Dumbledore agitatedly paced around his office, the Sorting Hat on the stool in front of him, as he furiously sucked on a lemon drop.
"Slytherin" Albus was practically shouting at the hat "you put the hope and savior of the wizarding world in Slytherin. What were you thinking!?"
The hat merely sat there and if a hat could smirk this one was. Dumbledore continued to rant, having no one else to vent his frustrations to.
"Both his parents were Gryffindors; the Potters have always been in Gryffindor, was it really that hard to put another Potter in Gryffindor. We had talked about this earlier before the Sorting. Harry is the hope of the light. Slytherin turns out more dark wizards than any other house. The older students could influence his decisions and tell him the wrong things."
The hat frowned and finally the rip near the brim opened up "as Headmaster of this school you should know the untruth behind the words you just uttered. I sorted Harry Potter into Slytherin house for who he is and who he can be, I did not sort him by thinking of how the wizarding world thinks of him or how they think they want him to be."
Dumbledore suddenly looked his years, his worried anger deflating.
"I swore the night his parents died that I would guide Harry along the right paths and protect him. I can't protect him in Slytherin, not as well as I want to. Severus somehow manages to prevent my interference with the Slytherins as he tries to protect them from the prejudices of the world, but Severus hated James Potter and I'm afraid that hate will extend to Harry. Please resort him, say there was a mistake, a spell cast."
The Sorting Hat tipped its topmost point forward "I cannot do that Headmaster. I cannot be tampered with and I did not make mistakes with the sorting. Harry Potter will remain in Slytherin."
Realizing a losing battle when he saw it Albus Dumbledore retreated to his bed chamber and prepared for sleep, thinking of all the methods he could employ to guide the savior of the wizarding world along the path of light.
Back in the Headmasters office the Sorting Hat turned to the crimson phoenix resting on a plain perch.
"Things have been set into motion my old friend" the Hat spoke gravely "changes will happen in the wizarding world and the powerful Albus Dumbledore is about to learn of the extent of his magic and mortality. Harry Potter will indeed shake the foundations of Hogwarts but the aftershocks will spread through the wizarding world."
Fawkes merely trilled, a light chuckling sound. The Hat was always so grave and pessimistic after a Sorting. Fawkes had seen as many ages as the Hat, both had once belonged to Godric Gryffindor after all. Yet while the Hat had to think ahead and delve through the minds of each new batch of students Fawkes himself lived for the present and couldn't wait to see what havoc Harry Potter and his friend wrought. They might even prove to be more entertaining than the red-haired twins.
~~ ~~ ~*~
Instinct woke Harry not long before sun up even though he hadn't gotten to bed all that long ago. It was disorienting to wake up in a room listening to the sounds of other males sleeping, at least two were snoring loudly, and the only light was coming from a crackling fire instead of seeping through curtained windows. It was a wonder he had been able to relax enough to sleep at all. For a moment Harry just lay there soaking in the magic. Stretching languidly Harry slipped out of bed his feet moving silently across the thick, dark green carpet covering the stone floor to help ward off the chill of the dungeons. Using the faint light from the fire Harry was able to make his way across the unfamiliar room to the door without waking his roommates. Moments later he was cautiously entering the Slytherin common room causing the torches to flare to life as Blaise stepped into the room from the opposite doorway. They smiled at each other and joined together in the center of the room.
"It's almost time, where at?"
Harry looked pensive for a moment. Even if they could find their way to the outside he didn't know if they were allowed out onto the grounds and he wanted to get a feel of the castle and the rules before going against them. The better you knew the rules the easier it was to break them without getting into trouble.
Making his decision Harry turned east to face the grand fireplace and fell into position.
"No matter where we are at the sun rises from the east."
Beside him Blaise fell into position as well and they began to walk The Path as Sensei taught them. First position, second...Harry felt his eyes flutter closed and he imagined he was in the yard of the Darkov mansion with his father, Sensei, and Trevor as the sun rose to play warmly across his body along with a gentle breeze...last position. Harry's eyes opened and he was once again fully in the Slytherin common room. Harry didn't have to look at Blaise or even ask to know that the girl had not experienced the same gift, the same vision that the magic of the castle had just given him.
"Good morning" Harry greeted Blaise and received the usual echoed greeting in return.
Neither noticed as the shadow of a black robe whipped around the corner and out of the common room as they headed back to their dorms to get ready for the day.
Harry made a bit more noise as he made his way back to his dorm, he didn't want it to seem as if he was sneaking around and give people a reason to try and spy on his and Blaise's morning ritual. Harry ducked in the door to his room, just in time too, as soft footsteps came down the hall signaling that some of the older years were already up. Peering through the crack he had left between the door and frame Harry saw one of the male prefects from last night stumbling past, everything else was silent. Fetching his Hogwarts uniform Harry ducked into the bathroom and eagerly ducked under the hot spray of the shower, the hot water running refreshingly over his toned body. Twenty minutes later Harry was dressed and had just pulled his damp hair back into a low ponytail. Satisfied Harry headed once again towards the Slytherin common room knowing that if necessary his currently unassuming appearance could turn dangerous. The gun hidden inside the folds of his school robes and the knife tucked in his boots gave Harry a feeling of secure confidence as he got ready to face new people and the hopes and perceptions they held for him.
Entering the common room Harry found Blaise already waiting for him but the prefect was snoring loudly on the couch, making an occasional odd grunting noise as he did.
"I think this lazy lump was supposed to show us the way back to the Great Hall for breakfast" Blaise rolled her eyes "but I don't think he is going to be much help."
As if on cue Harry's stomach growled and after a few minutes of futilely trying to wake the slumbering prefect he and Blaise gave up and left through sliding wall to find their own way to breakfast, only admitting that they were lost after having passed the same portrait for the third time though the frame looked suspiciously different and Blaise finally remembered her father saying something about the pictures being able to move between frames to visit other portraits.
"We are so lost" Blaise groaned as they rounded yet another corner "we'll never..."
Blaise suddenly stopped talking and froze alongside Harry as they came face to face with the Headmaster. Neither had heard the old man coming.
"Good morning Mr. Potter, Ms. Zabini" Dumbledore greeted the new first years jovially "you're up early for first years and heading in the wrong direction if you wish for breakfast. Follow me. Lemon drop?"
Declining the lemon drops Harry and Blaise fell in step with the Headmaster as he rattled on about seeming nonsense before cunningly turning the conversation to the real point he wished to make.
"And that reminds me Mr. Potter that I am afraid we had a bit of trouble with the owl we sent to you. We of course received your acceptance letter but there was no address, something that is needed for the school records."
For a moment Harry opened his mouth to answer before closing it quickly and twisting his tongue around a new reply to give to Dumbledore before he walked through the doors to the Great Hall.
"I received the owl perfectly fine and the address was correct on the envelope. I don't see how there could be a problem with you not knowing the address if the owl was able to find me. And if I read Hogwarts, A History right the letters are only addressed with a name and the address is spelled to appear as the owl approaches the recipient of the letter since an owl can deliver its burden at any time, not just to the home. Thank you for leading us to the Great Hall, I doubt we would have found it anytime soon on our own and I really am hungry."
With a nod Harry and Blaise parted ways from Dumbledore and headed towards the Slytherin house table as the Headmaster made his way to the head table.
Sitting down at the nearly empty Slytherin table Harry and Blaise idly noted that not many other students were present at this early hour and only a few teachers were at the head table, their own head of house included. Satisfied that no one was near enough to overhear their conversation the two friends piled food on their plates from the dishes that had magically appeared and bent their dark heads together as they talked.
"What was that all about Harry" Blaise was referring to the conversation with the Headmaster "he seemed like a batty old man at first rambling like he did, but he skillfully turned the conversation and almost caught you up. If you and Manuel didn't play word games like that so often he would have had you, for a second I think he did."
Harry nodded; he had barely caught his slip in time and had just managed to salvage the situation. He didn't know why the headmaster was suddenly interested in learning his address from him.
"I don't know what he was digging for but I'm sure he would have kept trying had we not walked away then. We'll have to watch ourselves around him until we figure out possible ulterior motives."
Turning their conversation to more innocent matters, such as what their classes would be and what homework they would get, Harry and Blaise continued to eat as more students sat down to breakfast. Harry found himself glaring at various people as they pointed and whispered loudly about him but his expression turned to one of slight amusement to see the sleepy Slytherin male prefect leading in the first years followed by a worried looking Melantha. She was muttering something about already having lost two first years and Harry couldn't help but grin at the thought that he had already inadvertently began to cause trouble. When Melantha spotted them the two friends could tell they were in for a slight tongue lashing but were saved by their head of house silently passing out their schedules.
"Potions first" a boy to their left commented to them "with our own head of house. Too bad the Gryffindorks are in there too. It might have actually been an interesting lesson. I'm Theodore Nott and you're Harry Potter and Blaise Zabini."
Theodore held out his hand to the two and spent the rest of breakfast talking to the two friends as if he hadn't just met them that morning. As they left the hall to head to potions with the rest of their year, following directions given to them by an older student Blaise flashed some hand signals asking what Harry thought about trusting Theo. For a moment Harry hesitated before flashing back 'caution' and 'go ahead' without missing a beat in the conversation he was having with Theo regarding defense against the dark arts and the trembling looking teacher they had discovered would be teaching it. They only stopped talking when they joined the silently nervous group of first year Gryffindors outside the closed door of the potions classroom.
Then a few minutes before class was to start the door of the classroom slowly swung open on silent hinges that reminded Harry very much of a scene out of a bad horror film. The mood seemed to have affected the other students as well for what little conversation there had been ceased instantaneously as they filed into the classroom and took their seats. Standing just beyond the light cast by the torches their professor waited and once they were all seated the door closed with a soft thud of finality making a few of the more nervous Gryffindors jump. Snape began class by taking roll, his silky voice holding a threat of danger in it as his eyes flicked calculatingly over each student. Harry wasn't sure if it was his imagination or not but he could have sworn a sneer entered the potion masters voice as he called out his name and the calculating eyes seemed to pause especially long on him, studying him.
"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making," professor Snape began.
His voice was low and soft but no one in the room would dare not to listen, even those in the back of the classroom caught every word.
"As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses...I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper on death-if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."
Harry had to smirk at the stress the professor had put on the word dunderheads, he was willing to bet that his head of house had much more powerful words that he would rather substitute for that one but could not do so without stirring up trouble. It had also been noted by many that the last sentence had been directed mainly towards the Gryffindors though a few Slytherins shifted nervously as well. Without warning Snape started rapidly firing questions off at some unsuspecting Gryffindors, sneering at every wrong answer and ignoring the stretching hand of Hermione Granger. Much to the pleasure of many Slytherin's Ron Weasley had just lost Gryffindor twenty points and was being lectured on not thinking to open his book before class when Snape caught sight of Harry's slight smirk.
"Mr. Potter" the dark eyes were now trained on him "perhaps you could tell us what would happen if you add the stinging nettles to a burn salve before taking the cauldron off the fire."
It wasn't a statement but a challenge and Harry suddenly found himself glad that he had made such a mistake that summer, however painful the resulting explosion had been; he had started taking Trevor's potion lessons more seriously after that, not keen on repeating the mistake.
"The potion would be ruined, sir" Harry began, lifting his eyes from the notes he had been dutifully taking "and except in a rare case the potion would also explode as the extreme heat required for the potion's successful brewing reacted with the volatile nature of the stinging nettles. Any skin contact with the potion would cause sever burns and itching."
Snape's nodded almost reluctantly and sneered "correct" before turning to the board.
With a wave of his wand instructions were thrown onto the board on how to make a simple potion to cure boils.
"Begin" it was an order that every student followed.
Quickly setting their cauldrons to boil Harry and Blaise ran through the recipe for the potion and began preparing the ingredient they would need first. Carefully they shredded, cut, and powdered according to the directions knowing that the better prepared the ingredients were the better the potion would turn out. As they were brewing Professor Snape stalked around the room and leered over student's shoulders trying to unnerve them into making mistakes. It was best to be calm when brewing potions and outside distractions often needed to be ignored at crucial moments. Harry and Blaise understood why their professor was acting the way he was, wanting to teach them control while they were still working with relatively harmless potions and under a trained eye, but they disagreed with this happening on the first lesson when he wasn't even explaining the potion or any brewing techniques that should be used. Many students in the class hadn't even seen a potion before and were now being expected to work in such a tense environment. It took a firm discipline for both Harry and Blaise to ignore their professor and keep blank faces when he loomed over them, both felt uncomfortable allowing an unknown entity so close against their defenses.
By the end of class Harry was glad that at least a few of the Slytherins seemed to know how to make potions. He and Blaise had just finished bottling their salves and Snape was currently sneering at their finished product.
"I expect better of my Slytherins" he had said the words softly so that only Harry and Blaise could hear before turning to yell at some other hapless first year.
Blaise and Harry could only stare at each other in disbelief; the salve had only been a slight shade darker than it should have been and was better brewed than most of the salves that had already been handed in by other Slytherins. And Harry knew that the other Slytherins hadn't earned such remarks as he and Blaise had. The Gryffindors on the other hand were having an even worse time of it. A few had already melted cauldrons, not that the Slytherin's hadn't, and Neville's cauldron was beginning to spark wildly. Even after having discussed the effects of adding the nettles to the cauldron before removing it from the fire before they began brewing the clumsy boy had committed the fatal error. The overheated cauldron exploded in a shower of sickly green liquid just as Snape finished lecturing Weasley on how abysmal his potion was. Without thinking Harry threw up a wandless barrier with his mind only to drop it just as quickly when he realized what he had done, but the shield had done its job and no one seemed injured.
But Snape was already looking around suspiciously. Exploding potions just didn't stop suddenly in the air as if hitting something before falling harmlessly to the classroom floor. Someone in his class had thrown up a shield of some sort but it hadn't been him and no first year was supposed to know such advanced magics as that much less have the ability to cast them. His gaze swept through the nervous group of Gryffindors, it didn't seem to be one of them and Gryffindors couldn't hide their emotions to save their lives. It was the complete opposite with his Slytherins. Except for a few here or there that needed a bit more practice the Slytherins all hid the emotions behind carefully cultivated masks. Yet they shouldn't have the magical reserves to cast such a spell yet and no wands were in sight anywhere in the classroom. Another pass with his eyes and Snape felt frustration build inside him.
"Get out" he demanded with a fierce growl as they scurried to comply "class dismissed."
Damn incompetent first years, they had managed to get out of the essay he had ready to assign them and left him in an even fouler mood than he had started the day with. Snape smirked, the next class would not get off so light.
At the top of the stairs leading from the dungeons the Slytherin and Gryffindor first years separated and went their separate ways to their next class. The Gryffindors were talking loudly and trying to figure out what had just happened in the dungeons. The only one that seemed to have any idea was Hermione who was going on about shields but no one was really listening to her except Neville who was still trembling like a leaf. The Slytherins though were talking quietly and analyzing everything they had seen. In the end only one thing could be concluded and that was that Snape hadn't cast the shield, he hadn't even had a chance to go for his wand since he hadn't realized what was happening while he had been berating Weasley. Throughout all this Harry and Blaise listened in but did not contribute to the conversation, why should they when they already knew what had happened when the cauldron exploded. Breaking up into smaller groups the Slytherins made their way towards the charms class room, Theo tagging along with Harry and Blaise who were quite content to let the boy do all the talking.
By the end of the week Harry and Blaise were fed up with classes and ready for a break. Charms hadn't been all that bad and both friends found Professor Flitwick likeable enough but Trevor had already made them study the theory lessons and they soon grew bored with the practical. It was true what the professors said, if you understood the theory behind the spell the spell was easier to cast. The same proved to be true of their Transfiguration class except Harry wasn't too sure about McGonagall. Every time the strict woman looked at him there seemed to be disappointment in her eyes and it unnerved him slightly for some reason.
Then there was Herbology with the motherly Professor Sprout where all the work was hands on though sometimes tedious as they planted and replanted the same type of plants for the whole lesson, they weren't working with anything overly dangerous yet. Defense Against the Dark Arts with Professor Quirrell turned out to be a joke as the timid man stuttered through his lectures and Harry constantly found himself with a headache during the class that hampered his concentration, not that Quirrell ever noticed if the class was paying attention or not. In fact Professor Quirrell seemed so incompetent at times that Manuel wouldn't have even hired the man as a janitor at the amusement park.
History of Magic was equally the worst and the best. It was the worst because the ghostly Professor Binns easily put the most attentive students to sleep, and the best because they could sleep without being caught or work on other things they had to do. Once just to see what would happen Harry and Blaise ducked out of the class part way through and when Binns just kept droning on with his lessons they used the time to work on some Charms work they had been assigned for homework.
It was much more productive than falling asleep but they did almost get caught by Filch who was stalking the halls with his cat, Mrs. Norris, looking for "nosy, troublesome students doing what they aren't supposed to be doing."
Also during all this Harry and Blaise were cautiously trying to integrate themselves in with their Slytherin housemates as well as a few other students in the school from different houses. It didn't help that Harry and Blaise's cautious nature clashed with the wary feeling most of the students had for them and Harry had taken to sending mafia-style death glares at anyone who stared at him or his scar. A few times he had been tempted to punch some idiot classmates for talking openly about him right in front of his face but with Blaise there to remind him not to act out he had to be content with some mild and discreet hexes.
It was no secret that everyone had thought Harry would be in Gryffindor so the Slytherins were suspicious on the how's and why's that had Harry placed in with the Slytherin's and the rest of the school seemed afraid that the-boy-who-lived was going dark. Naturally the Gryffindors felt betrayed but that never stopped Fred and George from talking with Harry and Blaise and soon even Lee Jordan was relaxing around them enough to be friendly. So besides the Gryffindor trouble trio Harry and Blaise didn't show any overt friendship or trust to anyone, yet despite this they weren't treated as outcasts in their own house, their preference for holding themselves aloof were merely thought of as a part of their Slytherin nature.
Of course everything was made easier by Manuel and Trevor's acceptance of their Sorting. Both had agreed that Slytherin suited Harry and Blaise and they didn't hold with the notion that all Slytherins were evil, it would be rather hypocritical for Trevor to think of Slytherin's as evil after all. In Harry and Blaise's minds as long as their fathers accepted things then everyone else could go to hell, the opinions of the masses hadn't mattered to them in the muggle world and they weren't about to start letting such a thing affect them in the magical world. Besides they were too busy thinking of the pranks they could play that weekend now that they had a better idea of the way this new world they had entered worked.