Harry and Blaise stepped easily off the train and quietly merged with the crowds of students milling around, striving for anonymity as they assessed the situation. A shadowed figure that seemed to be holding a flickering lantern loomed over the huddled group of clueless first years as a voice bellowed.
"Firs' years! Firs' years over here!"
Shrugging at each other Harry and Blaise smoothly cut their way through the crowd and realized as they got closer that it was the same man they had shared a Gringotts cart with during their trip through the deep catacombs of the wizarding bank.
"C'mon, follow me-any more firs' years? Mind yer step, now! Firs' years follow me!"
Slowly the confused throng of first years followed the bobbing lantern down a steep path, stumbling every few seconds while the older years made their way to the carriages. Even for those who were fleet footed the narrow path they were following downwards towards a darkly shimmering body of water was treacherous and Harry and Blaise used each other to keep their balance as other students plowed into them and slid haphazardly down the slope.
The ground suddenly leveled out leaving Harry and Blaise to sigh in relief. Too many people had fallen against them on the trip down, invading their personal space, putting them on edge, and threatening to upset their precarious balance. Then just when they thought they were in the clear Neville went skidding by them to plow into the giant form of Hagrid who didn't even seem to notice. Wrinkling her nose slightly in disgust Blaise bent down and picked up Trevor the toad who had taken an unexpected flight and handed him back to a slightly battered Neville before wiping her hands off on her robes. Harry grinned.
"Who would have thought Blaise Zabini could be so girly" he lightly teased, earning himself a sharp elbow in the ribs as he had no room to move in order to dodge the blow.
The friends stopped their hushed banter as Hagrid spoke up again.
"Yeh'll get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in a sec" Hagrid called over his shoulder as he continued to stride forward "jus' round this bend here."
Loud exclamations could be heard from the awed first years as they took in as much of the grand castle and grounds visible to them in the inky dark night. Across the expanse of black lake rose a sheer cliff that formed one face of what appeared to be a high mountain and atop that loomed a vast castle boasting many turrets and spired towers. Yet this imposing edifice boasted of a welcoming warmth with its glowing windows sparkling in the starry sky, almost as if the lights shining forth were trying to compete with the very stars that graced the heavens. It was the perfect battleground Harry thought as he gazed upon the magical castle and yet it called to him in the same way the Darkov mansion did, it would also be a haven. Nimbly climbing into one of the gently bobbing boats with Blaise at his side Harry was glad to see that Ron wasn't in the boat with them. Instead the other bench seat was taken up by an excitedly bouncing Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy who had regained his cool and aloof composure.
"Everyone in?" shouted Hagrid who took up a whole rowboat to himself "Right then - FORWARD!"
The fleet of little boats moved off with no visible means of what was propelling them forward as they glided silently across the glassy smooth lake, leaving behind no wake or ripple to even indicate the passage of the student laden boats. A silence had fallen over the group as they all stared up at the great castle overhead as it towered over them the nearer they drew to the cliff on which it stood.
"Heads down" Hagrid yelled as they neared the cliff; they all bent their heads and the little boats carried them through a curtain of ivy that waved slightly even in the absence of any breeze, giving them tantalizing peeks of the dark tunnel that lay beyond.
Harry and Blaise complied and ducked their heads along with the others even though it went against their teachings to bare their necks in such a manner when others sat so close behind them but they kept their eyes up and alert, straining them to pierce the surrounding darkness as their pupils dilated to take in what little light Hagrid's lantern offered.
By now they were underneath the castle and some of those in the group of scared first years could swear they felt the tons of rock and heavy pressure of the castle bearing down upon them as the boats docked at an underground harbor. Idly glancing around as Hagrid made his way up the stone step path to a huge, oaken door Harry took in the reactions of everyone around him and was faintly amused to see Neville practically strangling his toad. Blaise looked as composed as ever though a light seemed to shine freely from her eyes; Ron had a frightened look about him and kept brushing frantically at his robes as if to knock some crawling thing from them; Draco looked awed and slightly timid though he still sneered in his superior way; Hermione was bouncing so hard the curls in her hair were dancing; others seemed nervous, excited, or frightened in turn and Harry had to wonder what someone would see if they looked at him in this moment. Outwardly he probably resembled Blaise's attitude though inwardly he was excited and just a bit nervous, he could practically feel the magic inside him reacting to the heavy waves of magic surrounding him in the very air they now breathed.
Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked three times on the castles doors that opened nearly immediately as if the tall, black-haired witch in emerald-green robes that stood there had been waiting impatiently for quite some time.
"The firs' years, Professor McGonagall" said Hagrid.
Professor McGonagall thanked Hagrid before brusquely ushering the new first years the huge entrance hall that more than rivaled the one at the Darkov mansion. Flaming torches lined the walls in intricately decorated sconces but even the light they gave off was not enough to illuminate the hidden corners and vaulted ceiling somewhere high above them and beyond the sweeping marble staircases. As they followed Professor McGonagall the first years were ushered beyond a doorway that excited voices floated out from and into a small, empty chamber off the hall. They crowded in like a herd of sheep headed to the slaughter, Harry and Blaise melting into the back of the crowd while keeping their backs to the wall at an angle that allowed them to take in everything that was going on without allowing them to be snuck up upon. Their actions caused them to be missed in the penetrating sweep Professor McGonagall made of the first years as she sought one child in particular, hoping to spot the child and give the Headmaster some good news.
"Welcome to Hogwarts" said Professor McGonagall "The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like 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. I shall return when we are ready for you. Please wait quietly."
The whole speech was said in a stern and well-rehearsed tone of voice and at the end the commanding witch glanced pointedly at certain students whose appearance was lacking and telling them to clean themselves up a bit without overly embarrassing them. Harry and Blaise didn't bother to fuss over their appearance, knowing with the quiet certainty of a Darkov and a Zabini that their appearances were clean and smart even after the journey they had made to get to the castle. As soon as the Professor left them, a buzz of nervous chatter filled the room, seeming to echo slightly off the stone walls, as robes and hair were smoothed though a few students stood around attempting to look confident and bored, idly picking at imaginary pieces of lint in cool disdain. Harry assumed that these were the purebloods that had grown up their whole lives around magic, knowing that they would be attending Hogwarts and therefore had an image to hide behind.
Most of the talk was centered on how they would be sorted into their houses and theories were flying around about tests they would have to take or spells they would have to cast. Blaise overheard an interesting mention of an orb that was the closest to what the hat would be doing, but none of the theories were right. Silently Harry and Blaise conferred about revealing the truth about the Sorting Hat that Trevor had told them about but decided against it, mentioning anything would be like revealing the punch line of a joke before the joke was even near the end. Harry was half lost in a whispered conversation with Blaise, punctuated with the silent hand gestures the guard used when a short, shrill scream filled the room only to be echoed by a few more. Acting on instinct Harry and Blaise settled their bodies so they were balanced on the balls of their feet, knives out but kept low so as not to be seen, and hands ready to retrieve their guns if needed.
The source of commotion became evident a few moments later and with an aggravated shake of his head Harry sheathed his knife and relaxed his body, there wasn't anything that mortal weapons could do about ghosts even if the ghosts could harm them. Yet for all the noise a few frightened first years had been making a moment ago the ghosts hadn't noticed that they were not alone in the room and continued with their argument. What looked like a fat little monk was 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?"
A ghost in a ruff and tights had suddenly noticed the first years but no one answered him, instead the Friar-like ghost did by guessing they were about to be sorted and mentioned that Hufflepuff was his old house when McGonagall came back to usher them into the Great Hall for the Sorting Ceremony. The ghosts floated away through a different wall than the one they had come through while the Professor instructed the group of now very nervous first years to form a line and follow her. Falling in at the end of the line Harry and Blaise followed behind the rest of their year mates, a slight churning feeling taking root in the pits of their stomachs now that something was actually happening. It was the same feeling of anticipation and nervous fear the friends felt whenever they knew something was going to happen or danger was coming their way. It was the taut readiness that possessed them every time the alarms went off at the mansion alerting them to a break-in or the guards pressed them to the ground and shielded them, ready to sacrifice their own lives for the children under their care. But this time there wasn't danger, at least nothing tangible that they could fight against such as an assassin. They entered the Great Hall in which the already seated occupants were rapidly falling silent.
Even after Trevor's detailed and sometimes nostalgic description of Hogwarts Harry and Blaise weren't expecting, and couldn't have ever hoped to imagine, such a strange and splendid place. The only source of light came from the thousands upon thousands of candles that hovered and floated in midair over four long wooden tables where the older years of students were already sitting. And if Harry and Blaise thought the fancy china they used on rare occasions in the Darkov household were fancy and expensive it was nothing compared to the sight of the gleaming and glittering golden tableware that lay in perfect rows down each side of the tables. At the top of the hall was another long table where the teachers were sitting, the only difference between that table and the four house tables being that only one side of the high table was set so that the professors could lord over the hall without distractions or turning their backs on the students.
It was the high table that Professor McGonagall led them to with the teachers behind them and hundreds of adolescent faces staring at the nervous first years, adding to the tension they felt. Staring defiantly back Harry blanked his face and gazed around, taking in the sight of the occasional ghost before he directed his attention to the enchanted ceiling above him. The ceiling was high above them and the soft glow of the candles did not quite reach the velvety blackness in which the occasional hints of midnight blue could be seen blending in around the stars that seemed to be watching over them. Nearby he heard Hermione whisper how the ceiling was bewitched to look like the sky outside and vaguely remembered reading it in Hogwarts: A History. But the dry words of a book did not do justice to the real thing and Harry found it hard to believe that there was a ceiling at all. It seemed as if the Great Hall was really in fact opening up to the very heavens. His father would love to see this Harry knew for oddly enough for a Mafia King Manuel loved ancient castles, wide open and natural spaces, and the night sky. Harry remembered some of the summer nights that they had lain outside in the softly scented grass and gazed at the stars. Such things were their escape from the real life they lived.
A movement to his left had Harry looking down again and he nudged Blaise so that she would do the same when McGonagall silently placed a four-legged stool in front of them. On top of the stool she placed a pointed wizard's hat. This hat was patched and frayed and extremely dirty. Harry wondered if Blaise's brief episodes in going girly on him would cause her to refuse to put the aged hat on her head but turned his thoughts back to the hat as complete silence over took the hall. The hat twitched. A rip near the brim opened wide like a mouth-and then the hat began to recite its rhyme:
Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the 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 n 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 folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!
The whole of the hall burst into applause as the hat finished its song, except for the nervous first years that just stood there staring at the hat. Then the hat bowed to each of the four tables became relatively still again though it had not appeared to fall into dormancy. Some of the first years relaxed a bit as their fears were put to rest while it seemed that a few stiffened. Harry had to wonder if they were just nervous or if they had something to hide. Harry had spent odd moments ever since Trevor had told him and Blaise about the Sorting Hat trying to figure out what house he would belong in but was unable to decide, not that it would matter as long as Blaise was there with him. Harry didn't know what he would do to the hat if it separated them, they had always been together, but he knew it wouldn't be pretty. He and Blaise were partners in crime. Professor McGonagall began to call names off a long roll of parchment she had just unrolled.
A pink-faced girl with blonde pigtails stumbled out of line, put on the hat, which fell right down over her eyes, and sat down. A moment's pause-
"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat.
The table on the right cheered and clapped as Hannah went to sit down at the Hufflepuff table. Harry saw the ghost of the Fat Friar waving merrily at her.
"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat again, and Susan scuttled off to sit next to Hannah.
The table second from the left clapped this time; several Ravenclaws stood up to shake hands with Terry as he joined them.
"Brocklehurst, Mandy" went to Ravenclaw too, but "Brown, Lavender" became the first new Gryffindor, and the table on the far left exploded with cheers; Harry could see Fred and George cat-calling.
"Bulstrode, Millicent" then became a Slytherin and Harry looked over at the Slytherin table.
He had heard a lot about that house and how it was mostly shed in a bad light, but he had also heard the truth about Slytherin house from Trevor who had been a Snake himself. So what if they looked like an unpleasant lot, sometimes certain masks needed to be cultivated for protection against outside forces and stereotypes often forced people to act in certain manners that weren't their own.
Harry watched "Finnigan, Seamus" sit on the stool for nearly a minute before becoming a Gryffindor.
It seemed some people were harder to place than others.
"Granger, Hermione" also became a Gryffindor and from his place in the line Ron Weasley gave a loud groan for some reason or another.
"Longbottom, Neville" took a while to place before being shunted into Gryffindor.
Then the hat barely touched Draco Malfoy's head before "SLYTHERIN" rang out through the hall and the aristocratic blonde swaggered to the Slytherin table with a pleased smirk plastered across his pale face.
Perhaps some of the stereotypes about Slytherin were true. There weren't many people left now.
"Moon"..., "Nott"..., "Parkinson"..., then a pair of twin girls, "Patil" and "Patil".., then "Perks, Sally-Anne"...,
McGonagall seemed to pause and draw a breath as if praying for something and Harry knew what was coming, the list had been written alphabetically and based upon her reaction as well as his celebrity status he knew his name was next. Harry gave Blaise a pointed look and she nodded ever so slightly back before...,
As Harry stepped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like little hissing fires all over the hall.
"/Potter/, did she say?"
"/The/ Harry Potter?"
The last thing Harry saw before the hat dropped over his eyes was the hall full of people craning their necks to get a good look at him and he could feel the eyes of the teaching staff pounding into his back. He resisted the urge to flick them all off and was resigned to doing it in his head as he found himself looking at the black inside of the slightly smelly hat. He waited.
"A bit crude don't you think" said a small voice in his ear in reference to his mental gesture "Difficult. Very difficult. You've faced danger and death before and have courage, yet there is a sharp mind filled with knowledge here as well. Ambition and talent as well and a healthy streak of mischief. And secrets, oh yes, secrets. Now that's an interesting ability you have here Mr. Potter. You are loyal and hardworking as well but cautious about those loyalties. Certainly you also possess a twisted sense of morals as well...So where shall I put you?"
Harry rolled his eyes inside the hat thinking "aren't you supposed to be the one to decide?"
The hat chuckled "cheeky as well. You would be great in any house you went to but you would also wreak changes in each. Best put you where you won't cause as much damage to house morals and beliefs though perhaps you can wreak some change for the better. I fear you will shake this very school to its foundations. Enjoy yourself Mr. Potter; I'll be seeing you around-better be 'SLYTHERIN!'"
The last word was shouted out by the hat for the whole hall to hear and Harry was glad it wasn't shouted inside the hat as well and thought "I will enjoy myself" before slipping off the hat and gazing out upon the stunned hall. Serene and confident Harry made his way to the Slytherin table and took his seat amongst his housemates as a deadly silence reigned. It was suddenly broken as the Weasley twins started clapping from over at the Gryffindor table only to be picked up by the Slytherins who couldn't believe that the Savior of the Light was in their house. By the time Harry had made his way to the Slytherin table none of the teachers showed any extreme reaction to his Sorting though quite a few teachers seemed flustered. The Sorting went on quickly after that though McGonagall's voice seemed a bit forced.
Finally McGonagall called out "Zabini, Blaise" and rolled up the scroll as the girl sat on the stool.
The hat chuckled lightly into Blaise's ear as she sat upon the stool /"you are quite like him aren't you? Smart, cunning, brave, and loyal yet your morals are also very different from those most hold. You, like him, do what you must do and while you might regret it you don't look back. I wonder if I dare put both of you together but who am I to separate two partners in crime. You two are going to give the Old Coot hell. Good luck in-/SLYTHERIN!"
With her head held high Blaise made her way to the Slytherin table and sat in the seat Harry had kept open for her, not daring to think his friend would end up in another house. Up at the high table Albus Dumbledore had gotten to his feet. He beamed around at the students, his armed opened wide, as if nothing could have pleased him more than to see them all there. No one could tell by his outward appearance that he was inwardly damning the Sorting Hat and had lost all train of the carefully prepared speech he had made. So he did the only thing that came to mind.
"Welcome!" he said. "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!"
The Headmaster sat back down, ignoring the puzzled looks of his professors and began to fill his plate with the food that had suddenly appeared, trying to gather his scattered thoughts.
Severus Snape calmly sat eating his dinner while keeping a sharp eye on his Slytherins, especially one Harry Potter whose head was bent close to that of Blaise Zabini. He had been fairly surprised to hear the Sorting Hat place a Potter, and the son of James Potter at that, in Slytherin. Already it seemed that his conceptions of the boy were being shattered. It would be hard to treat Potter as he deserved after all James had done now that the boy was one of his treasured Slytherins; James Potter had never been anything but the epitome of Gryffindor. Minerva was likely having a heart attack over Harry Potter, savior of the wizarding world being placed in the house reputed to be a breeding ground for dark lords and dark followers. How would Dumbledore deal with this development, he knew the Headmaster had wanted the boy in Gryffindor where tabs could more easily be kept on him. Severus saw Draco Malfoy lean towards Harry Potter and engage the raven-haired boy in conversation, drawing him into introductions of the other first years, and the potions professor turned his mind to the speech he would be giving the new first years after the feast. He almost felt sorry for the new Slytherins, just by the decision of the Hat they were in for some rough years full of hatred and suspicion.
~~ ~~ ~*~
Harry and Blaise had started eating and were discussing the reactions Blaise had observed from the teachers and students as Harry had been sorted. Blaise quietly told Harry that McGonagall had actually dropped her scroll and a very short teacher had fallen from his chair with a squeak. Dumbledore had leaned forward slightly when Harry's name had been called and when Slytherin had been shouted out his eyes had quickly shuttered, closing off all emotion as he seemed to rear back. The man, Severus, they had met in Diagon Alley had been surprised but hid his reaction well. Another teacher in a turban had almost seemed in pain when Harry had been sorted into Slytherin though there was no visible cause for it. The student's reactions had been obvious enough to Harry after he had removed the hat but Blaise pointed out that the Gryffindors almost seemed betrayed, a thing which Harry could easily understand since according to Trevor every Potter to ever pass through Hogwarts had been sorted into Gryffindor.
They were about to continue analyzing the reactions following Harry's sorting when Draco Malfoy decided to intrude upon their conversation.
"Potter, Zabini" Draco began as if presuming himself a leader among the new first years as he introduced them all "this is Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle, Pansy Parkinson, Millicent Bulstrode, and Theodore Nott. The resident ghost is the Bloody Baron."
Harry and Blaise nodded politely to each of them and looked to the ghost sitting on the other side of Draco, the blond did not look too happy at the seating arrangement as he mentioned the name of the ghost. It was the most horrible looking of the ghosts Harry had seen so far with its blankly staring eyes, a gaunt face, and robes stained with silver blood.
The ghost's attention snapped to them as its name was mentioned and Harry couldn't stop himself from asking "how did you get covered in blood?"
The soulless eyes gazed long upon Harry and the mafia prince resisted the urge to shrink away from them and show weakness.
The Bloody Baron's mouth opened in a grim parody of a grin and his raspy voice issued forth "brave for a Slytherin you are. Not even the other ghosts dare ask."
Without another word the ghost floated away leaving behind a very relieved Draco Malfoy and the feast came to an end.
Professor Dumbledore got to his feet and began to give the start-of-term announcements such as magic not being allowed in the corridors between classes and when Quidditch trials would begin. The mention of the Forbidden Forest intrigued Harry and Blaise as well as the out of bounds third-floor corridor on the right-hand side. Anything that was forbidden was worth exploring though they did frown at each other after hearing that the corridor was off limits to everyone who did not wish to die a very horrible and painful death. What would they keep in a school full of students that could possibly cause a painful death and why? The rest of the Slytherin table was trading similar glances and a few frowned as scattered laughter came from other tables, who would be stupid enough to laugh at a death threat?
Harry glanced back up at the head table in time to see the emotions on the teachers faces become forced, though Dumbledore's next words explained everything perfectly.
"And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song! Everyone pick their favorite tune and off we go!"
Dumbledore flicked his wand and a golden ribbon flew out, hovering in the air for a moment before gracefully writhing into words.
It was just enough time for Blaise, who loved to sing, to nudge Harry and whisper "May It Be, Enya."
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.
It was a cacophony of noise that filled the hall as melodies clashed and voices split on notes too high. Harry and Blaise continued to sing their chosen tune through it all, drawing out each word and line to fit the set parameters of the song. The two finally drew to a close by drawing out the word rot before fading away, allowing the Weasley twins to go solo as they finished their very slow and overtly solemn funeral march.
The first year Slytherins left the great hall and followed a prefect, Melantha Jacoson, towards the dungeons only pausing long enough to smirk at the Gryffindors who were being harassed by Peeves the poltergeist. Continuing on to the dungeons the Slytherins had almost made it to the entrance to the common room when Peeves struck at them only to have his attack stopped by the raspy voice of the Bloody Baron as the bloodied ghost floated menacingly after the wayward poltergeist. The Baron may not be nice or sociable but he wasn't about to allow Peeves to harm any student of Slytherin house. Melantha stopped at a blank stretch of wall and spoke the password so all could hear, "astucieux," causing the stone wall to open and admit them into the safe haven of their common room with its green, silver, and black decorations. A fire blazed cheerfully in the fireplace and standing before the leaping flames waited their head of house.
"Congratulations on being Sorted into the noble house of Salazar Slytherin" their head of house spoke softly, drawing them in with his commanding voice as he glanced at each of them "I am Professor Severus Snape. I teach potions and am also your head of house. Despite what you may have heard Slytherins are not dark lords or dark followers in the making just because they have been sorted into this house, you are a blank slate and each of you may make your own choices as you wish. You will be looked down upon and perhaps shunned by the other houses for being placed in Slytherin. No matter what happens here in the dungeons I expect you to present a united face to the school and stand by each other. Your biggest rival and problem will be the Gryffindors. If you need help do not be afraid to ask your older house mates and my office is always open to a Slytherin in need."
Concluding his speech to the new Slytherins, Severus Snape swept from the common room and headed for his own chambers situated further into the dungeons while the Slytherin first years sleepily followed their older housemates towards their dorms. In the first year boy's dorm sat five curtained four-poster beds. The green and silver bed curtains were of expensive silk and heavily embroidered velvet that flickered in the dancing flames from the fireplace set into one wall. At the foot of each bed was a trunk and Harry was pleased to find his bed was in a corner and closest to the door. Next to him was Draco Malfoy, then Theodore Nott, leaving Crabbe and Goyle at the far end of the room. Noticing a door at the far end of the room Harry discovered a grandly appointed bathroom and changed into his pajamas and got ready for bed. Resolving to check out the desk and wardrobe set next to his bed the next day Harry climbed under the black coverlet bearing the Slytherin crest that was on his bed. Taking comfort in the familiar feel of his hand wrapped around the knife he had tucked beneath his pillow Harry James Potter-Darkov fell asleep, feeling in a way that he had come home.