Harry glances over at the boy on the stool next to him, but somehow still jumps when he speaks.
“Hello. Hogwarts, too?”
“Yes,” says Harry.
“My father’s next door buying my books and Mother’s up the street looking at wands,” says the boy. He has a bored, drawling voice. “Then I’m going to drag them off to look at racing brooms. I don’t see why first years can’t have their own. I think I’ll bully Father into getting me one and I’ll smuggle it in somehow.”
Harry is strongly reminded of Dudley.
“Have you got your own broom?” the boy goes on.
“No,” says Harry.
“Play Quidditch at all?”
“No,” Harry says again, wondering what on Earth Quidditch could be. Before he can stop them, the words slip out of his mouth. “What is Quidditch?”
“You’re muggleborn, then?”
“My mum and dad were a witch and a wizard, if that’s what you’re asking. But I was raised by muggles.”
“Well, how did that happen?” The boy looks legitimately confused, so Harry sighs and answers.
“Apparently, my dad didn’t have any family left and they were my mum’s relatives.”
“Still. A magic child should be raised by magic parents. What’s your surname, anyway?”
Harry shifts uncomfortably, muttering, “Potter,” only because it would be rude not to.
“Potter? You mean you’re Hari Potter?” Harry nods. “I’m Draco Malfoy.” He goes to say something else, but Madame Malkin cuts him off.
“That’s you done, my dear,” and Harry hops down from the footstool.
“I’ll find you on the train,” Draco announces before Harry can leave. When he sees Harry’s questioning look, he adds, “Still have to explain Quidditch to you, don’t I?” There’s a little smirk on his face, a bit haughty, but mostly pleased. It’s the crinkle around his eyes that makes Harry agree.
Maybe Draco is a little spoiled, but he seems like he could be okay.
The following month, Harry spent as much time as possible reading his textbooks and familiarizing himself with his supplies. Luckily, Hogwarts: A History explained the multiple ways to get to Platform 9¾. Harry wasn’t sure what he’d have done otherwise, since Hagrid dropped him off and left, leaving Uncle Vernon to drive him to King’s Cross Station.
“There you are, Potter,” Draco says from directly behind him. He looks happy to see Harry, if Harry is managing to read his face correctly.
“Hello.” Harry shifts uncomfortably under the eyes of the two adults.
“This is my mother, Narcissa Malfoy, and my father, Lucius Malfoy.”
“Nice to meet you,” he replies with a polite nod.
“You, too, dear,” Mrs. Malfoy smiles down at him, then frowns and glances around. “Are you here alone?”
Harry nods, “My uncle dropped me off, but had to go.”
“And your uncle is a muggle?” Mr. Malfoy’s voice is sharp and Harry’s nod is jerky. “Did Hogwarts not send a teacher to guide you?” Harry shakes his head. Mr. Malfoy’s eyes narrow. “They’re supposed to. At least they told you how to get to the platform.”
“They didn’t. I—“ He hesitates under the glares of the two adults. Draco just looks confused. “I read it in Hogwarts: A History. It talks all about the train in there.”
“I believe I will be having a word with Dumbledore.” Mr. Malfoy steps forward, shooing Harry to the side slightly. “Let’s just move this up, then.” With a flick of his wand, Harry’s trunk and other luggage settle into the entirely empty car. There were still plenty of open seats on the train, since they’d all arrived plenty early.
“Oh,” Harry’s eyes go wide, “thank you.” Mr. Malfoy nods curtly.
“Draco, the others will want to sit with you, correct?”
“Yes, Mother. Could you enlarge it?”
“Of course. Now, watch closely.” She moves her wand in a complicated pattern and the compartment expands to have enough room for possibly ten people.
“Thank you,” Draco smiles brightly at her. He turns to his father, steals a quick hug, is crushed into a longer one by his mother, then grabs Harry’s hand and pulls him onto the train. The Malfoys walk away, chatting quietly.
“Who did your mum mean when she said, ‘the others?’”
“The others… Oh! Right, that’s Blaise, Theodore, Vincent, Gregg, Pansy, and Daphne. Possibly Millicent. But she might choose to sit elsewhere. I’ve known them my whole life.”
“You’ll meet them soon, it’s alright. But first, Quidditch.” Draco launches into a long-winded description of the game, filled with plenty of wild gestures and excited side-tracks about professional players. By the end of it, Harry’s sure he could play any position, possibly even referee—if he were able to fly, of course.
“Draco!” The compartment door slams open, revealing a tangle of teenagers who pour into the space. The one who spoke flops down to lounge next to Draco. “Who’s this?”
“Hello, Blaise.” Draco uses one finger to push the other boy’s head off his shoulder. “This is Hari.”
“Har—“ Blaise is cut off by one of the girls.
“You mean Hari Potter? My mum was saying you’d be attending Hogwarts this year. They’re making a big fuss about it down on the platform.” She tilts her head at him, eyes raking over his clothes unpleasantly. “My name’s Pansy Parkinson, by the way. My mum’s the editor for Witches Weekly, one of the newspapers. That’s how she knew.”
“Um, yeah, that’s why I got here early. I wanted to avoid the fuss.”
“Don’t want people to know who you are?” The slight, brown haired boy rolls his eyes.
“Well, they’ll find out eventually, I guess, but this way they can’t hound me about it.” The others seem to be assessing him, except the two large ones, then the boy nods shortly.
“I’m Theodore Nott, but call me Theo.”
“I’m Daphne Greengrass.” With that, it seems, Harry was integrated into the group and they started in on other conversations—ones that, suspiciously, kept circling around to how muggles live. But it meant Harry had something to contribute, so who was he to complain? Eventually, they are close enough to the school to change into their uniforms. The girls step out to change in a different compartment while the boys simply pull the shades over the compartment.
“Hari, what happened to your arm?” Draco’s voice is sharp, like something’s severely wrong.
“What?” He has to look down to realize what Draco meant, having forgotten about the burn. “Oh, cooking accident. It’s alright. Doesn’t hurt.”
“Nasty cooking accident,” Blaise mutters. Harry just shrugs and finishes changing.
“Why didn’t they heal it for you?” asks Draco.
“I mean, I used burn cream and kept it bandaged, but there’s not much else to do for it.”
“Right, muggles,” Draco mutters, “we’ll just have to take you to Madame Pomfrey after we have the first year’s meeting. Preferably tonight, but tomorrow morning if we must. She’ll heal it in an instant.”
“No. It’s not okay. Madame Pomfrey will heal it.” Gray and green eyes clash and Harry sighs, giving into the determination he sees.
“Fine, then.” The girls walk in at that moment, drawing Harry’s attention away long enough for Draco and Blaise to exchange a meaningful glance.
The train stutters to a stop and they hurry off, after assuring Harry multiple times his things would be taken to the castle for him. But in the crowd of kids attempting to get on the boats, Harry gets separated, scooped up by Hagrid, and plopped into one with a, “There ya go, Harry.” There’s a red-head and the kid who lost his toad already in the boat.
“Hullo,” the red-head smiles, “My name’s Ron. Yours?”
“What House do you think you’ll get? My whole family’s been Gryffindor, so I have to be there. Mum and Dad were in it, too. I don’t know what they’ll say if I’m not. I don’t suppose Ravenclaw would be too bad, but imagine if they put me in Slytherin.”
“What’s wrong with Slytherin? I mean, Hagrid said that most wix who go bad are from Slytherin, but it didn’t seem that bad in the books.”
“It’s the House You-Know-Who’s from.” Ron has a dark look on his face, like he’s telling Harry the worst news in the history of magic, but really, what does it matter what dorm someone lived in at school? Does it really affect them that much? Harry hums in response and turns to watch the castle grow. Throughout the ride and walk inside, Ron does everything he can to get Harry back into conversation, but there’s too much to think about.
What House does he want to be in? Is Slytherin really a bad place to be? That’s where Draco and the others said they expected to be and they don’t seem like bad people. In fact, he’d go so far as to say they’re his friends. No, wherever the Sorting places him, it places him. Preferably with Draco, but, no matter what, he gets to learn magic and that’s what matters.
“There you are, Hari,” Draco cries, pushing through the crowd on the stairs.
“Malfoy,” Ron sneers.
“I presume you’re a Weasley, then?”
“Stay away from Harry. He doesn’t want to be friends with your sort.”
“And what’s his sort?” Harry interrupts. Ron does not get to speak for him.
“The wrong sort. His family’s Dark.”
“My father was under the Imperius Curse. They proved it in court.”
“Ron,” Harry steps closer to Draco, turning to face the snarling boy, “I’m certain I can tell the wrong sort for myself, but thanks.” With that, he slips around to the other side of Draco to stand between him and Blaise, who slings an arm across his shoulders and chatters about nothing until a professor steps out.
“Welcome to Hogwarts. I am Professor McGonagall,” says the tall professor. “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 are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your House points, while any rule-breaking will lose House points. At the end of the year, the House with the most points is awarded the House Cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever House becomes yours.
“The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting.”
Her eyes linger for a moment on the toad boy’s cloak, which is fastened under his left ear, and on Ron’s smudged nose. Harry nervously raises a hand to flatten his hair, but Draco smacks it back down.
“I shall return when we are ready for you,” says Professor McGonagall. “Please wait quietly.”
She leaves the chamber. Harry swallows. They’d discussed the ceremony on the train, of course, and it really isn’t scary at all, but it is nerve wracking to know that it’d be in front of the whole school.
“Relax, Hari. Your hair is fine and if anyone says it isn’t, just say you’re growing it out. That’ll make it more tamable, and acceptable.” Draco pokes at the bottom of his chin. “And don’t slouch. That’s what’s not presentable.” With that, he sticks his nose in the air.
“He’s not wrong, you know. Behavior is more important than looks, despite both being important,” Blaise murmurs in his ear with a low chuckle. Then, Professor McGonagall comes back out, Blaise’s arm slips off his shoulder, and they walk into the Great Hall. It is overwhelming and Harry misses everything that is said until Draco vanishes from his side, stepping up to be Sorted.
Almost before even touching his head, the Hat shouts, “Slytherin.” Harry doesn’t think Draco could look prouder.
A few more people are before him, including Pansy and Theodore, also in Slytherin, until finally, his name is called. An extra hush runs through the crowd. Instead of being politely quiet, they are silent.
Pulling in a deep breath, Harry stands as tall as possible while trying to look relaxed and walks up to the stool. Professor McGonagall places the Hat on his head.
“Hmm,” says a small voice in his ear. “Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind 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 edges of the stool and thinks, more to the Hat than himself, where I’ll be accepted and they’ll let me grow.
“Let you grow, eh?” says the small voice. “Are you sure? You could be great, it’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that, but the others, too. Though, I see you have already found acceptance—Well, then, best be SLYTHERIN!”
Harry hears the Hat shout the last word to the whole Hall. He takes off the Hat and walks shakily toward the Slytherin table. He was so relieved to have been chosen and put in Slytherin, he hardly noticed that the Great Hall was silent. Only when the Slytherin table finally began cheering did he realize they hadn’t been before. Draco and the others—minus Blaise—stand and grin at him, waving him the seat next to Draco.
“Bet none of them saw that coming,” Draco laughs.
“Dumbledore looks pissed,” Pansy snickers.
“Probably thought Hari’d end up in Gryffindor like the rest of his family,” Daphne agrees.
“Yeah,” Pansy nods, smirk slipping into a frown, “but he actually looks angry.” Her voice fades to concern as the next student is Sorted. “Not the, ‘my expectations weren’t met’ type angry, but full-on, ‘I could commit murder’ angry.”
All their eyes turn to the Headmaster, who is sitting with flames where the usual twinkle should be. Harry shivers.
“Father says he’s always been manipulative… I wonder if that has anything to do with it.”
“What, like he had a plan and Hari being in Slytherin messes it up?” Pansy leans towards Draco.
“Exactly like that.”
“Why would he have a plan about me?”
“Well,” Draco looks to Pansy, who simply shrugs. “I suppose it’d be because you’re the Boy-Who-Lived and he’s one of the ones who believes that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is still out there.”
“People believe that?”
“Only the ones who blindly believe Dumbledore.”
“Or obsess over the Daily Prophet—that’s another newspaper,” grumbles Pansy.
Blaise joins them and Draco fills him in in hushed tones. He simply nods and listens to the “speech” Dumbledore gives. There’ll be time to puzzle it out later.
The chance comes as they’re walking down to the dungeons. Dumbledore appears and pulls Harry out of the group for a moment.
“Mr. Potter, my boy, I wanted to offer to let you be re-Sorted. Wouldn’t you rather be in Gryffindor? It’s where your mother and father were.” There’s a twinkle in his eye as he speaks, but it fades as Harry responds.
“No, Headmaster, I’ve already made friends in Slytherin. I think I’ll be happy there.” The flames start up again and Harry hurries to catch up to the rest of the group before the Headmaster could try to make him be re-Sorted.
“What did he say?” Blaise hisses into his ear.
They enter the common room when the prefect—Gemma, Harry believes—says the password, “Belladonna,” to a seemingly blank wall. Waiting for them is the man Draco pointed out as their Head of House, Professor Snape, and Draco’s Uncle Sev.
“Welcome,” he starts, face and voice soft and welcoming, “to Slytherin. I want to make just a few points clear before the prefects explain the rules to you.
“First, is that we are a united front. Fight and hate each other as much as you want in here, but once you step through the door, you are allies. The other Houses aren’t particularly fond of us, though you may find a friend or two in Hufflepuff.” That earns a few snorts, but Professor Snape ignores them.
“If you are going to break the rules, don’t get caught. We’ve had the House Cup for six years now. I don’t want to give it up. Please be sure to review the Potions textbook before my class. I can’t have my own house blowing up cauldrons.
“Lastly, my quarters are directly across the hall. Should you need anything, you can knock on the tapestry. Goodnight.” They chorus back a ‘goodnight’ and turn back to the prefects.
“Boys dorms are to the left, there, and girls to the right. First years, yours will be towards the back, furthest from the common room door. If anyone manages to get in, they’ll hit the sixth years first, with the fifth and seventh years—the O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. students—just in front of you. In short, dorms are in order of who is most ready to defend the dorm. Not that we should ever need to, but,” Gemma looks them all in the eyes, “the other Houses really aren’t fans of ours. While you can get through to both gender’s dorms on a normal basis, keep in mind that there are spells in place to keep you out if you have the intent of doing anything untoward.
“Professor Snape will hand out your schedules in the morning on Monday after breakfast, so meet back here right away. Studies come first. If you can keep your grades at an acceptable level, then you will be free to do whatever else you like. If you need tutoring, second, third, fourth, and sixth years will be available according to the schedule on the bulletin board.
“I believe that’s all for tonight, so go, unpack, get settled, and get to know each other. Welcome to the family and goodnight.”
Their room is larger than Harry expected, with six full size, four poster beds draped in thick, silver curtains. The sheets and duvet are a warm green, close to matching Harry’s eyes. There’s a nightstand on one side of his bed and a desk on the other. Around the desk are more poles, allowing the space to curtain off and become a private study area. Along one wall are six wardrobes and on the other is the door to the bathroom. His trunk is settled at the foot of one of the beds. He can’t help but stare.
“Why do you look so awed?” Draco drawls from where he’s unpacking his clothes into the drawers under the bed.
“It’s just… it’s such a big bed, and I guess I wasn’t expecting my own desk and night stand. I dunno.”
“Big bed?” Draco’s eyebrows pinch. “Mine at home is at least double this.”
Harry shrugs, “mine’s not.” Harry knew his bed wasn’t a bed, not the one under the stairs. That was a cot, technically. He was lucky they let him move it into Dudley’s second bedroom for the last month.
“Hey, why’d they spell my name like that?” He runs his fingers across the etching at the foot of the bed reading ‘Hari Potter’.
“That’s your name,” Draco drawls, looking at him like he’s an idiot. “How did you think it was spelled?”
“No,” Draco shakes his head, “that’s the Westernized version, but your legal name is H-A-R-I. I guess it’s up to you how you want to spell it, but what’s etched there is what your parents named you.”
“Well, Aunt Petunia never did like anything that stands out,” Harry—no, Hari muses. Ignoring Draco’s frown, he sets about unpacking.
“Oh, we are definitely doing some shopping. Where did you get those clothes?” Blaise’s nose is crinkled when Hari looks up.
“Hand-me-downs from my cousin. He’s much larger than me. And I thought we couldn’t leave the grounds.”
“No, we can’t, but we can order by owl. I’m sure Pansy and Daphne will help and the shop can withdraw the funds directly from Gringotts. It’s no more expensive than shopping in person, just a bit more of a wait.”
“Do I really need to?”
“Yes!” three voices chorus at once, even Theo piping in this time.
“It’s settled, then, new wardrobe for Hari Potter tomorrow.” Blaise nods to himself, seemingly pleased.
“Then he has to see Madame Pomfrey,” Draco adds. “That burn has to hurt.”
“It doesn’t,” Hari attempts to assert, but the others ignore it.
“It’s not curfew yet,” Blaise points out, “we could take him now. We’re all unpacked.”
“True, that’s a good idea. Let’s get Pansy and Daphne.” Both his hands are grabbed and tugged until they’re at the girls’ room.
“Pans, Daphne!” Blaise calls into the closed room. “Come on, we’re going for a walk! It’s not optional.” Two sets of glares appear and Hari grimaces sympathetically.
“I’m here against my will, too.”
Pansy sighs, “then I guess we have to go.”
Draco rolls his eyes, “Hari’s the reason we’re going at all. He needs his arm treated by Madame Pomfrey.”
“It’s not that bad!”
“It’s massive! And if we can heal it, why wouldn’t we?” Hari and Draco glare at each other as they walk, neither wanting to back down.
“At least watch where you’re going when we’re on the stairs.”
“Oh! Pans, do you have catalogues we can use to get Hari a new wardrobe tomorrow? I didn’t think I’d need mine, so they’re at home.” Blaise and Pansy slide into a conversation about color schemes and ‘fits’ and styles that Hari decides to tune out.
A hand runs through his hair, startling him back to the moment. “Well,” Daphne’s voice says, “he needs new shampoo and conditioner, but once that comes in, we can add the potion. I think just above his shoulders would be a good length for him, especially with those curls.”
“Definitely. If we get him some hairbands, we can teach him a few hair styles.”
“But we don’t really want all this stuff being dropped off in the Great Hall.”
“I checked on that before we came. Large packages like clothes and such can be delivered to our Head of House’s office, we just have to address it with ‘Slytherin’ instead of ‘Hogwarts’.”
“Good,” Blaise cuts into the girls’ conversation, “We’ll measure and order tomorrow and it should all arrive on Monday, so we can fix his hair after classes.”
“No, no, we’ll order the hair supplies tonight so it comes in tomorrow and his hair will be nice for the first day of classes.”
“Guys! We actually need to go into the hospital wing, not just stand outside talking,” Draco snaps.
“Then go in!” Pansy huffs with an exaggerated eye roll. “We’ll meet you at the owlry.”
“Already, boys? Hello, Mr. Potter.”
“Hello, Madame Pomfrey. Hari burned his arm before coming to school. Can you fix it?” Draco holds his arm out, pushing the sleeve up for the mediwitch to see.
“Oh, my, that looks like it must’ve hurt. Still does, I’d imagine. Yes, yes,” she bustles off and comes back with a jar, “a bit of this and it should heal up nicely. It doesn’t look too old for this to work.” She waves her wand over one of her hands for a moment, then opens the jar and rubs the cream across the wound. “Now, it should stop hurting quickly, but the cream needs to stay on overnight, so I’m going to bandage it. You’ll be able to take it off in the morning. If there’s still a mark or it’s red at all, you come right back here, understand, Mr. Potter?”
“Yes, ma’am.” She uses a spell that causes the bandages to appear neatly around his arm.
“Off you go, then. Owlry, I think Ms. Parkinson said? Best hurry if you don’t want to be late for curfew.”
They race off with “farewells” called over the shoulders and make it to the owlry as Daphne is checking off the last item she picked out.
“Just in time, Hari, Draco. Hari, come here.” She holds a paper out to him.
“So, you sign here,” Blaise points, “it’ll register that you are who you say you are, then, once the items are delivered, it’ll withdraw the money from your Gringotts account.”
“It can do that? Tell who I am, I mean?”
“Yes,” Draco grins at him, “pretty neat, right?” Hari nods and signs his name, careful to spell it properly. “Did any of you bring an owl?” Draco wanders through, peering into the rafters. “Otherwise we’ve got to use a school one.”
“I’ve got Hedwig.” Everyone turns to stare at him. “What?”
“Why is it that the boy raised by muggles has an owl and the rest of us don’t?” Daphne groans.
“Ah, Hagrid picked her out for me. He called it a birthday gift, but I’m pretty sure he used my money to pay, so…” Hari trails off, scanning the rafters for the snowy owl. “She’s really smart, though.” On cue, she flutters down and lands gently on his arm. Offering her a few treats, he lets Draco attach the letter, then lets her out the window. She flies off after giving him an affectionate nip on the finger.
“So, not to be the bearer of bad news, but we have ten minutes before curfew.” Blaise is studying the watch on his left wrist.
“If we run halfway, we can walk the rest. And then we won’t lose any points,” Hari suggests. There’s no hesitation, they all take off running, sprinting down the stairs to the dungeons. Finally on the correct floor, they walk the rest of the way and let themselves in just before curfew.
“And, after that eventful day, I’m off to bed,” Pansy announces. Everyone follows her lead and, once dressed in pajamas, they sleep the moment their heads hit the pillows.