay in the owlery. If you remind me I can take you tomorrow along with anyone else who wants to go. It has a nice view and you can hang out with your owls there.” He said. “I usually go on the first full day of term to make sure my owl is settling well so that’ll work great.”

“Okay, thank you.” I said.

“Alright boys, if that’s it I suggest you unpack. Classes start tomorrow, although they should be light for you first years.” Horus said, leaving.

I glanced at the other boys before I started taking my thinks out of my travel trunk and putting them neatly in the larger one at the end of my bed.

I started thinking about how I wanted things to fit, wondering if I should keep a few things in my trunk so that neither storage would be too full. I had three full set of robes and two muggle outfits that I figured I would pack just in case. I had my books and supplies but that was about it. Maybe I’d keep my muggle clothes in my travel trunk and shove it under my bed. Yeah, that sounded best.

“Hey Harry, we were going to head out to the common room and see if we could catch a glimpse of any mermaids.” Blaise said as I closed my bed trunk.

“Mermaids?” I asked.

He gave me a funny look down his nose. I knew it well. Lady Petunia gave that look to me all the time. When she was reminding me that she is better than me. I thought about what Horus had said and decided to ignore it for the time being. It was our first night after all. I didn't want to start a fuss already over a mere look.

“Yeah, you saw the glass in the common room right? Well that’s the bottom of the lake. Sometimes mermaids come up and talk to us in sign language.” He made that aristocratic sniff noise that Lady Petunia never got quite right, setting her apart from true aristocracy. “Of course my mother taught me a few beginning phrases that she remembers from her school years but we can translate for you.”

I debated between bonding with my housemates and possibly learning a bit of sign language or staying behind, possibly ruining any chance of friendship they were offering me right now just so I could go over some school books.

I decided that I could study tomorrow. I usually woke up early anyway.

“Yeah, I’ll come. We won’t get in trouble right?” I added on, suddenly worried. Horus hadn’t said anything about going to bed but Nora had certainly made it sound like we would be shown our rooms and then we’d sleep.

Blaise snorted. “Of course not, it’s only seven thirty. You’re not going to be that one school driven nut that ruins all our fun are you?”

I flushed and shook my head. I wouldn’t say nut but we were here to learn. I was just glad that the Dursleys had allowed me come.

“Good, now come along. Draco will be happy you agreed. It was his idea after all.”

My stomach warmed and ached. Maybe I had eaten too much at dinner. Then my throat burned and I clapped a hand to my mouth, rushing towards the thankfully empty bathroom. I slammed the door, turned, and luckily threw up into the toilet.

Once I was done I took deep breaths to calm myself, holding my head up and my bangs out of my eyes. I pulled off my glasses and placed them on the surprisingly clean floor. I had just ruined any chance I had with these boys.

“Ha, er, Potter?” Draco called and I could hear him gently tapping on the door.

I wiped my watering eyes, which was odd since I hadn’t cried in six years when Lord Vernon killed the snake I had hatched and then raised for three months. That had been the biggest mistake I had ever made until Dudley’s birthday this year.

“Potter are you alright in there?” He asked again.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I said, trying not to sound like I was crying. It was only a few tears, I don’t know what was wrong with me.

He was quiet and I assumed he had left. I picked up my glasses and put them back on, wiping away the tears. They were better then nothing.

“Can I come in Potter?” Draco asked, shocking me a bit. I thought he had left.

Why did he want to come in? “Uh, yeah. Sure.” I said. I didn’t think to lock the door anyway.

Draco came in slowly and saw me sitting stiffly on the floor next to the still flushing toilet. “Do… can I ask what happened?”

I shrugged, pulling my knees up as I pulled away from the toilet to seem a little more dignified. “I just ate too much. It happens.” I defended.

He gave me a questioning look. “Usually when I eat too much my stomach just hurts. I don’t go hurtling into the bathroom, puking my guts up for five minutes. And you barely ate anywhere near what the rest of us ate. Even the other years ate more then you, and they’ve eaten plenty of welcome feasts before.”

I shrugged again. I didn’t really know why other people could eat more then me. I guess it was habit to eat so little by now. Draco was quiet as he gingerly kneeled down next to me. We sat like that for a few minutes.

“Do you want to go see the mermaids now? The others went after you ran into here but we can probably still join them. I bet they haven’t seen any mermaids yet anyway.” Draco said.

Giving him a weak smile I shook my head. I was feeling like I had just spent a few days in my cupboard, no food. Nothing I couldn’t handle but while I could take it, I would rather rest up since I had the choice. “I’m sorry, you should go.” I said, getting slowly to my feet.

Draco gave me a lingering look, like he was studying me before he stood up and followed me out of the bathroom. “Are you sure?”

I nodded. “Yeah, not like one night would increase my chances of getting closer to you guys.” I blabbered. Oh god, I regretted talking already. Lord Vernon was right when he said I was smarter when I kept my mouth shut.

Draco looked scared now and I hurriedly tried to fix my mistake. “Honestly I’m fine. I’ve never had friends, why do I need them now? I plan on just focusing on my studies so that I get to come back.” I said. Somehow I had convinced myself that if I got good grades the Dursleys would have to keep sending me back. If nothing else, Hogwarts might try to keep me if I was a good student.

He nodded, his eyes still wide. “H-have a goodnight,” Draco said. He stared for another minute before all but running out of the door.

I sighed. So much for making friends. Maybe I should have slipped another apology in there too.

Opening my trunk, I looked at my school books and wondered what would be the most helpful. It would be great if I knew what classes I had tomorrow. Hmm, maybe Horus knew. But if I really felt like bothering him where could I find him? After what had just happened the common room was off limits and I didn’t know what year he was.

I groaned and let my gaze flick from ‘A Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1), probably the most essential and broad book out of the ones I had gotten or ‘Magical Drafts and Potions’, probably my favorite book. Although I would probably benefit the most from skimming through ‘A History of Magic’ again. I decided to go the neutral route and picked ‘One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi’. I could read ‘A History of Magic’ tomorrow.

Something tells me I’d have plenty of alone time to study.

Chapter Text

I woke up before the other boys in my year like I had assumed last night. They had returned around nine and I had pretended to be asleep, turning off the little key-chain flashlight that I had taken from amongst the various junk that filled Dudley’s second bedroom. It was one of the little things I had taken to try and make life a little easier here at Hogwarts. Now, though, now I knew that it would only set me apart even more.

Quietly I showered and dressed before grabbing ‘A History of Magic’ and headed out to the common room. Only few older kids were awake, quietly shuffling around the common room. Aside from one dark haired boy who was groggily making his way to the boys dorms, everyone looked awake. I guessed that these were the early risers and was ecstatic to see that Horus was among them.

I noted that he was talking to a brunette and decided that I could ask him my questions later but then he saw me. He smiled and waved me over.

“Bass, I want you to meet Harry. He’s the first year I was telling you about. Harry, this is my cousin Bass.” He said, introducing us.

I smiled at the tall, dark skinned brunette all curled up in a big green comfy chair with a sliver blanket over her lap and a white speckled mug of some warm drink in her hands.

She smiled back and held out her hand. “It’s nice to meet you Harry. Glad to have another member join the Early Risers.” she said in a nice warm voice.

Horus scowled. “I told you, we’re not calling ourselves that.”

Bass grinned at him. “Hey, I’m making progress. Last year you refused us having a name at all!”

I smiled, liking the calm banter. Bass seemed like a lively person but it was too early for that, even from an early riser. “So who was that grumpy looking boy? Not part of the Early Risers I take it?” I said. Bass beamed at me and Horus groaned.

“First off, we are not the Early Risers. And second, that was Marcus Flint.” Horus said.

“The boy who made the first password Oliver Tree?” I asked.

Horus nodded. “The very same.”

“Marcus is not part of the Early Risers. He was just coming back from… Quidditch practice with Oliver Wood,” Bass said, winking.

Horus groaned again. “Stop trying to corrupt the young Bass! You’re only a fifth year! Let them learn on their own.” Bass let out a few soft giggles that floated nicely through the common room.

I wanted to question as to what Bass was obviously hinting at but I didn’t want to aggravate Horus.

“Horus, I had a question.”

“Oh Merlin, yes, anything.” he said. Bass giggled again.

“Do you maybe know what my first classes are? I kind of want to be prepared and I didn’t know what to read up on.” I said.

“Ooo, a studious first year. Now that’s a rare sight,” Bass said.

I flushed, wondering if this was a bad thing.

“Now, now nothing to be ashamed of. Honestly, I’m glad one of the kids are looking forward to studying cause I hate seeing the wake up calls the come near the end of the year when exams descend upon us. What’s worse is sometimes I've triggered those wake up calls.” Horus said, shuddering. “Anyway, your first classes should be - let’s see it’s Monday - you should have Transfiguration before lunch and then Herbology with the Ravenclaws. after lunch. You have time in-between lunch and Herbology which I think is awesome because the greenhouses are quite the hike from the castle.” He sighed forlornly. "I wish I still had that time."

“Ugh, I know. I usually leave half an hour early if I don’t have another class in the way,” Bass said, sipping her drink.

“Wow, I’ll keep that in mind.” I said. “Thank you for the tips, I’m going to go switch out my books then.”

Horus and Bass smiled at me. “No problem, it’s what we’re here for,” Horus said.

Bass kicked his knee. “Speak for yourself Prefect.”

Horus laughed. “Don’t listen to her, she loves helping people out. Makes her feel important.”

Bass rolled her eyes and let out a dramatic sigh. “It’s true, but let’s keep that within the Early Riser club.” she said, winking as she drank from her mug.

I grinned back at her and in that moment, no matter how much my year mates hated me, I loved my house.

 

---

 

Horus, Bass, and the rest of the early risers took me down to breakfast before the rest of my year had left our room. I doubted that all of them were still asleep but they had stayed in our room for some reason.

I enjoyed eating breakfast almost more than I enjoyed last night’s feast. It was quieter, with only a handful of people from each house awake. If I had to guess, I’d say there were the most Ravenclaws awake and they didn’t have the pleasant awake look that my fellow Slytherins had. I noticed they most of them were drinking coffee as they read or practiced spells, which mesmerized me. It was amazing to see magic in action.

“Horus, do you think I’ll do okay in my classes?” I asked over my scrambled eggs and my transfiguration book.

He looked over at me and smiled. “Of course Harry. You’re a wizard, you can do this.”

I smiled and went back to my school book.

 

It was a while before the rest of my year came down together in a clump with the rest of the older kids, Nora being one of them.

To my surprise, Blaise and Theo sat next to me, along with Jana and Millicent. They all started talking but it surprised me that they started to include me as well!

“What are you reading Harry?” Millicent asked.

I cleared my throat and looked down at my book, trying to recall which was currently in my hands. Horus had advised I bring two since he knew we would be down here for a while before the others came. “I’m reading 'A Beginners’ Guide to Transfiguration’ since that’s our first class today.” I said.

“That’s a great idea, I’ve only skimmed over my books although I’m excited for History of Magic,” Jana said.

Blaise and Theo groaned. “History is the most boring thing they teach here.” Blaise said.

I tried for a playful frown, hoping it came across right. “I think it’ll be interesting but I’m more excited for potions. I’ve always loved cooking and brewing seems to be along those lines.” I admitted.

“I’m most excited for Transfiguration.” Millicent said.

“No way, DADA is going to be the best,” Theo said, Blaise nodding in agreement.

Jana rolled her eyes at me. “Boys. They’re the same everywhere.”

I smiled, closing my book since it seemed they wanted to talk with me. This was a nice surprise, considering I was assumed that I was going to be an outcast in my year.

Then an owl screeched. I looked up, wondering if it was stuck somewhere when I almost got hit in the head with a rolled up newspaper.

“Woah, that was a close one.” Millicent said.

“Oh come on.” Blaise complained, picking the paper out from a bowl of syrup. “Of course everything is fine expect for my Quidditch section. Stupid owls.” He muttered, shaking the paper and glaring up at the tons of owls now flying around the Great Hall..

I glanced at it curiously. There had to be something I could learn from it. It would do me good to get some more modern culture ideas. “Do you mind if I read that?” I asked, pointing.

Blaise shook his head. “Not at all. Nothing interesting though now that the Quidditch is unreadable.”

I smiled, taking the newspaper and going right for the first page. What better place to start then the beginning?

===

GRINGOTTS ROBBED? Its more likely than you think.
the goblin run wizarding bank Gringotts was broken into on…

===

I paused. “Is it normal for Gringotts to get robbed?”

Blaise spit out his milk all over Theo, who grimaced but pulled out his wand and somehow cleaned himself up. I believe it was a Scorgify charm but it could have been a Spongy spell as well.

“How the-”

“What’s going on firsties?” Nora asked, cutting Blaise off.

Jana smiled up at her. “Blaise was just about to tell us how Gringotts could have been robbed.”

Nora glanced at Blaise but nodded. “Yes, I read about that. It’s crazy that vault had been emptied earlier that day. Talk about a coincidence.”

I stared at the vault number. It was the very same one that Hagrid had taken me too. Who would want to steal that grungy little bag though? It couldn’t have contained much money right? Who knows

Then a letter dropped in front of me, my name scrawled on it in big messy handwriting. It was from Hagrid. I smiled and vowed to visit him this weekend once school had finished.

---

“Alright, does anyone want to head up to the owlry?” Horus asked. “I only have a enough time to get you guys to there before I’ll have to split for my own classes.”

I bit my lip. I didn’t want to make Horus rush to class and I certainly didn’t want to make him late.

“If its alright with you I’d love to see my owl,” Draco said.

I glanced over to him, grateful that he had spoken up first but he was steadfastly ignoring me. “I would like to go as well, if you don't mind. If you don't have time that's alright too,” I said. Theo and Vincent chimed in in agreement and we were off.

“I’m sorry if I’m going a bit fast but I really don’t want to be late for Professor McGonagall’s class. She doesn’t take kindly to anyone being late and don’t even make me bring up skipping.” Horus said.

“It’s quite alright,” Draco said, his voice silky and calm. He was giving Horus a nice, understanding smile.

“You guys are too forgiving.” Horus said. “TEMPUS, alright, looks like I’m going to have to leave you here. Just head up those steps and the first door you see.” He instructed, giving me a friendly clap on the shoulder that made me flinch. “Think you can handle it?”

“Of course, thank you for showing us,” Draco said.

The others didn’t wait for Horus to retreat out of view, merely turned and walked up the stairs. I glanced at the running blond, bag thumping against his back before I followed them.

I stayed behind a bit, glancing out the windows that sat at the landings. The others boys were talking about that Quittach game.

“Harry?”

I looked up at the other boys. “Oh, I’m sorry Theo. I wasn’t paying attention.” I said.

He snorted. “I noticed. We were just asking if you knew about Quidditch.”

I froze, my hands clenching as I glanced at Draco. “Ah, no not really.” I admitted. I didn’t want to say yes and then be questioned only for them to find out I knew nothing.

“Well that’s perfectly okay.” Draco said hurriedly. “We can teach you all about it.”

I smiled, jogging up the few steps between us so that I looked apart of the group. “Thank you,” I said.

Draco looked away and Vincent answered instead. “It’s no problem Harry. Now, Quidditch is the best game out there.”

Chapter Text

“Ohhh, I’m so nervous, but also excited,” Jana squealed next to me, her arm wound around mine as she carried her bag in the other.

We had filled the time we had before Transfiguration with studying and chatting. Blaise had insisted on teaching me how to play exploding snap, which was fun once I got used to the explosions and the fact that they didn’t hurt. I still couldn’t stop flinching each time though.

“I know, it’s going to be awesome,” I agreed, smiling.

Blaise scoffed. “Come on. It’s just a little spell work.”

I shared an eye roll with Jana and we kept talking back and forth, Millicent sometimes commenting while Theo kept quiet - trying to seem uninterested like Blaise. I looked behind me where they were bringing up the rear of our half of the group while Draco and the rest of the first year Slytherins lagged a bit behind. Aside from Tracey Davis that is, she stayed evenly between both 'groups'.

Draco was listening to Pansy chatting about something while Greg and Vincent were as stoic as ever. Lily seemed content to just listen in, laughing occasionally when Pansy said something funny. Or at least- I assumed it was funny - only Lily laughed so I couldn’t be sure. Daphne Greengrass seemed to be half listening to the conversation but mostly doing her own thing.

Draco looked up and we locked eyes before he quickly looked away, back to Pansy.

I turned back to the Slytherins that had currently decided to gather around me.

---

“Very good Mr. Nott. Miss Greengrass, a little firmer please. Mr. Malfoy, keep it up. Your match is shimmering a little.” Professor McGonagall critiqued.

Jana and I were at the same table, trying to change our matches into sewing needles. “I think you’re doing great. I’m even detecting a little silvery hue right at the end there,” she encouraged.

I shook my head and cupped my hands over top of my clearly-still-a-match so I could block out the slivery light of the room.

“Well… keep practicing?” she tried. I gave her a smile and went back to it.

I couldn’t help but feel that something was off, and I had a headache from holding my wand for so long. To be honest, I hadn’t touched it for a while - not once I realized the Dursleys were leaving me alone whether I had the wand out or not - so this was all my fault for not building up a tolerance yet.

Carefully I placed my wand down and the shooting pain turned into dull throbbing. I picked up my quill and started writing down some notes on my parchment like Professor McGonagall had instructed. We were supposed to write down how it made us feel, if we knew what was going wrong, and how we could fix it. Sadly I couldn't figure out a true solution to my problem. It was probably just me being weak, unable to handle the magic properly.

“Alright, hand in your parchments and you are free to go.” Professor McGonagall announced a few minutes later. “Don’t forget to read pages twelve to twenty six. It would also be beneficial if you practiced outside of the classroom as well.”

I nodded, determined to practice until I got it right. No, I would practice until I didn’t get it wrong. I had plenty of time today, and I don’t think Horus would object to me practicing in the mornings either.

“Come on Harry,” Blaise said, somehow already packed and ready. Theo was just slugging his bag over his shoulder too.

I looked at my supplies all over my space and spilling over into Jana’s workspace as well. I didn’t even know how, I only had two pieces of parchment, my wand, needle, my ink well, and my quill. I had brought a ballpoint pen that I had found in Dudley’s room but after seeing everyone else - even Jana - using only their quills, I tucked it away. I sheepishly started cleaning when I looked up and saw that Draco’s workspace was very neat and organized as he carefully put everything away in his bag with it’s dozens of pockets.

“Let’s go slow poke,” Millicent chimed in.

I frowned, looking at my things and the notes I still had to give in. “You go ahead, I’ll catch up. I think I can find my way to the Great Hall in time for lunch,” I said, ungracefully scooping up my things.

They all glanced at each other but shrugged, throwing me a last glance before leaving. “I’ll make sure to save you a seat,” Jana said, making me smile.

I heaved my bag onto my shoulder before picking up my parchment to give to Professor McGonagall. I walked up, placing it on her desk along with the pile of other ones. I hesitated, picking at a button on my robes while Greg and Vincent handed in theirs. I noticed that Vincent had two in his hand, the one on top labeled ‘Draco L. Malfoy’.

I couldn’t help but wonder what the L stood for. I didn’t even know my own middle name to be honest. The Dursleys never told me. I only know my last name because they didn’t want anyone to think I was too closely related to them.

“Can I help you Mister Potter?” Professor McGonagall asked, gathering up our parchments.

“Uh, well, I was wondering… is it normal for a wand to hurt?” I asked. I couldn’t help it, I had to know.

She gave me an odd look. “Of course not, that would mean the wand is an inadequate conductor for the user. Why ever would you think to ask such a question?”

I flushed and scratched my neck. “I’m sorry.” I said. It never worked with the Dursleys but I couldn’t help but try.

“Harry, if your wand is hurting you why didn’t you say something sooner?” She asked.

My stomach started rolling and I wondered if magic punishments were worse then Muggle punishments. “It’s fine, I’m fine, I’m sorry. I’ll just leave now. I’m sorry.” I turned to race to the door but Professor McGonagall chanted a few words and it slammed shut before I could dart through.

I pressed myself to the door and ducked my head. “I’m sorry.” I said.

“Mister Potter if you’ll just look at me you’ll see that I mean you no harm, though Merlin forbid I cannot fathom what you’ve been through in order for this to be your reaction.” She said. “Why, you are one of the worst cases I’ve seen in quite a while.”

What? There were other kids like me? “W-what do you mean?” I asked, not looking up.

She sighed and I heard her robes swishing. “Have lunch with me Mister Potter and we can talk,” she said.

Meekly, I brought my gaze up and saw her pitying face as she gestured to one of the desks. I crept over and sat, placing my bag on the floor between my legs. Its what I had to do in school or else the other kids would either steal my things or give me little ‘surprises’ which mostly consisted of mean notes or broken things. I don’t know why I did it now when I had been perfectly fine placing my bag on the desk earlier.

Professor McGonagall pulled a chair around from the two person desk in front of me and sat down. There was a sudden crack and a short, wrinkly… person appeared, wearing what looked like a pillowcase. It had long floppy ears and a long pointed nose and big, bug eyes. “What can Nil do for Mistress?” it - he? asked.

“Just lunch for two please thank you Nil.” Professor McGonagall said. Nil nodded and vanished with another crack. “I do apologize but it will be far better than any food I conjure up. For some reason conjured food never tastes just right, although that may just be my preference.” she said.

“May I ask who that was?” I said, still a little taken aback by the noises and sudden appearance of the wrinkly toddler.

“My Harry, sometimes it is easy to forget that you of all people know so little about our world.” she said. “That was a house elf. They’re a bit like maids and butlers. Here at Hogwarts they do all of the cooking and what cleaning that the castle doesn’t take care of itself.”

I looked at the spot where Nil had disappeared. “Do they like it?” I asked.

Professor McGonagall nodded. “I’ve never heard a complaint out of a Hogwarts house elf before. They seem to like it well enough as they are treated well here. Some in other places are not.”

I was like a house elf.

“So Harry, there are a million ways we can do this but two of the simplest and easiest are either you tell me about your home life or I ask you questions and all you have to do is answer them. Would you prefer to find a different way?” she asked.

I looked down at the table, digging a nail into the surface. Something I would never have done at home but got away with at school and Mrs. Figg’s. “Can we do the question thing?” I asked.

She nodded. “Of course, we’ll start off simple. Do you live in the house with your aunt and uncle?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have a bed?”

I wondered if they would still let me have Dudley’s second room when I had to go back to them. “Yes.”

“Did you always have a bed?”

She obviously heard my hesitation. “…no.”

“This isn’t going to be a yes or no question so be warned. Where did you sleep before you were given a bed?” she asked, very kindly preparing me.

“In the cupboard under the stairs.” I whispered, not able to look up.

There was a moments pause before she continued. “Do you get beat?”

“I’d never learn,” I said, wincing at how pathetic I sounded. It felt shameful that my teacher knew that I messed up so bad so many times.

“Oh Harry,” she said, her voice softening. I glanced up over my glasses at her. “Would you still like to continue?”

I shrugged. Part of me wanted to be done but the other part of me wanted to get this over with. I had a feeling that even if I didn’t want to keep going Professor McGonagall would want to talk again at some other point. “Can we just get this over?” I asked quietly.

“Of course. Do you get fed?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you eat three square meals everyday?”

“…no.” I said.

She sighed. “Harry, I would like you to visit Madam Pomfry when we are done here. She is the school’s nurse and I would like to have her examine you. I can go with you and explain to her if you would like.”

“Please Professor,” I said, not wanting to have to explain twice.

“Of course, but let us finish here. Nil should be back with lunch any moment.”

There was a loud crack.

---

Professor McGonagall had questioned me on every aspect of my life and she hadn’t even forgotten about my wand troubles. She had taken my wand to hold so that there was no chance of me using it and getting a headache again.

She knew all about my cooking and cleaning and gardening and… and my punishments.

Which is why we were quietly making our way to the infirmary. Professor McGonagall had asked Nil to take my things to my room while she had given me a few boxes that contained ‘important information’ to hold. Instead of looking like Professor McGonagall was escorting me to my doom, it now looked as though I was simply helping her deliver a few things.

Once we entered the infirmary we found Madam Pomfrey already attending to another student. It was a Hufflepuff boy, Justin if I was correct.

“I’ll be right with you,” Madam Pomfrey said, bandaging up Justin’s arm.

Professor McGonagall sat me down on a bed, the supplies sitting next to me. I kept my head down, looking at my hands and how my robes fit perfectly. I had Draco to thank for that.

“You’ll be fine but come to me after dinner so that I can change your poultice and then again after breakfast tomorrow. If anything changes come see me immediately.” Madam Pomfrey instructed and Justin nodded.

Madam Pomfrey bustled over to us. “Alright, now what seems to be the problem?” She asked.

“It’s nothing Poppy, I just have a few abnormal supplies for you and Mister Potter thought he could be of use.” Professor McGonagall said.

Madam Pomfrey gave me a look that made me think Professor McGonagall had somehow told her everything without saying anything. “Come along dears, I have just the place for abnormal supplies,” she said, gesturing for us to follow.

Justin gave me a questioning look as we passed by each other, the box once again in my arms. Quickly, I looked away as if what we were going to do would show in my face even though I had no real clue as to what would happen next.

Madam Pomfrey ushered us into her office and closed the door behind us.

There was a desk crammed full of books and magical items. At least I guessed they were magical as I didn’t recognize them but then again I hadn’t gone to a doctor in… well I don’t know. There were three large comfy chairs in here, one behind the desk the other two in front of it. I noted there was a nicely made bed in the corner and I guessed that it was Madam Pomfrey’s since I didn’t see any doors leading to a bed chamber.

“Starvation and abuse Poppy.” Professor McGonagall said.

“Yes, I can see the malnourishment. A boy your age shouldn’t be this tiny, not when I know your genes.” Madam Pomfrey said, eyeing me.

I flushed, weather I should be embarrassed or curious. Madam Pomfrey knew my parents?

“Okay Harry, I’m going to ask you to lay down on the bed over there so I can cast a detection spell. Is it alright if I ask you to take off your robes and shoes?” she asked gently.

“Yeah, that’s fine,” I said a little quieter than I meant to. I shrugged off my robes to show the loose hand-me-downs underneath that hid just how skinny I was. I toed off my beaten trainers to reveal the filthy socks that had at least three holes each.

“I’d say neglect as well Minerva,” Madam Pomfrey said, eyeing the pants all but slipping off my frame. Professor McGonagall simply nodded. She knew that I didn’t have any clothes that fit because she had asked that already.

“Alright Harry, can you please take your glasses off as well?” she asked. I slipped them off and folded them, once again surprised when they folded correctly instead of sticking out and being all uneven. I should really thank Hermione for that.

“Here, I can take them,” Professor McGonagall said, holding out her hand to let me drop them in.

“Come lie on the bed Harry, I promise this won’t hurt a bit. You’ll feel like you have to sneeze but it just won’t come out, alright?” she explained.

I nodded, thinking about how weird magic was. A sneeze that was stuck? Why was that a side effect? I sat on the bed, wondering if I had to be on my back or stomach.

“Your back is preferable Harry,” Professor McGonagall said, probably seeing my hesitation.

“Thank you,” I said before doing as she said.

“I’d like for you to keep your eyes open Harry, can you do that for me?” Madam Pomfrey asked.

“Yes Madam,” I said staring the flat stone ceiling. Without my glasses it all looked like one mass with some lighter splotches here and some darker ones there that I knew where caused by the lighting in the room.

Madam Pomfrey gave me a smile. “Please call me Poppy. Now I’m going to do the spell alright?” I nodded, watching as she pulled out a cool, red-ish wand that sparkled a little when the light hit it.

"Dédection malato” Mada- Poppy chanted as she slowly dragged her wand through the air above my body.

Oddly enough it did feel like I had to sneeze. This made it harder to keep my eyes open but I pressed my tongue to the roof of my mouth - a trick I had learned years ago after I had ruined a special dinner for the Durselys because I had a cold and kept sneezing.

It helped but only a little. This was by far the most intense pre-sneeze feel I had experienced.

“We’re - we’re done,” Poppy said, her voice shaking.

“You may get up now Harry,” Professor McGonagall said.

I sat up, wondering what I did. They almost sounded scared of me.

“Poppy? What did it say?” Professor McGonagall asked.

Poppy was looking at her wand, or rather the blue see through screen that had appeared above her wand. “Harry… I am so sorry.” she said.

Chapter Text

Madam Pomfrey prescribed nutrition potions for me to take every night for a week and she gave me panic prevention potion for emergencies. Of course, that was after I had a panic attack - something Professor McGonagall calmly explained to me - from Madam Pomfrey touching my scars. Even though she was careful and gentle it… well it scared me I guess. Although I didn’t like to admit it.

I didn’t even know why I freaked out. She was merely touching old wounds. Professor McGonagall said that it could be the stress of the whole situation and Madam Pom-Poppy agreed but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to believe them. Maybe I was just weak like Lady Petunia always told me.

Poppy also gave me new glasses and contacts to try if I wanted. I had asked if there was a spell or something that could fix them but she explained that people were still working on that kind of magic. They had a long, complicated procedure that wasn’t very safe yet. Neither Professor McGonagall nor Poppy were willing to take a chance like that on me.

She had also agreed with Professor McGonagall that I should not be using my wand. Madam Pomfrey told me that she herself would take me to get a new wand, and not from Olivander’s. I could only hope that we managed to go before I had another class where I would need a wand. Nevertheless Professor McGonagall and Poppy both signed a permission slip. Excusing me from any wand work. I hoped that I wouldn’t need to use it. Other people would ask questions that I didn’t want to answer.

Professor McGonagall had to leave for her next class, which left me to race over to Herbology alone with my late slip. I was huffing and puffing by the time I reached greenhouse one and I was fifteen minutes late.

I slid into the green house, wary of all the stares. I kept my head down and stared at some purple plants with yellow nettles. They were Purple Recons if I was correct. The sap used to make portkeys carefully protected inside the poison coated nettles. I smiled when I saw the label and caution sign that confirmed my deduction. I might not have had time to study again before class but I had read some of my books before hand so I shouldn’t be too unprepared.

We had double Herbology with the Ravenclaws so there were unfamiliar eyes staring at me, eyes I couldn’t explain to later. Wait, did I want to explain to my house why I was late? I shuddered at the thought. No one had been mean but I was getting a few glares from Pansy and some of the Ravenclaws students.

I walked up the center isle and approached Professor Sprout’s desk. I placed the envelope in front of her while she regarded me with a stink eye.

She - thankfully - withheld her scolding until she knew what she was scolding me for and grabbed my late slip. It opened up to reveal a shimmering red card and Professor Sprout gasped, triggering murmurs behind me.

Professor Sprout looked up at me and nodded. “You may join table five Mister Potter,” she said.

I nodded and turned, looking for some sign that would show me which table was table five. I hadn’t noticed any numbers before, although I had been avoiding looking at anyone.

A Ravenclaw waved me over to their table where another Ravenclaw and Lily Moon stood.

“It’s nice to-”

“Skip the pleasantries Entwhistle. I’m Stephen Cornfoot and this is Kevin. Don’t be late again,” the other Ravenclaw interrupted.

“Oh, uh yeah.” I said, looking down as I tucked my bag under the desk like everyone else. Madam Pomfrey had summoned Nil to retrieve it for me as she wrote up my late note.

I looked at the odd watermelon plant on our table. It was shaped like one but instead of having that one small patch of yellow where it had sat in the fields, it had yellow splotches all over. And purple speckles if you looked closely.

Honestly, I was still marveling at how much I could see with my new glasses. Where there really people who could see like this all the time without glasses? I had been able to see individual leaves! I didn’t know that was a thing!

“Potter?” I looked up at Kevin’s questioning face. “I was just asking why you were late.”

Uh-oh. What did I say? I couldn’t tell him the truth. “Shut it Entwhistle, it doesn’t matter. Let’s just get this done.” Cornfoot said, pulling on his dragon-hide gloves and grabbing the watermelon. He picked up a large knife, held it in the air before giving us a look. “You might want to cover your noses.” And then he brought the knife down and sliced the watermelon in half.

Instead of it being solid inside, it was filled with gas. It wasn’t particularly smelly but I could see why Cornfoot thought to warn us. If you weren’t expecting a shock, you would have been taken completely aback.

“Alright, I can see that all of you have cut open your gasmelons. Now I want you to scoop out the seeds, which should take you the better part of class.” Professor Sprout informed us with a hearty chuckle.

I wondered why taking out some seeds would take us almost a whole hour.

---

I learned why taking seeds out of a gas-melon takes almost a whole hour.

---

“Ugh, I am so hungry,” Blaise complained, plopping down next to me.

“I second that,” Jana said.

Theo rolled his eyes as he sat in the space next to me, forcing Jana to scoot over. “So Harry, care to tell us why you were late to Herbology on your first day?” he asked.

I felt slight panic well up in my chest. “I just got lost after Professor McGonagall let me go and I made the mistake of asking Peeves for directions,” I lied.

Blaise burst out laughing. “Peeves the Poltergeist? Great Salthazar why would you ask him of all ghosts?”

I flushed and shrugged, although the panic faded slightly now that the questions had stopped. Theo gave me a look but then the food showed up and I remembered something Professor McGonagall had said.

“Hey guys, do you know if our food is conjured or not?” I asked.

“Oh please tell me your not one of those conspiracy theorists.” Millicent said, scooping some cranberry sauce onto her mashed potatoes. “Of course it’s not conjured. It’s simply apparition from the kitchens to our tables. Seriously Harry, read a book.”

Everyone looked down at the copy of ‘One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi’ in my hand and burst out laughing.

“Come on Harry, how about we head to the library after dinner and you can grab a few books on Hogwarts to help orient yourself.” Jana said. “It’s what I’ve been doing. I managed to convince my parents to let me get a few extra books so that I could be as prepared as I want but sadly they didn’t fit in my trunk or I would let you borrow mine.”

I smiled. “That sounds great. I’d love to.”

“Perfect, would anyone else like to come?”

In the end, Millicent, Theo, and surprisingly Greg had decided to join us on our post-dinner book run.

We all headed out, after getting cornered and questioned by Nora of course. She finally gave her permission when we promised to be back well before curfew.

“So I’m thinking ‘A History of Magic Schools’ would be a good place to start. Oh, and ‘Hogwarts, a History’ too.” Jana said. “Any suggestions Mill?”

“You should look for ‘Hogwarts; Through Muggle Eyes’. It’s written by a Muggleborn and mentions lots of things people who grow up with magic take for granted.” She said. “You might learn more about magic in general with that one too.”

Jana nodded. “That sounds helpful. I might read it after you Harry.”

“Is no one going to ask our opinion?” Theo asked.

Jana laughed. “I thought you two just came along to stay out of the common room for a while. Maybe explore.”

Theo scoffed. “As curious as I am about exploring, I’ll do it on a night we don’t have to wake up at four in the morning for Astrology the next day. I’m not that incompetent.”

“Fair point,” I said.

“So do you have any recommendations?” Jana asked, steering us back to our previous topic.

Theo thought for a moment before answering. “Yeah, you should try ‘Explaining Magic to Your Muggle’. It’s basically a simplified and broken down way of thinking about magic. I found it insightful when I was younger although my parents took it away before I could finish it.”

“I enjoyed ‘Hogwarts’ Secrets’.” Greg piped up before we could settle into a Pureblood induced silence. “It’s all about the little things in Hogwarts. It’s a small book but really interesting. I’m not even really sure it’s a legitimate book as I’ve never seen it anywhere else and the only people we can credit are The Marauders. The only reason I’ve already read it is because I had a cousin who brought it back for the holidays and I borrowed it.”

Okay, Greg just won the cool award. Seriously, The Marauders? They sounded awesome! I smiled at the Slytherins who had chosen to befriend me despite the odds I had stacked against me. “Thank you, all of these sound really awesome and helpful.”

---

“Do you think it’s over here?” I asked.

Millicent shook her head. “No, it’s magic-a-tized. The people who had more magic are in the front while the least powerful are in the back.”

Jana made some grumbling noises that didn’t sound very nice as she scanned shelves above her head. I imagine it had something to do with the maigcal bigotry.

“So what’s the last one?” Theo asked, flipping through a purple book labeled ‘Dead to Me; How to Escape a Pureblood Family Alive’.

“We’re just looking for ‘Hogwarts, a History’ now,” Greg said, putting back a stack of four books. I noticed that he was carefully placing them back in their correct places and I couldn’t help but wonder how wrongly I had judged him.

“I’m going to ask Miss Pince,” Jana said, shoving back the book she had been retrieving.

Theo and Greg shared a look and shook their head. “It’s best not to bother her.” Theo warned.

“Why not? This is her job isn’t it?” Jana said.

Theo shrugged hesitantly. “Well yeah but no one ever asks her for help finding things. There are rumors that she’ll sooner kiss Flinch then help a kid find the correct book.” He said.

I rolled my eyes. “Come on, it’s Hogwarts. It has to be better than Muggle public school.” I said.

Greg’s eyes widened. “I don’t know how those Muggle school’s do things but at Hogwarts, not everything is better.”

I stared at him, wondering just what he meant. “You big baby’s, I’m just going to go up and ask her. If she doesn’t find the right book then that’s the worst case-scenario. It’s not like I can get detention by asking for help with finding a book.” Jana said, huffing off.

I didn’t really believe Theo’s theory but Greg and Millicent stayed. I rolled my eyes and followed Jana to the desk where Miss Pince was reading.

“Excuse me Ma’am, I was just wondering where I could find ’Hogwarts, a History’.” Jana said politely and quietly.

Miss Pince looked at us through her glasses with a smile. “I’m so sorry dears but another student has already checked this book out.”

“Drat, thank you anyway. Would it be alright if I asked who? Maybe we can ask to borrow it when they’re done,” Jana said.

“That’ll be fine with me, as long as it ends up back here at the end of the year.” Miss Pince said. She looked down at a large book spread out on the desk. “One first year Hermione Granger checked this book out.”

Jana gave her best smile. “Thank you so much for your help.” Then she led us back to the others, letting out a groan the minute we were out of Miss Pince’s earshot.

“What?” I asked.

“I know this is going to sound crazy but I used to know Hermione when we were younger.” Jana said. “I lived on her block and we went to school together. And yeah, maybe this next part is a little stupid but she gave me her juice box when some bully stole mine and I’ve never forgotten it but she’s forgotten all about me.”

I frowned, not wanting to see Jana all upset like this. “Maybe she does remember you.”

“No,” she answered, shaking her head. “I already tried to talk with her on the train. Luckily I managed to make it look like I thought she was someone else. But oh boy was it embarrassing.”

“Do you want me to ask for the book? We were going to get it for me anyway.” I said.

Jana shrugged as we approached the rest of the group. “I’m guessing I was right?” Theo said.

“No, Miss Pince was actually very helpful.” I said. “Someone else already checked it out.”

“Oh, well that’s one rumor we can put to rest.” he said, looking a tad disappointed. “Anyway, who took it?”

“Hermione Granger,” Jana said.

“That bushy haired Gryffindor?” Millicent asked, helping me pick up my other books.

“Pardon you, she pulls it off,” Jana defended.

“Hermione gave Jan a juice box when they were little and she really imprinted on her,” I explained to Millicent's confused stare.

Theo and Greg looked curious. “What’s a juice box?” Greg asked.

Here we go. “Just listen to the name!” Jana said. “It’s juice in a box! Juice box!”

The boys flinched back, muttering apologies.

“Really guys, didn’t you learn your lesson after the spray cheese?” Millicent said.

“Anyway,” I interrupted, trying to stop this fight before it started, “I’m going to ask Hermione at breakfast if I can borrow it when she’s done.”

Theo nodded. “You can ask later. You have plenty of books to occupy you for the night at least.”

We all chuckled even as I protested. “I can’t read that fast.”

Theo rolled his eyes and handed me a stack. “Sure, and I’m Salthazar.”

“Who’s that?” I asked. It sounded vaguely familiar but I couldn’t pin it down.

“Here,” Greg said, placing another book on my stack. “ ‘Hogwarts Founders’. That should help some.”

“Thanks,” I said, following Jan and Mil as they led the way to Miss Pince to check out our books.

Chapter Text

Harry PoV

“Alright, I’m being smart and going to bed.” Millicent said. “Who else has more than a few brain cells?”

Blaise stood up stretching. “Me. Geez I’m tired just thinking of waking up at four. That’s the arse crack of dawn.”

“Language,” Jan chided, closing her own books.

Blaise rolled his eyes. “Four in the morning is the tail crack of dawn. Better?”

“Boys,” Jana said, rolling her eyes back.

“I second that,” Millicent said.

Theo huffed. “Excuse you, Blaise doesn’t represent all boys. Harry and I are very civil. And I know for a fact that Draco Malfoy is a true gentleman.”

At that I couldn’t but glance over the common room at the blond in question. His friends were cleaning up as well but it looked like he would stay out for a bit longer as none of his things were being put away. He looked completely focused on his work, some strands of hair finally detaching themselves from the rest and brushing his eyes. I noticed that he was biting his lip just a bit and then froze before stopping only to do it again. It seemed as though he was working on breaking the habit.

“Harry?”

“I’m sorry,” I said immediately.

Jana and Millicent gave me concerned and questioning looks. “Come on mate, I think you need some rest. It‘s been an exciting day,” Theo said, glancing over at Draco.

I looked back at him too. “Yeah… you’re probably right.” I said. I gathered up my things and followed Blaise and Theo, saying farewell to the girls at their hallway.

After I changed and used the bathroom, I carefully placed my things away, arranging it so that I had the books I both needed and wanted for tomorrow easily accessible. Then I remembered the nutrition potions.

I didn’t really want to take tonight’s right here in front of everyone, and Blaise was in the bathroom - not to mention the other boys had to have their turn as well. Maybe I could go out to the hallway. Or I should just close the curtains on my bed and take it there. But what if it was disgusting and I made a coughing noise? How could I play that off?

Going to the hall should be the safest. Carefully I slipped the vial into my pocket and headed for the door.

“Where are you going Harry?” Theo asked.

I froze, not expecting anyone to notice my departure. “Oh uh, I just forgot a book in the common room. I’ll be right back.” I said, giving him a little wave as I quickly escaped. Maybe I should have just risked going into the bathroom again.

I slumped against the wall and took a deep breath to slow my beating heart. That was close. I hated lying, it always resulted in punishment once the Dursleys found out. Just years of discipline has beaten it into me I guess.

Checking to make sure the coast was clear I quickly downed the pale green potion. Sure enough, I was launched into a coughing fit, feeling like I was hacking up a lung and nearly dropping the vial.

“Wow that stuff is strong,” I said.

“What-”

I turn and locked eyes with Draco Malfoy - his grey eyes wide when they fell to the now empty potion in my hand. Before I could explain or say anything he was racing back to the common room. I didn’t know if I should follow him or retreat into the room.

Before I could decide Horus was yelling for me to stop as he ran down the hall to me. My heart was pounding in my ears and I couldn’t breath. He didn’t look like Lord Vernon but he didn’t look happy either. I tried to slow my ragged breathing, trying desperately to drag in some air but it was like I could already feel the punishment.

“Harry, Draco said he saw you taking a vial of some unidentified potion. I demand that you tell me what you took.” Horus said, wand in his lowered but ready hand.

I felt my eyes sting as I managed to get my breathing under control. “It’s a nutrition potion from Madam Pomfrey I promise,” I said, handing him the vial.

He examined it and gave me an apologetic look. “I’m sorry Harry. Draco ran to me in a panic, saying how you were taking a strong potion. I think he was worried someone had managed to poison you on your first day.” Horus said.

No longer feeling like I needed my panic potion as well, I shrugged. “I don’t think anyone would try anything like that yet.” I said, wiping my eyes. “But please don’t tell anyone I need these. Especially not Draco.”

Horus studied me but nodded, handing the vial back. “You have my word but I recommend taking these in a more hidden place. Maybe wait until everyone else is in bed and head into the bathroom to take it. Or you can come to me. Slytherin has a secret room if one of our students needs help or to just get away. Being a prefect I know the password and where it is.”

“Thank you,” I said, tucking the vial into my pocket. Then I remembered my lie. “You don’t happen to have a book I can borrow do you? I promise I’ll give it back in the morning, it’s just - I told Theo that I forgot a book so I could come out here and take my potion.”

“Of course, follow me,” Horus said.

Following my house prefect, we re-entered the common room and made our way over to a group of older kids - Bass being one of them. “Hey Harry, I thought you had already gone up to your dorm.” Bass said as Horus picked through his stack of novels.

“Yeah, I was just hoping to borrow a book of Horus’ that I couldn’t find in the library earlier. I was lucky he has a copy.” I lied.

Bass smiled. “He does have an extensive library of his own. What book is it?”

Abort! Abort! “Uh,”

“Here it is, ‘Magical Beings’ just like you asked,” Horus said, handing me a purple book on the slimmer side. Eighty or ninety pages. Larger than the Marauders book Greg found for me.

“Ooo that’s a good one but I have to ask, what piqued your interest Harry? As far as I remember my first DADA lesson didn’t include any knowledge on the different human-like species.” Bass said.

“I actually didn’t have Defense yet. I over heard Draco say something about Veela,” I said, taking a shot in the dark. I HAD heard Draco mention Veela to Professor Snape but for all I knew it could be species of fungus.

Bass stared at me her eyes wide and quill dripping ink on her scroll. “H-he admitted it? What did he say?” she asked, leaning towards me.

I hesitated. Were Veela a bad thing? What had Draco ‘admitted’?

“I think that’s enough for tonight,” Horus interrupted, “Harry has Astronomy at four tomorrow. He needs sleep. Good night.”

“Goodnight,” I said, allowed Horus to shoved me towards the boys hall.

As I passed the silver couch Draco was studying on, I looked over my shoulder and locked eyes with him once again.

This time I turned away first.

Chapter Text

Astronomy was tiring, though it probably didn’t help that I was wiped. After heading back to the dorm last night I couldn’t help but read the section on Veela in Horus’ book and I learned a lot.

Veela were rare, gorgeous humans with a few bird-like tendencies. They had wings on any color of the grey scale, retractable talons, and could completely transform themselves into a bird form. Not to mention the allure they possesed that no one could figure out if it was pheromone based or magic based. Of course all this happened after they came of age at seventeen or sixteen - sometimes even fifteen if they were really strong.

I also learned that Veela could still show signs of their heritage before coming of age. They were undeniably the most beautiful people and they had an uncanny sense of smell. They pack bonded to a few family members and friends and became fiercely loyal and protective. And if they meet their mate before they came of age they could still tell.

Oh yeah, I learned that Veela had one mate for life. Once mated, if their mate died then they would soon follow. A mate wouldn’t die unless they were Veela themselves but they would live a very sad and lonely life for once mated to a Veela they wouldn’t be able to find love with another. Technically, if the mate was human and never met their Veela then they wouldn’t truly be in love anyway.

I had to say, Draco certainly was handsome enough to be a Veela. Maybe that’s what Bass had been talking about.

“Mr. Potter?” I looked up at Professor Sinistra. She was giving me an odd look and I began to worry about what I had done. “You forgot your map.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.” I said, turning back to take my star map from her. “Thank you, I’m sorry. I won’t forget it again.”

She gave me another odd yet somewhat neutral look. It was weird how little she showed her feelings and opinions. Or maybe she just wasn’t a morning person. I had to say, it was a nicer alternative then being unbearably grumpy.

“You found Draco very quickly.” she said.

I blinked. What was she talking about? Of course Draco was easy to spot with his pale blond locks that practically glowed in the starlight.

“You very nearly beat Mr. Malfoy himself - and he is named after it.” Oh, the constellation.

“Er, I guess I found it rather fast,” I said, busying myself with rolling up and putting away my map so I could avoid eye contact. I tried not to make it too obvious that after reading up on Veela last night I had looked for Draco's constellation. That had been another thing I over heard him talking about.

Professor Sinistra hummed and looked up at the sky again. “An interesting development.” she remarked.

I fiddled with my bag, wondering if I was okay to leave. Glancing over my shoulder. I noticed that Theo and Jana were lagging behind a bit and throwing me looks. Draco too had stopped, although it looked like he had dropped his bag or maybe he was helping Vincent and Greg clean up one of theirs.

“Goodnight Mr. Potter, good luck with taming the dragon,” she said.

And then she left, leaving me with questions that had nothing to do with stars. At least… I don’t think they did.

---

 

I glanced across the hall at where Neville and Hermione were sitting apart from the other Gryffindors. Hermione had a book in her hand as she ate and Neville seemed to be doodling.

The first three days of term had me distracted with my new… friends and classes but today we only had Herbology at two in the afternoon so we had the whole morning free. Now that I had time to think - with my friends too busy with the start of breakfast and no pressing school work - my guilt was slowly killing me.

I had yet to apologize for being mean to them back on the train and it was really getting to me. Looking down at my untouched breakfast, I made my decision.

I pushed away from the table and stood.

“Where are you going?” Theo asked.

“I’ll be back, just give me a minute.” I said, walking across the hall.

Luckily, it was still early and kids were steadily flowing in so no one really noticed me. Okay, that was a lie but at least I wasn’t the only person up and walking around.

I stood at the end of the Gryiffindor table and cleared my throat softly.

Neville looked up at me with a scared expression but Hermione didn’t even stray from her book.

I shifted uncomfortably. “I’m really sorry about what happened on the train. I don’t care that you have a toad - they’re actually really cool and Trevor is definitely something special.”

Neville smiled. “Thanks, but you didn’t do anything on the train.”

Hermione snorted.

“And I’m extremely sorry for what Ron did to you.” I apologized. “I can buy you a new book.”

She slammed her book closed and glared up at me. “No need,” she said before grabbing her bag and rising, “I don’t need pity from a boy who is too much of a coward to stand up to people.” Then she stalked off.

I frowned after her, upset that I had failed to apologize appropriately.

“It’s okay,” Neville said, bringing my attention back to him, “Hermione is nice once you get to know her but… well, no one wants to know her since Ron told everyone that you didn’t like her.”

“But I never said that,” I replied automatically.

Neville shrugged. “I know that, you know that, Hermione knows that, but everyone else believes Ron. You are in Slytherin after all, no one would even think twice about accepting it.”

Sadness and disappointment settled. Of course everyone would believe the Gryiffindor instead of the Slytherin. From what I’ve learned that’s to be expected.

“I truly am sorry Neville, I’ll leave you alone now.” I said. “Can’t be helping you to be seen with me.”

Neville ran a hand through his hair, looking like he wanted to call me back. “Thanks Harry.” He said. “I forgive you.”

I smiled a little as I made it back to my own table. At least half of my apology plan had worked. If only Hermione had believed me too. I was still feeling guilty.

“You have some explaining to do,” Blaise said the second I sat back down.

“It’s nothing I need to explain,” I said, directing a stern look at him. He glared back but huffed and turned back to his breakfast.

I managed to eat half of my breakfast before my friends dragged me on a walk around the lake.

 

---

 

“Oh my Godric, I just want a nap.” Blaise moaned, dramatically flopping onto my lap in the common room. I tensed when he touched me but thankfully he didn’t notice. I’ve been getting better at hiding my aversion to touch but these last few days haven't been easy. Blaise draped his feet over onto Theo’s lap since he was sitting next to me.

Jana giggled from where she sat on the floor. Millicent had left us for a bit, wanting to talk to Parkinson about some old family things. She promised not to leave Jana to deal with us for too long.

“Come on, you just stopped taking naps, you can’t start again,” Jana teased.

“Oi, I’ll have you know that I have been nap free for two whole years. Just ask Theo.” Blaise said, yanking the pillow from behind me and smushing it against his face.

“It’s true but don’t ask me about what happened last new years because I can’t answer that. Not anything after nine o'clock anyway.” Theo said.

Blaise whipped the pillow up and SMACKED Theo in the face with it. “I thought you were on my side.”

Jana burst into laughter and I couldn’t help but join her. Blaise glared up at me. “Oh sure, laugh it up. I’m sure you have some embarrassing stories and I’m going to laugh at them, see how you feel.”

I shrugged, wondering if any of my embarrassing tales were actually embarrassing. The only things I could think of were things I got punished for. Daydreaming which led to burnt bacon was embarrassing because I knew better.

“I mean, I wear my cousin’s hand-me-downs.” I said.

“Please Potter, like your family wouldn’t treat you like royalty after what you’ve done.” Draco said as he walked by.

I didn’t answer. Was he joking? Did he really think I got treated like royalty? I may not know a whole lot about royalty but from what I caught from snippets of the telly, the Queen didn’t make other people their meals but maybe things were different in the wizarding world.

“Ignore him Harry.” Jana said. “Who is he to say what your family life is like? He doesn’t live it.”

I looked at her, eyes wide at her wise words. “I… I never thought of it like that.”

“See, just ignore him and he’ll go away. It’s never fun to bully someone who doesn’t react.” Jana said.

“I wouldn’t call it ‘bullying’, per say,” Blaise murmured.

Jana glared at him. “And what would you call it?”

Blaise hesitated, glancing at Theo for help. “He’s misinformed?” Theo tried. “What is your home life like?”

All eyes turned to me and I felt my heart start pumping three times faster then it should as my lungs seemed to shrink. Memories of Lord Vernon punishing me burst to the forefront of my mind. Lady Petunia sending me to my cupboard with no food for the fifth day in a row.

“You don’t have to tell us just yet Harry, it’s okay to be scared,” Jana said, reaching up and placing a comforting hand on my knee.

I attempted a smile for her sake but I was still having trouble breathing. “I’m just… I’m going… I’ll be back,” I said, guiltily shoving Blaise up off my lap and rushing to our dorm - the only sound I could hear being the pounding of my own blood in my ears.

I ran into the bathroom and slammed the door. Crying, I slid down the door until I sat on the floor. I was having a panic attack. Why was this happening? This never happened before.

And then I realized it had. A few times at school I had broken down for various reasons. A kid stabbed me with a pencil right where a large cut was trying to heal and I had to go to the nurse’s office because I wouldn’t stop screaming and pleading but I wouldn’t let the nurse remove my shirt because I would get in trouble if I did. I fell asleep in one class and the teacher woke me up by slamming a stack of books on my desk. I remember screaming and instinctively curling up under my chair. A few times I had freaked when I heard a noise late at night because I thought I had slept late and would get punished. I got punished anyway.

This wasn’t new, I just now knew what it was.

I took a few deep breaths, trying to recall Poppy’s instructions.

“Is anyone in there?” A voice - Greg - asked, followed by a gentle knock.

Oh god, I wasn’t ready. I swiped angrily at my tears. “Uh, y-yeah. Yeah, I’m here. Just give me a sec,” I said, scrambling up and lunged over to a sink. I turned it on and splashed it in my face. Then I turned and opened the door for Greg, keeping my head bowed.

“Are you okay?” He asked.

“Yeah,” I said, trying to edge around him.

“Can I ask why your face is soaking wet?”

Drat. “I had to clean off some ink.” I lied, hoping he bought it.

He was quiet for a few seconds - for which I held my breath - before answering. “It must be strange for you. I heard Mud… Muggles don’t use quills and ink wells anymore.” Greg said.

I nodded, smoothing my hands down my robes. “Yeah, it’s taking some getting used to but I’m fine.”

He nodded back. “Well I’ll just… see you around Harry.”

“Bye,” I said, racing back into the boys’ hall.

I stopped outside my dorm’s door and realized that I didn’t want to hang out with everyone again but I couldn’t loiter in our dorm either. Maybe I should just walk out and find some place to hole up in the castle before Potions.

I quickly went back into the room and retrieved my Potions book before darting back out. Now, if only there was a way to get to the outside hall without going through the common room.

I bit my lip, looking down the hall where I had yet to go. I assumed there were rooms for the older boys but did the hall just end? Maybe there was a secret tunnel. I had seen tons of older kids suddenly appear or disappear randomly, not to mention the tunnel we went through to get down to the dungeons faster.

Giving it all up to luck, I went down the hall - taking a right instead of a left. I passed a door marked for second years, then third and so on until I was greeted with a stone wall and a door on my right that read seventh years.

I examined it a bit before I found a stone that looked… different than the rest. I pressed it and the stones rearranged themselves and I slipped through.

Smiling with my victory, I hiked up my bag and started off. Just in case I lost track of time, I should stick close to the Potions classroom.

I mulled over Draco’s off hand comment and wondered why it bothered me so much. The kids at my old school were always making fun of me either directly or behind my back and I never felt a thing, so why was Draco different?

Chapter Text

“Are you lossst little one?”

I looked up and saw a very realistic carving of a snake on the dungeon wall. I squinted at him. “Did you say something?” I asked hesitantly. If someone walked by now I’d look mad.

There was an odd sound like a mix between a hiss and a hiccup as the carving swirled around. “Yessssss. SSSuch a cluelessss hatchling,” it said.

I felt like I was being insulted but I also felt a certain amount of… kinship from the carving.

“Hatchling isss looking for sssomething. A sssssecret nessst maybe?” The carving asked.

“How did you know?” I asked. Oddly enough this snake carving was putting me at ease.

It hiccup-hissed again, making me assume that was it’s version of laughter. “Nevermind, I have nessst to ssshare. Missssstressssss gave me permissssion to ssshare long time ago.”

Master? “Is your mistress the one who made you?” I asked, wanting to learn as much as I could about the snake before letting it take me somewhere.

The carving’s head bounced. “Yesssss, Misssstresss Cissssy carved me and named me Ssssscorpius.”

“Scorpius? That’s your name?” Again his head bobbed. “Well it’s nice to meet you. I’m Harry.”

Scorpius made a soft churring noise that made me smile, though I didn’t quite understand why. It gave me a feeling of welcomeness that - even though they tried - my housemates had failed to give.

“Doesss Harry want to ssssee my nessst now?”

I smiled, now willing to place my trust in this carving. “Yes please, lead the way.”

Scorpius shook his tail and started slithering across the stones, making sure to keep a slower pace so that I wouldn’t loose him.

“Here.” he said, stopping before a discolored stone. “Misssstressss Cisssy loved hiding here. Told me to ssshare with ssssssscared hatchlingssss. Missstressss Cisssy wanted me to help them, help her hatchlingssss.”

It amazed me how kind Cissy was. She was willing to share her hide out with kids who needed a safe place when she could have just told Scorpius to let her future children in. I didn't know much about that type of magic yet but I'm almost positive there is a spell to make it possible for Scorpius to know who were her blood children.

“How do I get in?” I asked, wondering if it was like Diagon Alley.

“Kisss tiny finger and promissse to ssshare nessst with ssssssscared hatchlingsss.” Scorpius instructed.

I followed his directions and the wall shimmered before turning ghostly. “Fasssst hatchling!” Scorpius said.

Quickly I hopped through the ice cold wall before it could turn solid once more.

I gaped at the cozy room I found myself in.

There was a large comfy chair and a chaise for lounging as well as a window seat. The window above that seat was another glass opening under the lake where I could see a large cluster of sea creatures mostly hidden in their shells.

I turned to the almost full bookcase to my right and looked at some of the covers. There were a few that I had seen in the library but most of these looked like journals. Carved into one of the shelves were the words ‘lost thoughts’.

“Misssstressssss Cisssy left note for hatchlingssss.” Scorpius said from across the room. I glanced over my shoulder and saw that he was wiggling around above a desk that had a few papers - all written on.

I sat in the worn wooden chair and picked up the yellowish scroll Scorpius was pointing too with his tail.

 

‘Dear hatchling,

I am happy to inform you that you have found the Room of Lost Souls. Trust me, it’s a lot nicer than it sounds. I prefer to think of this as a Safe Space and have instructed my snake carving Scorpius to treat it as such and show it to those who need a haven. I can only hope that your situation is not too dire that this room cannot work it’s magic and help. Please know that both Scorpius and I are here for you and wish you nothing but luck. There are no rules here, I only ask that - once you feel ready - you share this place with another scared soul.

- Narcissa Black’

 

“Wow, so Narcissa is your mistress?” I said, looking up from the neat handwriting.

Scorpius nodded, curling up on the stones. “Read the othersss,” he requested, sounding a bit downtrodden.

I nodded, picking up one signed Remus.

---

“Thank you hatchling,” Scorpius hissed, stretching.

I smiled up from the letters. “It’s no big deal Scorp, I’m happy I could do something for you after you shared this place with me.”

“Itsss my job and I enjoy it,” he said proudly. “But now you musssst go. Ssssschool, yesss?”

I scrambled out of the chair, knocking it over in the process. “Oh gosh, potions I forgot. Jana is going to kill me. I can’t believe I’m late!”

“Hussssh hatchling, I ssstopped you with plenty of time to ssspare,” Scorpius interjected, trying to calm me down.

Looking up from where I was jamming a book back into my worn bag from the Dursleys. “You are the best,” I said grinning. I slowed down, making sure that things actually fit in my bag.

“You’ll come back yessss?” Scorpius asked nervously.

I smiled at him, pausing in my packing. “Of course. How could I leave this awesome snake carving I just met?”

Scorpius looked pleased, his head tilting as though he was preening. It was adorable. “I’ll sssee you ssssssoon than, yessss?”

“Obviously, I’ll probably be back tomorrow.” I slipped on my bag. “I can show you my new wand.”

Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey had been too busy this week to take me shopping but they had been nice enough to supply me with excuse notes for every class that required a wand. They had scheduled for us to go this first weekend and I was really excited. Magic wasn’t much fun when you’re only a spectator.

“Good bye Harry,” Scorpius said while I ran down the hall waving.

 

---

 

I glanced at the group of Gryiffindors coming down the hall and the Slytherins heading in from the opposite direction before I slipped into where I knew the potions classroom to be - thanks to my helpful cheat sheet named Horus.

Hopefully my… friends - wow that was so exciting - hopefully they could forgive me. I had just run away from them without explanation and I felt terrible. Maybe if I showed them Scorpius’ hide away they would forgive me. I didn’t want to loose the precious friends I had barely made. I’m not even sure how I had made them

I slid onto a bench near the middle of the room but closer to the front and then started unpacking my stuff.

The Gryiffindors came in first, their entrance noisier than the Slytherin common room at full capacity. Once they noticed where I was sitting, they all filed onto the right side of the room, some of them throwing sneers and glares my way. Ron Weasley kicked my table as he passed by, spilling my ink all over my potions book.

Neville gave me sympathetic glances before he took a bench with Hermione on the Gryiffindor side. That one action made me feel a thousand times better. I was glad that I had apologized to them.

I looked down at my book, frowning. I had no clue what spell I could use to reverse this.

Then my housemates filed in, much quieter than the rowdy Gryiffindors. I could tell because it barely got any louder when the Slytherins entered and set up their things.

I noticed that my friends were arguing quietly, glancing over at me every few seconds. Then Greg, pushed through them and plopped his stuff down next to me. He didn’t say anything as he sat down and readied his tools.

I glanced over at Draco, wondering if he was mad. Maybe he thought I was stealing Greg. He was looking back. “Something you need Potter?” he asked, his face neutral and calm even though his tone sounded… playful.

‘Uh… no?” I tried. He arched his eyebrow. I cleared my throat, straightened my shoulders and answered him again. “Nothing Malfoy,” I said with conviction.

He grinned at me. “Good.” Then he turned and sat at the desk in front of me with Vincent.

Greg smiled at me but before I had a chance to ask him what that was about, Professor Snape made his entrance.

A side door slammed open, releasing our Potions Master and a few tendrils of purple-y smoke. Professor Snape glided across the room to his own desk, swishing his cape before he stopped dramatically at his desk.

‘ “You are here to learn the subtle science and the exact art of potion-making,” he began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every word - like Professor McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort. “As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through the human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses… I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death - if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.” ’ (Snape, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, page 136-137.)

 

I felt mildly insulted but also tremendously excited for this. Potions had been the class I have been waiting for since I knew what classes I was taking. Not only that but I wouldn't have to use my wand. Or rather, not use it. I have a feeling that would not go over well with Professor Snape.

“That’s not intimidating at all,” Greg joked under his breath. I bit my
cheek, trying not to laugh. Usually I was great at being quiet - slaves are to be seen not heard - but there was something about having someone else there that made it so I just couldn’t contain myself.

“Something funny-” Snape stopped dead when he turned and saw who was making noise. He narrowed his eyes and set his jaw. “Since you seem to think Potions is a subject worth laughing at, Mr. Potter, let's see what you know. Or if you be-little things before you even know about them. Tell me Mr. Potter, what would I get if I add powered root of asphodel to an infusion of Wormwood?”

I frowned. We weren’t supposed to learn about the Draught of the Living Dead this year. This was a third year question. Odd, but never the less I answered. “You would get the Draught of the Living Dead, the most powerful sleeping potion.” I said. “But Profes-”

“Enough Pottor,” Snape snapped, “where would you look if I told you to get me a Bezoar?”

Another higher year question, this time only second year but still. “In the stomach of a goat, it’ll save you from most poisons but Pro-”

“What is the difference between Monkshood and Wolfsbane?” He asked, looking angry.

Okay, back to third year. I am extremely lucky that I read as much about potions as I could or else I wouldn’t have been able to answer any of these. “They’re the same plant Professor.” I said. “Another name for it is Aconite.”

Snape scowled. “Five points to Slytherin for bothering to open a book before you got here. Remember, fame isn’t everything Potter. You would do well to keep on top of your work.” He sneered, glaring warning at me.

He turned with a flourish, “Now we will be starting our year off right with a simple Cure for Boils. The ingredients you need are on the board as well as the necessary instructions in case you didn't think ahead and open a book like Mr. Potter.” He said, flicking his wand. The chalk rose up and speedily wrote the necessary ingredients. “You have one hour.”

I turned to Greg, about to ask if he wanted to divide and concur as a cure for boils took an hour and ten minutes to brew. We could shave off five minutes if one of us started boiling the water now and then we could both prepared the ingredients together. I’d have to look at the steps to see where I can save us precious time.

I glanced down at my ink stained potions book and sighed. Today was not going to be a good day.

“How did you do that?” Greg asked. "With the questions I mean. I think Draco is the only other kid in our year who would know that kind of stuff."

I gave him a little, forced smile. “I read a lot. No big deal. But we should really get to work if we want to finish on time. Do you think we can use your book? Mine is ruined.” I said, hoping that he would agree.

Greg looked over and shook his head. “I can’t believe that Gyriffindor. Of course we can use my book Harry.”

I smiled gratefully at him. “Thank you, now we might be able to finish in time if one of us starts the boiling and the other grabs ingredients. Which would you like to do?” I asked.

---

I grinned proudly as Greg and I waited for Professor Snape to reach our shared desk. “You did awesome Greg, thank you.” I said.

“I can’t believe you’re thanking me. I just followed your directions. We wouldn’t have finished on time if you hadn’t been here to fix my mistake.” He said.

I rolled my eyes. “It’s actually a really good thing that you put in too many rose beetle eyes. Now instead of only curing magical boils, this should work on natural boils as well.” I said.

“See, I wouldn’t have thought of that. Nor would I have - in my wildest imagination - thought to mix in actual oatmeal in with the potion. I would have simply accepted my fate,” Greg joked.

“Oh come off it.” I said, though I was pleased. It had been a fun and stimulating challenge.

Professor Snape approached our desk and glared down at our perfect dark green potion, whisps of sparkling silver rising up from the cauldron. He gave us a stink eye after regarding it and bent down to sniff it. He would - of course - only smell freshly baked bread right from the oven which was the proper smell. It had taken me an extra four minutes to cover up the smell of cinnamon so that the Potions Professor could not deduct any points for not following the recipe.

“Exceeds Expectations,” he said begrudgingly.

“Exceeds Expectations!” Greg cried in outrage. “This is Acceptable at the least! What it really deserves is an Outstanding! Harry perfected this potion and even made it better!”

My eyes widened in fear as Professor Snape’s narrowed in anger. “Are you telling me how to do my job Mr. Goyle?”

Greg’s eyes blazed but he quieted. “No Sir,” he said, begrudgingly backing down.

Professor Snape nodded. “Exceeds Expectations it is, and five points from Slytherin for back talking along with one detention for you Mr. Goyle and you, Mr, Potter. No doubt this is all your fault.” He sneered.

I nodded, putting a hand on Greg’s arm to signal that I would take the fall for this. “It is Professor. Please, I’ll take on two detentions if you’ll only excuse Greg.” I said.

Professor Snape huffed. “I have already handed these detentions out, are you trying to tell me how to do my job as well, Mr. Potter?”

I hung my head, staring at our Exceeds Expectations potion. “Of course not Professor,” I said.

---

“I can’t bloody believe he did that!” Blaise cursed. “He gave you the bare minimum of points for your amazing answers, and then he took them away for having a perfect potion! And I thought Snape allowed his favoritism show through.”

I didn’t look up from my lunch. “It’s fine Blaise, I talked back. I deserved it.”

“You bloody well did.” Blaise said sarcastically. “You didn’t even say anything until the last second. He had already given you an unfair grade and detention. Goyle spoke back and yet you got detention.”

“Don’t blame Greg,” I admonished, “he was trying to get us a better grade; obviously Professor Snape could tell that we didn’t work hard enough.”

Everyone around me scoffed.

“Harry, you worked harder than anyone else,” Jana said.

Millicent nodded. “I saw you comforting that big lug while at the same time you were saving the potion single handedly. I still don’t know how you did it.”

I rolled my eyes. “Come on, like it’s hard. Greg only put in a few extra rose beetle eyes. I just had to mix it with oatmeal to extract some of the potency. I just got lucky that the oatmeal didn’t absorb all of the properties.”

They stared at me.

I blushed and looked back down at my breakfast. “Anyway, what’s up with you guys?”

Blaise choked on a bit of cantaloupe but Jana happily went along with the topic change.

“I think you’ve started a trend Harry.” She announced. “First you leave us for no reason right before class, than Theo follows in your footsteps and takes lunch with Malfoy today. That’s right,” she said upon seeing my rightfully frightened face, “don’t think we’ve forgotten about that fiasco.”

“Yeah, you have some explaining to do,” Millicent said, hoping on the band wagon.

“I, too, and offended that you saw fit to run from us instead of talk it out like civilized Sltherins.” Blaise said, having managed to get the piece of cantaloupe down the right pipe.

I sighed, stabbing a strawberry. “I guess I do owe you an explanation for that one.”

“Darn right,” Blaise muttered, shoving a handful of greasy, salty chips into his mouth.

I opened my mouth to begin but just then our prefect Nora called for me. “Harry Potter, your presence is requested immediately,” she said, standing formally at my side.

I glanced over at my friends to find a mix of confusion and disappointment on there faces. “I’ll tell you later,” I said, looking down once again.

I grabbed my bag and followed Nora out of the Great Hall.

“Um, is it okay if I ask who is asking for me?” I asked, shifting my book bag up a little higher. I had a few books that I planned to return to Bass after eating so my bag was heavier than normal.

Nora glanced back at me and slowed her pace. “Professor McGonagall said she had a meeting with you. She thought it would be better if I called for you instead of her coming up and taking you away from lunch seeing as she isn’t your Head of House and it would be highly unusual.” She explained.

I blinked. That sounded rather convoluted but… I shouldn’t argue with a Professor - especially the only one who had bothered to notice anything about me other than I was the supposed ‘Boy Who Lived’.

“Uh right, did she say what this was about?” I asked.

Nora glanced back at me, confused. “She just told me that you would know. Are you in trouble? What did you do that could possibly make Professor McGonagall specifically seek you out?”

I flushed as it dawned on me; we were going for my wand. I coughed a little, trying to stall. I didn’t exactly want to tell Nora but there was no doubt that everyone in school knew by now seeing as I had been publicly excused from wand work in all of my classes. Guessing that it was just better to swallow my embarrassment, I told her.

“Actually, I think Professor McGonagall is taking me to get a new wand.” I said, fiddling with my duck-taped bag strap. I was going to need a new layer soon. The tape was peeling again. Wait, where would I even get duck tape? Maybe I could just find a spell.

“Oh well that’s wonderful news Harry!” Nora said, beaming at me over her shoulder.

I smiled. “Yeah, I suppose it is.”

Nora stopped before a rather plain looking door. She placed just the tips of her fingers on it before gently tapping each in a specific pattern.

Pinky. Thumb. Middle. Ring. Pointer. Pointer. Ring. Middle. Thumb. Pinky.

I heard a soft clink and Nora opened the door for me with a smile.

“Thank you,” I murmured as I walked past her.

Chapter Text

Professor McGonagall’s office had one more occupant than I was expecting.

“Ah, Mr. Potter,” Professor Dumbledore said, that terrifying sparkle in his eye.

I gave him a polite nod before looking away from the tall, bearded man and focused on Professor McGonagall. “You called for me Professor?” I said, trying to get past the Head Master’s intrusion.

Professor McGonagall had a hazy look in her eyes but glanced over at me - however, before she could say anything or possibly even register that I - in fact - said anything, Head Master Dumbledore cut in.

“Actually Mr. Potter, your Transfiguration Professor and I have talked and we think that it would be best if you keep the wand you have. Any other wand won’t respond to you as you are a very special boy. It is extremely rare to find another wand that responds to you; and that applies to everyone.” He smiled. “We wouldn’t want anything tragic to happen due to a faulty wand when you have a perfectly good one right here.”

I flinched as he reached into his pocket and pulled out my old wand. The dark wood made it look almost exactly like the switch Lord Vernon kept on hand for little, right-then-and-there punishments.

“Um… can’t I,” I flinched again as Dumbledore waved the wand gracefully. “I mean, can I- maybe, please could I, I think it would help me a lot if you allowed me to get a different wand.” I said, taking a step back towards Professor McGonagall; who was looking a lot more present.

“Nonsense my boy, it really is in everyone’s best interest that you keep this wand,” He said with his plastered smile and twinkling eyes.

Then the door opened and Ma-Poppy entered. “Oh hello Albus. I wasn’t expecting you here, how’s that rash doing? It is clearing up yes?” She asked with a kind smile.

Dumbledore froze and his face reddened. “Er, yes. I’m fine. I’ll just be leaving now. Had a few things to discuss with Minerva but those are done now. I think I left my tea boiling, can’t leave Fawkes around that now can I? Have a lovely day!”

And then he was gone. Not like magically gone, he simply rushed out of the room.

Poppy hurried over to Professor McGonagall and grabbed her by the cheeks. “Oh dearie, Albus again,” she tutted as she examined my Professor, “he really doesn’t know when to stop.”

“What do you mean Madam?” I asked, stepping closer.

Poppy simply shook her head. “Oh darling, I wish I could tell you but I don’t want the spell to affect you too. Can’t have you anymore under his influence than absolutely necessary. No, no, it’s best you just ignore me when it comes to Albus Dumbledore Harry.”

I wondered what she could possibly mean by that. I resolved to research it later. Gosh, I can’t believe the Sorting Hat didn’t place me in Ravenclaw. I really do nothing but study.

“Anyway darling, just let me fix up Minerva here and we’ll head out for your wand,” she said, pulling out her tan colored wand and nudging Professor McGonagall’s forehead with it. “There.”

Professor McGonagall’s eyes cleared as Poppy took a step back and put her wand away.

“What are we waiting for?” She asked, bursting into life. “Harry needs a wand as soon as possible. Here, we’ll take my Floo. Harry, hold on to Poppy and she’ll Floo with you. I’m no good at using Floo network myself.”

I stared. My Professor was acting like a paused program on the telly; going from frozen to full action in less than a second. It was astounding.

“Of course Minerva.” Poppy said, accepting her outburst without question. “We will be heading down Knockturn Ally, yes? Unless we go out of the country I don’t know of any other legal wand shops.”

I looked at Poppy. Did that imply she knew illegal ones?

Professor McGonagall frowned but nodded. “As much as I dislike it there, it will have to do. We don’t have the proper papers to take Mr. Potter out of the country. I have already owled them and they have complied with all of my demands. The store is empty and their Floo is open only to us.”

Poppy frowned but nodded. “Right, I’m glad you’ve taken all of the precautions. Come along Harry,” She said, beckoning me to her side.

I grabbed her hand and watched Professor McGonagall reach into a tall vase that sat next to her quiet fireplace. Then she stepped into the empty opening and threw down some green powder as she shouted something.

“Alright Harry, its our turn.” Madam Pomfrey said, grabbing her own handful of green powder. She led me into the fireplace and dropped the powder. “The Wand Emporium.”

Green flames erupted around us and then a phoowm and we were gone.

We landed and it felt like all of my organs were trying to splatter themselves across the floor. I did my best to accommodate their wishes and suddenly I was face first on hard wood floors, heaving.

Then there was a comforting hand rubbing me back. “Harry, here my boy. Drink this,” Poppy said. She lifted me up and into her lap before putting a blue bottle to my lips. Obediently I drank and after a few minutes my stomach stopped flipping and my head stopped spinning.

“Thank you,” I gasped, regaining my breath and balance. Poppy quickly cleared away my mess with a wave of her wand.

“I apologize Harry,” Professor McGonagall said, “I should have realized that Flooing you could have some undesirable affects. Luckily Poppy was prepared.”

Poppy shook her head. “Flooing has nothing to do with it. The same thing would have happened if we had Apperated. There was no way to avoid this sadly, we couldn’t have walked here from Hogwarts and we have a time limit so flying by broom was out of the question as well.”

“It’s fine really,” I interrupted, “that potion made me feel a lot better. What was it?”

Poppy pulled out another blue vial. “It’s an special anti-nausea potion.”

“Why didn’t you just give me a regular anti-nausea potion?” No one had ever given me something special.

Well, there was that one time when Dudley said I was getting ‘a special surprise’ but the toilet wasn’t any different and I didn’t feel any different after than I did after all the other times. I was wet, disgusted, and upset. Yeah, nothing special about it.

“Regular anti-nausea potions contain mole whiskers and you should never mix mole whiskers with the fox berries in your nutrition potions that you’ve been taking.” She paused. “You have been taking them right?”

I flushed, thinking about the incident that occurred when I took my first dose. Ever since I had followed Horus’ advice and taken it when the other boys were asleep. I was always too tired at night to stay up after the other boys so I switched to taking it in the mornings since I awoke before any of my dorm-mates. “Yes ma’am. Every morning,” I said.

She nodded. “Good. In that case, you should only have five more doses and then you can go off of them. However, if you ever notice a decrease in your appetite or you begin to lose weight come to me immediately. You might need another round.”

“Er, right.” I said, looking up and noticing the nervous man awkwardly staring down at us.

His dark blue eyes were darting around, unsure if he should look at us or the ground. He didn’t have any facial hair and looked to be in his twenties. I liked his hair, it was tan, longish and kind of messy on one side but shaven on the other. I could only see his left ear since his hair was asymmetrical but it had at least four piercings. There were also two rings in his bottom lip right next to each other. His ripped jeans were cool too, and I liked his black long-sleeved shirt that had two crossed wands shooting strands of magic that kept changing color. It read ‘The Wand Emporium’ in big white letters.

Professor McGonagall and Poppy noticed my gaze and looked over to him as well. “Ah, right.” Professor McGonagall said, taking him in with distaste. “You’re Herb then?”

He looked away, running a hand through the long side of his hair. “Yeah, um, I have a few wands ready for Mr. Potter if you want to go ahead and get started,” he said in a nice voice.

“Yes, lead the way,” she said as Poppy helped me to my feet.

He nodded, nervously glancing at me before stepping back through the doorframe. “Right through here.”

We followed him and I noticed that he never turned his back on us. I also managed to notice that Professor McGonagall gave him the same treatment.

I glanced around and saw that The Wand Emporium was larger and far more organized than Ollivander’s. There was hardly a box our of line. Even the six boxes laid out on the table looked perfectly lined up.

Herb stood behind a comfy looking chair and tapped the back of it. “Sit here if you will Mr. Potter. I’ve got only the most compatible wands laid out here for you.” He said.

I sat, trying to battle the questions rising. He gave me a smile. “It’s alright to have questions kid. Ollivander might not enjoy people wanting to know more about his business but The Emporium encourages interest in wands. They are our most helpful companions.” He explained with a smile.

“Alright, if you’re sure.” I said. “How do you know what wands are compatible to me? I’m positive that I’ve never met you before.”

“Well that one’s easy.” Herb answered. “Professor McGonagall sent me magic samples from you.”

I guessed that Poppy had taken them during my examination. I think I recall her saying something about my magical levels. “Okay, is it possible to have more than one wand?”

Herb scowled. “Did Ollivander tell you that?” I nodded. “Don’t listen to a thing that old fool says.”

“Mr. Herb, please do watch your language,” Professor McGonagall reprimanded, glaring harshly at him.

“My apologizes but the Ollivander family has been spreading lies since 382 B.C. and it’s just getting worse! I should know!” He scoffed.

Professor McGonagall’s glare sharpened. “That’s quite enough, if you can not rein in your biased feelings I will be forced to take young Mr. Potter else where for a wand.”

Herb deflated, worrying at his lip peircings. “My apologizes Madam. The answer is yes Harry. Most wizards with a good head on their shoulders carry two wands on their person in case they run into their wand’s brother and if they have the money to spare, many people buy a wand for every hobby they have. However, if you have too many wands some might get jealous and then refuse to work or become less powerful for you. Wands are like friends. You really only need a few close friends rather than many shallow ones.”

I tried to think on his words but Professor McGonagall coughed to hurry us up.

“Right, Mr. Potter,” Herb said, picking up the first box and opening it for me, “try out this beauty. Six inches, yew, slightly bendy with a core of crushed onyx.”

I held the dark wand with it’s black speckles. It felt nice, but a bit too broody. It didn’t make my head hurt though, that was a very nice plus.

“Hmm, not this one then.” Herb said, holding out his hand for the wand. I didn't even know how he could tell. This was a huge improvement.

I gave it back and he quickly pulled out a red tinted wand for me. “Ten inches, redwood, stiff with four dragon heartstrings making up the core.” He said.

This wand was rougher in my hand and grumpy. Well, I wouldn’t say grumpy. More like, it thought it was above me. It was stubborn and aloof.

“No, no, all wrong. I don’t even know why the test brought this one up. Honestly, Fern needs to fix that blasted orb.” Herb said, snatching the wand away and handing me the next one.

“Try this. seven inches, murk wood, flexible, with Venti vaper as its core.” He said.

This one felt nice, almost too nice. It was almost hard to get a grip on it.

“Okay there champ, too airy. You need something flexible enough that its cool with being the right-hand man but can easily become the leader if needed.” Herb mused. He looked down at the boxes on the table before getting up. “Just a moment. I really need to get on Fern about that orb.”

I blinked. “Is he… going to yell at someone or is he getting another wand?”

Poppy laughed while McGonagall snorted. “The idiot doesn’t know left from right. You’d think with as many years as he has he’d know a thing or two,” My Professor huffed.

Poppy rolled her eyes. “Herb is a good fellow. He can’t do magic anymore so he hired Fern - sweet girl but always busy. Sadly she’s never around to help him out. She’s too busy making the wands to truly do much else so Herb is stuck trying to work out magic things the Squib way with what little power he has. Personally I think he should simply do things his way. Goes much better I say.”

I wasn’t sure who to believe. Poppy sounded like she had more facts but Professor McGonagall is a scary sight. I didn’t want to be on her bad side.

“Alright, these two should do you quite nicely Mr. Potter.” he said cheerfully placing only one box down before me.

He opened it up and pulled out the first wand. “This one is eight inches, wood from a cherry tree, firm but pliable with the right kind of touch, and contains a brave core of Thestral wing dipped in Basilisk venom.”

I grinned as a warm feeling erupted from my hand and rushed through my body. “Do wands have names Mr. Herb?” I asked.

The man gave me a warm smile. “It’s good to know that I’m not loosing my touch. Wands only reveal their names to those they choose. The one thing those Ollivander’s got right - the wand chooses the wizard. Now, it’s mate.

“I don’t typically give out mated pairs very often but I think you are a special case Mr. Potter. It’s quite odd actually. I only have to give out mated pairs every few years or so but you’re the second child I have given a mated pair to this year.” He said.

Herb handed me a slivery, almost white wand. “Ten inches, a rare albino birch, puts up a façade of bravado but in reality is the only thing caring enough to bend your stubborn cherry wand. He has a core of pure Kneazle wisker, which explains his personality. Kneazles are just the same. Big jerks who act like they don’t care but the second you’re in trouble they are there until the end.” Herb smiled as I gasped at the wand’s magic.

However after a moment I frowned. “This one hasn’t told me his name.” I said.

Herb nodded. “That’s to be expected. Mated wands are… complicated. They can only be used by wizards who have a destined mate themselves. One of the wands represents one of the humans while the other wand represents the humans mate. It’s very convoluted and many people disagree about whether its true or not. I think the most important factor is that none of the four wands can be brother wands, even though two represent the same person - there has never ever been a set of brother wands between two mates. You probably haven't met your mate yet, which is why the wand isn’t telling you his name. It’s doubtful but if you‘ve met your mate and don’t get along he probably won’t tell you his name yet either.”

I frowned trying to puzzle it out. “Okay, is there an easier way to explain that?”

Herb shrugged. “Meh, it would be easier if I put names to everything but as I said its very complicated and its easy to get lost. So let’s say your mate is… Fern. Fern has a mated pair of wands and you have a mated pair of wands.

“Fern has one wand that represents her, we’ll name it Plant. Then you have one wand that represents Fern.” He pointed at the white wand I was holding. “The wand you have representing Fern is like Plant but it has a different core so it is not a brother wand and hence, they can still hurt each other.

“Now Fern has a wand that represents you. You have a wand that represents you, would you mind if I ask your wand’s name?” He asked.

I nodded, hesitantly. “He tells - well not tells. Its more like I feel that is Adrian.”

Herb nodded. “Very good, very good. So You have Adrian and Fern has - let’s say just say Larry. They both represent you and have similar personalities but they have different cores so they can still harm each other.

“It’s also very important that I mention wands that represent the same person between a mated pair of humans can be almost completely different or almost the same as long as they are not brother wands.”

I frowned. "Why is it not possible for them to be brother wands? Wouldn't that make sense though? That two wands that represent you have the same core?"

Herb worried at his black lip rings. "I feel that I'm not explaining this properly. Think of it like this," he said, "no two people think exactly the same. You've heard that no two people read the same book?"

I nodded with a grin. "Yes, one of my Prefects told me that, Horus. He's very intelligent. He said it's because everyone focuses on different aspects and has their own mix of opinions. Some might find it interesting that you use toad warts to cure warts while others are more intrigued by the mushroom fuzz."

Herb laughed. "Exactly! No two people view the world exactly the same; it's the same for wands!"

I smiled back, the pieces starting to fall together. “Thank you, it’s still a bit to comprehend but it does make sense,” I said.

“No problem, it is quite a bit to wrap your head around - especially after you've already been given false information. I think you’ll begin to understand as time goes on and you grow closer to your wands. And of course you’ll understand even better once you meet your mate - good luck by the way.” Herb said, grinning as he packed up my wands. “Do you want to buy a holster too?”

“We’ll take an arm holster and a hip holder and then we will be leaving,” Professor McGonagall hissed, looking like she was going to explode.

I shrunk into my seat, trying to seem small so that she wouldn’t explode once she saw me. That kind of thing happened far too often for my liking and I really wanted Professor McGonagall to like me more then Lord Vernon and Lady Petunia.

Herb too, retreated within himself a little. “Right, of course. I’ll just go grab those and I’ll be right back.” With that he hustled away into a back room, finally turning his back on us.

“Minerva,” Poppy said in a disappointed voice.

Professor McGonagall sniffed and didn’t look at her. “I will not let this creature fill Mr. Potter’s head with delusions. Mated pairs - human or otherwise - do not exist. Not naturally at least, any mated people are due to black magic.” She said like she was reading from a script.

“We will discuss this later,” Poppy said sadly.

With a huff, Professor McGonagall turned her head even further away from Madam Pomfrey.

What did Professor McGonagall mean when she called Herb a creature?

I looked up at her hard glare and decided I would ask later. Maybe.

“Here you are Mr. Potter,” Herb said, reentering the room with a white bag that had the Emporium’s logo in black.

“Thank you, now how much will it be?” Professor McGonagall asked tersely.

Herb shook his head. “I give away Mated Wands free of charge. They are troublesome for me to keep since they crave the bond with their wizard and their wizard’s mate so much more. I can’t safely exercise them nor can I test them out. So, free of charge,” he said, his warmth from earlier gone.

I had a sneaking suspicion that he heard Professor McGonagall’s unkind words.

“Very well,” Professor McGonagall said without a second thought. It was almost like she didn’t think Herb deserved the money.

I looked up at Poppy, trying to ask what was going on. Why my Professor was acting so strange? Poppy wouldn’t look at me so I was on my own.

“Come along Mr. Potter,” Professor McGonagall ordered, heading for the room with the Floo.

I turned to Herb and gave him an apologetic smile. “Thank you so very much Sir. I don’t know what I would do without you.” I said.

Quickly I dug into my pocket and pulled out three Galleons and held them out for him. He gaped at me, his dark blue eyes wide. “I know it’s not a lot. I paid seven Galleons for that other wand.” I couldn’t bring myself to call it my wand - not after feeling just how right my new wands felt.

Herb shook his head, a smile slowly taking over his face. “No, this is perfect Mr. Potter, thank you.” He clasped my hands when he took the coins, his dark blue eyes shining with tears and... something else. Hope?

"Poppy let us go, I have papers to grade!" Professor McGonagall called.

I smiled before hurrying after my Professor, Madam Pomfrey a few steps behind.

“Let’s go Mr. Potter, you have another class you need to prepare for.” Professor McGonagall said, the green powder already in hand.

She left and Poppy quickly followed with myself in tow.

“Minerva, I can’t believe you were so rude to that man. He was only doing his job,” Poppy said almost the second we landed, automatically handing me the other vial as she spoke.

Professor McGonagall huffed. “Oh calm down Poppy. I just didn’t want that creature to be spewing fairy tales to Harry! He doesn’t need to worry about some fake mate on top of everything else! He’s had to live through enough.”

Poppy shook her head. “A mate is a good thing Minerva. It-”

“Don’t tell me you believe that garbage too!” Professor McGonagall yelled.

Poppy glared at her. “I think Harry needs to be leaving. He has class now does he? Or was that a lie so you could get out of that perfectly respectable shop faster?”

Professor McGonagall scowled. “No, he does have class. History of Magic if I’m not mistaken.” She turned to me. “You might want to leave now Harry, there’s enough time that you can get to class if you don’t lollygag so I will not be writing you an excuse note.”

I nodded, not wanting to be in the middle of their fight any longer than I had to less they decide to take it out on me. Or worse, ask me to chose a side.

---

It was Saturday, the day Hagrid had invited me over. I planned on going alone but once everyone saw me heading out they objected. Everyone had forgiven me after giving me the third degree and having me show them the secret space and Scorpius. It ended up being Theo, Greg (who had become much friendlier to me since Potions class), and I.

We walked across the ground accompanied by Millicent and Jana who were going to do their homework out by the lake. We talked about the flying lessons that would take place next week for all first years, something Millicent and I were most excited about. Theo was excited but he wasn’t as hyped as we were. And Jana didn’t like heights so she wasn’t going to participate. It was a voluntary club after all.

We left the girls at the lake and headed to Hagrid’s hut. I couldn’t help but wonder if I should bring up the break in. He had emptied that vault, he should know something about it. Like why someone would want to steal whatever was in that grungy bag.

“Really Harry, manners,” Theo said, gently pulling my hand off of Hagrid’s handle. It didn’t stop me from flinching though.

I hung back as Theo knocked on the door - which triggered loud barking - before stepping back to stand at my side.

The door opened just a crack and I could see one of Hagrid’s eyes and lots of beard hair. “Jus’ a minu’e ‘arry. Fang here gettin’ excited.”

The door shut again and I could here Hagrd’s muffled voice telling Fang to get back. The door opened fully now, revealing a large hound and a smiling Hagrid. “Come in boys,” he greeted, holding back the large animal.

Theo followed me in, warily eyeing Fang. I wasn’t the bigest fan of dogs either, not after many visits from Lord Vernon’s sister and her dogs. Just the thought of those tiny devil creatures made my legs ache. I had many scars from them. Greg seemed to be the only one unaffected by Fang, happily waving to the wolf sized dog.

“’ow ‘bout some tea,” Hagrid said, closing the door and letting Fang lose as he turned to the fire.

I stiffened when Fang immediately raced over to me and started sniffing. His nose was very wet but oddly warm compared to Lady Marge's dogs. “Take a seat over there,” Hagrid gestured to the large table, “tea’s jus ‘bout done.”

Greg must have noticed that I was frozen with Fang still so close to me because he pushed the dog’s head away and led me over to the chairs. We all sat, Greg on the outside so that Fang would have to climb over him to get to Theo and I.

I grabbed his hand and squeezed it in thanks along with a small smile. Greg smiled back and stroked Fang's head which was upon his knee.

“Righty, here you go boys.” Hagrid said, placing steaming cups of yellowish tea in front of us. He took the seat opposite us and grinned. “Now, how was your first week?”

---

“This has been really nice Hagrid,” Theo said since I was in a fit of giggles after retelling how Millicent had turned Jana purple in charms, “but we do have homework to get to. Thank you for having us.”

“No problem at all boys. Hagrid exclaimed heartily. “Glad fer the comp’y.”

Theo stood and I followed, giving Fang a scracth behind his ear. Throughout the visit he had proved vastly different from the other dogs I’ve dealt with. He hadn’t even nibbled me once. It was safe to say that we were getting along fabulously, although I think his favorite is still Greg; who had even gotten down on the floor to interact more closely with Fang.

I looked up to see if Hagrid had any treats I could give to Fang when I noticed a news clipping hanging off a shelf. I pulled it down and saw that it was about the Gringotts break in.

“Hey Hagrid, we visited that vault right? The one that got broken into?” I looked up at him, what I could see of his face past the beard whiter then Draco.

He was silent and wouldn’t look at me. “Ah, Theo, would ya grab that tin thare? Ya lot can give Fang a treat. He acted well with ya boys.”

Greg and I shared a look while Theo did as Hagrid asked.

---

“Did you notice how he just brushed it off?” I asked as we walked away from Hagrid’s hut.

Theo nodded. “I know, it was weird.”

I sighed in relief. “At least I’m not the only one. Why do you think Hagrid avoided the subject?”

Theo shrugged, directing us towards the lake where Millicent and Jana had been joined by a few other students. Some Ravenclaws and more Slytherins it looked like. I think I saw some Hufflepuff colors too.

Greg shifted closer to me as if sensing my discomfort. The sheer amount of strangers was a little daunting but I would be okay. I have my friends. I still couldn’t help but smile each time I said that.

“I think we should just let it go for right now Harry. If something else comes up we can look into it but not all of us have read the entire curriculum for this year.” Theo joked. “I would like to focus on the homework I have.”

Greg let out a fond laugh.

I smiled at the tease and shrugged. “Alright that’s fair.”

Chapter Text

“Harry?” Jana asked hesitantly.

I looked up from my homework nervously. All of my friends had formed a rough semi circle around me and the corner I was sitting in but they left enough gaps that I knew I wasn’t trapped. That and the fact they were my friends made me feel slightly better.

Millicent and Jana sat across from me; Blaise, Theo, and Greg standing behind them. Again they left me many obvious escape routes.

“You don’t have to answer or give us all of the details,” Millicent started, “But we would like to know why you ran away from us that night we asked about your family.”

Blaise cut in, “First I think we should apologize for making you feel pressured enough that you felt you needed to run away instead of us making you feel like you could decline if you wished. I know I’ve been feeling horrible about it.”

Everyone nodded, even Greg despite not being there. “Harry, we want you to feel safe with us. We want you to feel like it’s okay to share even the bad things with us.” Jana said, reaching over and holding out her hand.

I loved that she was giving me a choice and I eagerly took her hand and squeezed it.

“Nothing you could ever say or do will make us hate you Harry.” Theo said. “We’re your friends.”

“But we understand if you’re not ready to talk.” Greg added, speaking for the first time.

I smiled, feeling a heat behind my eyes. “I-I-I…” I took a deep breath and squeezed Jana’s hand again. “I just - I get panic attacks? Sometimes? It’s not a big deal and I don’t really wanna say - talk about it. Right now. If that’s okay.” I ranted, quickly and quietly.

“Of course it is Harry,” Millicent soothed.

“We just want you to know that we’re here for you.” Theo said.

Blaise glanced at Greg who gave a tiny nod. “We know about panic attacks. Greg gets them too.”

I stared up at Greg. I didn’t want to pry - not after how kind and understanding they had been to me. But I had to know it wasn’t a trick. “Really?”

%

Greg nodded, getting down and kneeling next to me. “When I was four I went to Draco’s house with Vincent for our first play date. They were playing nicely with a kid’s exploding snap set and I was supposed to play next but I was getting bored and I went off onto the grounds.”

He paused. “I don’t want you to think that my parents are bad for not watching me nor Draco’s nor Vincent’s. They’re not perfect people but no one is perfect.
“They were dealing with a very important group of powerful wizards who were making the wrong deals. An Auror, kind of like the police,
Was supposed to be watching us but the set up our parents were working on was going south and they needed back up. This accident is no one’s fault really.”

I nodded and then after a moment of hesitation, I offered him my free hand.

He smiled and took it gratefully. “Anyway, I wandered off to the pond the Malfoy’s have on their land.” He closed his eyes and tightened his grip on my hand.

“You don’t have to Greg,” Jana said while Blaise laid a comforting hand on his shoulder.

Greg shook his head and opened his eyes. “I want to.” He whispered.

“Okay, just take your time,” Theo advised.

“I was foolishly playing near the edge, chasing a frog when an armadillo of war came out of the near by woods and scared me.” Greg said. “I fell into the pond and the mud sucked me in. I tried to get out but my thrashing only brought me deeper into the water, which made me even more scared.
“I couldn’t swim yet and the water was above my head. The mud made it even harder to get my head above the water but whenever I managed it I screamed for help.”

He shook his head. “I didn’t think anyone would come; even though I was only four I thought I was going to die.”

I was REALLY crying now. I couldn’t help it, Greg was obviously so scared of reliving this story but he was sharing it with me anyway. I tried to give him some kind of support by holding his hand tighter.

“Vincent reached me first and pulled me out of the water but I passed out when he brought me ashore. I had water in my lungs and… well Draco had his first bought of accidental magic.” Greg said with a smile. “Basically he preformed CPR with his magic and got me to cough up the water and breathe again. Draco saved my life.”

%

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

I didn’t end up telling them anything about my past that night, nor the next morning but our whole dynamic had changed. I still got scared and nervous but I now knew they were there for me. I told them that I had calming droughts and nutrition potions and they asked if they could help me with them in anyway.

Now they all took turns before bed sitting with me out in the hall as I took my nutrition potions - even Millicent and Jana. They talked with me and knew when I needed my calming droughts. They also warned me before touching but they touched me more, oddly enough.

They watched out for me and soon enough, I learned to watch out for them. But you’ll see, now it’s back to our story.

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

 

“Really Theo? I can’t believe you.” Jana said. “Just because we don’t have the latest model broomsticks doesn’t mean we can’t learn adequately.”

Theo groaned. “But you need a good broom! Broom, not broomstick. This isn’t a silly Muggle fairy tale!”

“Yeah, in order to properly learn how to fly and play Quidditch you have to build a bond with your broom.” Millicent added. “It’s like a familiar.”

“Do you really believe all this Harry?” Jana asked.

I looked up from my silent and rather plain seeming broom. “I mean, there are tons of books to support them and I’m not feeling anything from my broom. No sense of personality.”

Jana huffed. “You are no help.”

“You guys really are disgusting snakes,” Ron shouted.

I turned while my friends huddled closer to me, this not being the first time my friends and I had been referred to as such. They knew name calling wasn’t my favorite. However, before any of us could answer Ron continued.

“Neville broke his wrist and you’re over there discussing brooms! Show some respect.” He yelled.

I was actually really surprised. Had Ron become friends with Neville since I saw them at breakfast when Ron had thrown a half eaten muffin at Neville's head and called him a plant lover?

“That’s a load coming from you.” Draco shot back. “You stole his Remembrall and you’re lecturing us on respect?” Ron turned as red as his hair.

“He’s probably hoping it’ll get him a pretty Knut to send home to his family.” Pansy said, glaring before glancing up at Draco with a sick look that made my stomach turn.

“You bloody snake!” Ron growled, launching himself at Draco.

Draco quickly hopped on his broom and took off. “Coward!” Ron screamed before jumping on his own broom. “Land and take me on like a man!”

I tensed, watching them. I felt horrible. I should have been paying attention like Draco instead of gossiping.

“Give it here Weasley,” Draco called, holding out his hand as he hovered a safe distance away from Ron.

I could tell that Ron was going to do something he would regret so I jumped on my broom and started for Draco and Ron. It was odd, the second we took off my broom came alive.

"You want it Malfoy? Go get it!” Ron yelled, pitching the Remembrall right at castle.

I shot after it, smoothly changing course. As I gained on it I realized that it was heading straight for a window. I reached out for it, urging my broom faster. I felt the cool glass of the ball and suddenly I flipped around - though I managed to hang on. I blinked, realizing that I was sitting upright inches from the window with Neville’s Remembrall in my hand.

I looked in the window and saw a door closing. I hoped that it was only a student. I couldn’t afford a detention. What if they told the Dursley's?

Well, there was nothing I could do now so I steered my broom back down to the rest of the class. They were cheering and I realized that they were cheering for me. I couldn’t help it, I raised the hand holding Neville’s Remembrall and their cheers got louder.

I landed and was instantly crowed by my fellow Slytherins and - actually, first year students from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff too. My friends made sure they were the closest and kept everyone else as far as they could.

“Harry Potter!” Professor McGonagall cried.

Everyone stopped and took a few steps away from me, aside from my friends that this. And surprisingly Draco.

I couldn’t tell if Professor McGonagall was livid or… well there was no other explanation. She looked mad and honestly there isn’t another emotion she should be feeling right now. She was probably the one in the office.

“Come with me, now,” she commanded before stalking off.

I glanced at my friends. Theo took my broom and patted my back. I turned to Draco and held out the Remembrall. “Make sure Neville gets this back yeah?” I said.

His beautiful gray eyes stared at me before he nodded and gently took the ball from me. I followed after Professor McGonagall, my fingers tingling and warm from where Draco had touched them.

After catching up to my Professor and following her for a few minutes, I just had to say something. I hadn’t meant for this to happen. “I’m so sorry Professor, I was just trying to get Neville’s Remembrall back for him.”

She waved me off. “Yes, yes. The perpetrator will be dealt with accordingly but first we must attend to some important matters. You know of Quidditch yes?”

I nodded, confused. “Yeah kind of but-”

“Good. Now, this is just not done anymore but there are no rules against it either.” She stopped in front of a door that had some odd sounds coming from it.

Professor McGonagall turned and looked at me. “Please Harry, I am so terribly sorry to ask this of you. There is no doubt that your housemates will… develop hostile feelings but I beg of you. Please play Seeker for the Gyriffindors.”

“I thought first years weren’t allowed on the team,” I said.

Professor McGonagall made an ‘eh’ face. “It’s just discouraged. It’s supposed to be so that you don’t overwhelm yourself. And so you don’t injure yourself too badly. You children are still growing.”

I glanced at the closet when it groaned loudly. “But what about playing for a different house?”

“There are no rules against it.” She said again, flicking her wand and suddenly the closest was quiet. “It used to be a fairly common thing actually, when the teams are too unevenly matched or not enough kids are interested in one house we just adjust things a little so that people can still play.”

“Okay, but my housemates will hate me?”

Professor McGonagall stared at her feet. “I mean, they might Mr. Potter.” She looked back up at me, a fierce glint in her eye. “But if even one of them lay a finger on you - so help me they will be expelled before you can say quaffle.”

I blinked, stopping myself from taking a step back. I wasn’t used to such passionate feelings of... protection being directed at me.

I recalled what Herb had said about having multiple wands. It’s better to have a few good, compatible wands than many wands simply for show. If my friends were really true and compatible, I don’t think they’d care if I played Quidditch for another House. I smiled. I KNEW my friends were true, they had literally said that nothing I could do would make them hate me. I believed them so I said...

“I’ll do it,” I accepted with a grin.

She smiled so widely I thought she was hexed. “Oh thank you Harry. Now, if you could not mention this next part to any of your peers I would be grateful,” she said, straightening her robes as she stood tall and threw back her shoulders.

Confused I merely nodded.

I watched her wave her wand and suddenly the noises were back. Professor McGonagall banged harshly on the door before yelling. “Mr. Flint! Mr. Wood! I suggest you get yourselves decent. I have a proposal for you!”

I giggled, hearing the older boys curse and scramble around in the closet. “Now Mr. Potter, despite all older students assuming, Mr. Flint and Mr. Wood don't wish for anyone to know yet,” Professor McGonagall said as the door opened.

I smiled and gave her a nod to show I understood.

Marcus Flint stood there, the boy I had seen a few times coming into the common room early in the mornings. He was also the boy who Horus had let pick the password. His black hair was far messier than Wood’s brown locks. His robes were half on where Wood’s were just rumpled. However, Marcus had a grin on his face where Wood had his head hung in shame - possibly.

“Pay attention to me boys, I need you two to train Mr. Potter and in exchange, he will alternate between your teams as needed.” Professor McGonagall smiled, taking in their disheveled appearances. “I will also be so kind as to not give you detention for what was going on in that closet.”

They looked at me, then each other and simultaneously said, “deal.”

 

...

 

I grinned at my friends. “I can’t believe that you’re going to be the youngest player in a century!” Millicent exclaimed, nearly cutting off the circulation in my arm from holding me so tight.

“It’s crazy and McGonagall said that this is legal?” Theo said.

“Yeah, and it’s not like Marcus or Oliver objected. Oliver seems like the kind of player to know all of the rules too.” I added.

Frost - an older third year who sometimes sat with us - laughed. “Only because he has to make sure ol’ Flint stays by the books.” He was also on the Slytherin team.

Blaise laughed too. “Trust me, Marcus knows all of the rules too. You can’t break rules if you don’t know them after all,” he said with a wink.

“That’s why Jana read the Hogwarts manual the day she arrived.” Theo joked, gently knocking into our surprisingly mischievous friend. “She’s a true Slytherin.”

Jana smirked. “You lot have tons to learn if you want to successfully break the rules.” She cracked her knuckles loudly. “And I would be happy to teach you.”

We all erupted into laughter.

“Well, as fun as this has been kiddos,” Frost said, gathering his things, “I have an early class to get to. See you lot later.”

“Aw, you still in for quizzing Harry on Quidditch strategies after homework tonight?” Millicent asked.

Frost nodded. “You know it, got to make sure he makes us proud, no matter what team he’s on.” He ruffled my hair. “You represent Slytherin you know Harry, gotta make us look good.” He looked back to Millicent. “By the fireplace?”

Millicent agreed. Being down in the dungeons most Slytherins had adapted to the chill and if they hadn’t; they perfected Warming Charm. So that meant not a lot of people hung out by the fireplace.

“Jana, you know of any good Quidditch books?” I asked. Despite Jana hiding out in the library more then I did, no one could question how Slytherin she was. She was as ambitious as they come and like she said, she knew the rules and how to bend or get around them.

She shook her head. “Sorry Harry, I was trying to get the ones I was most interested in first. If I had known that you would get on a team I could have prepared but,” she shrugged, taking another bite of eggs.

“Looks like I’ll have to do my own research,” I teased.

“You poor soul,” Jana shot back, rolling her eyes.

“Alright,” Blaise said, standing, “let’s drop these sods off at the library and then go exploring. We have DADA at eleven and then potions. Transfiguration is after lunch.”

We started gathering our things to leave when I noticed that all of the Slytherin first years were rising at the prospect of exploring. I was torn between exploring with everyone else and staying to study.

I was still undecided when we entered the library. Glancing around, I noticed that there were some Ravenclaws but none my age. Same with the Hufflepuffs. I suppose they have a class around this time. A few Slytherins. I think I saw maybe four Gryiffindors total. Neville was here though, and Hermione.

I decided that I’d stay - maybe get a change to talk with Hermione and Neville. I waved as Blaise, Draco, Vincent, and Greg left, taking Pansy and Lily with them, along with Theo. Millicent stayed here with Jana and I.

I walked up to Madam Pince. “Do you have any Quidditch books?”

 

---

 

I sighed, trying to keep my eyelids from dropping. Sure Quittach was great and all but I had been reading the same material in different forms for almost two hours.

It was only somewhat surprising to find that the rest of the Slytherins hadn’t come back. After all, even if they were done exploring the vast castle, who would want to return to the library?

“Don’t we have class soon?” I asked.

Jana looked up from her large tome. “Tempus,” large glowing numbers appeared on the book right where the end of her wand pointed, “Harry it’s only ten. Are you alright? Quidditch not as interesting as you thought?” She asked smugly.

Millicent rolled her eyes and closed her own book. “Of course reading Quidditch history is boring compared to FLYING on a bloody broom,” she snarked.

Jana stuck her tongue out and Millicent returned the gesture. “Whatever, are we boring you Harry? You can leave you know.” Jana said, opening her book again.

I smiled. “Maybe I will, if you’re going to be like that. Come on Millicent, we should leave the two of them alone,” I said, quoting something I heard Draco say about Blaise and his chocolate.

“Actually I still have about four inches left to write for our Charms paper.” She flushed a little. “I took a break for some pleasure reading. I wanted to be caught up on Quidditch strategies.”

I shrugged, able to hide most of my disappointment. “I’ll see you at DADA,” I said, picking up the book bag I had bought through owl order after my old one broke.

Hmm, maybe I should visit Hegwig in the owlry. She might like the company.

I looked around, trying to puzzle out which staircase would take me where I wanted to go. Maybe right and then up those stairs? No, what about those stairs to the - never mind. Those ones there maybe, I’d go down a floor and then head up two floors and there, there was the painting of the tiger lily. That was the shortcut Horus had showed us.

I jogged down the stairs, noticing that I was alone out here. Odd, but oh well. I headed over to the second flight of stairs.

“Well well well, look what we have here,” a menacing voice boomed.

I looked up and saw Ron Weasely at the top of the stairs I had just gone down. He had two Gryiffindor boys at his side and I knew there would be trouble.

“What do you want Weasley,” I said, doing my best to copying the sneer Draco gave Weasley every time he came too close.

Ron started heading slowly down the stairs. “What do I want, what else could I possibly want? I have little Pottor right here to get my revenge and no other Slytherins in sight. Looks like they‘ve all abandoned you.”

I scowled up at him, trying to figure out a way to escape. I couldn’t take these guys on. Not only was I likely to lose, but it was their three testimonies against mine. If I defended myself they could claim I attacked them. Dudley had done it plenty of times.

Ron and his friends arrived at the platform I was on. I glanced around, trying to find a way out. One boy stayed back to guard the stairs while the other followed Ron. There were a set of stairs behind me that I could get to. I was fast, I just hoped I was fast enough after not exercising for a while.

“I’m going to show you why Gryiffindors are better than Slytherins.” Ron said, cracking his knuckles.

“Leave him alone!” Draco hollered from behind me.

Ron’s lackys fled right away and Ron himself looked a little doubtful of teaching me a lesson.

“All of you had better get off of that floor, it’s forbidden,” Hermione called from the top of the stairs.

“Meow,” a dirt colored cat scowled next to Hermione.

Suddenly Draco had grabbed my arm and was racing to the one door on the platform. “It’s Mrs. Norris,” he warned.

The door was locked but Draco already had his wand out. “Alohamora,” he said. Draco shoved me into the room and before he could close the door Ron was there too, forcing his own way in and quickly closing the door.

“We should be-” Draco started.

“Bloody hell,” Ron cried, backing against the door.

“Oh come off it.” I said, before I turned around. Then I was in total agreement with Ron. “D-D-D-Draco?”

“Oh please Potter, not you too,” Draco sighed, finally turning around and seeing the huge, black, three headed dog growling at us.

“Mrs. Norris?” I asked, my voice shaking.

Draco nodded frantically. “Please.”

We turned and Ron was already bolting out the door. We followed but we were smart enough to close the door. “Collorpus,” Draco said, locking the door again.

“You’re pretty good at those,” I admired.

He shrugged. “When you live in a house of secrets they’re handy spells.”

I wondered what he meant but he was already walking away from the door and back down the stairs he had come from. I saw Ron racing up the other set and decided to follow Draco.

I pondered on what Hermione had done to lead Mrs. Norris away for I hadn’t seen either of them.

“Why in the world would people let that beast stay here - at a school!” I asked Draco.

He huffed and I could tell he was rolling his eyes. “Isn’t it obvious? A locked door, a guard dog standing on a trap door. Someone is hiding something at Hogwarts, something big.” Draco stopped and looked at me, his face grim and serious. “Promise me, Potter, that you will leave that thing alone.”

I blinked, startled and quite a bit aggravated. Here was the boy who hadn’t done anything to gain my friendship once we were given the perfect opportunity and he was telling me what to do. Then I realized that maybe he had taken what had happened on the train more personally than I thought. Maybe he didn’t think I wanted to be friends.

“I-I promise… Draco,” I said, wondering if this was him offering to be friends. Only friends cared this much about you right?

 

---

 

I was wrong. After our run in things got worse.

Malfoy - I could no longer comfortably refer to him as Draco - actively avoided me. Whenever I tried to make some kind of contact he was rude or just ignored my presence. When I complained to my friends only Jana fully took my side. Even Millicent was back and forth while Blaise and Theo defended Draco and supported any effort to contact him. They would hang out with him sometimes and I could hear them arguing about me but I refused to listen after Draco pointedly sat on the Gyrffindor side during History of Magic just because the only other free seat was next to me.

The only one who didn’t take sides was Greg - oddly enough. It was something I was both thankful for and a little frustrated by. On one hand it was nice to have someone to escape the Malfoy verses me predicament; on the other, I wanted to know how Greg felt. I didn't want him to get in trouble with Malfoy - the boy who had saved his life - simply because he was hanging out with me.

I asked him about it and he said Malfoy didn't care who Greg was friends with, as long as they were still friends and could still trust each other. That too confused me. Malfoy seemed like such a kind person and yet he kept being rude and closing me off.

Then Ron Weasley started seeking me out for more ‘sessions’. He’d trip me or cast a spell that would make my glasses crack. He insulted me at every turn and his group of Gryiffindor boys joined in. I was late to Potions once because he used Cutto to rip my new bag open and all of the contents spilled across the hall. Professor Snape took away ten points because of that.

The only good thing that came out of this was it brought my friends and I closer. They helped me pick up my books. They fired off spells and insults in retaliation. They would fix my glasses even though I could preform the spell perfectly well. They simply made me feel better.

But all of their help just made me feel guilty that I still wasn't ready to tell them about my past.

So guilty, I ended up telling them about what really happened with Malfoy and Weasley to distract them from it. They all immediately left to tell Dumbledore and came back saying nothing about it. It was so, so weird. Afterwards they never mentioned it again. It was like I never told them.

Chapter Text

I stood awkwardly on the pitch, all alone like requested, while I clutched my broom tightly.

Madam Promfrey had taken me during a free period earlier this week so that I could buy a broom. It was one of Marcus and Oliver’s conditions. I had to have my own broom before they could coach me. They had said some things that reminded me of Theo's rant. Stuff about bonding with your broom. Professor McGonagall had insisted on paying for it and instructed me to get the Nimbus 2000 - which was apparently the newest and best broom out there.

Professor Snape insisted that I have it delivered to Professor McGonagall’s office since she is the one who wanted this for me. He refused to have such a blatant show of favoritism in the Great Hall.

“Hey kid, you’re early,” Marcus said, holding one end of a large trunk.

“No, we’re just late,” Oliver corrected, rolling his eyes as he gripped the other end.

Marcus grinned at Oliver. “And who’s fault is that?”

Oliver turned red and cleared his throat loudly as he looked towards me instead. “Alright Harry, let’s introduce you to the three types of balls we use in Quidditch.”

I nodded, coming closer as he opened the trunk. Two of the four balls seemed to be vibrating violently in their straps.

“You’ve played sports like football in Muggle schools right?” Marcus asked.

“Yeah, is Quidditch like football?” I asked. That red ball was the size of a football.

Marcus shrugged. “Yes and no. That red ball there is a quaffle, think of it like a football. The chasers are like the strikers in football except they fly all over the field. There are three chasers who pass the quaffle around and try to score on the opposing teams goals - those three hoops out there.” He pointed. “Olly here is a keeper and protects those goals.”

“Marcus is a Chaser.” Oliver said. “But what’s football again?” He asked, looking up at Marcus.

The Slytherin rolled his eyes and kissed Oliver’s cheek. “Muggle sport, I’ll explain later. Are you going to help me teach Harry or will I get him to myself, hmm?”

Oliver huffed and turned back to the balls. “These two black beasts here are bludgers. I advise you stay away from those. Whatever team you end up on - ghum - Gryiffindor,” Oliver smiled when Marcus smacked his arm, “the team beaters will make sure you don’t get hit by either of these.”

“Madam Hooch will put a spell on you too, so if you get hit by a bludger by accident nothing too bad will happen.” Marcus said. “Maybe a mild concussion but you won’t bleed out on the field because your skull hasn’t fully developed.”

I blinked, a little startled.

Oliver smacked Marcus on the shoulder. “You’re scareing the kid. Harry nothing will happen to you.” He paused. “As long as you play for Gryiffindor.”

“Oi,” Marcus’ turn to hit Oliver, “you act like I’d let Harry get hurt. I can’t handle McGonagall on my tail like that. She’s already after my hide since we started dating. I still don’t know how she figured that out.”

Oliver laughed. “Anyway, Harry, you need to focus only on this little devil.”

He bent down and released a tiny golden ball that had thin silvery wings. “I like this ball,” I said, watching as it as it flew away and around the far goal posts.

Marcus and Oliver shared a look. “Well, let’s get started.”

---

“I can’t believe we missed out on Flint and Wood fighting over you!” Blaise said.

Theo rolled his eyes. “I’m telling you, they don’t fight. I'm right, aren't I Harry?”

I laughed, understanding why Marc and Olly didn’t want a crowd for our private practices. They liked people not knowing about their relationship. Not only that but they were just so sweet with each other, they couldn’t show everyone else that.

“You’re both wrong,” I said, because while they were super nice they also had a screaming match when they crashed into each other because they were too busy watching and judging me.

That just kept Blaise and Theo busy arguing over who was right. I turned to Millicent with a smile so I could fill her in on my practice.

 

---

 

I sighed, staring at my feather. Class was almost over and I hadn’t managed to get it into the air. Malfoy of course had. Apparently he was the only one aside from a few Ravenclaws and Granger from Gryffindor.

Maybe I should have studied more.

“Wingardium Leviosa,” I said, with a swish and flick of my wand. Adrian that is; as much as I loved both of my wands it always made me sad when I used my mate’s wand. That and I could never get it to work quite right in class. When I was alone it worked perfectly but if I was in the Slytherin common room even it just kept buzzing and shooting pink hearts. It was only Jana's wand at Blaise's face that stopped him from laughing.

I gazed over at Malfoy and sighed. Professor Flitwick had allowed him to start on his homework since he had completed his task. Even though Charms was our last class of the day every single strand of his blonde hair was in perfect order. I longed to see his hair, falling in his face instead of hard and slicked back. I bet it would be incredibly soft.

“Would you mind joining us Mr. Potter?” Professor Flitwick asked with a light and teasing tone. In my old… Muggle schools the class would laugh if I got caught day dreaming but my house mates just smiled or rolled their eyes good naturedly - cause they knew me. I had never had a person know me much less this many.

I smiled, glancing at Malfoy again. He looked like he was going to smile at me but before I could see it he looked back down at his work. My smile faltered.

“Mr. Potter?”

“Yes, of course,” I said, shaking myself out of my head. I had other things to focus on. Like getting this spell right.

 

---

 

“What’s going on?” I asked, setting my stuff down next to Jana and Vincent. I glanced over at Malfoy before ignoring him.

Jana scowled. “It’s just silly gossip about the only smart Gryffindor. I’m actually impressed you stupid snakes even care. I figured you were all just too wrapped up in yourself to care about anyone else.”

“Wait, what happened to Hermione?” I asked, instantly scanning for her across the hall.

“At least someone has a heart, thank you Harry.” Jana said.

“I heard this from Matilda the Ravenclaw third year who is one of my informers. She over heard George and Fred Weasley scolding their brother for making Hermione cry.” Millicent said, leaning close to me and speaking in a very loud whisper.

Jana huffed and pulled out a scroll. “Gossips, the lot of you.”

“Oh come off it Jan,” Blaise admonished, “Harry just wants to know if his special lady friend is okay.”

Blaise, Theo, and Millicent all giggled at that which made me confused. Jana just huffed again. I glanced over to see Malfoy leaving. Vincent and Greg tried to follow but he dismissed them.

“I don’t consider Hermione special. I just want to make sure all of my friends are okay, even if they don’t think of me as a friend. I don’t want anyone to get hurt - period.” I said seriously.

Blaise gave me a raised eyebrow then he really looked at my face and he sobered quickly. “Wait you’re serious?” I nodded. “Well Merlin, I’m sorry Harry. We all just assumed you’d taken a shine to Granger. You have tried to befriend her more than once and with you’re instantaneous reaction…” he trailed off with a shrug.

“Sorry Harry, we should have known better,” Theo said.

“You lost me money,” Millicent said, handing over five kunts to Jana.

I frowned. “You guys bet on this?”

Theo rolled his eyes. “Well duh, what else are we supposed to do? Study? At a school?”

We all chuckled a bit at that. So far we all had good marks, which meant lots of studying.

“But really, was it that important to you guys?” I asked, worried now.

Jana shook her head. “It was really only me and Mill and I only suggested it because I needed the Kunts for some experiments with Lisa from Ravenclaw. We’re both Muggleborn so we don’t have unlimited Wizarding currency.”

“Oh, that’s cool.” Millicent said. “I just thought you wanted the money for nefarious purposes.”

Jana grinned. “I never said why we’re experimenting on them.”

“You sly snake!” Blaise exclaimed. “I knew there was a Slytherin under all those books. High five!” Jana and Blaise enthusiastically slapped their hands together.

Blaise was extremely taken with high fives and fist bumps ever since Jana and I had introduced it to the Purebloods of our year.

“So what ARE you-” Theo started.

“TRROOOOOLLLL! TROLL IN THE DUNGEONS!” Everyone in the hall turned to looked at Professor Quirrell - who looked paler than usual. “Just… thought you should know,” he said… then fell to the ground in a dead faint.

Utter chaos followed. Kids were screaming and yelling as they tried to run for the exists.

“ORDER!” Dumbledore called loud and clear above all the noise. “Everyone will calmly and orderly go back to their dorms. Prefects, stick with your first and second years please. The other teachers and I shall handle this.”

I raised my hand, wanting to object. OUR dorm was in the freaking dungeons. However, before I could call out to Dumbledore’s retreating back a hand was clamped over my mouth and I was dragged against a tall form.

“Harry, it’s no use.” Horus whispered in my ear, not letting go of my mouth. “I can’t let him hurt you too. Silencio.” He said, waving his wand over the other first years.

“First years, come along, this way, where are my first years?” Nora called, heading towards the doors.

Horus removed his hand from my mouth but kept a hold of my hand as he called for the first years as well.

“Wait! Draco, Draco doesn’t know.” I yelled. No one could hear me of course so I tried to pull my hand out of Horus’ grip.

He looked at me - feeling me tugging at his arm.

I finger-spelled Draco’s name with the sign language Bass had taught me so I could talk to the mermaids.

Horus stared at me blankly. “You two better not be the next Flint and Wood.” Horus let go of my hand as he shook his head. “Once you’re alone, recite quaratis while you think of Draco in your head. Stab your wand straight out when you cast and the spell should do the rest. Good luck and be careful.” He added as he undid the silenco.

“Thank you Horus, I’ll bring Draco back safe.” I said, unsure if I’d actually bring him to the common room. I’d be better off hiding in that one room Scorbius had told me about. It wasn’t the dungeons so it had to be safer. It'd be odd to open though, according to him. Something about needing and pacing.

“Don’t make me regret this,” He said, turning back to the other kids.

I followed everyone out but hid in an alcove until the coast was clear. I pulled out Adrian but then decided that it would be better to use my soul mate’s wand. It just felt right.

“Quaratis,” I incanted, stabbing forth my silvery wand.

Out of my chest sprung a pink, see through dragon no bigger than a mango. It bounced in front of me a few times before shooting off, leaving glowing pink foot prints that I felt compelled to follow. Making up my mind I stepped on the first print. It disappeared - the next print glowed even brighter.

“I’m coming Draco,” I whispered and took off running.

Chapter Text

*DRACO PoV*

I’d show that Potter. He thinks he’s so cool, caring about every Gryiffindor crybaby, well I’d show him. Obviously he’d notice me if I saved his precious girl friend. Girl with a space friend.

Ha, Potter would never be able to snag a girlfriend. And not a smart girl like Granger. She’s too smart to get roped into the famous life. I wish my family had been that smart.

But I was smart. I was saving this girl so Potter would owe me. In fact he’d beg on his knees to do something - anything for me. Yes, that’s it. Father will be proud that I have earned a favor from Harry Potter.

Now, if I was a distraught Gryiffindor female which bathroom would I hide in? Ugh, she’s probably in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. That’s just where a Gryiffindor would hide.

However, I should check the ground floor bathrooms first. It makes more sense to check them now then have to back track later if she turns out to be smarter then the average Gryiffindor.

I turned down the hall to the nearest girls’ bathroom. I frowned once I stood in front of the door. Now what? Should I knock? Do I just barge right in? What if there is another girl in there? I mean, what are the chances that each and every student aside from Hermione was in the Great Hall for Professor Quirrell’s dramatic announcement?

I raised my hand and knocked, fairly loudly to make sure Granger could hear me over her sobs - if she was still crying that is.

Sticking my hands back in my robes I waited. It was gentlemanly to give a lady time to make herself decent when coming out of bath or powder rooms. Personally I thought it would be right to give anyone time to dress themselves before barging in but my father had neglected to mention that.

The door swung opened and I smiled, ready to rescue Granger from her loneliness and prove that Harry wasn’t the only one with a heart. Then she screamed and raced back into the bathroom, forgetting to close the door in her haste.

Maybe I should just leave her. I was nothing to scream at. I was fairly handsome, I hadn’t been tremendously rude to her, i don't know what her deal could be

Then I smelled the - honest to Merlin most awful stench I had ever smelt. And I grew up around peacocks.

“Ugh, I suppose girls are just as disgusting as boys,” I said, covering my nose and mouth.

“Uuunnnuh,” a dumb, groaning sound made me freeze.

Slowly, I inched my head to the side. In my peripheral vision I saw disgusting gray skin with grotesque hairs the size of small plants. I raced into the bathroom as well, closing the door behind me.

“Are any teachers on their way?” Granger asked, peaking out of the farthest stall.

“I don’t know Granger, did you alert them that there is a bloody mountain troll in Hogwarts?” I snapped, too panicked to be polite like I had planned.

Granger huffed. “I didn’t know there was a mountain troll running around Hogwarts like it owned the place. At least the bathroom should keep it out.”

I glanced behind me and saw the door expand and open for the troll. “Bloody brilliant,” I muttered, pulling out the wand in my robes.

“I thought Hogwarts was protected against things like this!” Hermione whispered, although it sounded like she wanted to shriek at me instead.

Keeping an eye on the apparently female troll as it blundered, trying to get into the bathroom, I tried to answer Hermione politely. “Well the bathroom locks only allow those of the correct gender in and someone probably let this oaf in as a Hallow Eve’s prank.” There that was polite.

“That makes no sense, you’re in here.”

Polite was going out the window. “Cause you left the bloody door open! If the door is open the locks can't keep boys out! Merlin, use those brains of yours and draw your wand.” I snapped.

I heard her robes rustle and her muttering about stressed curiosity as the large troll finally figured out how to enter the bathroom.

“Granger, get back in that last stall.” I ordered slowly. “Once there, crawl under the walls and get as close to the door as you can.”

Luckily, the door was still open so Granger shouldn’t have any trouble what so ever. If I managed to distract the beast successfully that is.

I clenched my jaw, mentally scanning through the spells I knew. What could possibly be helpful here?

“DRACO!”

“Gware,” the troll gurgled, turning and hitting the door closed with it’s huge club - most likely by accident too.

“Why?” I had to ask, questioning my horrible luck. “Change of plans Granger, Potter managed to close the door.”

“How was I supposed to know it would close the door? By accident I’m sure,” Harry protested from his spot on the floor. He had dived under the sinks to avoid getting trampled.

The troll kept looking back and forth between us all, seemingly confused. Then it turned to Granger.

“Herminoe!” Harry called. I glanced at him and saw him climbing onto the sinks.

I rolled my eyes, casting a cimex. The nasty bugs flew from my wand and swarmed around the troll’s head.

That was a mistake.

The troll dropped her club in favor of slapping her hands over her eyes - which could only end in disaster. She stumbled around, too stupid to realize that she was the reason she couldn’t see.

“Oi, head to the door,” Harry called to Granger, still balancing on the sinks as he tried to pull out his wand.

But before he could, he fell to his knees when the troll ran into the wall next to him and slumped down, utterly destroying the sinks to his immediate right.

“Rursus,” I cast desperately. The troll spun so that it was facing upwards now, but hopefully was more disoriented so Harry had enough time to get out of there.

However, the idiot took this as his chance for glory. He climbed closer to the troll and pulled out his wand - though it looked different then the one I’d seen him use in class. Maybe it was just adrenaline. I couldn’t think properly.

“Nasum vespertilio,” He chanted.

The bat boogy hex. What good would that do? And where had he learned that?

Obviously he knew what the curse did, for he wisely scrambled away, racing towards Granger in the total opposite direction of the door. Not the best move but at least he had enough sense to get out of the way of the no doubt huge bats that would soon fly out of the troll’s large nose.

“Spherus,” I said, moving my wand in a circle.

A flimsy sphere formed around the troll’s head to keep the bats in. It didn’t work like a protego - which was a more advanced spell, but at least it would keep the bats away from us.

“That won’t hold it for long.” I said, running towards Granger and Harry. “We better hurry.”

Apparently, we didn’t even have enough time to hurry for the troll was up and more crazed then ever. I couldn’t see the bats any longer even though my sphere was still there and it disgusted me to think about what had happened to the boogers.

“What should we do?” Granger asked, looking to Harry and then me.

I shrugged, looking past her to Harry.

He spun and grabbed her shoulders. “I heard Neville say you had the best Wingardium Leviosa of your class. Can you cast it on the club?”

That was brilliant, if Granger could lift that monstrous club high enough to hit the troll in the head then we’d have more then two seconds to escape. That club was the only thing large and dense enough to take the troll out without the great deal of force that we were currently unable to generate.

“We’ll distract the beast,” I offered, wondering what was wrong with me. All of my Slytherin self-preservation seemed to have vanished.

Ganger nodded although she looked nervous. “I’ll do it, now hurry.”

Harry turned and ran right up to the troll and cast an 'incallto' on her right foot. It stuck to the floor as I followed his lead and stuck her other foot down as well. Our eyes met and I knew we were thinking the same thing as the troll began to wobble.

“LEGATO!” We cast together, twisting our wands at the troll. Strong, thick cords of rope shot from our wands and we raced around her legs, trying desperately to tie her up manually.

My rope ran out first and I retreated to just in front of Granger, between her and the troll with my wand still raised. I had to wait for Harry to get clear before I could cast 'dis spear'; a spell that would push the troll away from us and hopefully cause her to fall upon her back - giving Granger a clear shot to drop the already levitating club on her head.

A large hand swung down, nicking the black haired boy. He crashed back into the wall. I started to run for him, a primal instinct pulling me to him.

“Do it!” Harry called. I hesitated and the troll’s other hand destroyed a stall divider. “NOW!”

I raised my wand and took a step towards the troll as I yelled the incantation. She fell, large troll arms wind-milling before she crashed. “Hermione,” I called, desperate to finish this and race to Harry’s side.

Turning I saw the witch shaking with the effort as she moved the club above the troll’s head as she struggled to get up. I glanced back and noticed one of the troll's left arm seemed stuck to the ground. Harry must have cast another incallto.

“There,” Hermione said and the club dropped.

Then the door burst open and our teachers spilled forth, wands raised.

I stared at them, picking out each and every teacher, noting that the Headmaster hadn’t pulled out his wand and was staring at me in disapproval. Then I couldn’t resist it anymore, I ran over to Harry and crouched down next to him.

“Harry?” I gently touched his shoulder. His eyes were closed and I didn’t see his glasses, but he was breathing. That had to count for something. “Harry? Are you okay?”

He cracked an eye open for me and his lips tilted upwards a bit, like he was trying to smile. “Draco…” He murmured, closing his eyes again.

“No!” I said, grabbing his shoulders but refusing to shake him. If he had a head injury that might make it worse. Right? I didn’t even know anymore.

I carefully cradled him in my arms, laying his head gently against my chest. I pressed my cheek against his sweaty head, his hair sticking to my cheek. “I’ll take care of you Harry,” I said, standing with him in my arms. It worried me tremendously that I had almost no problem holding him.

I turned, looking for my godfather. “Professor Snape,” I called, stepping towards him.

He glared at Harry in my arms but began stalking towards me anyway, Professor McGonagall hurrying past him.

“What did you three do?” Professor McGonagall asked. “A troll and you all somehow find it and conquer it. What in Merlin were you thinking? You’re very lucky this was still an adolescent.”

“This was a child?!” Granger cried.

Professor McGonagall’s glare silenced her.

I wondered if my godfather would mind me taking the fall for this. Harry shifted in my arms as Professor McGonagall felt his head and dragged her wand through the air above him. I stared down at him, his face soft. He pressed his head even closer to my chest and suddenly I didn’t care what my godfather thought.

Before I could confess - however - Granger beat me to it.

“It was all my fault really, Professor.” She said, shoulders back, head high. “I’ve read all about mountain trolls and I thought I could handle it. I… I bit off more than I can chew I guess. Luckily Harry and Draco knew me well enough to guess I’d do something like this once I heard about the troll. They saved my life.”

Professor McGonagall looked up from Harry and glared at her other Gryffindor.

“Twenty-five points from Gryiffindor for being brash enough to seek out a fight with a mountain troll.” Professor McGonagall snapped. “And twenty points to both you and Mr. Potter here for saving a friend.”

I blinked. “Wait, you’re giving us points?”

Professor McGonagall raised an eyebrow at me. “Are you complaining?”

“No, of course not Professor. Thank you,” I said, holding Harry a little tighter.

She nodded. “I’ll take Harry to the hospital wing. Flitwick, would you mind taking Miss Granger up to Gryiffindor tower? Severus I’m sure you’ll want to take young Mr. Malfoy back now.”

I tightened my grip and stepped away from Professor McGonagall’s outstretched arms. She stared at me, confused. She took a step close and I moved away again.

“I’m sorry, I don’t really know what’s,” another retreat from her advances, “ come over me.” I tried to stay but my head was screaming at me not to let someone else take Harry away while he was hurt. It was unacceptable. No one could be trusted with him when he was vulnerable like this.

McGonagall frowned and stopped trying to take Harry - to my great relief. “Never mind Severus, it seems that I must take the young Mr. Malfoy with me.”

My godfather frowned and gave me a look that said we would be talking later but right now I was too worried for Harry to really focus on much else.

“Come along Mr. Malfoy,” Professor McGonagall said, walking out to the door

I hurried to follow her, careful not to jostle my precious cargo.

Chapter Text

DRACO PoV
“Harry will be safe right?” I asked as Madam Pomfrey examined my back. Why I have no clue. I don’t recall getting hurt there. Actually, I didn’t get hurt at all. “Why can’t I see him again?”

I heard Madam Pomfrey let out an exasperated sigh, the kind Father makes a lot when I’m in one of my moods. The type of mood where I’m trying desperately to behave but I just can’t? When I’m not even conscious that I’m making wrong choices but somehow its happening.

“Harry will be fine and you can see him as soon as I’m done here with you.” She said, probably just to shut me up.

I managed a whole three minutes before I inquired about Harry again, a heavy weight in my chest forcing the words out. “Is he still asleep?” I needed to see him.

“Never in all my years-” Madam Pomfrey muttered before she cut herself off. “We’ll finish this later Mr. Malfoy. Mr. Potter is in the bed next to you with the curtains drawn.”

I scrambled off the table and hurried over to see him, throwing a thank you over my shoulder.

 

HARRY PoV

I blinked, trying to focus my gaze. It had gone fuzzy from staring at the wall for so long. Or maybe from the pain. Professor McGonagall had left after I woke up; told me she was going to speak with Poppy. Maybe they were discussing if they should punish me or just expel me so Lord Vernon and Lady Petunia could punish me instead.

“Oh Harry, thank Merlin and Magic itself,” a voice - Draco - called and then he was at my bedside.

I looked up at him, relieved to see him alive and well. I reached a hand towards him and he clasped it between both of his and brought it to his chest. “I was so worried, why did you think it was a good idea to bloody climb on a MOUNTAIN TROLL?” He asked, his voice getting panicked and his grip tightening.

Tilting my head a bit, I smiled up at him, trying to convey my apology. I currently couldn’t talk because I had a tablet dissolving in my mouth. Poppy had given it Professor McGonagall to give to me for my concussion along with instructions to let it simply dissolve in my mouth.

Draco’s eyes widened and I feared for my fingers. “Please tell me you’re okay, please.”

I nodded and opened my mouth to show him the rapidly disappearing tablet.

Draco looked tremendously relieved. “That is a weight off of my shoulders. You can still talk right?” I nodded. “Good, but if you’re feeling any pain I can get Pomfrey.”

I gave his hands a squeeze of my own, shaking my head. I was actually feeling much better. The medicine must be finally kicking in.

Draco bit his lip and let go of my hands. I noticed that my head started aching along with other parts of my body. I didn't think pain pills were supposed to wear off so quickly.

“Thank you for being an idiot and saving us,” Draco said, “but what were you doing? You don’t have to answer right now because I know you have the medicine but when you’re ready.”

He looked so forlorn and confused, I just had to answer him. I had questions of my own to ask anyway. Like how long I had been passed out, what happened to Hermione, and how much trouble we were in. McGonagall had left quickly after giving me the medicine, not sparing a moment for any of my questions.

I swallowed the small amount of medicine left, hoping that it would be fine. I knew next to nothing about medicine and for all I knew that tablet had been a magical remedy - which i knew even less about.

“I’m fine Draco.” I said with a weak little smile.

“Oh thank Merlin,” Draco exclaimed, throwing himself on top of me and hugging me.

No one had hugged me like this. Had I ever been hugged? I couldn’t really think, it was getting kind of hard to breathe though it didn't hurt nearly as much as it should all things considering. I wrapped my arms around Draco to quickly return the hug before I shoved him back a few centimeters.

“Too tight,” I gasped, not letting go of his shoulders.

He pulled away, out of my arms and I winced as the pain sunk in again. “Oh yes, of course. Are you alright? I didn’t hurt you more, did I?” Draco asked, his arms held close to his body and eyes wide with concern.

I shook my head and reached for him. “No, but oxygen IS a vital need I have.”

Draco huffed and glared at me but brought his hand to mine despite it.

“How’s Hermione?” I asked, pulling him a bit closer by his hand. Magical pain cures apparently worked on and off. The aches were dulling.

“Of course you what to know how SHE is,” Draco scoffed, “what about me? I could be experiencing a head injury, I am here talking to you after all.”

I rolled my eyes. “Don’t be like that Draco. You’re perfectly alright or else Poppy wouldn’t let you out of your bed. Now, how’s Hermione?”

Draco sat on the edge of my bed, playing with my fingers. “Hermione was discharged this morning, after a through check from Madam Pomfrey.” I opened my mouth but he continued. “You’ve been out for almost twenty hours.”

“Okay,” I said, looking at the high ceiling, “and what about you?”

He froze. “I… well I honestly wasn’t expecting you to ask about me.” He said and I heard him shift, squeezing my hand.

I turned to stare at him. “How could you not expect it? You just claimed to have a head injury and while I know that’s not true you ARE in the hospital wing so I think its safe to assume something is wrong. Maybe you’re here to get a chunk taken off your ego?” I bit, bewildered that he thinks I don’t care.

Draco scowled at me and dropped my hand, getting to his feet. “Well, if that’s how it is then I’ll just be going. Good day Potter!”

He didn’t get very far. “Come here Draco, I didn’t mean it like that.” I said, tugging gently on his robe. It pulled painfully at my arm.

He kept his scowl but caved and stood next to my bed again. I kept my hand tangled in his robes, grounding me. The pain pills had finally leveled out, leaving me with only about half of my pain. “Are you okay?”

“Of course, you didn’t exactly let anyone else jump in the way of danger now did you?” He snapped.

I gave him a shy smile but he ignored it. “You will tell me this instant just what you were thinking and why you were in that bathroom.” He demanded.

“Draco, I was looking for you.” I answered honestly.

 

DRACO PoV

“Me? You were looking for me?” I asked, taken aback. I had simply assumed we had both been looking for Hermione.

Harry smiled at me again, each one getting stronger. “Obviously. Horus gave me a spell to find you and I followed it to the bathroom where you, Hermione, and apparently that troll was. I was thinking that I should warn you about the troll since you had left earlier. What were you doing anyhow?”

I swallowed thickly, unsure if I should tell the truth. “Obviously I was looking for a favor. I know you fancy Hermione and I decided if I get on her good side I could get on yours.” I said, shocking myself with my honesty - even if it was hidden.

Harry rolled his eyes. “Of course you were.”

I bristled and pulled my robes away. What did he mean by that? Did he really think so little of me? “What’s that supposed to mean Potter?”

Potter blinked, his arm still held out almost like he couldn’t believe we weren’t touching. “Nothing Draco just-”

“That’s Malfoy to you Potter,” I spat - and despite everything in me saying otherwise, I stalked out of the infirmary and left Potter behind; my eyes burning as I held back my tears.

All of that for nothing. I’d obviously never gain any type of favor from Potter. It hurt when he talked like that. When he rolled his dragon green eyes and completely disregarded me. Rejected me it felt like. Maybe I’d be better off if I just stuck to my wands and kept clear of him. I couldn't handle being around him if this is what I got.

It felt so foreign to be around him and yet so right. We had been so in sync with that troll that I simply assumed it would stay that way afterwards. But no, Potter had to go and think that I was merely being a prat. That I only cared about gaining favors, debts.

I had to admit, it stung that the second I had been semi-honest this was the reaction I got. An eye roll and him brushing me off. Why couldn’t he just see right through me? I just wanted him to look at me and KNOW. I wanted him to call me out. Not a rejection, not twice in a row anyway.

I’d never open up to Potter again if I could help it. Drop my heart, your loss, crush my heart, I never should have given you the power. I couldn’t let it get that far. I wouldn’t give him that power.

Stubbornly, I pushed down the feelings begging me to go back in to Potter and started for the dungeons. And if I snapped at anyone who crossed my path, well, let’s just say I have detention next week.

 

HARRY PoV

I groaned, rubbing my temples against my throbbing head. It had been like a switch. I jokingly comment on Draco’s stereotypical Slytherin tendency because I thought for once we were bonding - and he goes back into prat mode with all his pretentious ‘that’s Malfoy to you’ business.

Poppy came ’round the curtain looking down at her clipboard. “Alright Misters Malfoy and Potter, I have a few things I’d like - where is Mr. Malfoy?” She asked after she lifted her head and saw Draco absent.

I snorted. “I don’t care, I’m not his keeper. I’m not even his friend it seems.”

She looked down at her notes, frowning. “Now Harry, you’ll get nowhere with that attitude.”

I laughed dryly but cut myself short due to the pain it caused. That had quickly seeped back too after Draco left. Nothing to distract me I suppose. Or just faulty magic pain pills.

“I’m in the infirmary AGAIN, it doesn’t look like I’m going much of anywhere.” I complained.

Poppy sighed. “Yes well that is easy enough to fix, I simply needed you awake to administer the rest of the potions.”

“I’ve been awake for a bit now Poppy, why can’t I have them then?” I asked even though I know I was being rude and mean. I just couldn’t help it, Draco being so… Draco coupled with the pain was just irritating me.

“I may not be a professor here but I do think I warrant a bit more respect than that Harry,” Poppy scolded.

I winched, my guilt over powering my irritation quickly and easily. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking. I’m sorry.”

Poppy shook her head and sat on the edge of my bed. “I think it would be best if you focused on getting better rather than letting Mr. Malfoy get to you - however hard that is. I only want what is right for you Harry.”

Letting my head fall back on the pillow in shame I sighed. “I understand Poppy. I won’t let him get under my skin.”

She patted my knee. “Just try Harry, that’s all I ask. I know how hard it is to not retaliate when someone disrespects you.”

Chapter Text

HARRY PoV

“Oh Severus, why must you go poking around Pomona’s plants?” Poppy huffed from the other side of my curtain.

I was getting dressed so I could leave the hospital wing but I paused. Why had Professor Snape been down by the green houses?

“You know Pomona would gladly get you anything you need.” Poppy continued. “My, my these look like scratches from a dog. I didn’t know Pomona had dogwood tulips this big. Severus this is practically your entire leg!”

Stifling my gasp, I thought back to a large dog capable of easily clawing a grown man’s leg.

“Yes well I don’t seem to be very lucky when it comes to canine creatures.” Severus said. “However I thought four was my unlucky number, but now it seems to have gone down to three.”

Having gotten to know Poppy from my frequent check ups with her, I knew for a fact that she was shaking her head in distaste. “Bollocks Severus, you should know better than to lie to me. Now I must clean your wound to apply the correct slave. Merlin knows that three-headed creature is filthier than any plant Pomona has down in those green houses.”

I nearly choked.

So not only did Poppy know of the three-headed dog but apparently so did Professor Snape. Not to mention he went close enough to get attacked by it!

I bit my lip, wondering if I should tell anyone. Last time I had mentioned the dog my friends left only to forget all about it.

Except Malfoy. When I had questioned my friends upon their return Malfoy had looked rather nervous across the room; his fingers moving sporadically.

It embarrassed me slightly that I knew how Malfoy was feeling from across the room.

 

---

 

“I can’t believe Draco did that,” Blaise said, shaking his head in disbelief.

“Well that makes one of you.” Jana shot back. “I knew he was a jerk.”

I fiddled with the edge of my scroll. We had been comparing notes and chatting for only a few minutes when Jana couldn’t hold it in any longer and asked about Halloween and my infirmary trip. Of course I told them everything I could remember; excluding Professor Snape’s visit.

Malfoy’s exit and my worry for his safety. Convincing Horus to let me find him. Following the little dragon. The actual fight and how well Malfoy and I worked together. Then the infirmary visit together.

Theo scoffed at Jana. “You’ve heard it now. Draco’s no jerk, he saved a friend’s life when he was a kid.”

Jana glared. “Yeah a kid. People change you know.”

“I think it would be best if we all calmed down a little,” Millicent advised.

“What about you Harry? What do you think of Malfoy?” Jana asked, whirling on me.

I looked up from my notes to find them all staring at me; Greg absent from our group today, back at the common room with Malfoy while we studied here at the library.

Pulling my hands off of the table and into my lap, I shrugged. “I don’t know. I just…” the frustration started to come back, “I just want him to be honest with me. I want to know if he actually wants to be my friend or not.”

“What do you want Harry?” Blaise asked quietly.

I looked down at my hands, twisting together in my lap. “I’d like to be friends with him,” I admitted. I also wanted to see if he knew anything about that three headed dog; but that was secondary.

Jana huffed. “Sometimes I wonder,” she said.

“Cut them some slack.” Mill defended with the Muggle phrase Jana had taught her. “Harry has a right to feel however he wants.”

“Exactly,” Theo said, “and it’s not like he’s saying something crazy like he’s utterly fallen with that git Weasel. Draco’s never been THAT mean to Harry and they do have times when they’ve gotten on well.”

I smiled at Theo, silently thanking him for standing up for me.

Jana sighed, rubbing her temples with the tips of her fingers. “Alright Harry, it’s not my place to question this.” She looked up and stared into my eyes. “If Malfoy makes you happy then I’ll support you.”

I turned my grin on Jana. “Thank y-”

“Until he steps out of line that is.” Jana threatened. “Blaise, you tell that boy of yours the second he causes Harry to get so much as a paper cut, that I have a six foot deep hole I’ll put him in.”

Blaise laughed nervously and Millicent looked thoroughly terrified. Theo looked like he had been expecting this. I was a mix of all three but I was also relieved Jana was accepting of my choice.

“Um,” Blaise cleared his throat, “I’ll be sure to tell him but don’t you think it’s a bit dumb to be announcing that to us?”

Jana glared at him. “I’m not worried about you lot.”

Theo laughed and clapped Jana’s shoulder in a friendly way. “Remind me never to get on your bad side. I swear I think you’re scarier than Lily Moon when I took the last turkey sandwich.”

That got everyone - even Jana - to chuckle.

 

---

 

I waited until History of Magic, a class that consisted mainly of taking notes as our only ghost Professor - Professor Cuthbert Binns - droned on and on. I also picked it because it was the easiest class to catch up on, if you knew what books to look in.

I had already made a deal with Greg to switch seats for this class. Despite being oddly neutral between Malfoy and I, he had readily agreed and thus my plans were set in motion.

When we all filed into the class room I lurked behind my fellow Slytherins and waited for Malfoy to take his seat. Vincent sat on the far side, then Malfoy in the middle, and then I swooped in just as Greg walked past their designated table.

Malfoy stared at me and I couldn’t help but stare back.

“Ahem, hem, today we will be learning about the centaur treaties of the late ten hundreds.” Professor Binns announced.

That brought Malfoy back to the present and he immediately turned and pulled out his scroll and quill. I got out my own things, beginning to jot down random dates Professor Binns said as I debated on how to bring this up to Malfoy.

I didn’t think this through. What if I had misread the signs? What if they weren't signs at all? Maybe Malfoy didn't want to be my friend. Oh god I was going to make a fool out of myself. I wasn't ready.

Suddenly a note folded in the shape of a rose fell onto my scroll. I saw the fancy Z on a petal and knew Blaise was sending me notes - a rare occurrence from him.

Malfoy and Vincent glanced over but looked away, Malfoy almost too quickly.

I opened it, knowing that no one would tell on me. Professor Binns didn’t care as long as you weren’t being loud or disturbing the whole class and still managed to get good grades he didn’t mind. So what would be the point of telling on me if I wouldn't get in trouble?

Precisely why I chose this class.

Anyway, Blaise had doodled a rather… rough, and very vague picture of a smiling Malfoy and had written ‘GO GET HIM’ in his beautiful hand writing. It was funny to see the stark contrast between the elegant words and the squiggled lines that made up Malfoy.

I grinned and folded the flower back up. This was just the thing I needed. A nudge - so to speak. Something to get my confidence back up.

“Draco,” I whispered.

He glared at me.

“Malfoy.” I corrected sadly.

His glare became more intense instead of disappearing. “What do you want Potter? I happen to be paying attention, something you should try.” Malfoy hissed quietly.

I almost laughed. So far my grades were pretty good. I was ranked sixth in our year. Malfoy and Granger always fighting for first with two Ravenclaws taking third and fourth and a Hufflepuff girl taking fifth.

Bass also claimed to know some seventh years I was smarter than. Of course I knew that was an utter lie but it made me feel nice.

Malfoy scowled at my smile. “Stop smirking and get to the point or I'll just ignore you.” He threatened.

“I want to know what’s up with you.” I said, my voice strong even though my heart was racing. “Do you want to be my friend or not?”

“What in Merlin’s beard gives you the impression I want to be your friend?” Malfoy said, but his face was red and he wouldn’t look at me now.

Shaking my head I reached over and gently placed my hand over Malfoy’s. He had been holding his quill so hard it was shaking and I feared he’d break the quill soon.

“There were many things that alerted me.” I said, carefully unfolding his hand from his quill. “How you helped me at Madam Malkin’s. The train incident; which I’m still sorry about.”

I made sure to focus only on his hand to avoid his gaze. What was the next sign? As yes, my personal favorite.

“How you convinced half the Slytherins in our year to give me a shot; to try and be my friend.” I took the quill and laid it on the desk.

“How did you-”

“Bass over heard you defending me,” I interrupted, “but that’s not all you did. You also told Horus when you thought I might have been poisoned or something.”

Malfoy was silent. “I never did find out what that was.” He whispered, so quietly I doubt Vincent heard and he was sitting right next to us. “Horus just told me it was prescribed by Madam Pomfrey and not to worry about it.”

I nodded and finally looked up from where I had been playing with his hand. His grey eyes were earnest and pleading. Like he wanted to double check that I was safe.

I wanted to tell him but not until I knew he was willing to try and be friends. I didn’t want him to have that over me if he decided to be rivals.

“You also gave me the courage to open up with my friends.” I said.

Malfoy was staring at me, his brow furrowed. “Now I’m sure I had nothing to do with that.”

I smiled at him. “But you did, if Greg hadn’t opened up to me, well, I probably would have lost everyone. Everyone you convinced to give me a chance.”

His grey eyes widened before he ducked his head. I think he noticed our hands were still joined because he - gently - pulled away.

“I just want to be your friend Dra-Malfoy.” I said. “I just want to know if these feelings are mutual.”

He picked up his quill again. “Can we talk after class?” He murmured.

I bit my lip. Oliver wanted to warm me up with the rest of his team and go over a few tactics he claims Marcus doesn’t know about before the game tomorrow.

“I can do that,” I said.

I would willingly risk the entire Gryffindor team’s anger if it meant Malfoy would talk to me.

He nodded but didn’t look up from his notes again. I smiled and started taking my own.

 

DRACO PoV

I hurriedly stuffed everything into my bag and dismissed Vincent. “Head back with Pansy, Tracy, and Lily. I have some things to deal with.” I said with a nod.

Vincent gave me a grin but agreed, diligently herding the girls away from me.

I took a deep breath before I turned to face Harry.

I absolutely DID NOT let out a girlish shriek that turned heads when I found his face so close to mine that our noses were touching. I did not.

Harry was simply grinning at my appealing face. Yeah.

Before he could open his smart mouth, I grabbed his wrist and started dragging him from the classroom.

“Not here, honestly Potter don’t you know anything?” I blabbered. “Do you want your news to be the talk of the whole school? I know for a fact Blaise is an utter fool when it comes to spreading gossip.”

“Hey!” Blaise protested. “I think there are a few things I've kept secret that you wouldn’t like to get out.”

I flushed, hoping he was simply referring to my Veela genes and not… something I had told to him in confidence.

“If you know what’s good for you Blaise,” I called back, pulling Harry’s arm to speed him up.

“Yeah yeah just kiss and make up already.” Blaise said, leaving no question as to what he had been talking about.

Completely ignoring my face that felt like it was on fire; I lead Harry out and away from all the other students. We stopped in front of an alcove that housed a suit of armor.

I stood there with Harry, gleefully taking note that instead of my hand on his arm our hands were now intertwined.

“This suit of armor here has many different kinds of charms on it.” I explained, keeping a hold of his hand. “Notice me not, invisibility, silencing, everything you can think of. Once we stand behind him and say the word all of those charms will activate and we can talk alone.”

Harry stared at the suit of armor in awe and I gladly took the sight of HIM in. Who knows if he’d allow me near him once he heard what I had to tell him. I had to get it in now I suppose.

“Wait, how do we know that someone else isn’t using it already?” Harry asked.

I blinked, startled at this plain evidence Harry had common sense. I smiled and answered, “We can tell because we don’t feel the need to leave or look away.”

“Oh, so basically the charms aren’t activated and aren't influencing us?” Harry said, looking over to me.

I nodded.

He smiled at me and ran his free hand through his pygmy puff nest of black hair. “That’s really cool Malfoy, I know of a place kind of like this one except it’s a room protected by a cool snake carving.” He said.

“That sounds amazing, does this snake have a name?” I asked, assuming the carving was sentient if it was protecting a room.

“His name is Scorpius, I think you would like him,” Harry said, still grinning.

I cleared my throat and looked away from his grin. “Shall we?” I asked, finally pulling my hand away and gesturing for him to go first.

Harry gave me a nod and walked into the alcove, behind the armor. Quickly looking around, I followed him.

Of course being a magical alcove there was plenty of room for us to stand comfortably even with the armor.

“Secrets,” I said, placing my hand upon the cat crest inlaid on the back of the armor.

I could feel the privacy spells go up around us.

“Alright,” I nodded and turned to face him, “when ever you’re ready.”

Harry frowned at me, his brows furrowed quizzically. “Malfoy, you’re the one who wanted to talk here. I assumed you’d want to direct the conversation.”

“Yeah well.” I said, shrugging. Faced with this daunting subject, the panicked induced epiphany that had lead to our current position had left me and now I didn't know what to do.

“Malfoy, I just wanted to know if we could be friends.” Harry prompted.

I shrugged. “I… I want to Potter, I do, but I don’t think we can.” I shook my head and crossed my arms, trying to make it look like I wasn't holding myself for comfort.

“Why not?” Harry asked simply.

“Because I was mean to you.” I said. “Maybe I did some of those things you said, but that is no excuse for hurting you.”

Harry reached out and laid his hand on my arm. I looked up into his vivid green eyes. He was smiling softly.

“D-Malfoy, though you have hurt my feelings a little bit doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.” He explained. “Just think of it as if you’re making it up to me by being extra nice.”

His smile was so nice, so sweet. It made me feel warm that he was finally smiling at me. That smile was for me, not someone else.

“And anyway it’s not like you were ever as bad as Weasley.” Harry added, moving his hand away.

I scowled at the comparison. “Of course I wouldn’t, I’m not an utter jerk.”

Harry grinned. “Exactly, so there. We can be friends.”

I frowned, still skeptical. “Do you really mean that?”

He nodded, his messy black locks waving gently. “Of course I-”

“Then why did you make fun of me in the hospital wing?” I interrupted solemnly.

Those big green, dragon eyes stared at me from behind those beat-up glasses. “I didn’t mean to come across as rude,” Harry said, “I was trying to joke about the stereotypical ‘Slytherin’ reason you gave. I guess I just forgot that we DON’T know each other that well; not well enough to know what the other finds funny or offensive.”

Now I just felt stupid.

Harry had been trying to joke with me, to be friends.

I was an idiot.

“I’m sorry Harry,” I said, looking down, “I thought you were… well that you were disregarding me. That you didn’t believe I could help someone without an ulterior motive spoiling it. And yeah, while this time it was true, it hurt that you appeared to assume that.”

I would save you in an heartbeat without an ulterior motive, Harry.

“Draco, there’s no need to apologize.” Harry said. “It’s understandable.”

Shaking my head I took a step back. For the first time my Father crossed my mind. What would he think of this?

“How could you want to be friends with me?” I asked. Maybe Harry didn't know that I thought purebloods superior.

“Draco it was a simple misunderstanding, I for one don’t think that’s a good reason to lose a friend over.” Harry said, stepping towards me.

“Maybe,” I said.

I desperately wished to be close to Harry, to be his friend. Despite my Father's wishes.

Harry laid his hands gently on my shoulders and I looked up at him. “How about we start over, yeah?” he said. “Nothing we’ve done to each other before counts - even the good things. We'll have a clean slate. Sound like a deal?”

I hesitated. It was the earnest expression on his soft face did it for me. “Deal.”

He grinned and let go of me. “It’s nice to meet you, I’m Harry,” he said, sticking out his hand.

I smiled back and took it, giving one good pump. “The pleasure is all mine Harry. My name is Draco.”

He held onto my hand for a second longer before letting go. “I have an extra Quidditch practice now for the game tomorrow but I look forward to getting to know you Draco.” Harry smiled, picking up his bag that I didn’t know he had dropped.

“I wish you luck but I still hope Slytherin wins,” I said, grinning widely so he knew I meant no malice.

Harry laughed. “I’ll catch you later Draco.”

“Bye,” I said, watching him leave the alcove.

The wards broke the second he crossed back into the hall but I stayed for a bit just thinking.

I hadn’t told Harry that I was a Veela.

Chapter Text

DRACO PoV

My hands were sweaty and I desperately wished for my violin. Making music always calmed me.

However, Father insisted that I focus on my studies. He wanted to keep all of my instruments at home for the entire year but I had managed to argue him down. If I excelled at all of my studies then I would be permitted to bring one instrument to Hogwarts after the hols.

How I wished it was Christmas. Then I would be at home and not waiting for Harry Potter to come back from this ridiculously late Quidditch practice with the Gryffindors.

All other first years had gone up to bed, leaving me alone with Marcus Flint. He was sitting on the other side of my table doing homework; no doubt getting ahead so he didn’t have to worry about doing it after tomorrows game.

I was sitting here under the guise of doing homework but the truth of the matter was I hadn’t written a single word for the past fifteen minutes. The longer Harry took the more jittery my nerves became.

I couldn’t give in, Harry had to know that I was Veela.

The common room door opened.

Oliver Wood walked in with Harry in tow.

Oliver glanced at me. “Flint, I want to talk to you, make sure you understand the consequences of trying to interrogate my Seeker.”

Marcus grinned and winked at me. “You can cut it out Olly, I trust Draco.”

This remark confused me. Aside from tonight I’ve never even said hello to Marcus Flint.

“Really?” Oliver said walking over and draping his arms around Marcus’ shoulders.

Marcus nodded, tilting his face up. They kissed and I nearly dropped my quill.

“Yeah, Draco won’t tell a soul,” Marcus promised for me, “and Harry needs someone to gossip to about us. We’re far too cute for him to contain.”

Harry snorted as he dropped his Quidditch bag next to me.

“Yeah, it’s real cute when you two scream your heads off at each other because you forgot to put away a bludger.” Harry said, though he looked half dead.

His naturally messy hair was wind blown from flying for hours, the same with his half-unlaced practice robes. He had a bandage on his left arm and he was losing the fight to keep his eyes opened. He was also filthy from head to toe, most likely the result of a few falls. Luckily I could see that he wasn't too badly hurt.

Harry toed off his Quidditch boots and stumbled onto the couch behind me. He was so utterly exhausted he didn't even care that he was slumped sideways in a rather uncomfortable position.

I couldn’t just dump this Veela thing on him, not when I wasn’t even positive that he was my mate. We are only eleven; Veela inheritances don’t usually come in until fifteen at the earliest.

It’s just, I really hope he’ll be my mate. Mother said it’s not uncommon to have a boy mate when you are a boy. Father hopes that I’ll have a girl mate but he said it didn’t matter in the end.

Harry yawned loudly behind me. “Ugh, I think you’ve killed me Olly,” he said.

Marcus laughed but Oliver only rolled his eyes. “If you head to bed you’ll be fine. I want you at the locker rooms forty minutes early to go over our game plan.”

Harry groaned. I smiled when I heard his complaints muffled by a pillow.

“Forty minutes Olly? Really?” Marcus teased. “All that time just to lose?”

Oliver Wood released his boyfriend. “How dare you, I’ll have you know that Harry here is the Gryffindor’s key to success!”

Marcus looked over my shoulder skeptically. “You mean the sleeping firstie with a good broom?”

I looked over my shoulder and smiled at Harry’s soft, sleeping face. His dirty glasses were crooked and pressing into his face.

“Oh, I see why you trust him.”

I whirled around to see Oliver and Marcus smirking at me.

Marcus stood and placed his arms on Oliver’s hips. “Yeah, he understands.”

Oliver smiled at me, his arms going up around Marcus’ neck. “We’ll help you bring Harry to bed and then I’ll be out of here.” Oliver said.

“Thank you,” I said.

I looked back again at Harry.

I had until I was fifteen until I had to worry about my mate. I could be Harry’s friend until it then.

Chapter Text

HARRY PoV

“Eat something.” Hermione scolded as Millicent scooped a pile of cream puffs onto my plate. The Gryffindor had taken to sitting at out table during meals. Neville joined us too but he was out helping Professor Sprout with some Herbology project this morning.

“You should give him something healthier than that Mill,” Jana said, looking at the sweats with disdain as she ate her vegetable omelet.

“At least a bit of toast,” Hermione prodded, ignoring Jana and Mill.

Millicent placed three treacle tarts on my plate. “He’ll need the energy. Seeker are always the main target and we know Slytherins fight dirty. We are Slytherins!”

Blaise laughed around a mouthful of waffle. I didn’t even know he had been listening.

To be fair I barely heard the girls fighting over my breakfast. I was feeling a little nauseous but I took a bite of treacle tart to hopefully appease SOMEONE.

“Thank you Harry,” Hermione said, relieved to see me eating I guess.

“Yeah, now just finish that whole plate.” Millicent ordered.

Jana rolled her eyes and went back to eating her own breakfast.

I looked up the table for Draco but he hadn’t come down yet. Neither had Vincent and Greg though. Theo too was still up at the dorm. I wondered what they were up too.

 

---

 

I nervously laced up the last of my scarlet Gryffindor Quidditch robes. This would be my first game. I looked around at my team.

Oliver was descriptively explaining a play to Katie Bell and Alicia Spinnet. Fred and George Weasley - much more fun and accepting than their younger brother - were taking turns telling Angelina Johnson jokes. Angelina herself was in a never ending cycle of laughter; although I didn’t understand half of the twin’s jokes.

However I could definitely understand how Oliver described them as a pair of human bludgers themselves.

I found myself wishing Marcus was here. Gryffindor practices had been odd without him too but Marcus always knew how to make me feel better. Usually he gave me a miniature treacle tart he got on Hogsmeade weekends but other times he just ruffled my hair and gave me a smile with his crooked teeth.

Oliver knew how to make me feel better but he always had a harder time noticing when I was nervous. I couldn’t blame him right now anyway, he had an entire team to prepare.

“Alright you lot, gather around and ready yourselves.” Oliver called out. “I’ll be right back.”

I grinned as I sat next to Fred. Oliver claimed to disappear so he could have a moment to get into his own head space but Marcus had told me they really had a pre-game ritual of giving each other a good luck kiss. That was actually how they had gotten together.

They had started a fight at the last minute because Marcus’ keeper was late so they couldn’t start. Oliver insisted they use their back up keeper but he had broken his arm in such a way magic couldn’t be used to speed up the process. The tension just mounted until it lead to the inevitable - their first kiss. That game was their best yet, resulting in a tie.

“So Harry, do you believe that Flint and Oliver are dating?” Angelina asked.

“Come on, it’s obvious! They’re closer-” George started.

“Than we are and we’re twins.” Fred finished.

Katie laughed. “That’s absurd. I saw Flint sock Oliver in the jaw just last week.”

Fred raised his hands but George spoke. “Hey, we’re all into different things.”

“Don’t judge.” Fred ended.

Alicia and Katie turned red but Angelina just cackled. I gave a hesitant, probably confused smile. I had no clue what George meant about being into different things.

Oliver cleared his throat for silence as he came back into the Gryffindor locker room.

“Okay, men and women,” Oliver started, “This is it.”

“The big one,” George said.

“The one we’ve all been waiting for,” Fred continued.

“We know Oliver’s speech by heart,” George said to me.

“We were on the team last year with him,” Fred added.

Oliver flushed. “Shut it you two. I know we’re going to win. This is the best team we’ve had in years.”

Fred and George frowned. “Wait, where’s the best part?”

“Yeah,” Fred said, “let’s go kick some ass?”

The girls on the team giggled as Oliver looked at me nervously.

I smiled and hefted my broom over my shoulder. “I’ve heard it all. My aunt and uncle were never worried about corrupting me. Now, let’s get to kicking some ass.”

 

---

 

We stood on our side of the pitch, the Slytherin team in their green robes were on the other side with Madam Hooch in-between us. Olly and Marc were doing the customary handshake of the team captains.

I looked around for my friends. They had all promised to come but it was hard to find them among what felt every student in Hogwarts. It was made easier because everyone was wearing their house scarves since it was so cold. I just had to look for two Gryffindors among a group of Slytherins.

My face warmed considerably when I saw my friends. They were huddled around a large sign that said ‘Potter for President’ - no doubt the result of Hermione and Jana. The banner was flashing between my Slytherin house colors and my Gryffindor Quidditich team colors. When it was Slytherin you could see the Slytherin logo of a snake while you saw the Gryffindor lion when it was red and gold.

It was nice to see my Slytherin friends willingly sitting with Hermione and Neville. It was even nicer to see Draco standing with them - although he held a plainly Slytherin pennant.

“Mount your broom Harry,” George advised.

“and don’t forget to watch your back.” Fred added.

I frowned as I mounted my broom.

“Hooch as it out for ya,” George explained.

“Doesn’t like it when kids play for ‘the wrong house’.” Fred said.

“Alright kids,” Madam Hooch said in her gruff voice, “I want a good, fair game.”

Before anyone could agree or disagree, however, she blew her whistle and tossed up the quaffle.

Everyone shot up, one Gryffindor Chaser and two Slytherin Chasers heading right to the Quaffle.

“And Angelina Johnson of Gryffindor grabs the quaffle - an excellent steal and by quite an excellent looking girl-”

“JORDAN!” Professor McGonagall yelled so loud Lee Jordan’s microphone picked it up.

“Right sorry,” Lee apologized

I heard Fred laughing at his friend’s mis-step as he zoomed past me, following up on a bludger.

Listening to Lee’s commentary I kept an eye out for the snitch. Of course I rose a little higher to be out of the way since that had been Oliver’s plan to keep me alive.

“And a neat pass Alicia Spinnet - a reserve player from last year - now back to Johnson and - no! interception by the Slytherin Captain Marcus Flint - flying like an eagle up there - he winds up - ONLY TO BE STOPPED YES! I knew there was a reason I liked Gryffindor Keeper Oliver Wood. And now Gryffindor Chaser Katie Bell in possession of the Quaffle - OUCH - she dodges around Flint only to be hit with a bludger sent by Slytherin Beater Damion Greyson - Adrain Pucey speeding towards the goal - blocked by another bludger sent by Fred - or George Weasley, can never tell which - nice play either way, and we have Johnson back with the quaffle and a clear path ahead! She doges the bludger, swings around Slytherin Keeper Miles Bletchley AND SCORES! YES GRYFFINDOR SCORES!”

I chuckled as the Gryffindors cheered, drowning out the Slytherin grumbles and Professor McGonagall’s protests at Lee’s blatant favoritism. I myself did a loop de loop to celebrate.

I glanced at my friends to see how they were taking it. They were barley paying attention - aside from Millicent and Theo - for Hagrid had moved to sit with them. I grinned, glad to see everyone making him feel welcome.

Luckily, everyone had had a turn meeting Hagrid since they all took turns visiting him with me on the weekends. Even Hermione and Neville had come last week.

Well, everyone had come with me except Draco of course, considering we only became friends yesterday.

I turned my attention back to the game just in time to avoid getting beat by a bludger.

“SORRY ‘BOUT THAT!” George hollered, cashing after the ball and smacking it towards Marcus.

I grinned but resolved myself to pay more attention. It wouldn’t do to be distracted in a game like this.

I tuned back into Lee’s commentary as I scanned for the snitch.

“Slytherin Chaser Pucey with the quaffle! He dodges both bludgers, both Weasleys AND GRYFFINDOR CHASER SPINNET! Is there NO ONE who can stop him? Wait - was that the snitch? Obviously trying to give Gryffindor some help since it smacked Pucey in the face!”

I had already shot after the snitch, ignoring that Angelina had picked up the quaffle from Pucey’s fumble.

The Slytherin Chaser, Terence Higgs, was right on my tail. However he was larger than me, heavier too, and that made him slower.

I pulled ahead only to be stopped short by the tail end of Marcus’ broom.

I nearly fell but Marcus had kept his broom under me. I pushed off it and seated myself more firmly onto my broom.

“FOUL!” Screamed the entirety of Gryffindor and probably some Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs too.

“Cheat,” I taunted and stuck out my tongue.

Marcus rolled his eyes. “Yeah yeah kid, just remember to mention that I saved you from falling? Might be the only thing that keeps Oliver from throwing my ass out in the cold.”

“Sure but I’m taking the foul.” I said with a grin.

Oliver was already on the ground arguing with Madam Hooch.

I flew back up to my place above the match and watched the penalty take place - as well as Lee Jordan’s loyalty conflict.

“So after that horrific and disgusting-”

“Jordan!”

“After Flint’s revolting-”

“JORDAN!”

“Alright! After Flint nearly kills the Slytherin turned Gryffindor Seeker - which proves Slytherins don’t care for anyone - but could obviously happen to anyone, Gryffindors earn the penalty.”

I heard all the boos, surprisingly from both Slytherins and Gryffindors. Did that many people not approve of me playing for Gryffindor?

Gryffindor cheers brought me back and I pushed it aside. I couldn’t bother with this right now. I might be a Slytherin but my team needed me. I’d figure out what these conflicting loyalties meant to me later.

I did another loop de loop to congratulate Alicia Spinnet on her goal but also to clear my head. I had to focus.

I had to focus because another bludger was heading my way. I doged but must have over corrected because I nearly fell as my broom lurched unexpectedly.

I frowned but readjusted my grip only to have it happen again. And again until it felt like my broom was one of those bucking bulls I had seen on the telly once.

I couldn’t even signal anyone for fear of either losing my grip or losing my tongue. Curse Oliver for stationing me so high up.

Lee kept commenting as I fought to stay on my broom.

“Flint steals the quaffle from Bell and is off! He dodges a bludger, twirls around Spinnet - and somehow powers through a bludger to the face! I hope it broke his nose - only kidding Professor! It’s a joke! Oh no, Slytherin scores.”

I almost missed Lee telling everyone the score of 20 - 10, Gryffindor in the lead.

 

DRACO PoV

I stared worriedly up at Harry. His broom was acting like nothing I’d ever seen before.

“Dunno what ‘arry’s up tuh.” Hagrid muttered, someone else thankfully noticing Harry’s predicament. “If I didn’ know better I woulda sworn he lost control of his broom… he can’t have…”

Hermione grabbed my binoculars right from my hand. I scowled at her but it did nothing for she was focusing on the teacher’s stand right next to us.

“Draco-”

I gasped - along with half of the spectators who had now noticed Harry. His broom was rolling continuously, as if trying to dislodge him.

I flinched when he swung off, only holding on by one hand now.

“Did something happen when he knocked into Flint?” Jana asked.

“Of course not,’ Blaise said, “Flint might not like that Harry’s on the other team but he’d never hurt him like that.”

“Can’t be no simple jinx,” Hagrid mutter almost to himself, “dark magic, no kid could do that.”

Hermione grabbed my sleeve. “Draco, look,” she thrust my binoculars back at me and pointed to Uncle Snape.

He was glaring furiously up at Harry and his mouth was moving rapidly.

“Oh Merlin, eye contact, muttering,” I blinked, “but he can’t be.”

Hermione didn’t hear me, she was already shoving her way towards the teacher’s stands.

“Hermi- wait,” I called, trying in vain to follow her.

Glancing up, I saw the Weasley’s taking turns to try and grab Harry down while still fighting off the Slytherin team who were pressing their advantage. Unfortunately, Harry’s Nimbus Two Thousand was vibrating to violently to safely allow them near.

I finally caught up to Hermione only after she had finished her spell. Blue flames spouted from her wand and clung to Uncle Snape’s robes.

I yanked her away, knowing we only had seconds before my Godfather knew he was on fire.

Thirty seconds and we were halfway back when I heard the girlish scream of Professor Quirrell being knocked over in my Godfather’s haste to put out the fire.

“It’s alright Neville, Harry’s safe, you can look again,’ Hermione said, proudly comforting her fellow Gryffindor who had been crying into Hagrid’s elbow (the only thing he could comfortably reach on the half giant) since before we had departed.

Looking back at Harry, I smiled in relief to see him clamoring back onto his broom. But then he shot off.

“And yet another - wait! It looks like Harry Potter, Gryffindor Seeker has spotted the snitch!” Lee Jordan screamed over his microphone.

I stared as Harry dived straight down, Terence Higgs way behind but still in pursuit which told me Harry had indeed found the snitch and it wasn’t his broom acting up again.

Harry reached out for the snitch, his fingers just barley grazing it - when a well placed bludger knocked into the tail of his broom. It pitched him head first to the ground.

I closed my eyes, trying to reel in my protectiveness. Harry was fine, the bludger had interrupted his momentum so he wouldn’t have hit the ground so hard. Nothing a quick infirmary visit couldn’t fix.

Then I heard it.

“I CAUGHT THE SNITCH!”

 

HARRY PoV

Just as my broom stilled I saw the snitch. It was flying near the ground, around a flower. I hastily climbed back onto my broom, trying not to look like I had spotted the snitch but the second I was on I zoomed after it.

It felt good, the wind in my hair, the speed, even the faint salty smell of sweat. My blood was pumping like it did when Dudley chased me but I wasn’t scared. I felt like I could do anything.

And then my broom was hit and I pitched head first over the front of my Nimbus.

Something flew into my mouth and my tongue instinctively blocked it from going down my throat.

I groaned around the thing - that oddly tasted like metal - and sat up. I coughed and out came the snitch.

I blinked at it, laying there passively in my palm. It was no longer active since I had caught it.

I caught it.

“I CAUGHT THE SNITCH!” I hollered happily, getting to my feet to wave it around.

“He didn’t catch it!” Marcus protested as Madam Hooch blew the whistle. “Kid nearly swallowed it!”

I laughed and grinned at Marcus anyway. I knew he wasn’t too mad at me. Maybe even a little impressed.

Then the Gryffindor team all landed next to me, bombarding me with congratulations and hugs. Oliver was screaming about how ‘he was right’ and ‘take that Flint’.

The Weasley twins hefted me onto their shoulders and started a chant. “Potter ate the snitch! Potter ate the snitch!”

I laughed as eventually everyone started to join in.

“Party in the common room!” Katie hollered.

I frowned. I hadn’t even thought about a party.

My Slytherin friends might not like that I won the game for Gryffindor but I wasn’t comfortable going to a party without them. Especially in the Gryffindor common room with people I didn’t know and who didn’t know me.

The Gryffindor team barely knew about my aversion to touch and I wasn’t really inclined to tell them either. I liked that they treated me like I was normal. It was kind of nice that they didn’t know.

At least Neville and Hermione would be there.

 

DRACO PoV

I stared wistfully as the Gryffindors swept Harry away to their den.

Of course I had known that if the Gryffindors had won they would want to celebrate with Harry. That was only natural. I had just assumed we would get to congratulate him or even just see him but by the time us Slytherin first years got onto the pitch the whole house of lions had stolen him away.

“Come on Draco,” Blaise said, “we can have our own little celebration when Harry comes back.”

Theo threw an arm around my shoulders while Greg and Vincent helped the girls carry the sign and bags they had brought.

“Yeah, we can raid the kitchens.” Jana suggested.

I arched my eyebrow at her. “There’s no way to get into the kitchens unless you’re a house elf or you can apparate.” I said. “How does one just raid the kitchen?”

Jana gave me a wide grin.

“You scare me woman,” Blaise said, shaking his head.

Millicent rolled her eyes and hefted a bag over her shoulder. “She scares us all Blaise, you don’t need to boost her ego by saying it.”

We chuckled and started back to the castle.

“I’ll take Greg and Vincent back to the common room to put all this stuff away,” Millicent announced, “anyone want to come?”

Blaise raised his hand. “I for one do not need to be a witness to Jana’s feat of most likely illegal magic. Detention does not look good on a report card.” He said, taking the binoculars from Theo and Jana.

I handed him mine as well. “My curiosity is more then my fear.” I stated. “And I trust Jana to be Slytherin enough to not get us caught.” I added with a wink in her direction.

Jana gave me a calculating look before she gave in and smiled. “Well let’s go then.”

---

“What are you firsties doing here?” A voice said from behind.

“What are you up too?” Another said.

All three of us turned and came face to face - well, face to chest with the tall Gryffindor beaters and the announcer.

“Same as you I suspect,” Theo said calmly.

The Weasley twins shared a look. “It’s rare first years know how to find the kitchens-” one started.

“Much less get in.” The other finished.

“I’m impressed,” they said in sync.

“I don’t even know how to get in here,” Jordan cried out, “these pricks won’t tell me the secret.”

Jana rolled her eyes. “It’s really simply actually-”

“Hey! If you tell him the secret-” The first twin said.

“Then he’ll have no use for us anymore.” The other said.

Lee Jordan chuckled. “You’re bloodly right, the second I know how to get into the kitchens I’m dropping the two of you like a hot dragon egg.”

I smiled at their easy friendship. Maybe Harry and I could become like that one day.

“Is Mister Williams needing anything else?” A house elf interrupted, a large bag of food - mostly sweets - floating behind her head.

For some reason the elf hadn’t once referred Jana as Mistress like they usually do to woman. Jana had paused the first time it happened but happily accepted it.

I’d have to ask about that later.

“No thank you Blinky, we have plenty.” Jana said, patting the elf on the head before plucking the bag out of the air.

“We however,” The first Weasley twin started.

“Could use some help.” The other concluded.

“What can Blinky do for Misters Weasley and Mister Lee?” Blinky said, turning to her new patrons.

“Come on then,” Jana said, leading us to the portrait door.

Theo and I followed her out of the kitchens and down the hall towards our common room.

We went along in comfortable silence for a bit before I decided to broach the subject of Jana being addressed as Mister.

“So, do you know why Blinky was referring to you as house elves typically address males?” I asked, careful to sound neutral.

Jana didn’t look at me but her steps did falter for a moment. On the other side of her Theo looked exasperated.

“I’m not positive.” Jana said stiffly. “I’m unfamiliar with the ways of house elves.”

I stared at her, unsure if she was just uncomfortable because of being called Mister or if she was lying or what. Well, it wouldn’t make sense if she was uncomfortable with it, she had seemed rather happy after the initial shock.

“Alright, just because you’re not positive doesn’t mean you don’t have a hypothesis.” Theo said. “Knowing you, you definitely have a hypothesis.”

Jana sighed. “Sometimes I hate being surrounded by Slytherins.”

I smirked. “What, don’t like it that we aren’t fooled so easily?”

Jana shrugged but stopped walking and faced Theo and I. “Basically.” She admitted. “I think Blinky called me mister because…” She awkwardly looked down. “Well lately I’ve been feeling… different. I LIKED being called mister, it felt good.”

I frowned, trying to puzzle this out.

“It’s okay Jana.” Theo said. “We’re here for you if you need. Like if you want to talk or anything.”

I glanced over at Theo’s pleading gaze. “Yes Jana, I might not have had the chance to get to know you well yet but I am open to getting to know you. However you are.”

Jana broke into a grin, her eyes misting up a bit but she didn’t cry. “Thank you both, this means a lot.”

Theo nodded, “Of course. I’m here for you.”

I really had no clue as to what was going on but it was obvious that Jana needed the support - and that Theo was very invested in giving it.

Jana wiped her eyes, though she had let no tears fall. “We should get back to the common room. The others will be waiting for the sweets.”

---

We waited until the only people left in the common room were us first years and even then people started to head up to bed. Tracey and Lily left first, only there in the first place because I asked them too. Pansy was next, left with a glare and a huff. Daphne left once her homework was finished and Blaise fell asleep. Greg brought him up to bed and neither of them came back.

I sighed and ate another Peppermint Tree. Millicent, Vincent, and Blaise had eaten most of the sweets we had brought. That’s not to say I didn’t help but I had politely tried to wait for Harry to return.

However around ten thirty I gave in and started in on the Peppermint Trees.

It was now around one in the morning and the only one still awake with me was Theo.

“He’s not coming back is he?” I asked quietly.

Theo shrugged, and pulled a blanket over Jana. Her, Vincent, Blaise and Millicent had all fallen asleep. Vincent and Blaise together on the two person couch, Millicent on the floor leaning on their couch, and then Jana sprawled on the couch behind Theo and I.

“Well he has to at some point. This is his dorm too.” Theo said, not looking at me.

“But not tonight.” I said admitting defeat. “I’m going to bed.”

Theo looked up at me sadly. “If that’s what you want to do. Harry might come back tonight.”

I looked at the door before shaking my head. “If he hasn’t come back by now I think it’s safe it assume he won’t.”

Then I walked away. Back to the dorm where I could sleep and forget for a little while. At least until morning.

Chapter Text

HARRY PoV

I gasped as I woke up in a strange place. It was vibrant red and gold and my head was throbbing. Nothing like when I woke in the soothing, emerald and silver Slytherin rooms.

I fixed my crooked glasses and looked around. There were a number of unfamiliar people. They were all older than me and passed out around the garish common room.

I saw the Weasley twins and Lee piled together under the table they had conjured last night to hold all of the food and drinks. Angelina was asleep on the couch but Katie and Alicia where no where to be found. I couldn’t find Oliver either but he had left the party early. There were a lot more older students scattered around the room as well.

The last thing I could recall was the Weasley twins rescuing me from some scary older girl who was trying to give me a suspicious looking pink drink. They had cast a charm so no one would notice me hiding in the corner. I think I was supposed to leave when there was a clear path but I must have fallen asleep.

Groaning, I sat up. God was I sore after the match. I didn’t really notice it last night but I was aching. It was a nice ache though, reminding me of our success yesterday. My head was throbbing less too.

Despite this being a tower, I couldn’t find any windows in the common room. There were no clocks either like we had in Slytherin.

Maybe I could attempt the tempus charm. It was a second year spell but Theo had been researching it with me. Time spells where something he was really interested in and he had been working on them a lot recently.

I pulled my wand Adrian out of the hip hostler I always wore. Ever since Draco and I had fought after the troll incident on Halloween I couldn’t bring myself to carry around my mate’s wand. I guessed something had happened to make me feel uncomfortable carrying my mate’s wand.

Now, what was the wand movement? I frowned, waving my wand trying to jog my memory. Ah yes! A simple counter-clockwise circle and then you point to where you want to time to appear.

“Tempus,” I whispered, pointing my wand at the bottom of a random shoe left laying around. Gryffindors, honestly.

I blinked, making sure I hadn’t read it wrong. 10:15 in the morning. Thank god it was Sunday and we had no classes or I would have been in SERIOUS trouble.

Getting to my feet, I took another glance around the room. Gryffindors certainly partied hard. I guess I couldn’t blame them, this was their first victory over Slytherin for years if Katie and Alicia were to be believed.

I slid my wand back into my holster and walked over to where the twins and Lee were sleeping. I bit my lip, wondering if I should wake them or just leave.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Oliver said from behind me.

I whirled around and saw Oliver and Marcus standing in the doorway.

“I’m sorry, I was only-”

Oliver shook his head and gave me a smile. “It’s fine Harry, I get it. I’m just warning you its not the best idea to wake those two up. They’re always armed with jinxes and prank bombs.”

Marcus shuddered and I got the feeling he had first hand experience.

“Anyway, I was kind of shocked when Draco came approached me at breakfast and asked where you were. I had assumed you would have left when the party got too crazy.” Oliver said.

“Wait, you weren’t here this morning?” I asked.

They both flushed a deep red and Marcus coughed.

“Yes well Oliver and I had our own… celebration.” Marcus said. “Anyway, your friends asked me to make sure you were okay and tell you that they’re finishing homework out by the lake.”

I nodded. “Thank you Marcus, I'd like to join them now I feel bad that we didn’t really get to spend time together yesterday.”

Oliver smiled. “Yeah, I’m sorry about that Harry. Gryffindor hasn’t had a lot of reasons to celebrate these past few years so everyone went a little over board.”

Shrugging, I edged around them towards the door. I really was getting anxious to see my friends. What if they thought I blew them off on purpose? Especially Draco, our friendship wasn’t really built on anything yet, I couldn’t lose it already over something so stupid. I have a feeling that Draco would make a formidable enemy if he tried.

“It’s not your fault, but I would like to see my housemates so…” I trailed off pointing to the door.

Marcus chuckled. “Of course, I’ll join you actually. I’m supposed to meet up with Miles at the doors.”

“I’ll see you guys later,” Oliver said, glancing around to make sure everyone was asleep before giving Marcus a quick peck.

I smiled as Marcus returned to kiss before turning to me. “Alright Harry, let’s get you out of those garish Quidditch robes before we let you out in public. I know a way to sneak you down to the dungeons so no one sees you.”

---

I waved farewell to Marcus and Miles at the large front doors of the castle and took off sprinting towards the lake, my book bag thumping against my back.

It was chilly so I had grabbed my warm Slytherin scarf but sadly there wasn’t yet snow. I adored snow, it was so pure and beautiful. Sadly it hardly snowed at the Dursley’s house and when it did it quickly turned into tainted, dirty mush.

However, Bass had said that it snows more at Hogwarts. I was looking forward to actually playing in the snow. Maybe my friends would even have a snowball fight with me! I’d never participated in one. The closest I had ever come was Dudley’s winter edition of Harry Hunting.

“Harry! Over here!” Blaise called out, standing up and waving his arms.

I grinned and sped up a bit. “Hey,” I said, a little out of breath.

“Did you run the whole way here or what?” Millicent asked as I sat down between her and Jana.

Draco, Blaise, and Greg were sitting on one side of a large gray blanket while I joined Millicent and Jana on the other.

“Just from the front doors.” I corrected. “Where’s everyone else?”

“Theo and Vincent went up to the owlery to visit their owls, Pansy, Lily, and Daphne stayed in the castle cause they complained its too cold.” Blaise said.

“And Tracey had to visit Madam Pomfrey for some special allergy pills now that it’s getting colder.” Millicent said.

I nodded, pulling out some of my assignments from this week. “Okay, cool. So what are we working on? I didn’t really know so I just brought what I have left.”

Jana shrugged and then spoke for the first time. “I think that’s basically what were doing, although everyone is pretty much done already.”

I winched at her tone. “Right, of course.”

There was an awkward silence for a few minutes. I kept my head down and tried to make it seem like I was reading my papers. I had a lot of work to do since I had been with the Gryffindors yesterday after the game.

“Hey Harry,” Greg blurted out, “how about we visited Hagrid? I haven’t seen him in forever and uh, I really miss Fang.”

I smiled up at Greg in relief. “Yeah… it’s been a while since I’ve seen him. I don’t have that much homework anyway.” I lied, putting away my homework.

Greg smiled back at me. “Let’s go then, he should be at his hut right?”

I nodded. “Yeah, let’s go.” I didn’t bother inviting anyone else but I did look up and make eye contact with Draco. His nice silvery eyes were sad before he looked away.

“Have fun,” Blaise said but even his cheerful attitude was dampened.

 

-DRACO PoV-

I sighed and flopped onto my back as Greg and Harry left. “I feel so guilty treating him like that.” I admitted, turning my head to look at my peers.

“Yeah well he blew us off,” Jana said harshly.

“Maybe, but no one even gave him a chance to explain,” Blaise accused.

“I didn’t hear you ask him for an explanation either!” Jana shot back.

“Girls, girls, you’re both pretty.” Millicent said. “But this is about Harry. I know its hard that he ditched us for the Gryffindors of all people but he was here. He was coming to spend time with us.”

Jana scowled. I was just glad someone had gotten between Blaise and Jana.

Blaise grinned and pointed to Milly. “Thank you! And it’s not like Harry knew that we were waiting up for him to celebrate on our own. Besides, we’re not Harry’s only friends - as awkward as that boy is.”

“Excuse you! Harry isn’t awkward.” I protested, sitting back up. How dare Blaise badmouth Harry. “He’s just shy!”

All three of them rolled their eyes. “Blaise didn’t mean it in a bad way Draco.” Milly said. “But you have to face the facts. Harry is a tad awkward; not that we don’t love him for it now but you had to convince us to give him a chance.”

“Not me.” Jana muttered, glaring at me.

I cleared my throat to buy me some time to get over my embarrassment. “Right well, just making sure everything is going smoothly.”

Blaise stared at me. “You really think that I don’t like Harry? I spend more time with him than I do you! The kid is brilliant! Not to mention super kind and funny.”

“No! of course not Blaise I just worry.” I said, looking away in shame. “I didn’t mean to accuse you of anything. Harry is just… delicate.”

Jana rolled her eyes hard. “Draco, you really need to get to know Harry. Yeah he’s shy and awkward but he’s anything but delicate.”

My gaze hardened, zeroing in on Jana. “Maybe you can’t see it but Harry has obviously been through a lot.” I said.

“No really?” Jana asked sarcastically. “Dude I know that but what you don’t see is how strong Harry is to come out of those things. He’s come a long way since school first started.”

I sighed and nodded. “I’m sorry. I… I really don’t know Harry.” I stared down at my hands.

I felt like such an idiot. Here I had preached to my whole year to give Harry a chance and yet I hadn’t tried to be his friend until now. And even worse, I was accusing those who had become Harry’s friend that I knew Harry better.

“I’m sorry.” I said.

Blaise wrapped an arm around my shoulders. “Stop looking so glum mate. We know that you care about Harry but you have to understand that we care about him too.”

Millicent came over and sat on the other side of me and placed her hand on my shoulder. “You have to respect that we’re Harry’s friends as well. I know its hard with your Veela instincts and all-”

“Wait, Veela?!” Jana burst out.

“Ssh!” I said, nervously glancing around. “Not so loud.” Salazar knows what the people here would do if they found out I was Veela.

“You’re seriously a Veela?” Jana whisper-screamed.

I nodded, glad that Blaise and Millicent were there for support. “I’m more than half Veela which means I won't really get a creature inheritance when I become of age. I’ll get a power boost like everyone but my creature is already there, fully functioning.”

Jana stared at me as though studying. “I’ve only read about Veela in the creature book Harry let me borrow.”

I froze. “Wait, Harry knows about Veela too?” Oh Merlin’s beard I was done for. Harry was raised as a Muggle. He would think I was a freak, unnatural. He wouldn’t want to be my friend anymore.

“It’s okay Draco, I don’t think he knows that you’re Veela.” Blaise reassured.

“And even if he does,” Milly said, “Harry isn’t one to judge.”

Jana nodded, still studying me. “Hardly, Harry couldn’t care less about anything like that. And I doubt he’s realized anything. I had the books for weeks before Harry asked for it back so he could return it to Horus. He barely had enough time to make it to the section on Veela in the time he had it.”

Letting out my breath, I slumped onto Blaise’s shoulder. “I’ll have to tell him eventually anyway.”

I could feel Blaise’s jaw brush against my head as he nodded. “Yes, you will. Especially if he’s becoming a Temp.”

I blinked. Of course, Harry might not be my mate, he could just be a Temp. I had forgotten about that. Thank Lady Magic herself, that was a ton of weight off my shoulders.

“What’s a Temp?” Jana asked. Milly too looked puzzled.

Right, time to explain it for just about the hundredth time. I sat up off of Blaise’s shoulder but thankfully he and Millicent both kept their calming hands on me. Veela required the touch of close friends. They were very social creatures but also extremely loyal.

“A Temp is what Veela call a person who is essentially a practice mate.” I started. “It’s someone for my Veela instincts to focus on. I need someone so I can learn to protect and take care of my mate properly. Usually this is a close friend or a younger sibling.”

Jana frowned. “Alright, I’m not trying to be rude here but why have you only latched onto Harry now? You obviously had friends before Hogwarts. Why isn’t Greg your Temp? You did save his life.” Jana pointed out. "And wouldn't it be really weird if your brother or sister was your practice mate?"

I shrugged. “I’m not really sure. I think Greg was for a while but he’s grown up. He doesn’t really need me anymore and hence there’s not much I can learn from him. As for the sibling thing, no. It wouldn't be weird cause its more like I'm learning how to take care of another person. I'd just be a protective older brother - if I had any siblings that is. Making sure they didn't get hurt and were being taking care of. Things like that.”

This really was starting to make more sense. Harry being my Temp was going to be grand. And it made sense of all these feelings I had been having since I had helped Harry get his robes in a proper size at Madam Malkin’s.

“Okay, I can go with this.” Jana said.

“Is there anything we can do to help you with Harry?” Millicent asked.

I shook my head. “I think it’d be best if I got close to him myself, however, I won’t say no if you decide to put in a few good words here and there for me.”

Blaise chuckled. “I think we can do that. But first I have some advice.” Blaise took his arm that had been around my shoulders and shoved me to my feet. “Go get ‘em.”

Milly smiled. “Yeah, the best time to start is the present.”

I looked over at Jana to see if she approved. She seemed to have formed the closest, possessive attachment to Harry.

“Just go and make amends.” She said, waving me off. “Draco, make sure he knows that we ALL forgive him.” Jana added, looking me in eyes.

I gave her a brisk nod. “Of course. I’ll catch up with you later. Exploding Snap tournament tonight?” I ask.

“You know it!” Blaise answered excitedly.

“Good luck Draco,” Millicent said as Jana waved me away again.

I picked up my bag and started towards the games keeper’s hut. Greg and Harry were no where to be seen so I assumed they had already gone in.

Hopefully Harry wouldn’t be too upset. I don’t want to cause a scene.

Once on the steps, I hesitated. Should I knock? Maybe I should wait until Harry and Greg came out.

There was a loud, deep bark of a large dog that made the decision for me. Still, I considered jumping into the bushes to avoid detection but there were far too many possible witnesses. My father would be furious if someone saw a Malfoy doing something as undignified as hiding in the bushes from a mere games keeper.

The door opened just a sliver. I could see bushy black hair and one eye of half giant Hagrid.

“Young’un Malfoy,” Hagrid said in his gruff voice, “what a surprise. Come in now, come in.”

I was bustled into the hut and immediately attacked by the large canine. It slobbered all over my robes and barked as it tried to put it’s paws on my chest and lick my face. Honestly with how large the dog was it could probably reach my face anyway.

“Draco, what are you doing here?” Greg asked pleasantly as he came and took the dog off of my person.

I threw back my shoulders and wiped my hands on my robes. “I just came to apologize to Harry.”

“What’d ya do tuh ‘im?” Hagrid asked angrily.

“Nothing Hagrid, it’s my fault.” Harry interjected.

I shook my head. “It’s not your fault, that’s why I’m here. Everyone feels guilty for giving you the cold shoulder okay? Just because you hung out with the Gryffindors doesn’t mean we should treat you like that.”

“Finally you’ve all come to your senses,” Greg said as he rubbed the dog’s floppy ears.

“Ya ignored yer ‘ouse ‘arry?” Hagrid asked, the anger gone.

Harry flushed at the attention and nodded. “I spent the night in Gryffindor. I just couldn’t get away after the game. Everyone wanted to keep talking to me and there were just SO many. I don’t even remember falling asleep.”

“Did ya drink some’in ‘arry?” Hargid asked, wringing his large hands nervously.

Harry furrowed his brows. “Obviously, I was in Gryffindor for the whole afternoon. They had punch and stuff.”

I frowned, catching onto Hagrid’s train of thought. “I’m taking you to Madam Pomfrey Harry.” I said. “Who knows what they gave you!”

Harry rolled his eyes. “I’m fine Draco. I don’t need to go to Poppy. Besides, if I drank alcohol wouldn't it be out of my system by now?”

I ignored his protests.

“Greg, can you get Harry’s bag?” I said, striding to Harry’s side and taking his beat up patch work sack. I’d have to remember to order him a new one for Christmas.

“We’re so sorry Hagrid.” Greg said, taking Harry’s bag. “We’ll come and see you soon. Do you mind if we all come out for dinner tomorrow after classes? We can provide the food and we can eat outside.”

Hagrid’s beard moved in a funny way and I assumed he was grinning widely. “O’ course! Bring ‘em all! I can get a table big ‘nough.” He said happily. “Fang could use the company.”

Harry smiled at Hagrid and he looked a bit like he was going to cry. “Thank you Hagrid, you don’t know how much that means to me, to US.”

I smiled, glad that Harry was happy. “I’m sorry to cut this short.” I apologized.

“No, don’.” Hagrid said. “I’m with ya, ‘arry needs tuh see Poppy.”

“We’ll see you tomorrow Hagrid.” Greg said, petting Fang and waving as I lead Harry to the door.

“Bye!” Harry blurted as I hurried him out.

“Tomorrow!” Hagrid said in farewell.

Once the door was close Harry turned to Greg. “Oh Greg, that was perfect! That’s just what we need! Do you think everyone will agree?”

Greg grinned. “Of course, we all like Hagrid and we can bring all our friends.”

Harry laughed and I couldn’t help but feel happy. His laugh seemed infectious. “I can’t thank you enough Greg!” Harry threw his arms around Greg and my joyous mood dampened a bit.

“Yes well we best get you to Madam Pomfrey,” I stated, setting a brisk pace.

Chapter Text

HARRY PoV

I sat on a one of the beds in the infirmary while we waited for Poppy to finish up with another student.

“I highly doubt this is necessary,” I said for the tenth time. I was fine.

Draco glared at me. “Even Hagrid agreed that you should go.” He said.

“Yeah Harry,” Greg said, “it can’t hurt.”

I scowled and laid back on the bed. “We could be out practicing magic or playing Exploding Snap! Anything but sitting here in the infirmary.” I complained.

“We can do all of that once we know you’re fine.” Draco said calmly.

“What do you even think they did to me? Give me alcohol? I may not be of age but I doubt it requires a trip to the infirmary.” I argued.

Greg shook his head and sat back. “You can lead on this one.” He said.

Draco sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Harry, we’re worried you were poisoned.”

I laughed.

“How dare you laugh!” Draco snapped. “This is a serious matter! You were partying with the entire Gryffindor house, most of whom can brew a poison easier than I am comfortable with!”

I frowned, letting Draco’s words sink in. “You think that someone poisoned me? Why?”

Draco threw his hands in the air while Greg looked down at his feet. “I don’t know! Maybe because you’re The Boy Who Lived and got sorted into Slytherin! Have you not read the papers about you? Everyone is speculating whether or not you killed You-Know-Who only to become the next great evil!”

“You mean the man I killed when I was a baby?” I asked. Apparently I was more Slytherin than I thought if I had been plotting to become an evil over lord at one.

“Those who work at the Prophet aren’t known for being the brightest Protronus’ in the class.” Draco exclaimed. “You do read the Prophet, don’t you?”

I shook my head. “Not since the first time when they were talking about Gringotts getting robbed. I wasn’t interested after I learned they gave the case up right away.” I said.

“They ran a quick post about it the other day,” Greg piped up, “but it was only to rub Gringotts in the dirt and promote the new wizard-run bank they’re trying to start up.”

“That’s horrible!” I said. “Gringotts was amazing. The goblins were very kind to me, asked when I would be back for the rest of my things.”

Draco frowned at me. “The rest of your things? You didn’t get let into all of the Potter vaults when you went that day in Diagon?”

I tilted my head. “What are you talking about? I only had one-”

“Mr. Potter! What could you possibly be here for?” Poppy asked, sounding surprised to find me behind the curtain.

“Just stopped in to say hi,” I said with a smile.

“Shut it Harry,” Draco ordered, “Madam Pomfrey, we are here to have a dignostics test run on Harry. We fear that he might have been given a… rather unfavorable substance.”

Poppy’s eyes widened. “Well certainly! Do you have any suspects that could help me to narrow it down? The more specific the better with these types of things.”

Draco and Greg shared a look but shook their heads. “We can only say that it is a Gryffindor, most likely a higher year. None of us Slytherins were with him and our friends in Gryffindor didn’t attend the party for long.” Draco said.

“Well I suppose a general test will just have to do then.” Poppy said and began rummaging in the night stand next to the hospital bed. “Ah, here we go.” She held up a glowing blue vial. “Drink up Mr. Potter.”

I rolled my eyes but downed the potion. Ugh, it tasted like the disgusting cinnamon and chocolate soap the Lady Petunia had once washed my mouth out with for asking if I could watch the telly show about magic.

“Please lay back so the potion can slowly work through your system.” Poppy said, helping me to lean back slowly.

My chest began to feel tight and my head started to throb.

“Oh dear,” Poppy muttered.

My vision swam and I felt like I was going to throw up. I closed my eyes but the throbbing got worse. Was there no escape?

“What? What is it?” Draco asked.

“Will he be all right?” Greg chimed in.

“Leave us dearies,” Poppy said, “Harry will be fine but I need to focus.”

Ugh. I swallowed back against the vomit, trying not to puke.

“SOMNIUM!” Poppy cast.

---

I woke to a horrible taste in my mouth.

“Thank Merlin, Harry, you’re awake.” A woman’s voice said.

I cracked open an eye to stare at the blurry - but recognizable form of Professor McGonagall.

“W-water,” I croaked. My throat was dry and my tongue felt like I had just eaten a whole bar of Lady Petunia’s horrible soap.

“Of course, agumenti,” Professor McGonagall said and handed me a glass of crystal clear water.

I drank the whole glass in a greedy fashion that disturbed me. Usually I was far more dignified, even after going two days with a single thing to drink. This wasn’t like me.

“P-professor,” I gasped.

“Oh Harry, calm down, I must fetch Poppy. Please, drink some more.” She said. “Agumenti. I’ll be right back.” And she swept out of my little cubby in the infirmary.

I drank this glass much slower and took stock of myself.

My body ached and I felt covered in sweat. What had happened?

Before I could even speculate, Professor McGonagall was back with Poppy.

“You certainly gave us quite the scare Harry,” Poppy admitted as she ran diagnostic spell after diagnostic spell at the same time as manually checking me.

“Well, it’s not my intention,” I said, waiting a tad impatiently for her to be done.

“Do you have any idea what happened Harry?” Professor McGonagall asked, her stern face soft with worry.

Biting my lip I shook my head. “I was hoping you could tell me.”

“Yes well, you drank a loyalty potion as well as a mind duller,” Poppy stated bluntly.

“What?” I asked, although I could puzzle it out for myself. The terms sounded rather self explanatory but in the wizarding world you never could tell.

Poppy reached out and grasped my hand. “I’ve already flushed them out but we are all lucky that Mr. Malfoy and Mr. Goyle brought you in when they did as the potions hadn’t yet taken any effect.”

I let out a sigh of relief. “So… I’m not dumber or anything?” I said, just to clarify.

Professor McGonagall chuckled though it was dampened by the heavy atmosphere. “I think your intelligence is intact Harry, since a mind duller doesn’t make you less smart, it simply dulls observation skills and such.”

“It’s commonly used to let someone get away with doing illegal or questionable things in the background.” Poppy said. “It’s also very hard to come by and even harder to brew."

“Wow, someone would actually do that?” I asked, bewildered. Honestly if I had to go through all that trouble just so someone wouldn’t notice me doing something illegal, I’d reconsider.

“Sadly,” Professor McGonagall said.

“Harry, we need to take precautions,” Poppy interrupted, getting back to the point, “if someone gave you this mind duller they definitely have more lined up for you.”

Panic started to flutter in my chest. “What kind of precautions?”

“Nothing too drastic,’ Poppy reassured, “I just advise you to not accept drinks from anyone. Drink only from your own goblet at meal times, and I can teach you a detection spell.”

“Really Poppy?” Professor McGonagall asked. “Wouldn’t you say that’s a little advanced for a first year?”

Poppy shrugged. “Maybe but I’m positive that with a little practice Harry will get it. I also think it’s a good idea - if not a necessity.”

“You really think I’m being poisoned or drugged or whatever you classify this as?” I asked.

It seemed a bit insane to me. I was a first year! But then again, Draco had thought that I had been poisoned that time he caught me taking my potions from Poppy. Maybe this wasn’t so far-fetched.

McGonagall nodded. “It’s entirely possible. I know you may not realize it Harry, but you are very well known in the wizarding world. While you have many, many allies there are still going to be people who don’t agree with the Light side. You represent a large part of what the Light stands for and so did your parents.”

“My parents?” I asked.

My Transfiguration Professor nodded again. “Your parents fought for the Light side and I am proud to say that I fought with them.”

I stared at McGonagall in awe. This was someone who knew my parents. Aside from Hagrid I didn’t think I’d meet many people who personally knew my parents.

“I think this conversation is best kept for another time in a more private place.” Poppy advised. “We should be getting you out of here before curfew.”

“Wait curfew!?” I asked, shocked.

I glanced to the windows and realized that the windows were charmed to act as lights no matter the time of day. No wonder I hadn’t noticed how late it was before.

“Harry, all I need is to quickly teach you the detection spell and then you can return to your friends.” Poppy said.

I nodded. “Right, of course. I’m more than ready to get out of here and back to the common room. Not that I don’t enjoy seeing you.” I added with a cheeky smile.

Poppy rolled her eyes. “Harry Potter, if I don’t see you in this infirmary aside from your prescribed check up, I will be happy.”

“That’s mean. Don’t you enjoy my company?” I said, giving McGonagall a wink.

Poppy glared at me. “You know exactly what I mean Harry. Now come on, the incantation is ‘venenum revelare’.”

“Venenum revelare,” I recited.

“Good, and the wand movement is simple.” She said. “You only have to wave your wand from left to right over the liquid. It’s a very easy spell.”

“The movements and incantation might seem easy but it is a very difficult spell to get right, however,” McGonagall interrupted, "I would advise telling your friends what’s going on and teaching them the spell as well. I plan on holding a seminar for Gryffindor about the dangers and consequences of not only poisoning but alcohol and I will suggest the other heads of houses do the same.”

Poppy nodded her head approvingly. “I think that is a wonderful idea Minnie. If you would like I could come and help you with that. I have some records of past incidents that I think the older students can handle.”

McGonagall sniffed and shook her head. “Admittedly my Gryffindors are rather squeamish. I recommend that you bring a bucket as well.”

I noted that Professor McGonagall wasn’t saying no to showing her weak stomached Gryffindors sensitive records.

“I have the incantation and the wand movement. May I be excused?” I asked. Before I was witness to something I really didn’t need to witness.

Both women gave me a nod and I climbed out of the bed, thanking them the whole way. I grabbed my bag from the nightstand and existed the curtained off section of the infirmary.

Hermione, Draco, and surprisingly Neville were standing by the doors to the infirmary, chatting among themselves. I snuck up to them, keeping my steps light and quiet - a skill that had come in handy with the Dursleys to go unnoticed.

Neville noticed me since he turned and faced me but I quickly placed a hand to my lips and he stopped, going back to his conversation.

“Madam Pomfrey said he’ll be out tonight but it’s almost curfew.” Hermione fretted.

“He’ll be out. I’m sure of it.” Draco said. “He’s very tough.”

“Aw, that’s really nice of you to say Draco,” I said.

Both him and Hermione jumped and once of them let out a small shriek.

Draco whirled on me and shoved his finger in my face. “How dare you scare me like that! Do you know how worried we were about you!”

I snorted. “Yeah well you’re about to be a whole lot more worried. You were right to take me here I guess.”

“Oh do, what happened? Where you truly poisoned?” Draco questioned, his eyes roving over me as he searched for physical evidence.

I shrugged. “Kind of.”

“What do you mean kind of?” Neville asked. “You either were poisoned or you weren’t.”

“Kind of.” I repeated. “I wasn’t given anything that would kill me or anything drastic but I was given a loyalty potion and a mind duller.”

“Those sound very familiar.” Hermione comment. “Wasn’t there a Nicolas Flamel who was poisoned with those very same potions shortly after he made the Philosopher’s Stone and shortly afterwards the Elixir of Life. He turned six hundred and sixty-five last year I believe. It‘s also said that Dumbledore helped him with his projects.”

“That’s kind of cool.” I said, placing my hands into my pockets.

“Getting poisoned is not cool Harry!” Draco protested.

“Do you think that it’s a coincidence that you got poisoned the same way Nicolas Flamel did?” Neville asked. “Or do you think it could be connected? They never did catch the person.”

I shook my head, choosing to ignore Draco‘s overly protective attitude and have an intelligent conversation with the friends that were not freaking out. “Why would someone interested in controlling Nicolas Flamel want to control some kid during his first year of magical school? I highly doubt it.” I said.

“Actually Harry, you forget how important you are in the wizarding world. It‘s not that far-fetched to believe that someone with their sights on Nicolas would want to go after you.” Hermione said. “But I agree with you never the less. The person would have to be extremely old by now or probably dead. They would be in no position to poison Harry.”

Neville shrugged. “I dunno, wizards live longer and are typically more active and mobile for longer than muggles due to the excess of magic in our lives.”

Draco sighed but finally joined in the conversation as well. “It’s true. You can always tell when a muggle has been around lots of magic because they’ll always be healthier and live longer than a normal muggle.”

Hermione frowned. “There are other ways for muggles to live longer too. A good lifestyle is important.”

Neville and Draco shrugged.

“Yeah but it’s almost unnatural when a muggle has been touched by magic.” Neville said. “I’m not saying muggles can’t live good, long lives on their own but having magic in their lives does help.”

“It’s just a fact that being around and handling magic helps people live longer. It’s like a side effect.” Draco added. “There are lots of studies done on it and I can show you some of them in the library if you’d like.”

Herminoe sniffed but nodded her head. “I’d like to see this evidence for myself.”

I smiled, happy that my friends were rationally arguing their sides without fighting.

“Mr. Potter,” Professor McGonagall interrupted. “It has come to my attention that you and your friends will need permission slips to be out this late if you were to run into a prefect or teacher doing their rounds.”

“Thank you professor,” I said, my friends echoing my words.

“Now I recommend you run off.” She advised. “And don’t forget to teach them that spell Mr. Potter. I think it will be very beneficial for not only you but them as well. Have a good night my students.”

And then she walked off, heading out of the infirmary.

Draco turned to me. “What is this about teaching us a spell?”

“It must be a spell to test if your drink or food is poisoned right?” Hermione chimed in.

I nodded and headed for the door of the infirmary as I explained the spell to my friends.

---

Draco and I waved our farewell to Neville and Hermione as we parted ways. Them up to Gryffindor tower and us down the dungeons that housed the Slytherin rooms.

“I… I want to apologize for being so… protective today.” Draco said after we had been walking alone for a few minutes.

I shrugged him off. “It’s no big deal Draco. You ended up being right so I guess I owe you one.”

Of course I still wasn’t sure how I felt about him being so protective. On one hand it was really nice and made me feel really warm and happy but on the other I just wasn’t used to it. Even my friends weren’t this protective. Like Neville and Hermione. They had been worried, they had been at the infirmary waiting for me but they had quickly moved on once Poppy had dismissed me. They trusted Poppy’s professional opinion that I was fine and moved on. Draco had wanted to examine me with his own eyes and even then he was barley satisfied enough to join our discussion.

“There is no real excuse for my behavior.” Draco said. “I should have given you the space and freedom to tell me that you were fine. Not only that but I should have trusted Poppy since you had obviously been discharged.”

“You seem to have realized your mistakes this time around and as long as you try to be more rational in the future I can’t find any fault.” I said, giving him a reassuring smile. “Now come along. I want to finish my work so I have some time to sleep. We’re going to Hagrid’s for dinner tomorrow and I think it will be great fun!”

Draco smiled back at me, probably thankful for forgiving and moving forward so easily. “I can help you finish your work if you want.”

I grinned back at him. “That would be wonderful Draco.”

Chapter Text

Draco PoV

 

I settled myself in a corner of the owlry and pulled out a piece of parchment to write my daily letter on. Well, almost daily. I also retrieved the small, shrinking desk from my bag. The kind that you could simply place over one's lap like a breakfast tray.

“Don’t be too long Draco,” Theo said, heading over to his owl, “we have an early class and I’d like to get some breakfast.”

Vincent rolled his eyes, already tending to his barn owl. “You’ll get your breakfast.” He said, speaking freely since we were the only ones in the owlry at this time.

I huffed and set up my things. Then I started my letter.

 

===

Dear Mum,

School has been going well. We just made a cure for lice in potions class. I helped Uncle Sev to make a few extra batches since there’s an outbreak of lice going through the fifth year Hufflepuff girls. Madam Pomfrey says my efforts were greatly appreciated and she gave me house points since Uncle Sev didn’t. He thought I should just be grateful for the experience and that house points will only distract me from focusing on my own goals. Everyone was happy to see that we had a few extra points though, so that was nice.

Charms and Transfiguration are a breeze as well, thanks to your help over the summer. Professor Flitwick used me as an example with our Aguamenti spell. I could fill a whole jar with crystal clear water before anyone else, even Hermione Granger from Gryffindor. Granger and I are constantly fighting for the top slot for our year. She's very bright.

My friends are all faring well. Greg and Vincent have been very shy and withdrawn, mainly sticking to my sides like body guards. Pansy and Blaise are adjusting better, Pansy is making friends with Tracey Davis and Daphne Greengrass. Blaise has become close to the other boys, Theo and Harry, as well as the last girl, Jana Williams. There is one firstie girl who doesn’t hang out with us fellow first years. Lily Moon. I recall that she is pureblood but I don’t know her which is odd.

But you’ll be so proud of me Mum! I made Harry Potter my friend. He’s amazing. I told you about the troll incident where he was so foolishly reckless that it was like battling alongside a Gryffindor. I have decided that he is most definitely a Slytherin though. He has inspired even Greg and Vincent, my most loyal and steadfast friends to trust him deeply. I am thoroughly impressed. Not to mention that he is friends with Jana - one of the sneakiest and most ambitious Slytherins I've ever met. Harry is also friends with some older years as well. Horus Amari, a prefect, was a very wise choice of companion. He is always giving Harry tips or giving him books. Bass Amari, Horus' cousin, is also a smart ally to have. I heard she's more notorious than the Weasley twins and she hasn't gotten caught or blamed since her first years.

Did I tell you that Harry is playing on the Quidditch team? He’s such a natural that Professor McGonagall invoked some ancient rules that allow him to play for the Gryffindors since they don’t have a Seeker. I don’t really blame the Gryffindors though. They haven’t won the Quidditch Cup in ages; I wouldn’t try out for their team either. Some of the older years were upset about it, especially after seeing him play the other day, but Flint and I shut them up. Harry caught the snitch in his mouth! I was kind of worried since he hit the ground but he turned out fine. It was a controversial but spectacular catch - even if it was against our house.

After the game the evil Gryffindors stole him away for a party. I didn’t see him until the next day! It was absolutely infuriating.

I must end this letter here since I’m running out of space on this scroll. I’ll send you another letter soon mum. Greg and Harry convinced Hagrid to have the whole lot of Harry’s friends over for to make up for Harry ditching…

===

 

I scowled at the too short paper. I didn’t feel like rewriting the whole thing on another sheet and I didn’t really have the time either. I only had a few minutes before we were to head down for breakfast. And I wished to inform Mum more on the evil Gryffindors.

Harry of course was already gone this morning as he usually was. He woke up insanely early.

I rummaged through my school bag and pulled out the sheet of Muggle paper I used for my origami. It was my last one but it was large enough that I could finish my letter and request that mum send me more origami paper.

Carefully lining up the white paper with the end of my scroll, I recited the combining spell, slashing the air above where the two pieces of paper met. “SIMUL.”

Grinning and very pleased at the now long enough scroll, I finished off my letter.

 

===

…make up for Harry ditching us for that Gryffindor party so I’m sure I’ll have lots to tell you about that!

Love and fond spell-casting,
Draco

P.S. can you send me more origami paper?

===

 

Now I just needed to send it. I tucked it neatly into an envelop and invoked the shrink spell on my desk, tuck it and the rest of my supplies away in my bag.

Then I walked over to Bubo, my eagle owl. He affectionately head butted my wrist and I obligingly stroked his head.

“I would like it if you could bring this letter to mum.” I said, handing him the envelop.

Bubo made a trilling noise and snatched it carefully from my hand with his claws before soaring out of one of the many windows in the owlry.

“Are you ready Draco?” Vincent asked.

I watched Bubo fly away, joining the two owls already on their way.

“I’d like to get some breakfast before class.” Theo urged from the top of the stairs.

“Yeah, let’s head down.” I said, turning away from the window and towards my friends. “I think Harry’s already there.”

Chapter Text

Harry PoV

Classes went by quickly today, almost as if they were insignificant to the plot of my life.

Thanks to Draco’s help, all of my homework was turned in on time and correct on top of that. Even my History of Magic paper had been great.

Greg and I had managed to alert all of our friends about our dinner plans. Hermione and Neville agreed a little reluctantly when I talked to them at lunch but agreed to come anyway. We even went as far as asking the rest of the first year Slytherin girls, the ones who tended to hang out with Draco. They all declined aside from Pansy Parkinson. Daphne Greengrass, Tracy Davis, and Lily Moon already had plans together.

Greg and I also decided to push the homework we had due until later so we could help Hagrid get everything ready since we had practically invited ourselves over. We left Jana in charge of making sure dinner was picked up from the kitchens since she was the most responsible.

“Are you ready for potions tomorrow?” I asked Greg on our walk over to Hagrid’s hut.

He shrugged. “I guess. Potions isn’t really my strong suit. You should know that better than anyone. I just can’t believe that you’re still willing to work with me after I’ve messed up nearly every potion assigned.”

“Why wouldn’t I?” I questioned and then took on a teasing tone. “I enjoy the challenge.”

We chuckled together but Greg continued - a smile on his face this time. “You’re really kind Harry. No one else I know would be so patient with me like you are.” He said.

I shrugged, slightly uncomfortable. “I like to think that our friends are kind.”

“Oh no they are, don’t get me wrong,” Greg hurried to reassure me, “but none of them would continuously risk getting a bad grade by letting me work on the potion. Both Jana and Draco would have me sit quietly to the side while they did the work.”

I gave him a small smile. “Well, they aren’t the most patient people…” I admitted.

Draco was kind and understanding, always explaining if one of our friends didn’t get the material we were given, however I had noticed that when it came to his own work he had no patience. Draco cared a lot about getting the best grades he could get. He wished to get his work done first and get it done right. Then he would help the others. That mentality of his often had Vincent - who was better than Greg at potions - with nothing to do. He was focused and driven when handed a task.

Jana, simply couldn’t explain anything for the life of her. Things clicked in her head but she could never transfer that out through her words. Jana just understood things in a very unique way.

“Boys!” Hagrid called out, setting down a huge, round table that only someone of his stature or larger could carry alone. “Glad ya could make it.”

“Hey Hagrid.” Greg greeted happily as we continued approaching. “Thanks for agreeing to have all of us over. What can we do to help you?”

Hagrid grinned, his beard and mustache twitching upwards. “If ya could grab the chairs. They’re jus’ ou’ back.”

“Sure, we can grab them.” Greg said and we went around to the back of Hagrid’s hut.

“I don’t remember these being here from our last visit.” I commented, picking up a plain wooden chair. There were enough for everyone to fit comfortably and then a bigger version for Hagrid.

Greg shrugged, hefting his own chair. “He probably brought them down from the castle.”

I frowned, following him back around Hagrid’s hut. “Why would he do that alone?”

“Harry did you forget that we had class all day or something?” Greg asked teasingly. “There’s no way we would have had the time to bring the chairs down from the castle.”

“Yeah you’re right.” I said, glad that I was behind Greg so that he couldn’t see my embarrassed flush. “I just feel bad that we’re not doing a lot to help.”

“Harry, mate, we’re helping Hagrid set up and we’re bringing the food.” Greg listed. “And I don’t think Hagrid minds the company.”

I was quite as we rounded the house. Maybe Hagrid really did enjoy having us over.

“Thank ya boys.” Hagrid said. “Do ya mind if I le’ out Fang befor’ the rest ge’ here?”

“Go right ahead.” Greg said. “It’ll give him sometime to calm down.”

Hagrid’s beard twitched upwards again. “Yep, tha’ was my plan.”

He stomped over to the door of his hut as Greg and I set down the first two chairs. We headed to grab some more when Fang barreled out, running right towards us.

I wasn’t… afraid of Fang anymore but a large canine racing towards me doesn’t sit well with me so I carefully stepped behind Greg. He guarded me willingly and intercepted Fang, petting the dog’s head and ears, calming him down as he cooed kind words to Fang.

“Good boy, you’re just so excited to see us aren’t ya?” Greg said. Then he glanced over his shoulder at me to see if I was ready.

I nodded and Greg pulled away, letting Fang roam where he wanted. Fang trotted over to me, his tongue lolling out. He sat himself down next to me and leaned his head on my hip.

“Hey buddy.” I said, rubbing his silk-like ears.

Hagrid whistled and Fang perked up, ambling back to his owner. “Jus’ gonna take ‘im down tuh tha forest tuh do his business.”

Greg and I waved him off and headed back for more chairs.

---
Draco PoV

Jana had assigned Blaise, Millicent, and I on food duty. I was forced to go since I knew where the kitchens were. Theo and Jana were too busy making a thank you gift for Hagrid since he was hosting all of us.

I tickled the pear, which giggled before it swung open and a stair popped out of the painting. “Come on then.” I said, stepping up. “I have Jana’s grocery list.”

Looking over my shoulder, I saw Milli and Blaise staring around in awe as they followed me into the kitchens full of house elves hustling around as they got ready for dinner.

“Blinky?” I called out.

Instantly the pillow clad elf appeared with a bowl tucked in one arm and a whisk in the other. “What can Blinky do for Mister Malfoy today?” Blinky asked cheerily as she stirred the pink tinged batter in her bowl.

“I would like enough food for eleven people, including a dessert to share.” I instructed, not getting to specific. I trusted the Hogwart’s elves to prepare something suitable.

“Right away Mister Malfoy.” Blinky said, blinking out and reappearing on the other side of the large kitchen.

I turned back to my friends, thoroughly enjoying the shocked their shocked faces. Calm and composed Blaise with his jaw dropped, tall and intimidating Millicent looking utterly distracted by the flurry of magic around us.

“This is bazaar.” Millicent admitted. “I don’t know about you prissy purebloods but my mom wanted to be close to her family and so I’ve lived without a ton of magic in my life. I know of house elves and magic, my father made sure of that, but it’s so different to actually see it all with my own eyes.”

I smirked on as Blaise nodded absently. “Merlin, I grew up with a slew of house elves and I’ve never witnessed anything like this.”

Admittedly Blaise was right. My father had always insisted on having far more than we needed or even wanted. However, even with my mild obsession with food preparation before I figured out how much more interesting potion preparation was, I had never seen such… harmony.

The Hogwart’s kitchen was a noisy place that didn’t seem loud at all, merely cozy. It felt right that there would be the clatter of pots and pans, the crackle of flames, a whistling kettle; but most of all the happy chatter of the house elves interacting with each other. They all seemed genuinely pleased with their jobs, like they were having fun.

Despite their somewhat stained rag and pillow case attire each and every elf I saw had on the biggest smile that battled their giant eyes for largest feature.

It was enough to strike awe into anyone.

“Mister Draco’s order is ready!” Blinky chimed, popping up next to me with a picnic basket in her hands instead of the mixing bowl.

“Thank you Blinky.” I said, taking the basket and sliding it over my arm.

“Is there anything else Blinky can do for Mister Draco?” She asked, staring up at me with a pleasant smile.

I smiled back. “That will be all.”

Blinky bowed to each of us in turn before popping away.

“That’s extremely handy.” Millicent said. “So anyone can just come in and grab a snack?”

I shrugged, heading for the door. “I suppose so. That’s why it’s not exactly advertised. As far as I know there are only a few others who know that Hogwarts even has a kitchen.”

“So what you’re saying is the we have the kitchens to ourselves,” Blaise observed with a sneaky grin.

Opening the door, I looked back and smirked. “Yes and I’d like to keep it that way.”

Millicent and Blaise shared a look that I can only describe as Slytherin. The knew that it would be wise to keep this a secret for ourselves, giving us a leg up on our school mates. I could trust them to keep it quiet.

“Now then,” I said, walking down the steps, “let’s deliver this to Harry.”

 

Harry PoV

I was laughing along with the table at Neville’s joke.

We were all sitting around Hagrid’s table as we waited for Draco, Blaise, and Milli to bring the food. Hagrid was naturally at the head of the table, Greg at his right and I on his left. Vincent sat next to Greg with a seat in-between them, presumably for Draco. Theo and Pansy sat next to Vincent. Neville and Hermione sat next to me, Jana joining us on our side. There was an empty seat next to her and then another at the end of the table for Millicent and Blaise respectively.

“I can’t believe the silly things that go on in the Gryffindor Common.” Pansy said, finally able to breathe again.

“Seriously?” Theo questioned, still smiling. “Using firecrackers as hair curlers is EXACTLY what I expect to go on in the Gryffindors’ common room.”

Every burst into giggles again.

“What’s one of the craziest things that’s happened in your common room?” Hermione asked good naturedly.

“I think it has to be when Miles Bletchley sleep walked into the common room, conjured a plastic skeleton, then went back to his bed.” Blaise said, announcing his arrival.

I scrambled out of my chair and hurried to Draco’s side, taking the picnic basket from him. “I can serve the food.” I insisted cheerfully.

Draco rolled his eyes and took the basket back as Blaise and Milli took their seats, Blaise at the end and Milli next to Jana.

“Potter, if you think that I’m going to let you do all of the work then you’re sadly mistaken.” Draco said, pulling out his wand. “Besides, this is an enchanted baskets; a tap of the wand and everything will set itself.”

I blinked, my hands still hovering in the air. “What?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Just watch Harry.”

He placed the picnic basket on the table before tapping the tip of his wand over the flap. It opened and platters of food floated out, carefully but quickly arranging themselves across the table. Everyone cheered at seeing their favorites, even Hagrid seemed especially joyous.

I grinned at Draco and returned to my seat as my friends started to pile food on their plates.

“There’s even dessert,” Blaise chimed up before everyone could restart conversation.

I perked up, hoping that there was some treacle tart in the basket.

Draco laughed, “That was supposed to be a surprise Blaise.”

The dark skinned boy merely grinned and took a scoop of pasta. “Oops.”

We all chuckled at how ‘sorry’ Blaise sounded and started talking about our classes.

---

“So ‘arry,” Hagrid asked over dessert, “’ow was your visit tuh Poppy?”

The entire table quieted before Pansy spoke up.
“I didn’t know you went to the hospital wing.” She said, staring at me with a mix of curiosity and guilt in her eyes and shaping her frown.

I sighed, putting down my fork, happy that treacle tart can be eaten cold.

“It was nothing-” I started.

“Nothing?” Draco yelled, slamming his hands on the table - making me flinch - and shooting to his feet. “Harry you were poisoned!”

Keeping my head down I tried to answer, “Poppy said I was okay.”

“Poppy also said that you were given a mind duller and a loyalty potion.” Draco said angrily but I knew the anger wasn’t directed at me. “That is being poisoned.”

“That combination sounds familiar,” Jana said.

“It’s the very same potions that were used on Nicolas Flamel after he created the Elixir of Life.” Hermione supplied.

“Now ‘ow do ya know ‘bout ol’ Nic?” Hagrid asked. “Yer not suppose’ ta know ‘bout ‘im.”

I frowned at this, lifting my head, and Draco was quiet too. Hermione spoke instead.

“I was reading about Dumbledore in ‘Hogwarts, a History’ since he’s the Headmaster.” Hermione said. “It talked about him and Nicolas Flamel quite a bit so I researched him further. They never did find out who poisoned Flamel.”

Hagrid shook his head. “I swear I don’t know nuffin ‘bout the Stone’s location.”

“We never said you did.” Neville said calmly, like he was trying to soothe Hagrid.

Hagrid glanced around nervously before gripping his large goblet and downing the contents. “Dumbledore didn’ tell me nuffin.” He insisted, his eyes still darting around nervously.

I noticed Draco frown, still leaning on the table from arguing with me. I could tell from his eyes that he was thinking hard.

“How about we talk about something else?” Greg asked, seeming desperate to make Hagrid comfortable. It made sense, Greg had bonded the most with Hagrid and Fang. Of course he would want to have this dinner go well.

“I agree.” Draco said, sitting back down.

I was a tad surprised that Draco was letting this go so easily but I accepted it. Greg was his close friend so he probably didn’t want to upset him. I picked up my fork again as I waited for someone to start conversation again.

“So Hagrid.” Draco said. “From what I’ve heard you’re very interested in animals and magical creatures, right?”

Hagrid grinned and nodded, reaching for his magically refilled goblet. “Yes, tha’s righ’.”

“Have you ever heard about three headed dogs?” Draco asked.

I wondered what Draco was doing. I myself had all but forgot about the three headed dog in Hogwarts ever since my friends had come back from talking with Headmaster Dumbledore about the incident and never mentioning since. Of course Draco would remember but why was he bringing it up now?

Hagrid brightened up far more. “O’ course! Had one myself!”

Draco narrowed his eyes and I thought back to our run in with the dog. (Dogs?). Where was Draco going with this?

“Had one?” Draco asked. “So you don’t have it anymore?”

Hagrid shrugged, taking a sip of his drink. “Dumbledore asked if ‘e could borrow Fluffy so o’ course I le’ ‘him.”

“Mmmhhm,” Draco said, “and what did Dumbledore need to do with Fluffy?”

Hagrid frowned, putting his cup down. “Mr. Malfoy I don’ think tha’s any o’ yer business wha’ Dumbledore does wif his time.”

“How about that treacle tart?” Hermione asked weakly as Draco and Hagrid had a stare off.

“Fluffy is your dog, you have a right to know about him.” Draco pointed out.

Hagrid frowned. “Wha’ makes ya think I don’ know ‘bout Fluff?”

“I’m sure you care very deeply for Fluffy and know exactly where he is and why Headmaster Dumbledore needs him.” Greg assured, trying to intervene again.

“I think you care for Fluffy but I don’t think you know why Headmaster Dumbledore needs a three headed dog.” Draco said with an accusing tone.

Hagrid placed down his goblet heavily - not quite slamming it but fairly close. “I know where ma dog is! Fluffy ‘s up in Hogwarts!”

The whole table gasped, all except Draco.

“I knew it! That monstrosity is yours!” Draco cried, standing to his feet once again.

“Ya met Fluffy?” Hagrid asked, looking shocked.

Draco scowled. “Yes, Harry and I did. Your dog almost killed us.”

I thought that was an exaggeration. Sure Fluffy scared us but we didn’t die. We didn’t even get detention so I’d call that a win.

“Wait!” Theo interrupted. “You ran into this three headed dog in HOGWARTS?”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Blaise asked, sounding hurt.

I frowned. “But I did. I told you and Jana and Milli and Theo.” I glanced over at Jana, staring concerned at me.

“When Harry?” Millicent asked.

“Don’t you remember?” I questioned, beginning to panic. “It was when I left the library when we were researching Quidditch.”

Jana frowned. “Where did you find the dog?”

“The banned third floor corridor.” Draco said with a sharp look at Hagrid.

“Please,” Greg said, getting to his feet alongside Draco, “Can we please finish this dinner on a good mood?”

Draco raised his nose but sat down. “I was done anyway.”

I could tell that all of this would be ‘discussed’ the second we were out of Hagrid’s ear shot. My friends were figiting, only Greg, Vincent, and Neville really talking with Hagrid. The rest of us were silent.

 

Dumbledore PoV

I looked up from my fifty year plan when I heard Hagrid’s tell tale knock.

I picked up my want and pointed it at the door, wordlessly spelling it open. Wandlessly wasn’t something I could do yet, despite all of my hard work.

“Did you do as I asked?” I questioned, pretending to read my papers.

“Er, yea, I did bu’…”

I looked up sharply. Hagrid looked sheepish and hesitant. My spells were wearing off again. Discreetly fingering the intricate handle of my wand, I continued to talk. “We aren’t having second thoughts now are we?” I asked.

Hagrid shook his head but wouldn’t meet my eyes.

I sighed. “Oh Hagrid. I thought you could do a good job for me. I trust you.”

Firing off the spell, the effect was instantaneous.

“Yes o’ course ya can Dumbledore.” He said with a bright and cheery grin that made his facial hair twitch.

“Good, now I’ll let you know if I need anything.” I said, turning back to my papers. “You are free to return to your regular duties.”

“Thank ya kindly Dumbledore.” Hagrid said, bowing as he left.

I smiled. Everything was going according to plan.

Chapter Text

HARRY PoV

We were walking back to the castle, a few meters away from the large doors, as the sun was beginning to go down.

I was tense, my shoulders nearly touching my ear lobes. No one was talking yet but I KNEW it was only a matter of seconds. I was still so confused. I knew my friends didn’t talk about their first visit to Dumbledore but to completely forget it? That was a whole other ball park that I wasn’t aware existed.

Draco was walking stiffly at my side, his head up like he was trying to look regal. To me he always looked like a prince but right now he was trying too hard and it was evident.

Jana was deep in thought, an expression that I was quite familiar with on her rounded face.

Greg had given up on being peace maker once we left Hagrid’s and now he was just walking glumly next to Vincent as the rest of the gang walked quietly around us.

“Well as fun as THAT was,” Pansy started, “I’m going to find the rest of the Slytherin girls. They had the right idea declining tonight’s… spectacle.”

She turned to Greg and put a hand on his shoulder. “Next time Goyle, don’t invite me.”

Greg stared at her, probably shocked at her rude words - I knew I was. Pansy glanced over at Draco and smiled.

“Drakey, care to join me?” She said holding out the hand that had previously been on Greg’s shoulder.

Draco stared disdainfully down his sharp nose at her pug-like face. “In your dreams Parkinson. My FRIENDS need me.” He said, taking a step closer to Greg and I.

I noted that Vincent too had stepped closer to Greg to offer support.

Pansy sniffed obnoxiously but shrugged her shoulders, bringing her hand down. “Suit yourself Malfoy.” She declared before gathering herself and strutting off the last meter to the castle’s large front doors.

“Well she was pleasant.” Jana commented sarcastically.

“Are you going to tell us about what happened now Harry?” Blaise asked, cutting off the end of Jana’s sentence.

I sighed and looked longingly at the castle doors. “Ron Weasley was bullying me. We ended up on the third floor corridor and Draco came to rescue me. You were there too Hermione.” I said, looking at her shocked face. “Mrs. Norris showed up and we hid behind the door on that floor. There was a three-headed dog so we simply ran out.”

“That can’t be all.” Theo protested.

“You make it sound so simple Harry.” Millicent said. “Hounds of Hades are dangerous. You and Draco could have died.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Blaise asked again, his voice wavering.

I glanced at Draco but his mask was still in place, not a crack visible. “I did. You even went to Dumbledore but you never mentioned it afterwards.” I said.

“And you didn’t think to ask us about it when we returned?” Jana asked, not sounding mad or upset, just curious.

Shrugging, I looked down at my feet, my hands in the pockets of my robes. “If it had been a big deal you would have told me but since none of you said anything I figured Dumbledore had just dismissed it.” I said.

Theo stepped closer to me and gripped my shoulders. He angled his body back so that he was eye level with me. “You can ask us and tell us anything Harry.” His blue eyes searched mine. “I want you to know that.”

I nodded but quickly looked away. Theo lingered for a moment but pulled away with a last squeeze to my right shoulder.

“It sounds like a memory spell was involved.” Jana said, almost as if she was thinking out loud.

“It sounds a lot like the Forgetfulness Charm, Obliviate,” Neville spoke up.

“We should go to Dumbledore.” Hermione suggested. “Maybe you lot didn’t make it last time before Obliviate was cast and if you did we could confront him about it.”

I took a step back. Confrontation with a powerful adult? Not fun. “I don’t want to go.” I said, my voice pitching higher with worry.

Draco stepped closer and rubbed my shoulder blade soothingly. “No one is asking you too. You don’t have to go if it makes you feel uncomfortable.”

“Yeah Harry,” Jana chimed in, “and we don’t all need to go.”

“I don’t really want to go either.” Neville said.

Blaise placed a hand on Neville’s shoulder. “That’s fine man. You can stay with Harry and Draco.” He offered.

I expected Draco to object. From what I had observed and been told, Draco enjoyed leading and being apart of action. Why would he want to stay behind with me?

“I’ll stay behind as well.” Jana said. “I know of a good place we can stay without having to subject Neville to the dangers of the Slytherin Common room.”

Us Slytherins laughed at the obvious joke but Neville looked terrified. “I-I think that would be best.” He said, awkwardly grabbing his elbow.

“Alright,” Millicent interrupted, “where should we meet you guys afterwards?”

“There’s a hidden room, just outside of the Transfiguration classroom on the second floor.” Jana said.

I recalled Scorpius telling me about all of the hidden places in Hogwarts. From all of his - lonely - years here, the snake was well versed with all of the nooks and crannies that the large castle contained. This was one of the common ones he had told me about.

I made a note to visit him again soon. After what happened on Halloween my visits had been few and far between. It was almost Christmas now.

“Alright,” Blaise interrupted getting frustrated, “I’m done waiting around. Can we go now?”

Theo nodded. “I’m ready.”

“I’m curious to see which of my theories are correct.” Hermione commented.

We parted ways at the castle doors, wishing those who were going to Dumbledore’s office luck while they playfully teased us about having a good nap.

Jana lead us to the secret room, opening the door by knocking four times with a beat between in which she merely kept her knuckles laid against the stone of the wall next to a painting of a ballet dancer and her male partner. They were watching us with interest but didn’t speak like most of the other paintings in Hogwarts.

Jana bowed like a gentleman escorting a high ranking lady and ushered us through the stones.

There were only two couches on opposite sides of a rectangular table taking up the right side of the room. On the left was a small fridge and a small strip of counter space that had cabinets underneath.

As Jana was closing the… hole in the wall, Draco immediately began talking.

“Harry do you remember that trap door that I pointed out when we ran into Fluffy?” He asked, looking straight into my soul.

I blanked, not really able to focus when his sliver eyes were so intense. “No?” I tried.

Draco sighed and rolled his irises, releasing me from my stupor.

“Really Harry, if I didn’t know your grades I would swear you never listened.” He ranted. “Anyway, I think that trapdoor leads to the Sorcerer’s Stone. That’s why Fluffy’s there, he’s guarding it.”

Neville gasped. “Why would that be here? At Hogwarts?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Jana asked, popping up next to Draco. “Someone is trying to steal it! Remember that article on the Gringotts robbery, except nothing was stolen? I’ll bet anything that Sorcerer’s Stone is what they were after.”

“Exactly my thought process.” Draco agreed excitedly.

“But who would want to steal the Stone?” I questioned. If this was how Jana and Draco mixed, I might regret befriending both. They were already giving me a headache with how fast they were going.

“Who wouldn’t?” Neville shot back in his own quiet way. “With the Sorcerer’s Stone you could become immortal!”

“I bet its someone at Hogwarts.” Jana said.

“Interesting.” Draco mused. “Explain.”

Jana smirked and stepped over to a couch. “It’s simple.” She plopped herself down. “Anyone remember what happened on Halloween this year?”

Draco gasped, probably already five steps ahead of me.

“What does a troll have to do with anything?” I asked, frustrated that I couldn’t keep up. My friends’ theories where flying so fast I could barely absorb one before they were on to the next.

“It would be the perfect distraction.” Neville whispered, sinking onto the couch next to Jana.”

“Exactly.” Jana said, and I could tell from her face that she was impressed with Neville.

“Can someone please explain to me what’s going on!” I shouted, fed up with being the fourth wheel.

All three of them frowned at me, Jana and Neville from the couch, Draco from beside me.

“Are you alright Harry?” He asked, taking a step closer. “What is it that you don’t understand?”

I grunted through my clenched teeth, the embarrassment at lashing out seeping in and taking control.

“I-I don’t know okay!” I said, louder than I had intended to. “I just can’t understand how you’re connecting all of these dots! They seem invisible to me.”

Draco frowned and placed a hand to my forehead. I stared sadly into his pretty silver eyes, trying not to pout. The rest of the room was spinning. Or maybe that was my head.

“Harry I think you took another mind duller.” Draco said, but his voice sounded funny. It was loud but also far away.

I closed my eyes and leaned into his cool touch. When had it gotten so warm?

 

DRACO PoV

I could feel the disgusting magic throbbing in Harry’s skull as he closed his eyes and slumped into my arms.

Neville and Jana were by my side in an instant.

“What happened to him?” Jana asked, reaching for one of Harry’s arms.

“Could this be one of the potions Madam Pomfrey warned him about?” Neville asked, not touching Harry but merely hovering.

I nodded, gently taking Harry’s arm from Jana’s hold. “Judging from what Harry told us before he passed out I think it was a mind duller and a heavier dose than last time.” I said, answering Neville while I adjusted my grip on Harry’s upper body. He really was too skinny.

“Jana,” I said, “grab Harry’s legs and help me lay him down on this couch.”

Neville stepped away as Jana did as I asked.

“Is there anything we can do for him?” Neville questioned.

I shook my head, not looking up from Harry’s still form. “Not until he’s conscious.”

Jana leaned over Harry, blocking my view of him. I frowned but allowed it - even if I didn’t quite like it.

“So Harry actually ended up poisoned from his time with the Gryffindors?” She asked, reaching out her hand to lay it on his chest.

I narrowed my eyes and sank to my knees beside the couch. I laid my own palm against Harry’s head, gently stroking his wild black locks away from his face.

“Yes, he did.” I snapped, though I was thoroughly enjoying being closer to Harry than Jana was.

“When do you think he was poisoned?” Neville asked.

I shrugged. “Probably during dinner with Hagrid. Someone must have told the house elves do keep spiking Harry’s food. I wasn’t expecting this to happen with food we got ourselves though. I’ll have to be more vigilant.”

Silently I vowed to do better for Harry.

“I think whoever poisoned Harry has to be an adult on the faculty team here.” Jana said, throwing out a new theory. “There’s no way a house elf would follow another student’s orders to poison a school mate. Besides, more than half the kids here aren’t aware that house elves do all the work. They just chalk it up to ‘magic’.”

“That’s fair.” I said, still not looking up or away from Harry. He looked so peaceful while he slept.

“Well who ever poisoned Harry has to be after the Sorcerer’s Stone too.” Neville added.

This got me to look up.

“What?!”

This was serious. Someone - probably an adult - willing to let a troll into a school full of children just to get a rock, albeit a very powerful rock, was after MY Harry? This was unacceptable.

Neville avoided my gaze and began playing with his fingers. “It makes sense. Only a faculty member is likely to know about the Stone and it’s where-a-bouts. They’d be able to lure a baby troll past Hogwart’s security measures and they would be able to get these potions to drug Harry. A faculty member would know about the house elves too. It all fits.”

I glared at him.

“The Gryffindor has a point.” Jana pointed out.

I turned my glare on her.

“Okay but if they can do all this stuff why are they worried about Harry?” I countered. “He’s a first year for Merlin’s sake.”

“A first year that defeated You-Know-Who.” Neville said quietly.

Right. Of course.

Jana stepped back from Harry as she nodded. “That makes sense. From what I’ve gathered about the wizarding world you lot have glued Harry to a bloody pedestal. If I was trying to do something bad right under his nose I’d try to counter the threat too.”

Neville gave Jana a thankful smile for backing him up and I sighed in defeat. They were making some valid points.

“I suppose you two are right.” I said, turning back to Harry sleeping peacefully. “I’m not positive about this but I think they might have also oblivated our friends when they tried to go to Dumbledore the first time.”

“You think they’re going to do it again don’t you?” Neville asked, horror filling his eyes.

“Well obviously.” Jana said off-handedly. “That’s the entire reason I chose not to go. We need some people who remember being told about Fluffy.”

Neville flopped down on the opposite couch and covered his face with his hands. “I now know the difference between Slytherins and Gryffindors.” He said.

I shared a smirk with Jana.

Neville sat up straight, hands on his knees now. “Aren’t you two the tiniest bit worried about your friends?”

“Not really.” Jana said. “There aren’t any long term side effects of Obliviate aside from - you know - losing select memories. It takes a lot more Obliviates to cause damage like that. Two wouldn’t cause any harm. They won’t be losing anything super important anyway.”

Neville scowled. “So you think that dinner tonight with Hagrid wasn’t important? That none of them will regret not remembering that? What about Greg?”

“Madam Pomfrey can reverse a properly cast Obliviate if she receives the patient within three hours.” I said, thinking back on the stories my mother had told me.

“Why’s this so important to you Neville?” Jana asked and I winced. “This whole thing seems to have really struck a nerve with you.”

“Just drop it.” I butted in. “Neville has his reasons and he doesn’t need to share them.”

Jana raised an eye brow at me but didn’t say anything.

“It’s okay Draco.” Neville said, voice barley above a whisper. “Jana has no reason to know.”

He sighed and laced his fingers together, keeping his head down. “I live with my Gran because my parents are in a mental hospital. They don’t remember… anything really, much less me.”

We were all quiet for a minute before Jana walked over to Neville and placed a hand on his shoulder. “I’m very sorry for your loss.” Jana said.

Neville let out a bitter laugh and rubbed at his dry eyes, dislodging Jana’s hand. “It’s not really a loss. I was only about two years old when it happened. I don’t remember how they were before… losing their memories. I visited them with my Gran every month before I started Hogwarts. It’s… hard to introduce yourself to your parents every month.”

I stayed quiet, not wanting to say the wrong thing. I couldn’t imagine having my mother so close and yet so far. But… I didn’t really have to imagine with my father.

“Maybe you don’t think that you lost your parents but from where I stand you did.” Jana stated. “You lost any chance of knowing them.”

Neville sniffed loudly and rubbed his hands along his legs. “As much as I appreciate this can we talk about something else? Like Harry maybe? How long is he supposed to stay asleep?”

I turned my head back to look at Harry and felt his forehead again. Harry’s natural magic was winning the fight against the mind duller.

“He should be up any minute now.” I said, smoothing his hair back once more.

As if on cue, Harry groaned, his eyes screwing up in pain. Keeping my hand on his head, I reached out with my free hand and gripped his wrist. The contact made me feel better so hopefully it was having the same effect on Harry.

“Give him some space Draco.” Jana muttered, sounding closer than she had when she was talking with Neville.

I glared up at her over my shoulder before focusing again on Harry and ignoring her instruction.

Harry coughed and I hastily helped him sit upright, settling a hand on his back and the other next to his leg. He opened his eyes and looked immediately to me. Something inside me preened that I was the one he looked for first.

“Draco? What happened?” He asked, pulling his gaze far too easily away from me to study the room and our school mates. I pulled my hand away from his back, sulking.

Jana began speaking before I had a chance. “You somehow took another dose of mind duller. I’m guessing that in order to fight off this higher dosage, your magic shut off your conscious mind. Your body does it’s best healing when your not distracting it.”

Harry gave her a genuine smile as he slowly swung his legs around and off the couch. “So you claim it was a mind duller dose again? Can’t they mix it up a little?”

“Why mix it up when it’s obviously working?” I snapped, getting to my feet only to sit on the table in front of Harry.

Jana shook her head and crossed her arms. “No need to fix what isn’t broken as my dad always says.”

“I think we need to bring Harry to Madam Pomfrey.” Neville said.

I glared at Harry and got to my feet. “I agree. We need to get you checked out. This time was definitely a higher dosage.”

“Seriously?” Harry protested. “I’m fine. Tell them Jana.”

Jana stared down her nose at Harry. “I’ll drag you there myself if I have to.” She shook her head. “You don’t know how scary it is to see your friend collapse in front of you after an uncharacteristic outburst. You NEED to see the nurse.”

“Actually Madam Pomfrey is a certified Mediwitch.” I piped up, recalling how she used to be Mother’s preferred Healer at St. Mungo’s for a time.

Harry threw up his hands in defeat. “Fine. I’ll see Madam Pomfrey.”

Chapter Text

HARRY PoV
Draco was dragging us to the hospital wing, ten minutes before curfew. When I had agreed to go see Poppy I had thought it would be at a decent time tomorrow, not this late.

Neville had wisely opted to try and dash to his common room before someone caught him out past bedtime.

I had tried the same excuse but Jana helpfully pointed out that curfew is typically excused if you require medical attention. Something she had read in ‘Hogwarts’ Secrets’ by the Marauders - these wizards seemed to know every loophole to every Hogwart’s rule.

So really, it was all thanks to Jana that we were going to the infirmary at such a horrible time. I really just wanted to sleep off this whole experience. It didn’t help that Draco’s brisk pace was making me a tad dizzy.

Jana quietly shoved open the infirmary door, trying to be considerate of the other -already sleeping- patients.

Poppy looked up from where she was closing some curtains around a student and sighed before bustling over and escorting us to the nearest bed..

“What did Harry do now?”

“Oi why do you immediately assume it’s me?” I asked, slightly offended and still grumpy about being dragged here. Never the less, I was already climbing onto the bed.

Poppy gave me a look, her hands on her wide hips. “And ARE you the one who requires my help?” She countered.

I glowered at the floor and got comfy on the cot. “Yeah but I’d be nice if you could at least pretend to be surprised.”

“I highly doubt you in the infirmary would be a surprise in any alternate universe.” Draco sassed, rolling his eyes and crossing his arms. I noticed that he cocked out his hip too. He looked kinda nice like that actually. Very fierce.

“So alternate universes are a thing in the wizarding world?” Jana asked excitedly.

Poppy laughed as she began to look me over. “They’re a thing everywhere Miss Williams. Wizards don’t tend to focus on it too much though. They’re far too scared of stumbling upon a universe without magic.”

Draco started grumbling under his breath and I smiled.

“Now,” Poppy interrupted my Draco gazing, “what is today’s problem Harry?”

“We believe that Harry was poisoned with another, stronger dose of those same potions from his last visit.” Draco informed her, all business now.

I groaned when Poppy glared at me. “I told you to be vigilant and aware Harry.” Poppy said.

I shot a quick, small scowl at Draco before turning back to Poppy to try and make excuses.

“But I was!” I protested, Poppy already Summoning potions. “I checked my food at every meal in the Great Hall and Draco insisted on double checking them himself in case the poisons were made to be undetectable by my magic - whatever that means.”

“I didn’t see you check your food at Hagrid’s.” Jana said.

“I didn‘t even think to check. I got the food straight from the kitchens.” Draco said, getting even paler than usual.

I frowned and reached out for his hand. “Don’t beat yourself up Dray, maybe the poison only enters it when the food is set on a table.” I said, trying to make my friend feel better.

He looked up at me with large, pretty grey eyes and furrowed brows. “I don’t think that’s how it works.” He dismissed.

“Mr. Malfoy is right,” Poppy said, handing me a glowing green vial, “that’s not how it works. Can anyone tell me how much stronger these doses could be?”

“Harry passed out.” Jana said promptly.

I groaned again, covering my face with both hands despite the full vial in my hand. “It’s not-”

“Don’t you dare lie to us and say it wasn’t bad!” Draco threatened, his voice heavy with emotion. “You didn’t have to see a-a friend collapse in front of you. You didn’t have to catch them.”

Lifting my head from my hands I stared at Draco, his eyes shining with fear.

“I-I didn’t know that.” I said, too shocked to come up with anything else. Something that actually sounded intelligent.

“I’m so sorry for interrupting but does anyone know who might be behind this?” Poppy asked, gently holding my wrist and bringing both it and the vial of medicine closer to my face.

Grateful for a distraction, I downed the liquid and almost instantly regretted it. I coughed, trying desperately to get the disgusting taste of pure vinegar out of my mouth.

“We’re not…” Jana hesitated. “Entirely sure. We do think it is someone on the staff who knows about the Sorcerer’s Stone and has access to these potions that have been poisoning Harry.”

I stared openly at Jana. When in the world had they had time to hatch all this out? I hadn’t passed out or THAT long had I?

“Seriously Jana?” Draco said angrily. “Madam Pomfrey is part of the faculty!”

She shrugged. “You’re obviously not too worried about it either since you’re pointing this out in front of her.”

Draco still scowled but kept quiet.

Jana gave him a quick, smug smile before continuing. “Anyway, Harry and Draco stumbled upon Hagrid’s three-headed dog a while back. Harry told his friends about it and we went to inform Dumbledore.” Jana said. “I was one of them but I don’t remember it.”

Poppy gasped. “Someone Obliviated an entire group of students?”

Draco and Jana both nodded.

“We’re testing our theory again but with more of us who know.” Jana said.

“You’re what?” Poppy asked loudly, sounding scandalized.

I felt my own stomach drop to my toes. They what?

Jana tilted her head. “The rest of our friends are out to tell Dumbledore about Fluffy and things. We’re just testing our theory.”

Poppy pinched the bridge of her nose, her other hand on her plump hip. “Please, PLEASE tell me that this is only the second time they’ll be Obliviated.” She said, bringing her hand down and glaring at my friends.

Draco looked confused at my bedside while Jana just rolled her eyes. “It’s not that big of a deal.” She responded. “I read that Obliviate doesn’t have any long term side affects.”

“On the fully developed adult body!” Poppy shot back, her hands gesturing wildly with her barely contained concern. “You kids are only eleven! Too much exposure to dangerous spells like that can cause serious damage to a growing body! Obliviation specifically leads to memory conditions and other mental problems.”

Jana looked as pale as Draco by the time Poppy had finished her rant and her eyes were wide with horror.

Draco had his hands clutched in my bed sheets, all but tearing them apart. I reached out and laid a hand on his forearm, trying to reassure him.

“This is exactly the reason students aren’t supposed to do magic outside of school.” Poppy sighed. “It’s important to learn under a watchful and experienced eye. Not to mention close to a healer.”

Jana was floundering, her body frozen as her mouth gaped like she was eating an invisible cake. “I-I…”

Poppy shook her head. “That is enough. You will locate your friends immediately and bring them to me, even if they haven’t been Obliviated when you find them.” She pulled out a blue notepad from a pocket I didn’t even know she had and pulled out a blue quill from another. “Take these and find your friends quickly. We only have a few hours.”

Jana took a blue paper that I assumed acted as a permission slip and bowed. “I am so sorry.”

“Yes, yes,” Poppy said dismissively, “just go.”

Draco wrenched his hands from my hospital sheets and held his permission slip with a white knuckle grip. He didn’t say anything as Jana hurriedly pulled him out of the infirmary.

I watched them go, my head still reeling from the shock of them trating our friends like lab rats. Or maybe it was lingering from passing out earlier. Or both.

“Now Mr. Potter,” Poppy said, “Let’s get you fixed up.”

 

---

 

DRACO PoV

I tried to take deep, calming breathes as I jogged alongside Jana. Oh how I wished I had my violin. Music always helped soothe me. Harry was mad at me. I, I was made at me. I can’t believe I didn’t think - didn’t even blink-

“Draco!”

Falling on my backside, I was roughly pulled out of my own head. Looking up, I met Jana’s fierce gaze.

“Pull yourself together! You think you’re the only one who feels guilty about this?” Jana demanded.

Oh. OH. Now I could see the shine to her eyes. I was impressed that she had been able to hold them back. I know Pansy wouldn’t be able to, nor Millicent come to think of it. Not after being scolded from an authority figure, even if it was only Madam Pomfrey. Actually, I think that made it worse.

“I-I’m sorry Jana.” I said. “It’s just… I could tell that Harry was mad at me. Disappointed in me.”

Jana scowled. “Listen, I know your Veela and all and Harry is your Temp - which is bullshit by the way - but this isn’t about him! This is about our friends! We put them in harm’s way. How can you just ignore that?”

Her words where like cutting spells, slicing through my thick Harry obsession. I felt my eyes begin to burn now and my throat closed up. Greg and Vincent were going to be hurt. Blaise, Millicent, and Theo too. Even Hermione, whom I was growing quite fond of.

“Oh Merlin what have we done.” I gasped, drawing my legs to my chest and cluthing my permission slip so tightly I think it ripped.

“At least you’re finally seeing the gravity of the situation.” Jana said. Then she crouched down next to me. “You said yourself that Pomfrey can reverse an Obliviate as long as its within 3 hours. Our friends are going to be okay.

“But let’s remember this. Analyze our mistakes so we don’t EVER repeat them.” Jana’s gaze hardened, the shine almost disappearing. “And then we move on.”

I nodded and rubbed at my eyes. I let out a chuckle. “How are you so good at this?” I asked. “I’ve trained under my Father my whole life to be a Slytherin and yet you’re already so much better. You haven’t shed a tear and here I am bawling.”

Jana rolled her eyes. “You’re exaggerating. You’ve barely let out four tears. And I can’t help it that some people are just born Slytherins.”

I let out a genuine laugh at the teasing, smug tone her voice took on.

Gathering my courage, I got to my feet. Jana followed gracefully with a grin. “What are we waiting for? Our friends need us.” I said, waving my permission slip.

Jana’s eyes held no hint of tears anymore as her grin widened. “Yup, you sound more like a Gryffindor than a Slytherin.”

I lightly tapped her shoulder. She is still a lady after all and I, a gentleman.

Jana rolled her eyes again and punched me back. Hard. I tried - and failed - to hide my wince. That would definitely bruise with my pale skin.

“Let’s go save our friends.” She said.

I gave her a smile through the pain and led the way towards Dumbledore’s office to begin our search for our friends.

My Mother would be sending my violin before Christmas break.

 

---

 

HARRY PoV
Poppy smiled at my disgusted face as I drank the awful vinegar liquid that was my medicine.

“Is there anyway to make this taste any better?” I asked. I knew I sounded spoiled and maybe I was. Hogwarts has been treating me well with all of it tasty treats. Like treacle tart.

Poppy laughed and took the vial from me. “I was waiting for you to ask. Everyone eventually does.”

I grinned back but I couldn’t help but still be distracted. My friends were out there, having their memories erased - possibly at this very moment.

I continued to worry as Poppy bustled about my closed off section of the infirmary.

“Harry?”

I glanced up to meet Poppy’s kind but pitying look. “I’m sorry what?”

She sighed and shook her head. “Don’t fret too much Harry.” She said, sitting on my cot. “Your friends will be fine, we are well within the two hour window. I know how to treat them so there will be no lasting damage either.”

Clenching the sheets, I looked away. “Maybe but they shouldn’t have to worry about that. About lasting damage whether is ends up affecting them or not.”

Poppy reached out and patted my hand. “How about we take your mind off this by practicing that detection spell? Professor McGonagall was right when she said it was a hard spell to get right even when you have the incantation and wand movement down.”

I nodded, still not looking at her. “Yeah, that sounds good.”

That way Draco could stop beating himself up. I would be able to check my own meals. And I wouldn’t forget.

Motivated now, I looked up at Poppy. “Let’s do it.”

---

DRACO PoV

“Any ideas?” Jana asked as we stared at the statue that lead to Dumbledore’s office. Our friends were not in the halls so we could only hope that they had made it inside.

“What are you kids doing out this late?” A familiar voice called out from behind us.

I turned and saw Horus. How wonderful, a prefect.

“We’re looking for our friends so that we can take them to the infirmary.” Jana explained, holding up her not ripped permission slip from Madam Pomfrey. “They were confounded by some older Gryffindor a little while ago and now we can’t find them.”

Jana didn’t even glance at me to let me in on the lie. Hopefully we were on the same page.

“Why did you leave them? And did you see who did it?” Horus asked, approaching us calmly.

Without missing a beat Jana replied, “I didn’t truly see them. I had run off to tell a professor but ended up running into Madam Pomfrey and Draco instead. I didn’t know that you shouldn’t leave a confounded person alone.”

Ten points to Jana for using her Muggle roots to her advantage. Horus was such a softie he wouldn’t even think to dig into Jana’s lie.

Horus glanced up and down the hall. “I’ll help you look for them. Where was the last place you saw them?”

I took over now, knowing the ins and outs of the castle better due to my visits with my godfather. “Jana said they were by the painting of the swamp fairies.”

The swamp fairies were just around the corner from here so it was believable.

Horus nodded. “Alright. I’ll check to see if any of the others have run into them.”

We watched as he pulled out his wand and tapped it once against his ear and once against his chin. Then he held it out between us.

“Horus checking in. Has anyone run into a group of confounded Slytherin first years?”

There were a few crackle noises before we could all hear a quiet voice.

“I’ve got ‘em, heading to the infirmary now. Are you sure they were confounded? ‘Cause as far as I know you typically don’t forget… hours. Maybe what you were doing at the moment but… I don’t know mate.”

It sounded like Robert Hilliard from Ravenclaw. At least it wasn’t a Gryffindor looking after our friends.

Horus frowned and gave us a suspicious look. Jana only shrugged. I didn’t answer either, unsure if the wand would pick up our voices as well.

“Unsure about the spell. We’re by the Swamp Fairies, where are you?” Horus asked, narrowing his eyes at us.

More crackling. “Let’s just say before I found these kids of yours I ran into Oliver and Marcus.”

Horus winced. “Ah, so you’re near the Flock of Cock-a-toos. I can meet you at the Sunflowers and take my kids to the infirmary from there.”

“Sounds good mate. I’m going to take the rest of the night off to get that out of my head.” Robert said.

There was a buzz and another voice spoke up through the wand. “Oi! I for one am not taking over your route just so you can-”

Horus closed his eyes and brought his wand closer to his face.

“I have first years with me.” Horus interrupted, closing his eyes and bringing his wand closer to his face. “Behave yourselves.”

There were more crackling noises and buzzing as broken sounds of laughter came through. Horus rolled his eyes and gave us an apologectic smile.

Jana and I shared a confused look. Then there was another buzz but this time we couldn’t hear the female voice who had joked.

“Well I thought you guys could hold off on the-” Horus glanced at us, “jokes for one night.”

There was a lot more buzzing and crackling but Horus cut it all off. “I’ll see you in a few minutes Robert.” And then he tapped his wand to his chin and again to his ear.

“Well that was eventful.” Horus joked, slipping his wand away again.

Jana shook her head. “Let’s get this over with. We’re on a time limit.”

We began walking even as Horus started questioning us. “Do you two have something you want to tell me?”

I resisted the urge to glance at Jana.

“Nope, why?” Jana asked.

Merlin, that was pathetic.

“Because Robert says your friends weren’t confounded.” He said, his tone firm.

Jana shrugged. “I thought they were. What does it sound like to you if not confounded?”

Horus was quiet for a few minutes as we continued on our way to the portrait of the sunflowers in the green vase.

“Possibly Obliviated but anyone who knows the spell wouldn’t cast it - not on a bunch of first years.” Horus said.

I frowned, keeping my face turned away from my companions. Horus just widened our suspect pool but I had to figure out how wide.

“What year do they teach the Obliviate spell?” I asked.

“Sixth I believe.” Horus answered. “It’s a pretty advanced spell.”

We turned the next corner in silence before Horus spoke again.

“And you’re sure you didn’t see who cast on your friends?”

Jana shook her head. “I heard someone casting a spell from around the corner and by the time I approached them they were running away. All I saw was a Gryffindor tie flapping about over one of their shoulders.”

Specific. That’s good.

“Well, I’ll just have to report what I can to Professor McGonagall.” Horus mused.

I relaxed as we reached the painting of the sunflowers. Robert and our friends weren’t there yet but they had been a bit further away.

“Can we come with you to the infirmary?”

Horus frowned in thought. “I think that you two should probably go back to the Slytherin Commons. I’ll have Robert bring you kids to the door.”

“But they’re our friends!” Jana interrupted. “Why can’t we go with them?”

“Because you’re supposed to be in bed. There’s class tomorrow and I don’t want you two to get in trouble. Pomfrey will be busy enough with all of your friends to deal with you underfoot.” Horus crossed his arms. “And that is the end of it.”

Jana huffed but didn’t object anymore and I knew better than to object, despite wanting to. Very badly. I would be in so much trouble if my father heard about me getting into trouble.

“Hey Horus! How many firsties do you have running around this castle?”

We turned around and saw Robert, herding a our friend group toward us. I felt a pressure in my chest that I didn’t even know was there lift. They all looked fairly guilty but Herminoe in particular looked utterly distraught. The red streaks down her face weren’t particularly flattering.

Greg had a sad, confused look in his eye and he wouldn’t meet my gaze. It scared me and made my stomach clench. At least Vincent had his arm around Greg’s shoulders. Vincent wore a brave face but he had that fog in his eyes as well.

Theo was staring at Jana, his gaze flicking to me occasionally. He seemed to be waiting for some… direction. It looked like he wanted to say something but he never opened his mouth. Millicent had a similar look but with a flare of anger to her eyes that made me want to protect them all.

Blaise seemed to be the only one calm but he gave me a searching look. I gave him a nod, agreeing that we would talk about everything later. It was Blaise’s calm that settled my instincts. There was someone looking after my people.

“It’s not my fault, they were struck by a spell or something.” Horus complained.

I glared subtly at Horus’ back. I couldn’t believe that he didn’t believe us. We did lie but they were spelled. That much was obvious.

Robert smirked and punched Horus in the arm. “I’m joking mate. You need any help with these kids?”

Horus looked around at all of us. Greg, Blaise, Millicent, Theo, Hermoine, Jana and me.

“Yes please. Take these two-” he patted Jana’s shoulder and gently pushed me towards the black haired Ravenclaw.

Robert rolled his eyes. “Alright. I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll tell you all about Oliver and Marcus.” I wondered what was so interesting about Marcus and Oliver.

“We have children here Hilliard!” Horus hissed.

Robert laughed and started ushering us forward. “See you tomorrow!”

I sighed, as we were herded along by the Ravenclaw prefect. I glanced over at Jana, wondered why she had given up. I bet she had a plan. It was a very Slytherin plan to give up and then find some why to slither back out again. Very deceptive.

However, Jana wouldn’t make eye contact with me. How rude of her not to let me in on the plan.

“So what were you too doing out of bed? I understand your friends were cursed but you two are fine.” Robert asked.

“We were looking for them.” Jana said and held up her permission slip from Madam Pomfrey. “See?”

Robert nodded, amused. I’m so glad we were tickling his funny bone.

I tried to glance at Jana again. She gave me a glare and continued walking.

“Sure.” Robert muttered. “Slytherins.”

I decided I didn’t like Robert.

---

“What was all of that?” I asked in the secret hall outside of the Slytherin common room.

“What was what?” Jana asked, her hand hovering above the door to the common room.

I huffed and crossed my arms. Playing dumb? Not a good tactic.

“I thought you had a plan! How are we supposed to get to the hospital wing now?” I asked.

Jana shrugged, letting her hand fall. “I didn’t have one. We’ll just visit everyone tomorrow.”

Narrowing my eyes, I glared at her. What was the angle? Why did we have to wait?

Jana rolled her eyes. “We need rest if we’re going to be keeping everyone safe in the future. We are no help to them if we keep this up. I don’t know about you but I’m a growing… child. I need sleep for my brain to work.” She grinned and leaned against the wall.

I scowled and uncrossed my arms. I hated that she was right. It must just be my veela instincts. They were going haywire after seeing all of my friends looking so… defeated. Knowing that they were hurt. That it had been my fault they had gotten hurt.

“Draco, I don’t think we should tell our friends everything.” Jana said.

“What? Why not?” I asked. “They deserve to know what we’ve done. Don’t tell me that you’re trying to hide what we’ve done?”

It made me sick to my stomach. I wouldn’t run. Not from my friends. They were my people, the ones I had to keep safe.

Jana shook her head, pushing off of the wall. “No, no that’s not what I’m saying. I mean until we know who is obligating these our friends, the less people who know the better. I’m not saying I don’t trust our friends, but the more people who know, the more people who will talk among themselves, the more in danger they are.”

Danger?

I nodded my head. “Okay, I won’t put them in danger. But I promised Blaise I would tell him everything. What am I supposed to do?”

Jana thought for a moment. “I think if you give Blaise a brief, edited version of things he’ll be fine. That, and if you can make him promise not to tell anyone. We’ll need someone to watch over our friends while we’re figuring everything out. Who’s behind Harry’s poisonings, the obliviating, all of it.” Her eyes sparked with determination. “We’re going to figure it all out.”

I nodded. I could feel her confidence. It was.. Uplifting.

“okay.” I said. “I trust Blaise with to take care of everyone.”

Jana sighed and raised her hand above the door again. “We need to figure out all your veela stuff too.”

Chapter Text

HARRY PoV

I waited anxiously for Poppy to examine my friends. She had promised to reassure me that they were fine after she had checked them out.

“It will be alright Harry.” Horus said, placing a hand on the cot near my leg. “Just calm down. Madam Pomfrey is the best there is. I’m sure she won‘t even need to inform their families of their condition.”

Giving him a weak smile I replied, “I know that, but I’m allowed to still worry.”

Would it be possible to alert their families? Maybe then we would have a better chance of catching whoever kept doing this. We had to assume we weren’t the only ones to try - and succeed - on making it into the third floor. Right? It seemed ridiculously easy to open if us first years could do it.

I knew the notorious Weasley twins would have attempted it at least. They’re always toeing the rules. But a lot of their pranks were funny.

“Horus, have you found any students on the third floor?” I asked. It couldn’t hurt.

He gave me a funny look but nodded his head. “Yes of course. You forbid someplace and suddenly it’s the only place students want to be. Mostly us prefects have caught them before they make it to the floor. Climbing the stairs and such, why?”

I shrugged, trying to appear un-invested. “I was just wondering. Do you think anyone has gotten inside and the prefects just didn’t catch them?”

Horus thought, frowning at me a tad. “I suppose but it’s unlikely. If someone did the whole school would know. The kids we’ve caught were definitely the kids who are just trying to get popular by doing something against the rules.”

“Fair enough.” I said before getting quiet again. It made sense. There were of course going to be a few smart kids who got into the room. But what if they were Obliviated before they could tell?

I’d have to double check with my friends to see if they knew anyone who would break the rules out of pure curiosity. Someone who wouldn’t tell anybody. Bass might just know someone.

I frowned. I wouldn’t get to join her or Horus tomorrow morning due to Poppy keeping me over night. I would miss a peaceful morning with the Early Risers.

There was a loud buzz coming from Horus. I looked over as he pulled out his wand. He held it up to his ear and I heard… someone talking?

Horus nodded and replied before putting his wand back into his arm holster. “I have to go now Harry. Peeves is terrorizing the Restricted Section and I’m needed to collect the Bloody Baron. He’s the only one who can control Peeves.”

I had been hoping that Horus could stay, at least for a little while. I wasn’t tired yet, I didn’t have my homework, and I couldn’t ask Poppy to hang out with me.

“Yeah, that sounds important.” I said, looking down an playing with my sheets.

Horus was quiet for a moment before I glimpsed him pull out his wand again. “ACCIO Harry Potter’s unfinished school work. ACCIO ‘Hogwarts’ Secrets’.”

All of work and the book by the Marauders came flying into the room and all landed in a neat pile in Horus’ hand. I wasn’t surprised Horus had summoned the Marauders’ book. I had been practically obsessed with it - Jana too. I read it most often with the Early Risers when I didn’t want Jana reading over my shoulder.

“Here is some stuff to keep you busy.” He said, handing over my things. “Bass and I can visit you in the morning to keep you company. If you’re up for it that is.”

I grinned up at him. “That would be great.”

His wand buzzed again and he shook his head. “I’m off. I’ll see you in the morning Harry.” And with that, he waved and ducked out of my little section of the infirmary.

---

I was in the middle of my Transfiguration reading for Professor McGonagall when I heard Poppy talking to someone I didn’t recognized. I turned back to my homework, assuming an older year had come to get checked out.

Then I heard how urgent their whispers were. Poppy would never sound that nervous when talking with a patient. Could she be talking with a teacher? Maybe she had called one of them to help her cure my friends. Maybe she couldn’t cure them and she was telling the teachers to call their parents.

Carefully placing my work to the side, I climbed out of my cot and quietly snuck up to the curtains. Slowly a peeled them back to create a hole big enough for me to peek out of. Hopefully without being seen.

Poppy was whispering to an official looking man in lime green robes. They kept gesturing to the wall of curtains where I assumed my friends were staying.

I only caught a few words, “never seen anything like this”, “It’s unnatural”, “Accelerant spell?”. And the most terrifying came from Poppy. “I don’t know what to do”.

Sadly, they were too far for me to understand anymore of their whispers.

Green Guy ducked behind a curtain and Poppy followed, leaving me more worried then I had been before.

 

---

DRACO PoV

“I’ve got to talk to you.” Jana announced, barging into the boys bedroom and startling me from my beauty sleep.

“Can’t this wait?” I asked, pulling my blankets over my head. I tried to appear like I was blocking her out but I was merely trying to hide my body. It was indecent for a lady to see me like this.

Jana huffed. “Not if you want to visit our friends this morning.”

I glared skeptically at her from under my blankets. “Just how early is it?”

Jana doesn’t acknowledge me. She keeps approaching my bed before asking. “Which bed is Harry’s?”

I frowned at her, unsure if I should answer.

“Wait, how did you even get in here?” I asked, waking up a little more.

“I walked.” She said. “But if you’re not going to tell me I guess I’ll just start searching all of the trunks.”

I thought of how horrifying it would be if Jana looked through my trunk while I wasn’t here. This girl was truly Slytherin. “Harry’s bed is right there.” I said, pointing and hoping to Merlin she wasn’t going to search through his things.

“Great, thank you Draco.” She said and promptly opened his trunk. “Oh here it is. Right on top.” She closed Harry’s trunk with a book in hand.

I stared at her, pulling my blankets down a little bit. “Are you taking Harry’s book?

Jana shook her head and plopped down on the edge of my bed. “Yup.”

I stared at this… odd girl, sitting on my bed, with no regard for what was proper.

“Anyway, Harry never finished reading this book and Nora told me that there is an interesting chapter about temporary mates.” Jana continued as she flipped open the book. “It’s amazing what that girl will tell you in exchange for more sleep.”

I couldn’t blame her. I would tell Jana anything if she would leave me alone. This was a highly inappropriate situation we were in. My Mother would have a fit if she knew about this. My Father would be even worse.

“I’m looking forward to reading it.” Jana said, giving me an expectant look.

“Why?” I asked, sitting up but still pulling up my blanket. This is what Jana had woken me up for? A book? This was absolutely idiotic.

Jana rolled her eyes. “So you have nothing to say?”

“Should I?” I asked.

“No need,” Jana sighed, closing the book, “you’re going home for Christmas break yes?”

I nodded. “Yes I am.” Did she really think this was the proper time to chat?

Jana nodded. “Cool, cool. Do you have any books on veela at your house?”

“Jana why are you so obsessed with this?” I asked, putting down the scroll. “Our friends were Obliviated, Harry was poisoned and you’re waking me up at the crack of dawn to talk about veela?”

Jana stared at me. “Yup. Do you have any veela knowledge to share with me?”

Honestly, if she had approached me at a reasonable time, in a reasonable place I would have given her some facts. But, seeing how she decided to barge into my room at the crack of dawn - I wasn’t telling this girl anything.

“Not off the top of my head, no.” I said in a even tone, sitting up from under my covers. Decency out the window. Jana somehow managed to get in here, she could see me in my sleepwear.

Jana gave me a glare. I held my ground and we glared at each other for a few minutes. Obviously, Jana caved first with a sigh and a roll of her eyes.

“We still have to decide how much we are telling our friends.” Jana said, moving on from her defeat.

I sighed and climbed out of my bed. I suppose in for a knut, in for a galleon. Merlin, I could never tell my parents about this. “I told you, I’ll keep Blaise up to date.”

“Yeah but how long is Blaise going to be okay with that? If we’re doing all this secret stuff and Blaise is on babysitting duty, do you really believe that he isn’t going to get mad?” Jana asked, her voice firm as I approached the trunk at the end of my bed.

Opening my trunk, staring at the neat rows of clothes, I thought. I didn’t want Blaise mad with me but would this make him angry? “He’ll be fine.” I said, pushing past the hesitation. Blaise would understand.

“Seriously Draco?” Jana snapped. “You can’t be this dense.”

I scowled at her, using all of my pureblood manners to keep from slamming shut my trunk and hexing her.

Jana took a deep breath, closing her eyes. “I just think we should put ourselves in Blaise’s shoes for this.” Jana said, her voice strained. I could tell she wanted to yell but I respected her self-control. “How would you feel if your friends decided to tell you all about their adventures but never included you? Wouldn’t you get mad.”

I frowned, but I could see her logic. “Yes, I suppose so. But what we’re doing isn’t a silly little adventure. We’re trying to keep Harry and the rest of our friends from getting hurt. We’re trying to find whoever is behind these attacks and poisonings. Its dangerous.”

Jana nodded. “It is dangerous but tell me. Doesn’t it sound like a fairy tale to be the ones searching for the bad guy? And would you want to allow your friends to do all this dangerous stuff while you were on the sidelines? Unable to help them?”

My frown deepened and I crossed my arms. She had a point. “Fine, what do you suggest?”

Jana gave me a smug smile and puffed out her chest. “I knew you would see it my way.”

I raised my hand and interrupted her. “This isn’t your way, this is Blaise’s way that I’m seeing. So just… get on with it.” No need to let the situation go to her head.

Her smug smile faded to a mere grin but she did give me a nod. “It’s all the same in the end. I think we need to filter the information we give Blaise. And we should time it. Make sure we tell him after we’ve put our plans into motion.
“We should also decide on a way to dismiss everything our friends already know, aside from Blaise.” Jana said.

I thought about it but didn’t have any other ideas at the moment. “We’ll figure it out later. We can post pone telling them until they’re out of the hospital wing at least.” I said.

“I’ll leave you to get dressed,” oh thank Merlin, “after one last question.” The spirits of my ancestors hated me.

I fluttered my hand but didn’t look at Jana. “Go on then. Ask away.”

“Why Blaise?” Jana asked. “Why not Greg or Vincent?”

Well this was both easy and awkward. “It’s nothing personal.” I started. “Blaise is simply… more… Slytherin. Greg wouldn’t be able to hold out once Hermione starts asking questions. Or even Millicent for that matter. Blaise is the most cynical. He won’t have any problems with with-holding information from our peers.”

Jana was quiet for a moment. I looked up and saw her thoughtful expression. “I suppose I can see that. It also makes sense because not even Theo could handle the kind of pressure Blaise can create.”

I chuckled. “That too. I’m not sure I can handle Blaise’s intense gaze on me. He is persistent that’s for sure. I just hope he can outlast Harry.”

Jana’s small smile vanished. “What do you mean outlast Harry?”

“Well Harry seems rather persistent as well. I’m not seriously worried about it-” I started, going on to reassure her. I had complete faith in Blaise.

“Why do you think Harry isn’t going to be included in this?” Jana asked. “He is the one being poisoned or drugged or whatever you want to call it. And yeah, the Oblivating doesn’t really have anything to do with him but what does it have to do with us either?”

I frowned. “I assumed that because Harry was a victim that he shouldn’t be involved. Being a target he should be protected.” That and I wanted to keep him from harm.

Jana crossed her arms. “Harry knows just as much magic as us. How are we supposed to protect him?” She questioned. “It’s not like we’re going to the bobbies or even our teachers.”

I wondered vaguely what a 'bobbies' was. I didn’t have time to ask though, because Jana continued to talk.

“What if while we are away researching Harry gets poisoned again because he doesn’t know something that would have been helpful.” Jana said.

Still frowning, I shrugged. It would only be an excuse to keep Harry under my watchful eye. “I don’t… like it, but I suppose I see your point. We will include Harry.”

“I think Neville will be very helpful too.” Jana said. “We should keep him informed.”

“Why?” I asked. Neville barely knew what was going on and I for one didn’t want to deal with his Gryfindor morals. They always got in the way.

Jana raised her eyebrow at me. “Have you not seen how good Neville is at herblogy? Most poisons and drugs are made from plants.”

I wanted to argue that a lot of poisons were potions and that I was the best in our whole year but then I felt stupid. We use a LOT of plants and herbs in our potions. It would be best not to let Jana know how idiotic I just was. I had a reputation to uphold.

“That’s fair.” I said, agreeing with a nod that hopefully came off as wise.

Jana looked me over and then smiled. “I’ll leave you to get dressed now. Horus and Bass are taking us to visit the hospital wing so I’ll be sitting out in the common room with them.”

“I’ll meet you down there then.” I said, dipping my head to her.

---

I walked into the common room, past far too many people, and to the table where Jana, Horus, and Bass were sitting. The table was strewn with books and scrolls. No doubt Horus and Bass’ assignments. Maybe a few of Jana’s.

“Do you seriously take that long to get ready in the morning?” Jana asked.

I - very maturely- did not stick my tongue out at her. “I actually wrote my mother a letter, if you simply must know.” I said. I had written my mother, like I do everyday. It was healthy to maintain a schedule. Now hopefully I could send my letter on time.

Horus sighed and waved his wand, sending all of his books and scrolls into his bag. “Let’s keep the bickering to a minimum yeah?” He said, shouldering his bag. “That’s the last thing your friends need.”

I shared a look with Jana. She nodded and I dipped my head back at her. There, we were at peace.

“Well I’m ready to go.” Bass said, putting down her tea. Or possibly coffee if the lack of a tea bag was anything to go by.

“Why are we going so early?” I asked. Despite my veela genes, I did need my beauty sleep.

“So that we can spend breakfast with them.” Jana answered.

Horus nodded, picking up his bag. “Madam Pomfrey mentioned holding your friends for a twenty-four hour period just to make sure everything progressed as it should. Jana thought it would be nice to share breakfast with them since you’ll be busy with classes all day.”

“I still don’t see why they wouldn’t just excuse us Slytherins from classes today.” Jana piped up. “Almost all of our students are in the infirmary.”

Horus shrugged. “I suppose its because your classes are merged with another houses. They wouldn’t think it fair and all that.”

“I think it would be great to have a day off.” Bass said, picking up her own bag. “However, they’re not going to do that with the Christmas hols right around the corner.”

Staring at their budging school bags, I was very glad that us first years didn’t have such early classes. Jana and I would have time to return to the common room and collect our things after breakfast before our first class of the day.

“Oh I can’t wait for the hols.” Horus commented wistfully.

I grinned as we all walked out into the hallway. “I’m excited for the Christmas hols too. My mother said I can bring my violin back with me for the rest of the school year.”

“You play the violin?” Jana asked, sounding surprised.

I nodded as Horus opened the door into the main hallway. “I play piano, violin, and a little bit of guitar. My mother insisted - said that my fingers were too long and dainty to waste.”

Jana and Bass both laughed as I wiggled my fingers in front of my face. They were rather long and delicate but they were also strong from years of playing instruments.

“Keep up please,” Horus said in his prefect voice.

Bass rolled her eyes, mocking him to us. “We’re coming, don’t get your knickers in a twist.”

Horus’ glare and flushed cheeks made us all laugh as Horus started scolding Bass. ‘-in front of children-’ was repeated a lot.

---

“This is utter rubbish.” I huffed.

How dare Madam Pomfrey not let us in. It was visiting hours!

“I understand how you’re feeling Draco,” Horus said, “but we have to respect Madam Pomfrey’s wishes. She is in charge of caring for everyone in the hospital wing and if she isn’t comfortable with her patients having visitors then we have to wait.”

“Yeah, it’s no use arguing when I’m sure Madam Pomfrey has a perfectly good reason.” Bass chimed in, hiking up her bag. “Besides, if you throw a fit and Pomfrey tells you that a parent requested time alone with their kid you seem like a git.”

I glared at them but didn’t say anything. I hated that they were right. It wouldn’t do to ignore authority when they were correct. That would get me in so much trouble with my father.

“We better get going if you guys want to get anything to eat before your classes.” Jana said.

Bass cast a quick Tempus. “Bollocks-”

“Silencio!” Horus interrupted. “How many times do I have to tell you not to curse around the first years?! Percy Weasley has been on my broom about you all year-”

I shared a look and a chuckle with Jana as Horus continued to complain about Bass to Bass.

Someone could definitely use a holiday.

Still, I couldn’t help glancing back at the doors of the hospital wing. What did Madam Pomfrey not want us to see?