Actions

Work Header

Harry Potter and the Mirror of Erised

Chapter Text

Despite Mr. and Mrs. Dursley's many attempts to make him so, Harry Potter was not a normal boy. He was far from it, in fact, perhaps even the farthest from normal he could be. The Dursleys couldn't stand it.

Everything that ever went wrong in the Dursley household was blamed on Harry. Even the things that were physically impossible for it to be his fault. Most recently, the glass disappearing on a boa constrictor's aquarium at the zoo, allowing the snake to escape. Harry was beyond confused as to why that could possibly be his fault. The glass just vanished. Like magic. But it's not like Harry was a wizard.

Except he is, or at least, that's what that giant, hairy man, Hagrid, told him. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon even went along with it. Of course, not until after they argued that Harry couldn't possibly be a wizard any longer as they made him live normally for so long. The entire time he was waiting to wake up and find out it had all been a dream, or to have Uncle Vernon call Harry a “bloody gullible little boy, go get the post and make sure not to burn the breakfast”.

It’s hard for Harry to believe that witches and wizards are real, and apparently so are hundreds of other strange creatures Harry believed to be a myth, like dragons, which Hagrid had claimed were “severely misunderstood” and he “always wanted a dragon”. There’s so much that Harry doesn’t know about, and as Harry stands in Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions getting fitted for his school robes and talking to another wizard boy his age, he thinks he’ll never be able to learn it all and he’ll be thrown out of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for being too far behind the rest of the students.

"Quidditch?" the blonde boy asks, snapping Harry out of his terror-filled thoughts.

"Quidditch?" Harry repeats in an even more questioning tone than that of the boy.

"Quidditch," the boy says back before breaking their one-word conversation. "Surely you know what Quidditch is. Do you play?"

"Um... no," Harry answers, still just as confused as before. What in the world could Quidditch be? Has he found yet another thing he’ll have to learn before school starts on September the first?

The boy frowns for a second before his smirk reappears. "Well, I do. I'm going to be on my house's team. At least, I will be after First Year. Shame they won’t let us First Years have a broom. Do you know what house you'll be in? I'm gonna be Slytherin. Everyone in my family was. What about your family? Where were they sorted?"

Harry's eyes widen in his confusion. The combination of the boy changing topics almost every sentence and the fact that Harry still can’t comprehend that he is a wizard made it hard for him to keep up with the conversation. "I don't know."

"They are like us, aren't they?"

"You mean, a witch and wizard?" Harry asks, and the boy nods his head in confirmation. "Yeah. They were."

"Were?" the boy asks, but before Harry can respond, Madam Malkin finishes fitting Harry's robes and shoos him away.

In the crowded streets of Diagon Alley, Harry looks back through the window of Madam Malkin's and sees the blond boy still inside, watching him with a curious glint in his eyes and a smirk playing on his lips. Suddenly, Harry feels himself back into something solid, and he turns around to see Hagrid grinning down at him, holding a snowy white owl in a cage.

"There yeh are Harry! I got summat fer yeh birthday. Yeh can have pets at Hogwarts, so I got yeh an owl." Hagrid says, motioning towards the cage.

Harry's eyes widen and he smiles up at the large man. "Oh- thank you, Hagrid! Thank you so much, but you didn't have to. Thank you!"

"Don' mention it," Hagrid grunts out, a smile just visible through his wiry beard. "Now, come on, we need ter get yeh a wand."

Harry glances back in the window of Madam Malkin's one last time, but the boy is nowhere in sight. With a shake of his head, Harry starts to follow Hagrid through the crowd, which is much easier than when Harry was alone, as the witches and wizards part to let the giant man through. Soon enough, Harry and Hagrid have arrived outside of a store whose sign reads Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands Since 382 BC . Upon entering the shop, Harry is met with shelves upon shelves of rectangular cases. Harry assumes there was probably some sort of order to it at one point, but now it just looks like they were shoved anyplace they would fit.

"Excuse me?" Harry calls out weakly. When there isn't an answer, he calls out slightly louder, "Hello?"

This time, an old man with skin almost as white as his hair comes out from somewhere in the stacks of wands. His misty eyes seem to glow when they land on Harry. "Ah, Harry Potter. I knew it was time I would be seeing you."

"I'm sorry?" Harry asks, confused as to how the man knew his name and why he was expecting him.

Instead of answering, the man sees Hagrid and moves towards him. "Ah, Rubeus! It's been a while since I've seen you. Your wand was sixteen inches, oak, rather bendy, yes?"

"Uh, yes," Hagrid says.

"However, I suppose they snapped it when you were expelled."

Hagrid ducks his head down, looking rather embarrassed. "Yeah."

"A shame, that is," the man says, shaking his head before he suddenly turns back to Harry. "Now, let's get your wand, shall we? Which arm is your wand arm?"

The man, who Harry now assumes to be Mr. Ollivander, takes out a tape measure and holds it up, looking at Harry expectantly.

"Oh, well, uh, I'm right-handed?" Harry says, not quite sure if that's what Mr. Ollivander was asking.

Mr. Ollivander then instructs Harry to hold out his right arm, and he starts measuring from his shoulder to his fingertips before going off into the stacks of wands, looking for one he thinks will be suitable. The tape measure, however, keeps measuring away. It measures different portions of Harry's arm, around his head, even between his nostrils, before Mr. Ollivander tells it to stop as he's walking back.

In his hands, Mr. Ollivander holds a slender, dark red case in which lies an elegant looking wand with engravings of leaves spiraling their way around the sides. "Let's try this one. Beechwood with a dragon heartstring core, nine inches, nice and flexible. Try it out, give it a little wave."

Harry takes it, but before he can even begin to move it through the air, Mr. Ollivander snatches it back.

"No, no, not that one," Mr. Ollivander mumbles as he hurries away. It's not long before he returns with another wand. "How about this? Ebony and unicorn hair, eight and a half inches, quite springy."

This time, Harry brings the wand swishing down through the air, but when the end result is a vase shattering and several wand cases flying around the room, Mr. Ollivander, again, takes the wand away.

Again and again, Mr. Ollivander hands Harry a wand, seeming more delighted each time, and again and again he takes the wand away from Harry, barely even letting him test it out.

It seems like a miracle when something finally happens and Harry realizes what Mr. Ollivander was waiting for.

"I wonder if maybe... here, holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple. Try it out."

Harry doesn't even have to try it out, however. As soon as the wand is in his hand he feels a comforting warmth shoot from his fingertips up his arm and throughout his body. When Harry waves it a little, red sparks spray from the wand tip as if they were fireworks celebrating the wand having finally claimed Harry. Harry smiles down at the wand, feeling triumphant and elated that he had finally found one. Hagrid also seems excited, letting out a loud whooping noise which startles Harry's new owl as well as Harry and Mr. Ollivander.

Mr. Ollivander continues to smile, however now he keeps mumbling, "Curious... curious... how very curious," as he puts Harry's wand back in its box and wraps it in brown paper.

Harry's smile slips from his face, quickly replaced by a confused expression. "I'm sorry, but what's curious?"

"It's curious that this wand has chosen you. It chose you when it's brother chose the one who tried to kill you."

Harry's confusion only deepened. "What do you mean? It's brother?"

"This wand was made with Phoenix feather core. The Phoenix whose tail that feather came from has only ever given one other feather. The wand made with that feather chose You-Know-Who all those years ago. It was with that wand that he gave you that scar on your forehead. It is curious that this wand has chosen you, that you are destined for this wand, when it's brother gave you that scar."

Harry looks down at the wand, now in its case and wrapped in brown parcel paper, and he remembers that green flash of light that he now knows was from the spell that killed his parents. He feels something strange that he can't quite place, but it's gone almost as quickly as it had come, and Hagrid takes the parcel from him as he digs in his pockets to bring out his wizard money and pay Mr. Ollivander for the wand.

"Thank you, Mr. Ollivander," Harry mumbles out as he and Hagrid leave the shop with a jingle of the bells hanging above the door.

Back amongst the crowds of Diagon Alley, Harry follows Hagrid through the Leaky Cauldron and back out into Muggle London. Harry stays silent, sorting through his thoughts, until finally he decides to start asking Hagrid about everything that's been worrying him while they eat burgers in a small diner while waiting for their train back to the Dursley's.

"Hagrid," Harry starts, still trying to decide which question he should start with. Finally, he settles on asking one of the simpler questions floating through his brain: "What's Quidditch?"

"Blimey, Harry! I keep forgettin' you don' know abou' the Wizardin' world!" Hagrid exclaims after dropping his burger. The few people in the diner with them turn to give them curious looks, but they quickly seem to get bored and look away. "Quidditch is on'y the mos' popular sport to Witches an' Wizards. You go' fourteen players, all flyin' on broomsticks, tryin' to score points by gettin' a ball through one o' the three hoops on either side o' the field, while also tryin' to catch the Snitch. I can' really explain it tha' well, you'd be better off jus' watchin' it."

"Oh," Harry says, feeling slightly upset that he didn't know about the most popular sport in the Wizarding World. "What about houses, and sorting? What does that mean?"

"Well, when yeh firs' get to Hogwarts, yeh'll be sorted into one o' the four houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Wha' house yer in will decide yer class schedule an' yeh'll live with the other studen's in yer house. It's like yer family at Hogwarts, yer house is,” Hagrid replies, then, seeing the fear in Harry’s face and realizing that Harry is worried about the sorting, Hagrid adds, “but don’ worry, the sorting is more of a personality test than anythin’.”

Relieved, Harry relaxes his shoulders that he didn’t quite notice were so tensed. “What house were you sorted into?” Harry asks.

“Gryffindor. Same as Dumbledore,” Hagrid says proudly, puffing out his chest slightly when he adds, “The house o’ the brave. Yer parents were both in Gryffindor, too.”

Harry smiles at that, feeling a surge of pride knowing his parents were brave. “I hope I’m in Gryffindor.”

“Any o’ the houses would be good, ‘cept Slytherin. I can’ imagine bein’ sorted in Slytherin.”

Harry tilts his head to the side, remembering that the boy he met in Madam Malkin’s said his entire family was in Slytherin and he wanted to be too. “What’s wrong with Slytherin?”

Hagrid’s face turns dark and he leans toward Harry conspiratiorially. “I don’ know of a single witch or wizard who wen’ bad who wasn’ in Slytherin. You-know-who was in Slytherin durin’ his time at Hogwarts.”

Harry’s spine tingles and he shivers. Was that boy evil? He didn’t seem like it, but then again Harry didn’t have that long of a conversation with him. It would be impossible to tell someone’s motives from a short conversation only held to pass the time. Harry supposes he’ll just wait until he gets to Hogwarts and find out there.

“Well, would you look a’ the time!” Hagrid exclaims suddenly and Harry’s attention snaps from his thoughts to the clock on the wall of the diner. “It’s abou’ time we head fer yer train back to the Dursley’s!”

Just like that, Harry’s mood drops. Another month with the Dursley’s before he gets to go to Hogwarts, before he gets to be part of the magical world again.

“Don’ worry, i’s on’y a month before yeh start school. I remember I was ready teh start righ’ away, too,” Hagrid says merrily as he pats Harry on the back, misinterpreting Harry’s sudden sadness. Harry doesn’t bother to correct him, however, and instead helps Hagrid count out the money to pay for the meal when the waitress comes to give them their check.

All the way back to the Dursley’s, Harry and Hagrid endure strange looks from the other passengers, directed mostly at the owl, but also at the overlarge man and the many odd-shaped parcels. Harry doesn’t quite notice, as he is too busy worrying about what would happen at school. He has never fit in at school before, Dudley and his gang made sure of that, but with him not knowing a thing about the wizard of world he doubts he will ever get to find out what it is like to fit in.

Luckily, for the rest of his Summer Holidays, the Dursleys take to ignoring Harry, which allows him to read through some of his books in order to prepare. It doesn’t do much good, unfortunately, as Harry quickly becomes confused and has to put his books down frequently, allowing himself a short break to try and process whatever information he had just read. The downside to this is that the more breaks he takes, the more worried he becomes about the start of term.

And then, it is only the day before term starts when he remembers he would have to get to Hogwarts before he’d even have to worry about being thrown out. He racks his brain for what Hagrid had said he would have to do, when he finally finds a train ticket mixed in among his school things. A train ticket leaving from London. Harry quickly goes downstairs and finds Uncle Vernon sitting in front of the television set, watching his favorite evening news program.

“Uh… Uncle Vernon?” Harry questions, more than slightly nervous. He is beginning to think that the Dursleys had all gone deaf to his presence until finally Uncle Vernon gives a grunt to show he is listening. “Um… I was wondering if you could take me to London tomorrow? It’s just that... I need to catch a train at 11 o’clock in order to get to school.”

It takes another moment for Harry’s Uncle to answer. “Whatever, boy. We’re going to London tomorrow anyways for Dudley to get that bloody tail removed.”

Harry’s heart leaps as he makes his way back upstairs. That’s one problem out of the way. Now he can worry about how much he doesn’t know about being a wizard.

Chapter Text

Harry swallows down the bile rising in his throat when the Dursleys laugh as they walk away from him standing at the barrier between platforms nine and ten at the train station. Uncle Vernon had been eager to take Harry to the station once Harry had told him he needed to get on the train at Platform Nine and Three Quarters. He had even helped Harry load all of his luggage into a trolley and steered it towards where Harry was now standing, lost and confused, and cleverly pointed out “See, boy. There’s Platform Nine and there’s Platform Ten. Your platform should be somewhere in the middle of them but it seems as though they haven’t built it yet. Have fun at your school !” and then the family walked away, leaving Harry all alone and helpless.

“Excuse me sir, but, could you tell me where Platform Nine and Three Quarters is? I’m a little lost,” Harry asks the station guard while trying desperately to not show how panicked he actually is.

The station guard laughs at him and replies in a condescending tone that there is no such thing.

“Well, how about the train that leaves at 11 o’clock? Where is that at?”

“Think you’re funny, do you?” the station guard asks, now irritated. “There is no train that leaves at 11 o’clock and there is no such thing as Platform Nine and Three Quarters . Now, I don’t have time for this funny business so run along, please.”

Harry sits down on a bench and is just about to give up hope when he hears a woman say something that makes him perk up.

“...packed with muggles of course. Hurry along now, we don’t want to miss the train.”

Harry jumps up and steers his trolley towards the plump, middle-aged woman who had spoken to several children all with the same bright red hair as her. He watches first as the oldest looking boy, who the woman called Percy, runs his trolley straight into the barrier between platforms Nine and Ten. Before Harry can see what happens to the boy, a swarm of tourists blocks his view and by the time the last of them has cleared away the boy is gone.

“Fred, you next.”

“I’m not Fred, I’m George!” exclaims the boy the woman had motioned towards next. “Honestly, woman, you call yourself our mother.”

“Oh, I’m sorry George, dear,” the woman sighs.

Right before the boy sets off, he says “Only joking, I am Fred,” and then disappears, his twin not far behind him.

Harry’s eyes widen and he hurries towards the remainder of the family.

“Uh… excuse me ma’am, but I’m trying to get to Hogwarts and I don’t know how…” Harry starts, not quite sure how to phrase it.

“How to get onto the platform? That’s okay dear, it’s Ron here’s first time at Hogwarts as well,” she says, motioning towards the boy still standing with her. “All you have to do is walk straight into the barrier between the platforms. Make sure not to stop or be afraid of crashing into it. Best do it at a bit of a run if you’re nervous.”

Harry looks at Ron, who gives him an encouraging nod, before he lines himself up with the barrier and, taking a deep breath, he starts running at the stone wall. When he is almost a foot away, he closes his eyes. Instead of crashing like he expected, Harry opens his eyes seconds later to find a gleaming red steam engine waiting next to the crowded platform as students load onto it and their parents call and wave their goodbyes to them. Looking up, Harry sees a sign that reads Hogwarts Express, eleven o’clock , and he smiles.

He pushes his luggage down the platform in search of an empty seat. All around Harry is a bustle of commotion, with students hanging out of the windows to say their last goodbyes to their families, some fighting over their seats. One boy says in an almost hysterical voice “Gran, I’ve lost my toad again!” and his grandmother sighs, while a small crowd shrieks as another boy lifts the lid of a box and a long hairy leg pokes out.

Finally, Harry finds an empty compartment and he loads his owl, who he had decidedly named Hedwig after someone he had read about in one of his school books, into the seat and then goes back to try and heave his luggage onto the train. After a few minutes of struggling, he drops the heavy trunk on his foot and yelps in pain.

“Need any help?”

Harry looks up, startled, and sees the red-haired twins who had gone through the barrier just before him. “Yes, please,” he says when he finally manages to catch his breath.

With the three boys working together, the twins pushing and Harry pulling, they manage to get the trunk onto the train and tucked away in a corner of the compartment.

“Thanks,” Harry breathes out as he pushes his hair out of his eyes in an attempt to cool off.

“Woah. Is that—are you—?” one of the twins says, pointing at the lightning shaped scar on Harry’s forehead.

“He is!” the other twin says, amazed. “Aren’t you?”

Harry looks at them curiously. “Am I what?”

The twins exchange looks with each other before they say together “Harry Potter!”

“Oh, yeah, him—I mean… yes, I am.”

“Wicked,” the twins say together again, and Harry feels his face heating up, no doubt turning red.

Harry’s relief is almost palpable when the voice of the kind woman floats through the window, saying “Fred? George? Is that you?”

The twins head back onto the platform with a little wave at Harry and one of them calls back “Coming, mum!”

Through the window, Harry watches as the woman tries to scrub dirt off the end of Ron’s nose, much to his dismay, and the twins tease him. The oldest boy, Percy, walks back over to the rest of the family and puffs out his chest, showing off a glittering silver badge with the letter ‘P’ on it.

“I’m afraid I can’t stay too long, Mother. The prefects have got two compartments to themselves up front and I—”

“Are you really a prefect, Percy?” one of the twins cuts him off.

“We had no idea, you should have said something!” the other chimes in.

The first twin grins at his brother and says “Hang on a minute, I think he might have mentioned it once—”

“Or twice—”

“A minute—”

“All summer—”

“Oh, shut up,” Percy says, rolling his eyes at the twins. He accepts a kiss on the cheek from his mother before he leaves.

One of the twins sticks their tongue out at his back while the other whines “How come Percy got new robes?”

“Because Percy is a prefect. Maybe you could be prefects too if you didn’t spend your year blowing up toilets or—”

“Blowing up toilets? We’ve never blown up a toilet.”

“Thanks for the idea though, Mum!”

Harry can’t help but laugh, especially when the train whistle blows and the twins and Ron board the train, calling out the window “Don’t be upset, Ginny! We’ll send you a Hogwarts toilet seat!”

Harry is still laughing when the twins and Ron come into his compartment.

“We never introduced ourselves, did we, Harry? I’m Fred—”

“And I’m George Weasley. This is our little brother Ron. Fred and I are going to go down to the middle of the train—”

“Lee Jordan’s got a giant tarantula down there—”

“See you, Harry!”

And then it’s just Harry and Ron left. Ron’s freckled face is quickly being taken over by a blush. “Could I sit here? Everywhere else is full.”

“Yeah, of course,” Harry replies and Ron takes the seat across from him. “I’m Harry, by the way.”

“Fred and George said—Are you really? Do you have the—” Ron asks, pointing at Harry’s forehead.

“Oh, yeah,” Harry says, lifting his hair to show his scar.

Ron stares at Harry for a few moments, uttering a sort of breathless “Wow,” before he quickly turns to look out the window, probably realizing how much time he had spent staring.

Harry, desperate for something to say and finding Ron just as Ron finds him, asks “Are all of your family wizards?”

“I think so,” Ron says, seeming to think about it. “I believe Mum has a second cousin that is an accountant, but that’s it. We don’t really talk about him so I don’t know. I heard you live with Muggles, what’s that like?”

“Well, the Dursleys aren’t really anything to go by, they’re horrible. Not all Muggles are though. I would much rather grow up with three wizard brothers.”

“I’ve got five. I’m the sixth to go to Hogwarts so I’ve got a lot to live up to. Bill and Charlie have already left—Bill was Head Boy and Charlie was Quidditch Captain. Percy just became a prefect, and even though Fred and George mess around a lot they still get really good marks. I’m expected to do just as good as all of my brothers, but even if I do they did it first so it doesn’t matter. I never get new things either. I’ve got Bill’s old robes, Charlie’s old wand, and Percy’s old rat,” Ron rants, pulling a fat gray rat out of his jacket at the end. “His name is Scabbers. He’s completely useless and hardly ever even wakes up. When Percy became prefect, Dad got him an owl, but they couldn’t aff—I got Scabbers instead.”

Ron turns back to the window, seeming to think that he had said to much, so Harry tries to make him feel better.

“With the Dursleys, I never knew I had any money until about a month ago. They always made me wear my cousin Dudley’s old clothes which were way too big and I never really got any presents. And until Hagrid told me, I didn’t even know that I’m a wizard or what had actually happened to my parents or about Voldemort.”

“You said the name!” Ron gasps, his hands flying to his mouth in shock.

“I’m not trying to be brave or anything, I just never knew you shouldn’t say it. I’ve got loads to learn, I bet I’m the worst in the class,” Harry groans, slumping back in his seat.

“Nah,” Ron says. “Loads of people come from Muggle families and don’t have any trouble learning it all. You’ll be fine.”

Just then, a smiling woman pushing a trolley slides open the door to their compartment and asks “Anything off the trolley, dears?”

Harry, who had never had any money before and is itching to spend the gold, silver, and bronze coins in his pockets, asks the woman for all of the Mars Bars she had. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have any, but instead she offers him Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and an assortment of other sweets Harry had never heard of before. In order not to miss out on anything, Harry asks for some of everything, resulting in their compartment seats being littered with sweets and Harry being down eleven Sickles and seven Knuts.

“Hungry?” Ron asks, eyeing the armful of sweets as Harry dumps it onto the seat next to him.

“Oh, I’m starving!” Harry says as he tries his first bite of a Pumpkin Pasty.

Ron, becoming hungry himself from watching Harry eat, pulls out a rather lumpy package and unwraps it, revealing four sandwiches that he crinkles his nose at. “Mum, always forgets I like corned beef.”

“Go on, have a pasty,” Harry goads, eager to share with his new friend. After a bit of persuasion, Ron gives in and moves to sit next to Harry rather than across from him, which makes it much easier for them to share the sweets as the sandwiches were completely forgotten.

“These aren’t really frogs, are they?” Harry asks, holding up a pack of chocolate frogs.

Ron shakes his head, finishing off his Licorice Wand before saying “No. See what the card is though, I’m missing Agrippa.”

“What?”

“Oh, yeah. Chocolate Frogs have cards inside them to collect. I’ve got about five hundred, but I still haven’t got Agrippa or Ptolemy.”

Harry nods his head as he unwraps the Chocolate Frog and looks at the card to see an old man with half-moon spectacles, a long crooked nose that has no doubt been broken multiple times, and long silver hair and beard. Underneath the picture is written Albus Dumbledore .

“So this is Dumbledore,” Harry mutters to himself as he turns over the card.

ALBUS DUMBLEDORE

CURRENTLY HEADMASTER OF HOGWARTS

Considered by many the greatest wizard of modern times, Dumbledore is particularly famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindlewald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, and his work on alchemy with his partner Nicolas Flamel. Professor Dumbledore enjoys chamber music and tenpin bowling.

Harry turns the card back over to get a better look at his headmaster, but he is surprised when there is no Dumbledore in the picture. “He’s gone!” Harry exclaims.

“Well, you can’t expect him to hang around all day,” Ron replies. “Can I have one?”

“Yeah, help yourself, but you know, in the Muggle world, people don’t leave their pictures.”

“Really? They don’t move at all? That’s so weird! Aw, I’ve got Morgana and I’ve already got about six of her. Do you want it, you can start collecting.”

Harry takes the card and sets it with his Dumbledore card, moving on to open up some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.

“Careful with those,” Ron warns. “When they say every flavor, they mean every flavor.” He picks up a green bean and, after eyeing it for a few moments, pops it into his mouth and almost immediately flinches in disgust. “Blech. Sprouts.”

They go on like that, taking turns trying the beans, some of which are delicious while others make their faces shrivel up as if that would make the disgusting flavor go away. When the fields outside have turned into forests and rivers, there is a knock on the door to their compartment and the boy Harry had seen crying about a lost toad on the platform comes in.

“I’m sorry,” the boy says pitifully, wiping his rounds cheeks of the tears there, “but have you seen a toad?”

“No, we haven’t, sorry,” Harry replies, feeling bad for the kid.

“He’s gone!” the boy then wails. “I’ve lost him! How does he keep getting away from me?”

“Don’t worry, he’ll turn up,” Harry tries to comfort the boy.

He just nods his head and wipes at his cheeks again as he turns to leave the compartment. “Well, if you see him…”

When the boy has gone, Ron says “Honestly, if I’d had a toad I’d lose it on purpose. Then again, I’ve got Scabbers, so I can’t really talk.” He pokes the rat as it sleeps away on his lap. “He could be dead and you couldn’t tell the difference. Yesterday I tried turning him yellow, you know, to make him more interesting, but the spell didn’t work. I’ll show you.”

Ron searches around a bit for his wand and is just raising it when the door slides open again.

“Has anyone seen a toad? Neville’s lost one,” the girl says as she steps inside, already in her Hogwarts robes.

Ron shakes his head at the girl’s bossy tone of voice. “No, we just told him we haven’t seen it.”

The girl, however, was paying more attention to the wand in Ron’s hand than anything he had just said. “Oh, are you doing magic? Let’s see it then.” She sits down across from the two boys and looks at Ron pointedly, obviously silently urging him to do the spell.

“Uh… okay,” Ron says and the cleats his throat. “Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, turn this stupid, fat rat yellow.”

The rat stays gray and sound asleep in Ron’s lap.

“Are you sure that’s a real spell?” the girl asks in a condescending sort of voice. “Well, it’s not very good, is it? I’ve only tried a few simple spells myself, just for practice, and it’s all worked for me. Nobody in my family is magic, I’m the first, and it was ever the surprise when I got my letter. I was very pleased, of course, it is the finest school of witchcraft from what I’ve heard. Of course, I’ve learned all of our course books by heart, I can only hope that will be enough. I’m Hermione Granger, by the way. Who are you?”

From the shocked look on Ron’s face, was can tell that he wasn’t the only one that didn’t learn all of the course books by heart.

“Ron Weasley,” Ron replies.

“Harry Potter,” says Harry.

“Are you really?” Hermione asks, seemingly intrigued. “I’ve read all about you, of course. I’ve gotten a few extra books for background reading and you’re in Modern Magical History and The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizardibg Events of the Twentieth Century .”

“I am?”

“You didn’t know? If it was me, I would have found out everything I could. Well, do either of you know what house you’ll be in? I’ve been asking around and I hope I’m in Gryffindor, that was Dumbledore’s house, but I suppose Ravenclaw wouldn’t be too bad. Anyway, I better go off to look for Neville’s toad some more. You two should change, I expect we’ll be arriving soon.”

And then she was gone, leaving Harry and Ron both feeling a little dazed by her fast speaking.

“I don’t care what house I’m in as long as she’s not in it,” Ron says as he throws his wand back into his trunk.

“What house are your brothers in?” Harry asks.

“Gryffindor. All of them. Mum and Dad were in it, too. I can’t imagine their reactions if I’m not in it, although I don’t suppose Ravenclaw would be too bad. Slytherin would be terrible, though.”

“Is that the house Volde—sorry, You-Know-Who was in?”

“Yeah.”

“So, what do your older brothers do now that they’re out of Hogwarts?”

“Charlie’s off in Romania studying dragons, and Bill’s working for Gringotts in Africa. Did you hear about Gringotts? Someone tried robbing a high security vault!” Ron exclaims.

“What happened to them?” asks Harry, recalling what Hagrid had said about anyone attempting to rob Gringotts being crazy due to all of the charms on the vaults.

“Nothing. They weren’t caught. It had to have been a very powerful Dark wizard, but they didn’t even take anything. Everyone’s worried that You-Know-Who’s Behind it.”

Harry sits in stunned silence for a few minutes, thinking about this news. Sensing Harry’s sudden solemnity, Ron tries to lighten the mood.

“What’s your Quidditch team?” he asks.

“I don’t know any,” Harry answers, thankful for the change of subject, and Ron is off, explaining all of the rules and talking Harry through all of the games he’s been to with his family and describing his favorite broom, until the compartment door slides open once more.

“Is it true then?” asks one of the three boys that enter. Harry recognizes him as the pale boy from Madam Malkin’s in Diagon Alley. “Up and down the train they’re all saying that Harry Potter is in this compartment. It’s you then?”

“Yeah,” Harry replies, his eyes focused on the two very large boys flanking the blond like bodyguards.

“This is Crabbe and Goyle,” the boy says flippantly. “I’m Malfoy. Draco Malfoy.”

Ron snorts. His attempt to hide it in a cough goes unnoticed as Draco shoots a glare at him.

“Think my name’s funny, do you? No need to ask who you are. Red hair, freckles, obviously poor. There’s no denying you’re a Weasley.” He turns towards Harry. “You’ll soon find out that some wizarding families are better than others, Potter. You don’t want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there.”

And Harry hesitates as he regards the hand held out in front of him. “If I accept…” Harry says slowly and he feels Ron’s glare but ignores it. “If I accept your friendship, that doesn’t mean you pick my friends. I’ll be friends with whoever I want and you have to be nice to them.”

Draco’s cheeks tinge slightly pink and he retracts his hand slightly before he sticks it back out again. “Deal.”

Both boys give slight smiles as they shake hands, and then Harry offers for Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle to sit in the compartment with them and the three sit down, somewhat awkwardly.

Just as Harry is about to say something, Goyle screams and holds up his hand. Scabbers the rat had bit his finger and he dangles there as Goyle waves his hand around trying to fling the rat off. Scabbers stays on, however, his sharp little teeth sunk deep into Goyle’s knuckle. It’s not until Goyle swings his arm and the rat hits the window and falls off, seemingly unconscious, and Goyle runs out of the compartment screaming. Crabbe, who had been helping him try to pry the rat off, is not far behind him.

“I think he’s unconscious,” Ron says as he picks Scabbers up by his tail. “No, I can’t believe it—he’s gone back to sleep!”

“That’s some rat you’ve got there, Weasley,” Draco says amusedly.

Ron gives him what could be a smile but looks a little pained. “Uh, thanks, I guess.” All three boys look around the compartment, their eyes landing everywhere but on each other. “So, uh, what house are you hoping for, Draco?”

“Slytherin.”

“Oh,” Ron replies, his face contorting in obvious disgust.

Draco crosses his arms. “It’s not as bad as people make it out to be. Not everyone in Slytherin is a Dark wizard and not every Dark wizard is in Slytherin.” Ron doesn’t seem to change his mind and Draco goes on to prove his point. “Merlin himself was in Slytherin. He wasn’t a Dark wizard. I’m guessing you want Gryffindor. Sirius Black was in Gryffindor and he went Dark. See, Slytherin being the house of Dark wizards is just something made up by the other houses to make everyone hate Slytherin.”

Harry looks from side to side. Ron and Draco are both glaring at each other and Harry really wishes he wasn’t in the middle of it. Luckily, Hermione Granger comes into the compartment one more time.

“You’d better hurry up and put your robes on. I’ve just been up to speak to the conductor and he says we’re nearly there. You’ve got dirt on your nose, by the way,” she says, looking at Ron pointedly before she’s gone again.

Looking outside, Harry sees that it is getting dark out and, sure enough, the train seems to be slowing down.

“I’m going to go find Crabbe and Goyle. I’ll see you later,” Draco says. He and Harry both nod at each other before Draco leaves.

“What’d you go and accept his friendship for?” Ron asks when the compartment door is shut again.

Harry shrugs. “I don’t really know. It just seemed like something I had to do.”

Ron gives Harry an incredulous look and Harry shrugs again before they start changing.

An authoritative voice echoes all down the train just as they are finishing. “We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minutes’ time. Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately.”

Harry and Ron give each other nervous looks as they fill their pockets with the last of their sweets and step out into the already crowded corridor. Finally, the train comes to a stop, and the line of students push each other out onto the platform.

“Firs’ years! Firs’ years over here!” Harry hears a familiar voice call, and he smiles when he sees Hagrid. “All righ’ there, Harry?”

“Yeah!” Harry calls back over the sea of heads.

“Any more firs’ years? No? C’mon, follow me! Mind yer step! Firs’ years follow me!”

“You know him?”

Harry jumps and looks to his right to see Draco standing next to him, Crabbe and Goyle looking like lost puppies trailing after him.

“Yeah, he brought me to Diagon Alley,” Harry replies.

The first years all stay silent as they continue on their walk, too focused on not slipping and falling down to say anything. Harry heard sniveling from just behind him and chances a glance back to see Neville.

“Yeh get yer firs’ sight o’ Hogwarts jus’ round this bend here!” Hagrid calls and there is a collective ‘ooh’ when they are suddenly on the edge of a large lake with a beautiful castle perched atop a mountain on the other side. “No more’n four to a boat!” Hagrid says. Ron, Harry, Draco, and Neville all climb into one of the boats together. “Everyone in? Right then—FORWARD!”

Without so much as a lurch, the fleet of boats starts gliding across the smooth lake. Everyone stares silently up at the castle towering on the cliff above them. When they reach the cliff, Hagrid instructs for them all to keep their heads down, and they do just that as the pass through a dark tunnel until they reach a small harbor on the other side and exit the boats as Hagrid checks them.

“Oh, you there—is this your toad?” Hagrid asks, and Neville runs up to take his pet out of Hagrid’s large hands.

“Trevor!” he cries happily as he clutches the toad to his chest.

Then, they all follow Hagrid and his lamp, clambering up the rock on a kind of passageway towards the castle, until the finally make it onto the smooth, damp grass and then up a flight of stone steps and through a large, oak door where they are greeted by a strict-looking woman wearing emerald green robes.

“The firs’ years, Professor McGonagall,” Hagrid says.

The woman, Professor McGonagall, nods her head in thanks at Hagrid. “Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here,” she says, and once again, they are all speechless as they follow her across the stone floor of the entrance hall, and into a small, empty chamber.

“Welcome to Hogwarts,” Professor McGonagall says. “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 your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your 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’re 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. I shall return when we are ready for you. Please wait quietly.”

Harry tries to swallow as she leaves, but he feels a lump get stuck in his throat. It goes away, however, when he jumps because about twenty ghosts had just streamed through the back wall, all immersed in their conversation and not noticing the students.

A ghost that appears to be a fat little monk is saying “Forgive and forget, I say, we ought to give him a second chance—”

“My dear Friar, haven’t we given Peeves all the chances he deserves? He gives us all a bad name and you know, he’s not really even a ghost—I say, what are you all doing here?”

The first years all seem too terrified to answer.

“New students! About to be Sorted, I suppose?” the Fat Friar says, smiling around at them all. When a couple of students nod, he says “Hope to see you in Hufflepuff! My old house, you know.”

“Move sling now,” says a sharp voice, and everyone turns to see Professor McGonagall has returned. Once all of the ghosts are gone, she tells the students “Now, form a line and follow me.”

With Draco in front of him and Ron behind him, Harry gets into line and walks out of the chamber, back across the entrance hall, and through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall.

Thousands upon thousands of candles float in midair over four long tables where the rest of the school is already sitting and at the opposite end of the hall is a fifth long table where all of the teachers are sitting. Professor McGonagall leads them so they are standing in a line in front of the teachers’ table, facing the students. To avoid looking at all of the faces staring back at him, Harry looks up to see that the ceiling is velvety black and dotted with stars.

He hears Hermione whisper “It’s bewitched to look like the sky outside. I read about it in Hogwarts, A History .”

When Harry looks back down, Professor McGonagall is setting a four-legged still in front of the first years, a ragged, old wizard’s hat sitting on top of the stool. Suddenly, a rip near the brim of the hat opens wide and it starts 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 you bowlers black,

Your top hats 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 brave 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!

Everyone bursts into applause as the hat bows to each of the four tables at the end of its song and then becomes still again.

“When I call your name,” Professor McGonagall says, now holding a long scroll of parchment, “you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted. Abbott, Hannah!”

Harry zones out, his nerves not quite letting him pay attention to anything until he hears a name he recognizes.

“Granger, Hermione!” Professor McGonagall says, and Hermione eagerly goes to the stool and put the hat on her head.

The hat shouts “GRYFFINDOR!” and Ron groans next to Harry as she joins the table on the far left, which is clapping the loudest.

It’s not long after that that Draco’s name gets called and Harry watches as the hat barely touches his head before calling out “SLYTHERIN!”

Harry starts to panic then. What if the hat doesn’t put him in a house at all? What if he gets sent home because he sits there for ages until Professor McGonagall takes the hat off his head and tells him there’s been a mistake?

“Potter, Harry!” Professor McGonagall finally calls and Ron nudges Harry forward.

Harry doesn’t quite feel like himself as he sits down on the stool and puts the hat on his head.

“Hmm,” a small voice says into Harry’s ear. “Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad min either. There’s talent, oh my goodness, yes—and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that’s interesting. So where shall I put you?”

Harry grips the stool and finds himself thinking of all the times he used magic. When he grew his hair back overnight, dreading going to school with that ridiculous haircut the next day; when he shrunk that hideous sweater as Aunt Petunia tried to fit it over Harry’s head; when he ended up on the school roof while trying to get away from Dudley’s gang; when he vanished the glass of the python’s enclosure at the zoo and it chased Dudley around.

“Ah…” the hat says into Harry’s ear, and Harry realizes it is reading his mind. “Yes, yes. I know… you should be… SLYTHERIN!”

The hat shouts his house out loud and Harry takes it off his head, walking over to join Draco at the Slytherin table, which is the only table cheering. Harry feels everyone’s eyes watching him as he sits down and gives his new housemates a small smile. Once he sits down, his nerves are barely there, and he is able to enjoy the rest of the Sorting, cheering as other first years join him at the Slytherin table and also cheering for Ron, who sends Harry a thumbs up as he joins the Gryffindor table.

The last student to be sorted is “Zabini, Blaise” who is put in Slytherin and takes the seat next to Harry as Professor McGonagall rolls up her scroll and takes the Sorting Hat and the stool away.

Up at the high table, Albus Dumbledore, whom Harry recognizes from his Chocolate Frog card, stands up, his arms open wide as he beams at the students.

“Welcome,” he says. “Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!

“Thank you!”

And then he sits back down as everyone claps and cheers.

“Father always said Dumbledore was mad,” Draco says from Harry’s left.

“I heard he’s a great wizard, though,” Harry replies.

“I suppose so.”

The empty golden plates and goblets suddenly fill up with an assortment of food, which Harry piles onto his plate. He had never seen so many things he liked on a single table.

After lots of eating and friendly conversation, Harry finally feels full, and he looks back up at the high table where he sees the teachers all talking amongst themselves. His eyes are automatically drawn to Professor Quirrell, whom he had met in Diagon Alley, and his absurd turban. Talking to Quirrell is a man with greasy black hair and a hooked nose. Just as Harry and this teacher make eye contact, Harry clamps a hand to his forehead.

“Are you okay?” the girl sitting across from Harry, Pansy Parkinson, asks with concern.

“Yeah, it’s fine now,” Harry replies, and it’s not a lie—the pain really is gone, just as quick as it had come. “Who’s that teacher talking to Professor Quirrell?”

Draco looks in the direction Harry as nodded his head and says “That’s Professor Snape. He’s our Head of House and the Potions Master. How do you know who he’s talking to?”

“I met him in Diagon Alley.”

Professor Dumbledore stands up again and the hall falls silent.

“Ahem—just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few start-of-term notices to give you.

“First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. A few of our older students would do well to remember that as well.

“I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors.

“Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact Madam Hooch.

“And finally, I must tell you that this year the third floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death.”

Harry is one of the few who laugh.

“He’s not serious?” Harry asks.

“Let’s not find out, yeah?” says Blaise.

“And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!” Dumbledore says ecstatically, and Harry notices that the teachers smiles seem to have become rather fixed. “Everyone pick their favorite tune and off we go!”

Dumbledore flicks his wand and a golden ribbon flies out, twisting into words in the air that the school bellows out.

Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,

Teach us something, please,

Whether we be old and bald

Or young with scabby knees,

Our heads could do with filling

With some interesting stuff,

For now they’re bare and full of air,

Dead flies and bits of fluff,

So teach us things worth knowing,

Bring back what we’ve forgot,

Just do your best, we’ll do the rest,

And learn until our brains all rot!

Everyone finishes singing at different times, until at last only the Weasley twins are left singing along to a very slow funeral march as Dumbledore conducts their last few lines.

“Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here! And now, bedtime. Off you trot!”

Harry stands up and follows the Slytherin prefects as they lead the first years out of the Great Hall, down a stone staircase and through the stone corridors until they finally stop at a stretch of bare yet damp stone wall.

“This is the entrance to the Slytherin common room,” one of the prefects announces. “In order to get in, you just have to say the password, which will change every fortnight. The new password will be posted on the notice board in the common room. For now, the password is ‘Salazar’,” one of the prefects explains and a door hidden in the stone that Harry hadn’t noticed until now slides open.

Inside the Slytherin common room is somehow cozy to Harry, despite the stone walls and the green light that bathes the room from the lake that can be viewed through a giant window at one end. An elaborately carved mantelpiece somehow provides the entire room with the perfect amount of warmth, which makes Harry believe it is bewitched. Throughout the common room is a number of fancy yet comfortable looking black and green chairs that a number of the older students are already sitting on, chatting away about their summer holidays.

“Through the hall on the left are the boys dorms, the girls are through the hall on the right. All of your things should have already been brought in for you. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me,” the prefect says before she leaves them to explore the common room and their dorms as they wish before bed.

With one final look around the common room, Harry heads down the hall on the left until he finds a door marked by a plaque reading ‘ First Years ’ in a fancy scrawl. Harry isn’t the only first year who seems to be ready to go to bed already, as the rest of his fellow first year boys are not far behind him as he opens the door to their dorm revealing six four-poster beds made up with green blankets and draped in matching green curtains. All of the boys seem too tired to do much talking as they quietly pull on their pajamas and each choose a bed to climb into, and Harry falls asleep almost as soon as his head hits his pillow.

Chapter Text

When he was living with the Dursleys, Harry had been used to getting up early. The difference from Hogwarts is that at the Dursleys’, Harry was the first one up. Now, as Harry wakes up in his dorm room, he is slightly startled to see the amount of commotion going on around him. Crabbe and Goyle seem to be the only two still asleep, and Harry is glad he had woken up before them because Draco is currently hitting them with a pillow in an attempt to wake them.

“Ah, the Chosen One awakes,” a bored sounding voice drawls and Harry looks at the door to the en-suite bathroom to see a fully dressed Blaise walking out as Theodore Nott edges past him with his robes bundled in his arms to change in the bathroom.

“Oh, good,” Draco says and Harry looks back to his right to see that Draco had given up his pillow approach and is now sitting on top of Crabbe as he bounces up and down. “Help me wake these two oafs, would you?”

“Now, now, Draco. Don’t scare him off quite yet. You forget poor Harry isn’t used to your… you,” Blaise says in the same bored tone before he turns to Harry again. “Sorry about him. He can get a little excitable in the mornings—” Draco scoffs “—but he mellows out after breakfast. Normally. If he doesn’t, just flick him in the ear when he’s being annoying. That seems to work for me.”

Harry isn’t quite sure how to respond to that. Do all of the Slytherins already know each other so well? Does he have to worry about them flicking him for being annoying? Will he be able to sleep in without worrying about Draco jumping on him?

“Uh… okay,” Harry manages to get out and Blaise flashes a smile at him, completely ignoring the scowl Draco is giving him from his perch atop a now grumbling Crabbe.

“You’re just jealous that Harry already agreed to be my friend but he’s not yours,” Draco says.

Crabbe finally sits up and Draco yelps as he falls off of the boy and onto the floor.

Blaise raises a single eyebrow at the blond and an amused look settles on his face. “You’ve caught me. I’ll just forever be jealous of you, Draco. After meeting you, how could anyone want to be friends with the likes of me?”

Not quite wanting to witness whatever dramatics ensues, Harry quickly gathers his robes from where they had been sitting, neatly folded, next to his bed and makes his way into the bathroom which Theodore had just exited.

Through the door, Harry can still hear the muffled conversation of Blaise and Draco, and even after he finishes showering and changing, he waits in the bathroom to avoid the two boys. Unfortunately, he is forced to leave when someone knocks on the door.

Draco’s scowl transforms into a grin when he sees Harry leave the bathroom. “Breakfast?” he asks, altogether too cheery. Harry doesn’t get a chance to respond because Draco grabs his wrist and starts pulling him along, out of the dorm and through the green-hued common room, not letting go until they are in the cold, stone halls of the dungeons. “Do you remember how to get to the Great Hall?”

Harry shuffles his feet awkwardly and looks at the halls around them. It all looks the same, he doesn’t even know which way to go. “Uh… no,” he says.

Draco purses his lips for a second before he faces the wall again, says “Salazar,” and marches back into the common room where they stand next to the entrance until a couple of upper years come along. By the time that happens, however, Blaise and Theodore as well as Pansy Parkinson and Millicent Bulstrode have joined the two boys in their wait to find someone who can keep them from getting lost.

“Is there a reason we’re just standing here?” Pansy asks as she and Millicent join the four boys that had gathered by the common room entrance.

Blaise looks pointedly at the group of fourth years leaving the common room and starts following them. “We were waiting for someone who could lead the way to the Great Hall,” he explains as they walk through the corridors following the fourth years from a respectable distance.

Before long, they have arrived in the Great Hall and sit eating from an assortment of breakfast foods available to them before suddenly there is a great flurry of commotion and everyone looks up to see hundreds of owls swooping down upon the tables, all carrying letters and parcels for the students to whom they belong. Harry startles when a spectacular eagle owl flies towards him, only to swerve gracefully at the last second and perch itself on Draco’s shoulder, who hastily starts pulling at the string tying the parcel to the great bird’s leg.

“Excellent,” he exclaims when he finally unwraps his mail to find a box full of assorted sweets with a letter folded neatly on top of it all.

Harry busies himself with eating his food as Draco reads the letter and then announces that the sweets are a congratulations to them all for making Slytherin house and his mother hopes they all enjoy them, which earns a collective “Thank you, Narcissa!” from the group before they all dig in and start divvying up the sweets between them.

Draco throws a chocolate frog at Harry, which makes the boy smile. “Come on, they’re for you too. You’re in Slytherin house, are you not?”

After everyone has a somewhat equal amount of sweets and they have all signed the thank you note that Draco had written out to send home with his next letter, they see that Professor Snape is slowly making his way down the table, handing students their timetables.

“Well, if it isn’t the famous Harry Potter,” he says when he makes it to the group of first years sitting together chattering away excitedly. They all fall silent as they watch their Head of House watching Harry.

Harry doesn’t quite know how to respond; instead, he looks to his new friends for help and sees that they have all adopted cautious looks on their faces.

Snape scowls down at Harry as he hands him his schedule. “You’re already different from your insufferable father, Potter, being sorted into Slytherin House. Let’s just hope this difference is for the better, although I can’t imagine it is possible for you to be worse than he was.”

With that, Snape releases Harry’s schedule from his grip and stalks his way down the table, continuing in handing out schedules.

“I don’t think I like Snape all that much,” Harry says as he turns back to the table. He grumpily takes a bite of his toast before he notices his friends staring at him. “What?”

Draco shrugs. “He’s not that bad.”

“Did we just experience two different things?” Harry asks.

“Okay, so he can be a bit of a git most of the time, but that’s how he is with everyone.”

Harry rolls his eyes. “He just insulted my dad to my face.”

Blaise clasps his hand over Draco’s mouth before he can get a word in. “You’re just digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole, mate,” he says to the blond before addressing Harry. “Snape is far from the nicest bloke you’ll ever meet. He obviously has something against your father, but he also plays favorites and you’re already up two points because you’re in his house and you’re friends with Draco. You just need to prove to him that he has no reason to be ashamed that you are a Slytherin.”

“What does being friends with Draco have to do with anything?”

Draco pulls Blaise’s hand off his mouth. “He’s already chosen his favorite for our year and it’s me, because I’m Snape’s godson. Connections mean everything in our world, and if I believe you are good enough to be my friend, Snape has to accept that and at least tolerate you. Not to mention, him appearing to not like a student from his own house won’t look good. We thrive on unity, otherwise we appear weak.”

“So does that mean I get an automatic pass in his classes?” Harry asks, hopeful that he might be able to slack off a little, but his friends just laugh.

“Hardly. If anything it means you have to work harder in his class than anything else in order to prove you belong,” Pansy replies, her words still laced with giggles.

“Don’t worry though,” Draco says. “Having the Potions Master as your godfather is brilliant. I’ve been making potions for ages now under his instruction, so if you aren’t all that great, I can just teach you.”

“It looks like we won’t have to worry about that until Friday, though,” Pansy says. “And even then our Potions class will be with the Gryffindors, so Snape’ll be too busy with them to do anything bad to you.”

Harry nods, feeling slightly better about the eventuality of having to deal with Snape, and then takes a look at his schedule. “Looks like we have an easy day today, only two classes.”

“That can’t be right,” Draco says as he picks up his own schedule and frowns. “Holly, come here. I think our schedules are wrong, we have more breaks than classes.”

A girl sitting a short ways down the table from the first years and who looks remarkably like Pansy gets up and walks towards them. She leans forward and across the table between Pansy and Millicent to grab the schedule out of Draco’s hands. “No, that’s right. First and second years get it easy. When you get to third year and you can start picking your electives, your schedule will be a lot fuller. Besides, is barely having classes really something you want to complain about?”

Draco looks offended that she’s even ask him that. “You’ve known me for how long now? In what world would I possibly want to not do a lot of work?”

“Just wait a couple years, sweetie, you’ll be drowning in your classes and I’ll be laughing at you.”

And with that, the girl hands Draco’s schedule back to him and walks back to her own friends to finish her breakfast. Draco glares after her as he violently rips bits off his pastry to eat.

“Oh, stop trying to kill my sister with your mind. If it hasn’t worked yet, it won’t work now. Just hurry up and finish eating so we can figure out where Charms is and not be late,” Pansy tells Draco.

The group of first years stands up and they all wipe any crumbs off themselves before they start walking out of the Great Hall. As they pass Holly, Draco throws his last bit of pastry at her and then grins when it lands in her hair. She lets out a frustrated scream and makes a rude hand gesture at Draco.

Harry has no idea how they got there, but he’s just sitting down at a desk with Draco in the charms classroom when the bell rings to signal the start of class. His stomach somehow feels both empty and full at the same time and he is sure his hands are sweaty. Next to him, Draco laughs and Harry jumps a little in his seat, causing the other boy to look at him with a hint of concern.

“Are you okay?” he asks. Harry takes in a breath and nods his head, but it doesn't seem to placate Draco as he goes on to say, “Don’t worry, I doubt we’ll be really doing anything today other than taking roll and maybe learning some theory. Nothing too extreme.”

This statement is only somewhat reassuring, however, so even though Harry nods his head again and lets out the breath he had been holding, his entire body remains tense.

“Good morning, class!” a squeaky little voice cheers, and Harry manages to focus his eyes on the front of the classroom where a tiny, older wizard stands on top of a pile of books. “My name is Professor Flitwick and with me you will be learning charms. I am also the Head of Ravenclaw house, but I don’t think that really matters to you, being Slytherins. Now, how about we take roll… Bulstrode, Millicent…”

Harry’s nerves quickly cause him to zone out. The only reason he is even able to respond when his name is called is because his attention is jerked back to the Professor when he topples off his stack of books. From the floor, Flitwick calls out “Potter, Harry!” and Harry responds with a feeble “Here!” and shrinks down into his seat. A gentle pressure on his leg causes Harry to look to his right to see Draco smiling at him, their knees pressed together in a way that is somehow comforting. Grateful for the gesture, Harry smiles back at the blond and his body relaxes just the tiniest bit.

Draco is right, and after taking roll the only other thing the class does is listen to Flitwick explains what they will be learning that year. This speech only lasts about fifteen minutes however, and then he lets them all talk amongst themselves as he wanders between groups of students, joining their conversations in order to “get to know” them better. He spends most of the class at Draco and Harry’s table where they sit talking about trivial things like when their birthdays are and what kinds of pets they’ve always wanted. Harry laughs at the face Draco makes when he reveals he’s always wanted a dragon and Harry replies that he’s just like Hagrid in that sense.

“I am going to have to ask you to kindly never compare me to that lumbering fool again,” Draco sneers as they pick up their bags and start heading to the courtyard with the rest of the first years.

“Be nice, Hagrid’s my friend too,” Harry admonishes.

Blaise lets out a single, very sarcastic sounding “Ha,” and starts walking backwards down the corridors so he can see the other two boys as he talks. “You act as if Draco is ever nice.”

Draco scoffs. “I’m nicer than you, Mr. I’ve-Never-Been-Sincere-In-My-Life.”

“One can be both sarcastic and nice.”

“Draco can be nice sometimes,” Harry interjects, not quite wanting to listen to another not-quite argument between Blaise and Draco.

“You have known him for all of a day.”

“I know. He’s been nice to me, though,” he replies.

Blaise purses his lips and regards Harry for so long that he starts to feel a little uncomfortable. Finally, he says a simple “Okay,” and turns back around.

~*~

The rest of the week goes much the same. History of Magic that afternoon is the only class in which the teacher doesn’t seem to have any reaction to having his name on their roster. In fact, Professor Binns doesn’t even get his name right, or anyone else’s name for that matter. At first Harry had thought having a ghost for a professor would be fun and interesting, but the man is even more boring than the subject he teaches. If it weren’t for the fact that the Slytherins has agreed to take turns on writing notes every class, Harry would declare it his nap time. At least that would only ever be interrupted rarely for his note day.

In Transfiguration, Professor McGonagall stops in her roll call for a moment when she gets to Harry’s name. “Harry Potter…” she says eventually. “I would have thought you would be in my house like your parents, but no matter, you are your own person,” and then she moves on to the next name.

This severely dampens Harry’s mood for the rest of Tuesday. Not even McGonagall turning her desk into a pig and back again moments after finishing roll was enough to cheer him up.

Lunch that day is awkwardly silent, as any and all attempts to drag Harry into the conversation are quickly shut down by his refusal to do anything but stare moodily at his sandwich.

“If you don’t like any of your housemates, come sit at the Gryffindor table with me,” a voice behind Harry says. Harry slowly turns around to see Ron smiling down at, but his smile quickly fades when Harry doesn’t smile back. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Harry says.

“He won’t tell me either. Whatever it is, it happened in Transfiguration, because he was fine until then,” says Draco.

Ron pushes his way between the Slytherins and sits down next to Harry, who just keeps eating his sandwich. “You can’t ignore us all forever. It’s gonna be a long and boring year if you try.”

“It’s nothing—stupid, really—just, McGonagall said something today and it got to me. I’m fine, I promise. Don’t worry about me.”

They do worry though. Even after Harry starts contributing to the conversation, albeit reluctantly, he can still tell they are still worrying about him. If it was only the glances they all kept exchanging with each other, he would be able to ignore it. But on their walk across the grounds to the greenhouses for Herbology, Harry overhears Blaise and Draco arguing. In the two days he’s known them, he’s come to realize this is a normal thing for the two boys, however this argument interests Harry because he is the subject of it.

“And how, exactly, do you expect me to do anything?” Blaise asks under his breath, but Harry can still hear it. “I know nothing more than what you know, you probably know more than me.”

“I don’t know, work whatever magic it is you do for everyone else when they’re acting like he is,” answers Draco, who is not being as quiet as Blaise and is the reason Harry started eavesdropping on them.

“You mean when you get upset over something so I cast a cheering charm on you?”

“Whatever, yes, that. Do it. It’s no fun with him all sad and trying to be lonely.”

Blaise seems to consider for a moment before he replies, “I won’t just do it without his permission. Let me ask him first and then if he agrees I’ll do it.”

“Okay, fine,” Draco says. They have arrived at the greenhouses and he lowers his voice significantly so that Harry has to strain to hear what he says. “Could you see if Harry would like one, too? I don’t think he’s feeling too great about being sorted into Slytherin, everyone keeps saying stuff to him about it.”

This confuses Harry greatly, he had thought the entire argument had been about him . It’s not as if he could ask them who they were really talking about, however, as then they would know he was eavesdropping. Harry spends the entirety of class contemplating who it could be, and he gets so lost in his thoughts that Draco has to step on his foot when Professor Sprout calls his name.

“Here!” Harry says as he glares at the blond next to him.

“Sorry, but you weren’t paying attention and she called your name for roll,” Draco whispers to him, guilt clear in his voice.

“That doesn’t mean you have to step on my foot!” Harry whispers back harshly.

“I didn’t mean to step that hard, I’m—”

“Malfoy and Potter, I will only say this once: I do not permit talking out of turn in my class. Now, as I was saying…”

~*~

Friday came as a relief to Harry. Despite not having many classes, he was still struggling with the few he did have. On top of managing his class work, which was so much different than what he was used to when he had gone to Muggle primary school growing up, Harry also had to hang out with his new friends enough that they were no longer worried about him. This was starting to prove difficult, however, as Harry had his mind on other things. No longer was Harry simply worried about what house he was sorted into. Now, Harry’s thoughts revolve around the argument he had overheard between Draco and Blaise on their way to Herbology on Tuesday, and who exactly they were talking about. Harry tried watching Blaise to see who he asked to perform a cheering charm on, but the only person he asked was Harry.

He is again lost in his thoughts, staring unblinkingly at untouched his eggs for the third time that week, when an indignant screech startles him. Looking up, Harry sees a snowy owl standing in the middle of the table, giving him an annoyed look. After a moment in which Harry blinks his eyes repeatedly to clear the blurriness from them, he realizes that the owl is actually Hedwig and she has brought him mail.

“Since when do I get mail? Who do I have to send me mail?” he questions as he unties the letter from Hedwig’s leg. Next to him, Draco shrugs and Pansy feeds both Hedwig and Draco’s eagle owl bits of bacon.

Harry opens the letter to read the untidy scrawl of whoever had sent it to him.

Harry—

I know first years have Friday afternoons off, so how about you come down to my hut after your classes for some lunch and you can tell me about your first week.

Bring your friends if you want,

Hagrid

“Who’s it from?” Pansy asks as she breaks up some more bacon.

“Hagrid,” Harry replies. “He wants me to come down to his hut after we’ve finished with classes for the day.”

This is met with several disgusted looks from each of his friends.

“What did you do?” asks Blaise, disdain dripping from his voice.

Harry tilts his head in confusion before realizing that Draco is the only one who knows Harry is friends with Hagrid. “Nothing!” he exclaims. “Hagrid is the one who told me I’m a wizard and took me to Diagon Alley to get my school things. We’re friends. He wants me to come down and tell him about my first week of lessons. He said you guys can come too, if you want.”

Blaise purses his lips and exchanges a look with the others. “I think we’ll have to politely decline on that one. We have other engagements, and I just don’t think we’ll all fit in his… hut.”

For a moment, Harry is a little upset that he won’t have any company. Then, Draco is taking the note out of his hands and writing out a short response to send back to Hagrid.

“I’ll go with you. Can’t have you going alone, now, can we?” he says, and that’s the end of the discussion.

When the Slytherins arrive in Potions, instead of sitting politely and quietly like the rest of his house, Harry starts talking immediately, for this is the first class he’s had with Ron.

“Hi! How have your classes been so far?” Harry asks as he sits down at a table across from the redhead.

Ron gives him a contemplative look. “‘Bout as good as they can be, not like we’ve started learning any magic yet. I expect that will be when the homework will start and I am not looking forward to that.”

“Probably. Oh! Hagrid invited me down to his hut after class today, so you want to come with me and Draco?”

Ron looks at the boy sitting next to Harry, who glares right back. “Draco is going?”

“Yeah, do you have a problem with that?” Draco says, his lip curling up into a sneer that Harry knows he only ever wears outside of the Slytherin common room and dormitories.

“Guys, please don’t fight. You’re both my friends,” Harry says. He’s just reminded himself of how often Draco and Blaise fight, which reminds him that he needs to figure out who they were going to use a cheering charm on on Tuesday.

“Fine, I’ll go,” Ron says, and then the door to the dungeon classroom slams open.

Chapter Text

The classroom is immediately bathed in silence.

The Gryffindors all give the greasy-haired Professor Snape looks of apprehension and fear, while the Slytherins look on in admiration as he stalks his way to the front of the class and starts calling their names off the class roster. Much to Harry’s appreciation, he didn’t even pause when he got to Harry’s name and didn’t make a single comment.

“In this class,” Snape began, “you will learn the subtle science and exact art that is potion-making. Despite the lack of foolish wand-waving that will take place in this room, this is still magic. I expect very few of you to understand and appreciate the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses—I can teach 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.”

Draco nudges Harry’s arm and smirks at him.

“Who can tell me what I would get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” Professor Snape asks the class.

A Gryffindor girl with extremely bushy hair who Harry vaguely recalls is named Hermione Granger shoots her hand into the air so quickly Harry briefly wonders how she didn’t break the sound barrier. Every pair of eyes in the classroom lands on the girl; that is, every pair other than Snape’s, who instead scans the portion of the classroom the Slytherins occupy, repeatedly flicking back to Draco. After a moment of staring with wide eyes at the girl, Draco puts his hand up, which cues a couple of other students to put theirs up as well.

“Malfoy,” Snape calls.

“Together, powdered root of asphodel and infusion of wormwood make the powerful sleeping draught known as the Draught of Living Death,” Draco recites as if it is a line he has had memorized for years and is entirely bored with it.

“Very good. And where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?”

Again, Hermione’s hand shoots into the air, stretching as far as she could possibly reach without leaving her seat. Instead of calling on her, Snape nods at Draco.

“The stomach of a goat.”

Snape raises his head slightly to look down his greasy nose at the blond boy. “What is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?”

Hermione actually stands up at this, yet Snape continues to ignore her in favor of his godson.

“They are the same plant, also known as aconite.”

Harry assumes the end of this seeming interrogation would be an approving look from Snape, but the professor sneers.

“Clearly you still possess some level of intelligence. I had assumed there was a tragic accident that your father had yet to inform me of in which you injured your head and were reduced to a sniveling idiot—what other explanation could there be for your friendship with Potter?”

Draco’s face twists into a sneer to match Snape’s. “Connections to powerful figures are better made than not, and as I’m sure you would agree, Harry is a very powerful figure in our world.”

Harry’s heart sinks. Was that all he was to Draco and the rest of the Slytherins? A powerful connection?

“Very well,” Snape says after a moment’s pause, then stalks his way back to the front of the classroom. “You will use the remainder of class to brew a potion to cure boils. The instructions are on the board—” as if an invisible hand were writing them, step-by-step instructions appeared on the chalkboard “—make sure you follow them completely and correctly. Work in pairs with whomever you are sitting next to.”

Draco is sitting next to Harry, but Harry isn’t quite sure he wants to work with Draco if the boy is just using him as a connection. Despite these reservations, Draco hadn’t been lying when he said he is a good potioneer, so Harry finds himself silently following allowing as Draco walks him through brewing the potion, making Harry complete every other step. At first, Harry worries that he will have to avoid attempts at conversation, but he quickly realizes that there is little time for that when making potions. The only things Draco says are careful explanations of what he is doing and instructions for what Harry needs to do.

“Nonono, don’t put that—” Draco’s protests aren’t cut off by a loud bang and several screams. Both boys freeze, Harry with a hand full of porcupine quills outstretched toward the cauldron between them, Draco holding tightly onto Harry’s wrist in order to keep them from dropping the ingredients. “Why did—?”

His question is cut off and answered by Snape’s furious shouts. “Idiot boy! How did you manage this? Never, in all my years…”

He was shouting at a sandy-haired Gryffindor boy who stands covered in his botched potion looking slightly ashamed. The dark-skinned boy he had been working with is also covered in the potion and both are sprouting boils that pop seconds after appearing, oozing a horrid smelling green and yellow goo.

“To Madam Pomfrey in the Hospital Wing, both of you. And 5 points from Gryffindor for your inability to complete a simple potion.”

The two boys duck their heads as they leave the classroom. As soon as the door is shut behind them, Snape is ordering the class back to work as he waves his wand to clean the potion. “I expect you all to turn in a vial of potion that has not failed as miserably as Misters’ Finnegan and Thomas. Perhaps if you have done it right your potion could cure them.”

Draco looks at the porcupine quills in Harry’s hand then releases his grip. “Don’t add those yet, we have to take the cauldron off the fire first, otherwise the quills will react to the heat and cause the potion to become highly acidic and melt everything it touches, including the cauldron.”

Harry’s eyes widen and he sets the quills on the table while Draco takes the cauldron off of the fire. “Okay, now add two porcupine quills—” Harry picks up two quills and adds them “—and I’ll stir five times clockwise to mix them in… okay. Wave your wand to set it, but make sure you do it right, I think that’s what step Finnegan and Thomas were at when theirs exploded.”

Careful to wave his wand in the exact pattern that Draco shows him, Harry does as he is instructed. He watches as Draco pulls out a glass vial and uses a ladle to transfer some of the potion into it just as the bell signaling the end of class rings.

“There. I’ll just put our names on this and hand it into Professor Snape,” Draco says and Harry nods, already gathering up his things. When Draco gets back, he has a scowl on his face. “Snape just took points from me because I ‘gave him cheek’ when after he brought up our friendship. I can’t believe this, I’m supposed to be his favorite!” Harry makes a noncommittal noise which prompts Draco to look at him curiously before turning to Ron. “Could we meet you in the Entrance Hall to go down to Hagrid’s in about ten minutes? I want to put my bag in the dormitory.”

Ron shrugs. “I suppose. I’ll put my stuff away, too.”

“Brilliant.”

Once the boys start heading in separate directions, Ron towards Gryffindor tower and Harry and Draco towards the part of the dungeons with the Slytherin common room, Harry looks longingly after Ron. He quickly looks forward, however, when he walks right into someone who turns out to be Draco. Harry stumbles back a few steps and trains his eyes on the stone floor, refusing to look up at the hurt look in the grey eyes of the boy in front of him.

“Alright, what’s wrong? You barely spoke a word to me all class and now you’re ignoring me. Did I do something?”

Harry shifts his bag higher onto his shoulder and shuffles his feet. “It’s nothing,” he says, and Draco huffs in annoyance.

“You always say that, but it’s never nothing. One of these days I’m going to get you to talk to me without you trying to evade everything first. It’s no point since you’re just going to tell me anyway. Come on, what did I do?” When Harry refuses to answer, Draco continues. “Was it what Snape said? Because, Harry, I don’t really care what he thinks. I’m still friends with you, aren’t I? I’m still here with you.”

“It’s not what Snape said, it’s what you said to Snape. Am I really just a connection to you?” He finally looks Draco in the eyes and is startled by the desperation he sees there.

“No! You’re not just a connection to me or any of the other Slytherins you are friends with!” Draco exclaims, finally understanding. “I don’t actually think that of you. The only reason I said it is because I know Snape and I know that’s what he understands—connections and using people to push yourself farther in the world. I don’t think the man has ever had a single friend, he definitely doesn’t understand them. It’s the first thing I thought of to get him to leave you alone.”

Harry purses his lips and readjusts his bag again. “Okay,” he says.

“You don’t believe me. Why don’t you believe me?”

“I just… why should I believe you? I’ve only known you for a week, why should I trust you?”

“Actually, we met a month ago in Diagon Alley,” Draco says, his voice small and quiet, much unlike anything else he has said or done before. “I promise I’m telling you the truth.”

“Let’s just throw our stuff in the dormitory so we can head down to Hagrid’s,” says Harry as he moves around Draco and continues on his way towards the Slytherin common room, however, Draco doesn’t follow him.

“Harry, come here!” he calls.

“Ron’s waiting for us, Draco. We’ll talk more at lunch.”

Draco catches up to Harry and tries to stop him but to no avail. “I don’t want to go to Hagrid’s with you if you don’t believe that we’re friends!”

“I don’t not believe you, okay? I just need some time to get my emotions in check. We can go down to Hagrid’s and then hopefully when we get back up to the castle everything will be fine—Salazar,” Harry says, and they walk through the entrance to the Slytherin common room, not stopping until they get to their dormitory where they throw their bags down on their beds.

“So you do believe me?” Draco asks. He blocks the doorway back out into the common room which makes Harry cross his arms out of frustration with the blond.

“Yes, I believe you! Now, can we go to Hagrid’s? Only, it’s been about ten minutes already which is when you said we’d meet Ron in the Entrance Hall. He’s probably wondering where we’re at.”

Draco nods his head and moves out of the door frame before following Harry. They walk in silence all the way to the Entrance Hall, Draco walking a couple of paces behind Harry and stealing glances at him every few moments.

“Finally! What took you so long? I was beginning to think you had left without me,” Ron says when they arrive with the rest of the crowd queuing up for lunch.

Draco assumes he will have to rescue Harry and come up with some excuse, but Harry beats him to it.

“Peeves filled the corridor that we usually take with chairs and tables, so we had to turn around and it took us a while to find a new way. We were just about to give up and come right back here when we found our way,” Harry says, just as smoothly as if it had actually happened.

“Filch isn’t going to like that,” says Ron, grimacing.

“We sent a couple of upper years to take care of it before he finds out,” Harry replies. “Shall we head down to Hagrid’s then?”

Ron nods and the three boys make their way across the grounds to the wooden hut on the edge of the Forbidden Forest and a small pumpkin patch. Harry knocks on the door and they all look at it curiously as they hear a frantic scrambling, loud barks, and Hagrid’s voice shouting “Get back , Fang!” Then, Hagrid opens the door and his eyes crinkle with a smile that they can’t see through his bushy beard.

“Harry! Glad yeh came!”

“Hi, Hagrid!” Harry says, smiling now. “This is Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy, two of my friends.”

“Malfoy, eh?” Hagrid asks, his smile falling away from his face. “I s’pose yer just like yer slimy git of a father.”

“I came to your dirty hovel to support my friend, not be insulted. I’m willing to play nice, but only if you do, too,” Draco responds with a sneer.

Hagrid doesn’t seem to know how to respond to that, so he turns to Ron instead and smiles again. “Seems like I spent half me life chasin’ Fred ‘n’ George away from the Forest. Come on in, you three, make yerselves at home.”

They sit down around a small circular table while Hagrid puts out a plate of rock cakes and pours boiling water into a teapot.

“So, how was yer firs’ week o’ lessons?” he asks, and they all launch into explanations, talking over each other and cutting in to supply their perspective. Draco tells very exaggerated versions of everything, which causes Harry and Ron to roll their eyes whenever he starts talking. Eventually, they make it to telling him about the morning’s Potions lesson, and Harry claims that Snape hates him, to which Ron nods enthusiastically and Draco cringes.

“Rubbish!” Hagrid exclaims. “Why should be? Ron, how’s yer brother Charlie? I like him a lot—great with animals.”

But Harry finds himself doubting Hagrid’s denial of Snape’s hatred. If Hagrid really didn’t believe Snape hates Harry, why wouldn’t he meet Harry’s eye and why would he change the subject?

Instead of listening to Ron telling of Charlie’s work with the dragons of Romania, Harry looks around the hut until his eyes land on a cutting from the Daily Prophet laying on the table.

GRINGOTTS BREAK-IN LATEST

Investigations continue into the break-in at Gringotts on 31 July, widely believed to be the work of dark wizards or witches unknown.

Gringotts’ goblins today insisted that nothing had been taken. The vault that was searched had in fact been emptied the same day.

‘But we’re not telling you what was in there, so keep your noses out if you know what’s good for you,’ said a Gringotts spokesgoblin this afternoon.

“Hagrid!” Harry exclaims. “That break-in at Gringotts happened on my birthday! What if it was happening while we were there?”

“Look at the time!” Hagrid says instead of replying. “Yeh best be headin’ back ter the castle fer dinner. Here, take the rest o’ the rock cakes and share ‘em with yer other friends.”

Draco makes a face, but none of the boys refuse, so their trip down to the castle finds them laden down with the rock cakes.

“Hang on,” Harry says to Draco and Ron, stopping them halfway up to the castle. “That Daily Prophet article said that the vault that was broken into had been emptied earlier the same day. While we were at Gringotts, Hagrid had emptied a vault for Dumbledore by taking out a package. What if it was the same vault?”

“It’s possible, but not exactly fact,” Draco says as he presses a hand into Harry’s back and urges him to keep walking. “There are thousands upon thousands of Gringotts vaults and millions of transactions that happen there every day. While Hagrid may have emptied a vault that day, there are probably about fifty other vaults that were also emptied that day.”

“As much as I hate to say it, Malfoy’s right,” Ron says.

“Then why did Hagrid immediately change the subject and send us on our way when I brought it up? Surely, he knows something,” Harry says as they enter the chaos of the Great Hall.

Ron breaks away from them to sit at the Gryffindor table while Harry and Draco start heading towards their own table.

“Maybe he really did just realize what time it is,” Draco says with a shrug.

Harry huffs in annoyance and sits down.

“Come on, don’t ignore me again. It’s no way to solve our problems.”

Instead of having to choose between replying and continuing to eat in silence, Harry is saved by Holly Parkinson sitting down on the other side of Draco and stealing an apple off the boy’s plate.

“Hey, I was eating that!”

“Hello, boys, have a Good Friday?” she says rather than replying, and then continues on without waiting for an answer. “Well, either way, we have a house meeting in the common room after dinner. Nothing too extreme, just the usual start of term stuff. Just make sure you don’t stay here too long, and maybe drag Vince and Greg away from the desserts. The sooner we get started, the sooner we can be finished and I have some plans I need to get to. See you!” And then she’s gone again.

“She took my apple,” Draco whines.

“It’s dinner, why do they even have apples available?” Harry asks, completely forgetting for a moment that he is supposed to be giving Draco the silent treatment.

“I told the house elves to send apples to the Slytherin table every meal,” he says.

“House-elves?”

“I forget you were raised Muggle. House-elves are magical creatures that work for wizarding families doing housework. Hogwarts employs a couple hundred. They’re the ones that do the cooking, cleaning, and laundry,” Draco explains. “If this house meeting after dinner is quick, I’ll take you to the kitchens to meet them. We could get some extra desserts to bring back to our room to keep Vince and Greg at bay until morning.”

The mention of the house meeting has Harry thinking back to what Holly had said and how she hadn’t waited for their answers of whether they were having a good day or not. This reminds Harry that he had not, in fact, had a good day and that Draco had played a large role in that. As a result, Harry goes back to eating his steak and kidney pie without speaking.

Draco sighs. “And we’re back to this. Fine. Let me know when you’re done acting like a git.”

Harry doesn’t let Draco know anything. They both eat the rest of their dinner in silence, much to the dismay of the rest of their friends who had shown up moments after Harry stopped talking again. The entire trip back to the Slytherin common room is spent in silence as nobody feels comfortable talking when neither Harry nor Draco are contributing to the conversation. In fact, the only sounds that come out of any of their mouths is when Pansy says “Salazar” and they all walk into the common room to claim their seats for the house meeting, which is quickly started by the fifth year prefects.

“Alright, everyone. For those of you that don’t know, my name is Jake Farley and on my right is Gemma Farley,” the boy says. “We are the newest Slytherin prefects and as such the majority of the prefect duties fall to us. Now, our first order of business is house unity. I'm sure you can all guess what that means, but we’re here to tell you how to show it. Slytherin house prides itself on being the most unified of the houses, other than maybe Hufflepuff. To keep up this image and tradition, we ask that you keep all arguments within these walls—” At this, Draco sends a pointed look at Harry, which the dark-haired boy ignores. “—because other houses don’t need to know that we don’t always get along.”

“Next, we have to talk about what marks you’re getting in your classes,” Gemma says. “Just like we pride ourselves on being loyal when that’s Hufflepuff’s trait, we pride ourselves on being wise even though it’s Ravenclaw’s trait. If you start getting bad marks in a class, ask one of your housemates to tutor you. Share notes with each other, look over each other’s homework. Figure out who is good at what subjects and delegate them as the leader of study groups.”

“And last but not least,” Jake says, “we ask you all that if you ever have any problems or need some help, come to one of the Slytherin prefects, we’ll help. If it’s something that affects the entire house, we will have an emergency house meeting. Other than that, house meetings will take place on the first Friday of every month.”

“We’re done with you, so go on and do what you want with your Friday night!”

What Harry wants to do with his Friday night is sleep, so he leaves to go to his room. When he walks through the door, however, he is surprised to see that Blaise and Theodore are already there, whispering to each other. Well, more like Blaise is whispering to a Theodore as Theodore nods along. Harry almost expects Blaise to stop talking when he sees Harry, but he just keeps on whispering. Not wanting to seem like he is intruding, Harry gathers his things and goes into the en suite bathroom to wash up before bed. By the time he finishes up and exits the bathroom, Blaise and Theodore are done talking and have both curled up in their beds, Theodore already asleep and Blaise reading a thick, leather bound book as he sucks on a sugar quill. Crabbe and Goyle are sitting on the floor in the space between their beds, both making a mess of themselves as they eat sticky sweets. Draco is still up and, to Harry’s great dislike, is sitting with his legs crossed in front of him on Harry’s bed.

“Er… your bed is that one,” Harry says, pointing across the room to Draco’s bed.

“I know. I need to talk to you, though,” the blond replies.

“Can we talk in the morning? I’m really tired,” says Harry.

“Nope!” Draco grins and pats the bed beside him, at which Harry reluctantly sits down. “I just want to make sure we’re good. I know we already talked about this before we went down to Hagrid’s, and you said you just needed some time, but I feel like the whole thing with Gringotts and us not exactly agreeing has made you even more hacked off with me.”

Harry thinks about it for a second. “No, we’re all right.”

“All right. So, did you want to go to the kitchens with me?”

“Can we wait until tomorrow? I wasn’t lying when I said I was really tired,” Harry says, and Draco smiles.

“Tomorrow then!” he says, and then he bounds across the room to his own bed, leaving Harry to get some much needed sleep.

Chapter Text

“How did you even find out where the kitchens are?” Harry asks.

Draco throws a smirk at him over his shoulder and continues to lead the first year Slytherins through the corridors of the dungeons until at last they come to a stop next to a large painting of a bowl of fruit.

“I swear to Merlin if my sister showed you and not me…” Pansy says, and Draco winks at her. “Why are you her favorite? She and I share blood, I should be the favorite!”

“Are you sure we’re in the right place, Draco? All that’s here is a painting. No door or anything like that,” Millicent says.

“Do you really expect there to just be a door to the kitchens? There’s going to be a password of some kind to get through,” Blaise drawls.

“Exactly!” Draco says excitedly. “To get to the kitchens all you have to do is tickle the pear!”

“Tickle the pear?” asks a girl that Harry doesn’t know the name of.

“Tickle the pear,” Draco confirms with such a serious expression that Harry bursts out laughing, which makes Draco smile. “You think I’m joking, but watch,” he says. He extends a finger towards the pear and proceeds to tickle the pear, which giggles and turns into a large green door handle. “See? You tickle the pear.”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t take you seriously when I just watched you tickle a painting,” Harry says with a smile.

Draco rolls his eyes. “Just come on,” he says as he opens the door, and they walk through it and into the kitchens.

Once inside, the Slytherins all stop and stare in awe. Sure, they were almost all used to house-elves—with the except of harry—but none of them have ever seen this many in one room before. Harry is especially awestruck, having never seen the small creatures with their large, round eyes and long, pointed ears and noses before.

"Young Mister Draco!" one of the house-elves that had noticed the intruders squeaks. "What is it you would be liking, Young Mister Draco, sir? Tippy is getting it for you, sir!"

"I'll just have an apple, but those two will want some pudding,” Draco says, pointing at Vincent and Gregory. “I'm not sure what everyone else wants."

As soon as Draco says this, the entirety of the kitchen staff is in a frantic rush to take the orders of the students and bring them the food they desire.

“Where can I get myself a house-elf?” Harry asks at large. He’s almost convinced that the creature’s willingness to do what they are told will be enough to make his aunt and uncle be okay with having one.

“I don’t think you really can anymore,” Draco answers. “They usually come with old wizard if houses, but I’m almost positive all of those are in use or so far beyond disrepair that even a house-elf wouldn’t live there anymore. Occasionally one might show up at the door of a respectable wizard of family and ask for work, but that’s about it. It’s hard to come across a free elf anymore. So many were killed in the war.”

Harry frowns. He assumes ‘the war’ was when Voldemort was in power, but nobody has ever really talked to him about that.

A house-elf carrying more treacle tart than what it should be able to fit in its thin arms runs up to Harry to give him his request.

“Young Mister is unhappy!” the house-elf squeaks. “What is Young Mister unhappy for?”

Harry quickly throws on a smile that he’s sure his friends see through, but seems to convince the dozens of house-elves who had turned to look at him. “No reason, this is just a lot to carry.”

The first house-elf, Tippy, snaps its fingers and all of the food the Slytherins has been given disappears. “Tippy is sending food to your dormitories so yous is not having to carries it.”

Draco nods at the elf and then turns to his friends. “Ready to go back then? There’s not really anything here other than the house-elves and food.”

They all agree to head back to the Slytherin dormitories where the boys and girls split to their separate rooms. The boys all sit on the beds—Draco, Harry, and Vincent on Draco’s and Blaise, Theodore, and Gregory on Blaise’s—and they eat the excess of food they had found sitting on each of their beds as they talk. Wanting to quench his curiosity, Harry finds himself asking about the war.

“Well, we don’t really know all that much more than you, do we? We were all still infants at the time,” Blaise replies.

“Surely, your parents must have told you things,” Harry says.

Draco shakes his head. “They don’t talk about the war with us. I don’t even think they talk about it with each other. It’s practically taboo.”

“Why though?”

“Our parents weren’t exactly in agreement with the Ministry during the war, even though they act like they are now. Talking about the past would probably make the Ministry suspicious of them,” Blaise says.

“They talk about what they value without explicitly saying it. Purebloods are superior to Half-bloods, Mudbloods and Muggles, but they would never say that outright. It’s not really something that would put them on good terms with the Ministry,” Draco explains.

Harry gives the boys a confused look. “What are Purebloods, Half-bloods, and Mudbloods?”

“Your magical parentage. Purebloods have been magical for generations on both parents’ sides; Half-bloods have one Muggle, one Pureblood or Half-blood parent; Mudbloods are witches and wizards born to Muggles,” Draco says.

“But,” Blaise adds, “it is generally unacceptable to call them Mudbloods in public. Most of the wizarding world would rather you call them Muggle-born.”

“Why call them Mudbloods, then?” Harry questions.

“Dirty blood,” Vincent grunts, and Gregory nods.

“Their magical blood is heavily tainted by Muggle blood. Purebloods pride ourselves on not having an ounce of Muggle blood, although most can’t even say that anymore. I’m one of the few that can,” Draco says, a smirk making its way into his face.

“What about Half-bloods, then? Surely they’d be just as frowned upon as Mudbloods? Especially since no one can control when a Mudblood is born but Purebloods can stop the birth of Half-bloods by not being with Muggles,” Harry says.

“That’s how it used to be, ages ago. The Dark Lord changed things when he came into power. He made Mudbloods seem so bad that the few families who were still prejudiced against Half-bloods practically forgot about them. It doesn’t help either that the Pureblood families are running out of marriages they can arrange without incest,” Blaise says.

“Arrange? Purebloods arrange marriages?”

Draco nods.

“Have any of your marriages already been arranged?”

“My parents are still in the searching stage,” Draco says.

Gregory shakes his head. “Goyle isn’t a Family worth much, Father already had trouble arranging my brother’s marriage. I’m free to marry who I want.”

“I’m the same as Greg,” Crabbe says with a shrug.

“Mother is negotiating with one of the Italian Families, and Theo will marry the Runcorn girl after we’re done with school,” says Blaise.

Harry tilts his head at that. He doesn’t believe he has ever heard Theodore speak, and now that he had a perfect opportunity to, Blaise spoke for him. Before he can ask about it, however, Draco nudges his side and Harry looks to see the blond give a tiny shake of his head, as if he knew exactly what Harry was going to ask about.

“Enough of this talk, it’s too depressing,” Draco groans and then smiles brightly. “How about we explore the castle?”

~*~

The rest of the weekend goes in much the same way. The Slytherins go back to the kitchens on Sunday morning to get more food, and they spend the rest of the day wandering the castle and its grounds while they eat. When they get back to the common room after dinner, they see that something new has been pinned to the notice board. Upon further inspection, they find out that the first years will be starting Flying Lessons on Thursday at 3:30, and that they would be having them with the Gryffindors. Draco is beyond excited.

“I’ve been flying since I was able to walk!” he exclaims as they change for bed. “Father says I’ll most definitely make the Slytherin Quidditch team. It’s a shame first years can’t have their brooms here, I tried to get Father to make an appeal, but he didn’t think it would make a difference. I don’t need the lessons, I already know how to fly, I’m brilliant at it, but I suppose it will be nice to be able to fly. Maybe I could help Madam Hooch teach—”

“Oh, shut up, will you? Some of us would like to sleep,” Blaise says angrily, and, with some minor grumbling, Draco does as Blaise said.

This week’s classes go much better than the first week. By now, the teachers have gotten used to Harry being in their classes and didn’t react to calling his name at the beginning of every class. Harry feels slightly sick all Thursday leading up to Flying Lessons, not wanting to go through having another teacher make a scene about him being there. However, when the Gryffindors finally come out onto the grounds where the Slytherins are already waiting, and Madam Hooch starts, she doesn’t check to make sure they are all there, which Harry is thankful for.

“Everyone, stand next to a broomstick!” she shouts to them all, her grey hair sparkling in the cool sunlight. “Come, come, hurry up! Now, put your right hand over your broom and say ‘up’! Make sure you say it clearly and with force, now!”

They all do as she says and Harry is delighted when his broom immediately springs off the ground and into his hand. Draco’s broom also jumps up on his first command, but most of the other students take several tries. Once they all have brooms in their hands, she shows them how to mount it. Harry laughs at his friend when she tell Draco he has been doing it wrong for years.

“Oh, shut up. I’m left-handed, it’s harder for me to mount it when it’s in my right hand,” he defends, but Harry continues to laugh.

“Now, when I blow my whistle, I want you all to kick off from the ground, hard. Make sure to keep your brooms steady, rise up a few feet, and then lean forward slightly to touch back down. On my whistle—three, two—”

Madam Hooch never does blow her whistle, for Neville kicks off just as she shouts ‘two,’ and he goes shooting up into the air. He makes it about twenty feet off the ground before his frightened face turns to look below him and he slips off the broom. Several students shriek when he lands face down on the grass with a thud and a nasty crack, and Madam Hooch rushes over to the boy.

“Broken wrist. Come on, up you get,” she mutters, and then she raises her voice to address the rest of the students. “I’ll be taking him to the Hospital Wing, and I expect that you all stay put on the ground until I get back. If I find out any of you decided to take a little flight while I’m gone, you will be out of this castle before you can say ‘Quidditch’!”

As soon as Madam Hooch and Neville are out of sight, Draco starts laughing.

“Merlin, did you see his face?” He laughs, but stops when he sees that Harry isn’t laughing along. “Come on, you have to have thought that was funny!”

“He’s hurt. There’s nothing funny about someone getting hurt,” Harry says, glaring at his friend.

“I’m not laughing about the fact that he got hurt,” Draco defends. “I’m laughing about what he looked like when he fell.”

“The fall caused him to break his wrist.”

Draco purses his lips, then seems to give up. “Okay. Fine. Want to take a lap around the courtyard?”

The bossy voice of Hermione Granger cuts in. “If you get on those brooms, I will tell Madam Hooch as soon as she gets back. She specifically said not to fly while she is gone.”

“Sure, I’ll race you,” Harry says, mostly to spite Granger. She looks like she’s about to say something, but Draco and Harry are on their brooms and flying away before she can get a word out.

Flying on a broomstick is surprisingly easy for Harry. He quickly figures out what he needs to do to turn the broom and it’s not long before he paces Draco in their laps across the grounds, both boys laughing slightly maniacally with the joy of soaring through the air.

This newfound source of happiness is torn away from Harry all too soon when he hears a voice shout his and Draco’s names.

Professor McGonagall is storming her way across the grounds and towards where the two boys have just landed in front of their classmates. Many of them are cowering at the prospect of witnessing McGonagall’s wrath, but Granger wears a smug look on her face that most definitely says ‘I told you so’.

“How dare you—never, in all my years—you could have fallen and hurt—you could have died !” McGonagall rages. “I was sent out here to watch over you until Madam Hooch gets back from bringing Longbottom to the Hospital Wing, and I arrive to see you two doing exactly what I’m supposed to be keeping you from doing!”

Harry hangs his head in shame. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see that Draco is doing the same.

“Both of you will be serving detentions this weekend. If you’re so keen to be flying on those brooms then you can spend your weekend cleaning the broom shed and locker rooms. I expect to see you on the Quidditch pitch with me after you have finished with breakfast on Saturday.”

~*~

It’s a fair punishment, really. Much better than the alternative of being expelled from the school. Harry almost has fun with it, polishing all of the brooms and organizing them by their make and model. Madam Hooch watches over them and has them catalogue every single broom and give her the ones that are in disrepair. She’s not nearly as mean as Harry had thought she would be, especially for watching over his and Draco’s detention. She talks with them about Quidditch, going over rules and explaining different plays. She and Draco get into a slightly heated argument about their favorite teams, but it’s quickly resolved when silver platters full of sandwiches crack into existence on one of the benches of the locker room they are cleaning at the time. By dinner time, they have already finished cleaning the broom she’s and all of the locker rooms, and Madam Hooch had them start on the stands out of what she said was ‘an obligation to keep them there for at least that day’. She releases them with a slight admonishment that they don’t fly without permission and supervision anymore, and a declaration that they do not have to be there the next morning.

“So, troublemakers, how was your first detention?” Holly asks when they sit down at the Slytherin table for dinner.

“Not nearly as bad as what you were saying it would be. Hooch seemed way to impressed with Harry’s flying skills to be too mean and we all know I’m a Quidditch prodigy, so that impressed her even more,” Draco says.

“Uh huh, you keep saying that but I’ve yet to see any proof of it. Anyways, didn’t Harry mention something about Hooch reprimanding you for mounting your broomstick wrong in the first lesson?”

Draco glares at her. “We don’t talk about that. Besides, I’m left-handed so it’s going to be different for me.”

“Honey, I’m left-handed too and I still mount a broom just like anyone else. Being left-handed has nothing to do with it.”

“Whatever,” Draco says with a pout, and that’s the end of the conversation.

“So what did you guys do all day without us?” Harry asks Blaise and Pansy.

“Wandered the castle, stole some food from the kitchens, the usual,” Blaise monotones.

“We did find something interesting in the trophy room,” Pansy says. “It’s about you, Harry, I think you’ll want to see it.”

“Pansy, don’t ruin the surprise for him,” Blaise says with a shake of his head.

“I’m not ruining the surprise . I’m talking it up to him and making it seem more interesting.”

Draco rolls his eyes. “Seems to me like you were about to tell him exactly what it was. Oh, well, you’ve piqued my curiosity, so you’ve no doubt piqued his as well. Show us to this interesting find of yours in the trophy room.”

“Alright, come on then,” Pansy says mock-exasperatedly, and the four Slytherins leave the Great Hall and head in the direction of the Trophy Room.

Once there, Pansy and Blaise walk straight towards one of the trophy cases and Pansy points at a plaque through the glass.

1974 Hogwarts Quidditch Cup Winners: Gryffindor Team

Captain: Elaine Wilson

Chasers: Calder Malley, James Potter, Katelyn Knight

Beaters: Elaine Wilson, Liam Keyes

Keeper: Andrew Richards

Seeker: Callum Grant

Harry reads it and then looks at another plaque that Blaise is pointing at.

1975 Hogwarts Quidditch Cup Winners: Gryffindor Team

Captain: Callum Grant

Chasers: Calder Malley, James Potter, Katelyn Knight

Beaters: Liam Keyes, Roderick Brown

Keeper: Rosaleigh Thompson

Seeker: Callum Grant

Looking around, Harry sees that there are more.

1976 Hogwarts Quidditch Cup Winners: Gryffindor Team

Captain: Callum Grant

Chasers: James Potter, Katelyn Knight, Mollie Quinn

Beaters: Roderick Brown, Peter Jones

Keeper: Rosaleigh Thompson

Seeker: Callum Grant

 

1977 Hogwarts Quidditch Cup Winners: Gryffindor Team

Captain: James Potter

Chasers: Katelyn Knight, Mollie Quinn, Imogen Perry

Beaters: Roderick Brown, Peter Jones

Keeper: Rosaleigh Thompson

Seeker: James Potter

 

1978 Hogwarts Quidditch Cup Winners: Gryffindor Team

Captain: James Potter

Chasers: Katelyn Knight, Mollie Quinn, Imogen Perry

Beaters: Roderick Brown, Peter Jones

Keeper: Rosaleigh Thompson

Seeker: James Potter

“Wow, Harry. No wonder you’re a natural flyer. It’s in your blood,” Draco says.

“If you don’t make the team next year, I will be thoroughly upset,” says Pansy. “If your dad was on the team for five years and won the quidditch cup every year, that’s some serious skill that I truly hope you have inherited.”

“Will there even be tryouts next year?” Harry asks.

“There will for sure be Seeker tryouts, the current Seeker is a seventh year. I think one of the Chasers is also a seventh year, but other than that I don’t know. It’s up to the captain,” Draco says as if this information is something he has been thinking about for a while.

Harry shrugs. “I mean, I guess I can try out, but that doesn’t mean anything. It might be fun.”

“I’ll try out with you!” Draco exclaims. “And, even if we don’t make the real team, there’s always the chance that we make the reserve team for practices and when the real team members are too sick or injured to play.”

“Okay, next year we’ll try out for Slytherin’s Quidditch team,” Harry agrees with a smile.

Harry was all for trying something that his dad did, and based on his talks with Madam Hooch and Draco today, Quidditch seemed fun. It wouldn’t hurt to at least try.