Draco stood proud on the platform of 9 ¾, his Head Boy badge glinting brightly in the sun where is sat pinned on his school robes. It had been over a year since his trial as a Death Eater, and by the grace of Merlin (and one Gryffindor), he found himself acquitted of all charges – as were his parents. The road after the war hadn’t been easy by any means, but the Malfoys worked hard to raise their status again – but with new goals in mind. They donated time and money to the rebuilding of Hogwarts and the Ministry, offering assistance wherever assistance was needed. This had not gone unnoticed, and most of the wizarding world was now well aware that without the Malfoy family, the return to normalcy and peace would have taken a lot longer than a year.
He searched the crowd, looking for a small, thin boy with unruly black hair, round spectacles, and green gems for eyes. He looked and he looked, and soon he was the last one on the platform.
Harry Potter did not board the Hogwarts Express.
He rushed to hop onto the train, and quickly met up with the other prefects and Head Girl in the front compartment. He was the last one to arrive, and the Head Girl – one despicable Hermione Granger – gave him a death glare. Despite his family being cleared, and proving their worth over the last year, Granger and Weasley (also a prefect) could not seem to drop the grudge. He decided to let them do whatever they wanted. He would not let it bother him.
“Nice of you to finally join us, Malfoy.” Hermione sneered, causing Weasel to snigger.
“Please,” Draco said, holding up a hand to stop her. “Call me Draco. We are all Prefects and Head Boy or Girl in here, I see no reason to call each other by surname. It is an old-fashioned tool to look down on others, and I don’t know about all of you, but I am quite finished with that nonsense.” All the prefects nodded, agreeing with Draco. Only Hermione and Ron seemed reluctant.
“Very well, Draco. Care to explain why you were so late to the first meeting of the year?” Again, Hermione glared at him, raising an eyebrow in challenge. Draco simply waived his hand.
“I wanted to make sure there were no stragglers on the platform. Especially the littler ones. They aren’t fast enough or strong enough to catch up to the train if it starts moving before they are on it. I am, and I wanted to make sure everyone made it. That’s all.” It was a half-truth, really. But if he really thought about it, Harry Potter could be considered one of the “littler ones” with how small he had been throughout their school years. Hermione glared again, unable to find an adequate retort to his reasoning without coming off as a complete bitch.
“Fine then. Just don’t make it a habit to be late in the future.” She conceded before launching into the rest of the briefing. Once done, they were sent on their ways to make rounds, and Draco volunteered to go to the back of the train – the others didn’t want to take it as the more… surly and uncooperative students tended to take the back compartments. Draco didn’t mind – in fact he knew plenty of the older Slytherins would be holed up back there, as not all their reputations had been saved after the war like his was. He didn’t miss the irony that the only student who took the mark was the first one society accepted again.
He did indeed find his friends in one of the last compartments, Blaise, Greg, Theodore, Millicent, and Pansy were all sitting and having a quiet conversation, ignoring the sixth occupant of the carriage. Draco noticed the man immediately, and pointed to him, mouthing Who is that? To his friends. They all shrugged.
“Dunno.” Greg said. “Bloke’s been sittin’ there since before we got on, and he’s been asleep the whole time. Doesn’t even have a trunk or nothin’.” Draco sighed. He did prefer knowing who he was sitting with, you know, because it was polite.
“I suppose there is nothing we can do about it. Budge over you oafs.” He said, and Greg and Blaise shifted closer to the mysterious man wrapped up in his cloak. Draco sat and couldn’t help but smile. He was going back to Hogwarts, and all of his friends were too. Maybe, just maybe, they would all get to be the kids they should have been the whole time. He felt a pang of grief, thinking of how Vincent was gone now, but he wouldn’t let it stop him from moving forward.
Once the train stopped at Hogwarts, Draco helped herd first years towards the boats, as there were twice as many this year and even Hagrid would struggle to get all of their attention.
“Hullo, Hagrid.” Draco greeted as he approached with a scared, brunet girl.
“Why, ‘ello there Malfoy. Who do we have ‘ere?” Hagrid greeting back, without any sarcasm or bitterness. The half giant squatted down so he was eye-level with the first-year.
“It’s okay, Penelope. This is Hagrid, our game keeper and professor for Care of Magical Creatures. He’s big, but gentle. He’ll take care of you.” Draco flashed her a warm smile before letting go of her hand. “Go on, introduce yourself.”
“I…uhm. I’m Penelope. Penelope Edgewater.” She said, nervously. Hagrid grinned.
“Nice ta meet you, Penelope. Names Hagrid. How ‘bout we get you in that boat over there with them nice girls, I’m sure you all will get along alright.” She nodded and he stood up, offering his hand. She took it, and allowed him to lead her over to the boat where he introduced her to two equally nervous looking girls. Satisfied of a job well-done, he jogged to the carriages where he caught the last one. The scene was eerily similar, as everyone from his train compartment (including the mysterious stranger, who was once again hidden under his cloak) was there.
They made it to the castle in one piece, and watched as the first years got sorted. Looks like Penelope Edgewater was Hufflepuff. Good, the house was warm and friendly and would help her become her own person outside of her nervousness in no time. Headmistress Minerva McGonagall was about to put the Sorting Hat away when he started speaking again.
“Not yet, Headmistress.” Said the hat. “We have one more who needs to be placed tonight. A person who must be re-sorted.”
“Re-sorted?” The elderly witch asked. “I’ve never heard of such a thing!”
“There is precedent, Headmistress. It is not common, for it is not often needed. But it is needed now. May I proceed?” The hat asked, his voice dripping with sassiness. Draco quite liked the Sorting Hat.
“You may.” She replied dryly.
“I call one Lord Harry James Potter-Black to come up to be resorted.”
The great hall erupted immediately afterwards.
“Did anyone know he was coming?”
“I though he was committed to St. Mungo’s?”
“Where the hell has he been this whole time?”
And one loud Weasel proclaiming, “At least his being resorted! Thank Merlin that fucker won’t be in our house anymore!” A cheer resounded from the Gryffindor table. Draco frowned. He had heard rumors about Potter… about Potter-Black. But he didn’t think the rumors – even if true – warranted the hatred coming from the Gryffindors. Although, they were Gryffindors. Not always the thinking, rational type.
Suddenly, silence overtook the noise as a man slowly walked down the aisle. Students shivered as he walked by, the air around him was noticeably colder. Draco eyed him, suddenly realizing that the man walking down the aisle was the same mysterious man who he had shared a compartment and carriage with. He looked at Blaise, the other boy was also flabbergasted. The man wore stiff, black robes – rivaling Severus Snape’s severe wardrobe. His hair was let down, allowing the long, black, shaggy locks to fall as they pleased down his back and around his face. A look at McGonagall told Draco all he needed to know about the face of the mysterious man. She was in shock, rendered speechless. As was the rest of the head table. Even Severus was in a state of surprise. The man turned to sit on the stool, under the hat, and the hall made a collective gasp.
The tall, broad stranger dressed in black with hair that rivaled Sirius Black’s, was none other that Harry Potter. Correction, Harry Potter-Black. Lord Harry James Potter-Black. His glasses were gone, but his eyes were as green as ever. His lightening bolt scar was now silvery instead of red, but seemed longer and larger than before, and it continued down through his eyebrow, eyelid, and cheek. He had another scar on the opposite side, near his lip. Almost looked like a knife cut. Draco stared, awed and also terrified. Awed before the boy that had truly become a man, and he had changed drastically in the process.
But terrified because of the look in his eyes. He knew that look. Draco had the same eyes back in his sixth-year. Dull eyes, empty. Lost. Void of anything but despair because there was no hope.
“Well, Lord Potter-Black, we meet again.” The Sorting Hat said, out loud this time – unlike Harry’s first sorting. It seemed this was going to be a public one. Not even the Sorting Hat would give him privacy anymore.
“I told you in the beginning that you would have done well in Slytherin, but you insisted on Gryffindor. Hmm, I wonder how you feel about that now? It may have won you the war, boy, but what did it cost you?” The hat grew silent and the hall stared, enraptured, waiting, clinging onto every word. Harry didn’t say a word, he simply closed his eyes.
“I suppose none of it matters now. What has been done is done, and turning back time is not an option. But I have to think of the future, of the school, of the students. It is my duty, you see. And you, you do not belong anymore, Lord Potter-Black. The castle is no longer your home, she no longer welcomes you. Yet you are here, so she will accept you. She will still permit you.” Harry still said nothing at this, he kept his eyes closed despite the new hole that was being torn into what remained of his heart.
“Hogwarts does not need you, anymore. And you do not need Hogwarts, truthfully. We do not know why you are here. Yet here you are, so we must do something with you.
The Houses are all different, yet the same. All have a degree of loyalty, some kind of signature wit, skill or intelligence in their own right, bravery in the strangest of places. You have all of those, yet none of what they desire.
In Gryffindor, Honesty is second only to Bravery which walks side-by-side with Honor.
In Hufflepuff, Kindness is second only to Loyalty, which walks side-by-side with Dedication.
In Ravenclaw, Competition is second only to Intelligence, which walks side-by-side with Creativity.
In Slytherin, Fraternity is second only to Ambition, which walks side-by-side with Cunning.
You are all. Yet you are none, Harry James Potter-Black.
Therefore, I decree you to be Houseless.”
The hall remained in silent shock as Harry stood, taking off the hat and setting it on the chair. Even Professor Lupin, back to teach DADA, had a look of shock mixed in with blatant loathing. Loathing he held for Harry. Harry could feel the werewolf’s stare, could feel the animosity rolling off of him. But he had felt it before, coming from those closer to his heart than even the only man alive who had been close to his own father.
Minerva was the first to recover, waving her want to bring the feast to fruition. She looked at Harry, disdainfully. Even his old head of house no longer liked him, no longer even tolerated his existence. Harry ignored her, walking to the back of the room to lean against a wall until the feast was finished. He knew it wasn’t worth trying to sit with any of the houses in hopes of enjoying the food himself. He closed his eyes, battling his emotions and beating them down until he could feel them no more. He was getting better at that, he almost never felt anything anymore.
Just as it should be and would continue to be.
Harry missed the way Snape was watching him as the feast progressed, missed how the potions master’s eyebrows furrowed in a mixture of concern and annoyance. The boy had survived a war he should have died in, then he ran away from the world. Only to return, looking like a younger, more powerful Sirius Black with Lily’s eyes. With more scars, both inside and out. Snape had seen his eyes, seen that brilliant shade of green that reminded everyone of Lily. But they now lacked the spark, the life that Lily had always had. That Harry used to have. Looking into his eyes now was like looking into death.
Minerva called the feast to an end, asking all to leave except the heads of house and the returning eighth-years. When they assembled, she briefed them on how they had their own tower, with their own common room separate from their respective houses but they were allowed to return to the common rooms of their houses ay any time. The Except you, Harry was unspoken, but implied. Still, he did not react.
“Now, as far as have a teacher-supervisor, we decided it would be best to allow you all options. You may choose from any of the heads of house, or myself, as your teacher supervisor. As such, we will be the ones in charge of your discipline and mentoring. Understood? Good. Now, we’ll go around and see who wants who, shall we?”
Of course, all the Ravenclaws stuck with Flitwick, the Hufflepuffs with Sprout, and the Gryffindors split in half between McGonagall and Lupin (Hermione chose McGonagall and Ron chose Lupin), except for Neville who chose Sprout. Then came Harry.
“Well, Mister Potter?” The Headmistress trilled. Harry leveled her with a look, causing all of them to shudder.
“My apologies, Headmistress McGonagall, but that is neither my name nor title. You may call me Lord Harry Potter-Black, or Lord Potter-Black. But I will not respond to either Mister or Harry. As mister is not my title, and Harry is reserved for close friends and family – and since I have none of those, you are not included.”
“Well, excuse me,” she huffed. “But you are a student here, and thus will be treated as such. All the other students are called mister and miss and you don’t see them throwing snits about it.”
“They,” he practically growled, “have not come into their lordships and ladyships because their parents still hold them. Mine are dead, as is my godfather, whom I inherited my second lordship from. You are called Headmistress McGonagall because you are the headmistress. The professors are called professors because that is what they are. I demand and deserve the same respect. I am a Lord, and therefor should be addressed as one. Are we clear?”
McGonagall glared at him, but finally gave him a curt nod. “Very well, Lord Potter-Black. Now, please enlighten who you have chosen to be your teacher-supervisor.”
Harry eyed them one by one. They all hated him, even Sprout and Flitwick. He let out a resigned sigh. “I suppose it will have to be Professor Snape, Headmistress.”
Snape lifted and eyebrow, curious. “Why me, Potter-Black?” Harry sneered at him, but allowed him to go without the honorific. The man had at least earned the right to do that with how much he did in the war.
“Everyone here hates me. But its all fresh. You’ve always hated me, therefor it isn’t at the forefront of your mind. You hate me because you always have, not because of something new. So, you will treat me as you always have. Even if you have not always been kind or fair to me, it is better treatment than what I can expect from the others. Does that answer your question, Professor Snape?” Harry did not drop the honorific for Snape, though he had done so often before. The man had his respect now, and would probably always will – whether the potions master wanted it or not.
“It does. Now, you and the Slytherins will come with me to the Slytherin common room for the start of term speech. Come along now.” With that, he turned to leave, and his robes billowed as always. Draco wanted to learn how he always did that, and was awed when Harry performed a similar move.
Now that just wasn’t fair. How did Harry learn to billow his robes menacingly before he had?
The Slytherins were all waiting in the common room when Snape and the eighth-years entered. They all gaped when Harry stepped in after them. Snape quelled all questions with a look and then stood by the fire, motioning to the eighth-years to join the rest of the students. Draco stood next to Harry, as the others were shying away from the ex-Gryffindor. Draco shivered, noting that the air around the other boy was down-right cold.
“Now,” Professor Snape began, “the first thing I will tell all of you – especially our new first years – is congratulations on being members of the proud house of Slytherin. All of you are here because you should be – minus you, Potter-Black. You’re here because for whatever deranged reason you chose me to be your baby-sitter over the other professors.” Snape threw a sneer at the boy, who in turn provided no reaction to the way Snape talked to him. Internally Snape quirked an eyebrow. It appears the boy was no longer quick to anger - not like he use to be.
“I am your head of house, not your mother or your nanny.” He continued on. “But you are not alone here. Self-preservation is important, yes. But so is the preservation of your family, of your friends. In Slytherin, we watch each other’s backs, despite what everyone else thinks. We just use cunning and manipulation instead of grand gestures and speeches. Our house needs to show the world what we are made of, we need to rebuild our reputation after the war. We cannot do that if we act like buffoons or throw hexes at those who annoy us. No. We must act with the dignity and pride that Salazar Slytherin himself would expect of us.
That being said, should you find yourself in a position where you need help or advice, do not be so stubborn as to not seek it help. Take advantage of those who can aide you. My office is always open, and your Prefects and Head Boy are here for you as well. Do not hesitate to come to us if you need to. You are not alone, remember that.” Snape ended his speech, evaluating his charges with a warm yet analyzing stare.
Harry surveyed the room, watching as all the Slytherins started to relax. He could sense the way the room shifted from cold and apprehensive, to warm and welcoming. He felt the way the sense of belonging in the common room clashed with his own solitude. The Slytherins may not be alone, but I still am. Aren’t I? Harry thought. But you already know that, Professor. Probably better than anyone else. It was then that Draco stepped forward, a bag in hand.
“Professor, if I may?” he asked, and Snape nodded. Draco made his way from the back of the group to the front, standing next to the potions master. He rummaged around in his bag and pulled out a silver pin, a snake curved into the letter “S”. He showed it to the other students and started to explain. “Given the current political climate at Hogwarts, and what I have experienced in the last few years, I felt it prudent that we take some measures to protect ourselves. I’ve made pins like this for everyone here, an I ask that everyone wear them wherever they go outside of this common room. They act as both a beacon and a call for help. Tap it three times and say ‘Salazar’, and it will warn myself, the Prefects, and Professor Snape that you are in need of help and will lead us to your location.” Draco paused, grasping the pin and staring at it, trying to form his next words.
“The world is a cruel place, and it can’t be fixed overnight. Not even one year is enough, and there are people here who will provoke you on purpose. Who will try and hurt you – and a lot of that is my own fault for my behavior before the war.” He looked up finally, meeting eyes with his fellow Slytherins. “I just want to keep you all safe, as much as I can. So please, will you wear them?”
It was Blaise who spoke first. “Of course, you great, insufferable prick! Of course, we will wear them.”
Pansy was next. “Oh yes, they are quite fetching. They will match nicely with our robes.”
Even Greg managed to grin and grunt his agreement.
Harry couldn’t help himself; the pins were well made, but they could be better. He stepped forward with his right hand held out. “May I, Mister Malfoy?” He asked, looking at the pin. “There is something I wish to try that you all might find advantageous to yourselves.” Draco turned to Snape - eyebrow raised in questioning. Snape nodded his permission. The room was silent as Draco handed Harry the pin. Since when did Harry start calling me Mister Malfoy? And when did I start thinking of him as Harry?
Harry grasped the pin and reveled in the way Draco’s magic swirled inside the silver ornament. Draco’s magic was strong, certainly. But it was hot and pure – so different from his own magic. He suppressed a grin - it had been a long time since he had been allowed to feel someone else’s magic like this. He opened his palm to stare at the pin, then he started to speak in parseltongue.
My snakes, keep the secrets of those whom wear you and cherish you as a symbol of their house. Should they find themselves in danger, ward them and record all that you see and hear until the Spy or the Dragon come to save your owners. Warn your charges of those who speak ill of them behind their backs, and ensure that no poison touches their lips. Protect your brethren, as Slytherins are snakes as well, and help them find their way.
Harry watched as the last tendrils of his magic flared out and finished, then handed back the pin to Draco. “That should do the trick. All the pins will hold your secrets, and will activate a minor ward to shield you from spells, should you be in danger. Additionally, they will record what they see and hear if the owner should find themselves in danger. No one but Professor Snape or Mister Malfoy can extract the recordings. They will protect you from poison, and will warn you of those who speak poorly of you behind your back.”
Draco stared at him, and then stared at the pin. The pins had held a certain warmth to them before, and felt light in his palm. But now they were cold and heavy, as if Harry’s magic weighed them down. He knew then, that these pins would never fade or dull, the magic would never weaken. Whatever Harry’s magic touched would forever change, that was certain.
Snape walked the his eighth-year charges to their own tower, going over the special set of rules for them. No more curfew, but no spending the night in the other dorms. No underage guests in the tower, and no sleep-overs from those under eighth-year. They did not have to wear their school robes, but casual muggle clothes were not to be worn in class and no distracting or unseemly clothing was allowed either. They would each have their own bedrooms, but bathrooms were to be shared, but housed showers as well as a large bathing area – similar to the Prefects’ bath just not as big. The common room was also to be a shared space, but they had a small kitchen area to store snacks and make coffee or tea. It was a tower, so the rooms were assigned accordingly. Slytherins toward the bottom where it would be more dungeon like, Gryffindors and Ravenclaws towards the top. Hufflepuffs in the middle. The entry way was the portrait of Albus Dumbledore, password was “Lemon Drops”.
Harry glared at the portrait before entering. He hated that man, and probably would for a long time. Perhaps forever. No one would ever understand why Harry hated the deceased headmaster, but no one had done what he did. No one had Albus Dumbledore dictating his life like he was a marionette, a tool useful to win the war. Nothing more, nothing less.
Fuck. Calm down. Anger has no place here. Harry reminded himself, taking a deep breath and shelving his anger away with the rest of his emotions. None of them have a place here, not anymore.
He stepped into the room, and suddenly the buzz of conversation halted. He looked up to find people he once called friends – some closer to family – staring at him with open hatred and contempt. He chose to not react, keeping his face as blank and empty as his eyes. A quick scan of the room told him that none of the professors had stuck around for this little reunion, leaving him to the wolves. No surprise there. They all hated him now, too.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” Ron spat, taking a step forward. Harry looked over his ex-best mate, taking in how the red-head had finally grown into his height. He was no longer lanky and awkward, but had filled out and looked like a man – no longer a boy. Harry also noted that Ron hadn’t acquired any new scars since the war. That was good. Meant he was staying out of trouble. He again felt that irritating pain in his chest, but he clamped down on it and threw it away. No longer need that. He reminded himself again. He did not let his inner turmoil show, nor did he deign to respond to the angry Gryffindor. He simply stepped by him, choosing to head towards the stairs without comment. Ron growled.
“Take the stairs all the way down, Lord Potter-Black.” Hermione called, her voice venom. “You are down at the bottom. Enjoy.” Harry didn’t acknowledge her, but he climbed down three flights of stairs, noting a set of bathrooms on the floor below the common room. But at the bottom, there was only one door. A menacing black door with his last name Potter-Black emblazoned in silver. Inside, he found a windowless room with a black four-poster bed with black bedding and curtains. A black dresser and desk, a black carpet, and the walls were a dull, dark grey. The room was deathly cold, and there was no fireplace.
Fireplace or not, its does not matter anymore. It is simply a place to sleep, a place in which to contain my nightmares.
As he completed that thought, Kreacher popped up next to him with a loud crack. “Does Master require anything of Kreacher, my Lord?” The elf asked.
“No, it seems you have already settled my belongings and placed the usual wards. That will be all, for now.” Harry said, and Kreacher bowed before disappearing again.
“I wonder how much of cow Hermione will have when she realizes that I not only willing have a house-elf, but that house-elf is Kreacher, and that Kreacher adores me almost as much as he adored Regulus.” He mused out loud. He almost grinned, but even in private he stopped any kind of emotion from spreading, from showing.
It isn’t needed anymore.