Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Harry Potter and the Tower of Pime


by Quillian 5 reviews


Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Fantasy - Characters: Harry - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2007-07-28 - Updated: 2007-07-28 - 13440 words


SPECIAL DISCLAIMER: Some dialogue is taken verbatim from the book, ranging from the encounter with the Weasleys at King's Cross and the Welcome Feast.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Well, Harry finally gets Sorted in this chapter, but I just know that not everyone's going to be happy with the result. Oh well, you can't please everyone. My reasoning will be explained later on. I only ask for one thing: PLEASE don't lash out at me over it just because you aren't happy with it.


Harry woke up on the first morning of September, feeling excited and nervous at the same time.

After getting out of bed, he made sure one last time that he had everything and was forgetting nothing. After shutting his trunk, he looked around for Hedwig, and as if on cue, she came soaring in.

"Good morning, girl," he greeted her, stroking her feathers. "Are you ready to go?"

Hedwig hooted affirmatively, nipped his fingers affectionately and settled into her cage, ready for a long journey.

Just as Harry was finished with making sure he had everything, Pim's avatar appeared.

"Well, Harry, it is nice to see that you are so eager to go to this school, but you are forgetting something," he coyly reminded his ward.

Harry instinctively looked around for whatever it was which he might have been forgetting, but after being unable to think of anything else, he turned back to Pim and asked, "What is it?"


Harry could have smacked himself on the forehead at that moment. "Heh, right, thanks."

So, after having a small yet filling breakfast (an omelet with fried tomatoes and toast, plus a glass of milk), as well as putting his lunch away in his trunk for the ride on the train, Harry bade farewell to Pim, Galatea, and all the owls. Harry took his trunk, as well as Hedwig in her cage, and prepared to go.

"One last thing before I send you off to catch your train, Harry," Pim said. "Don't worry about me. It's not like I'm dying or anything like that. At the moment, I just need to try and figure out how to conserve my magic. I promise you, Harry, that I will be fine. I have done a good job protecting you far... and I am not about to give up now."

Just hearing those words made Harry feel Pim's resolve and determination. "I believe you, Pim. And good luck with it."

"Why, thank you, Harry. And good luck with your own quest."

"Thanks, Pim. Good-bye!"

And with help from a Luclar, Harry was gone from the Tower of Pime, in the first step of his journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

So, after being transported by one of the Luclars from the Tower of Pime to a deserted alley in London, Harry went a few blocks to King's Cross Station with his trunk and pet owl in tow. He garnered a few odd looks because of Hedwig (who just serenely gazed back at whoever looked at her), but otherwise, he just shrugged it off.

Finally, he got up to where Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters should logically have been, somewhere between platforms nine and ten.

Why make it Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters? Harry idly wondered to himself. Why not Platform Nine-and-a-Half or something? Because it's closer to Platform Ten than to Platform Nine?

It was already several minutes before eleven o'clock, Harry was starting to get a little worried, and even a little desperate. I'm starting to think I really should have asked Hagrid about that...

He just kept looking around for even the barest hint of anyone who looked even the slightest bit odd, unusual or out-of-place. After a minute, he was getting rather frustrated, so he just stood back and let his gaze wander to a group of redheads with an owl -

Wait a minute/. He did a double take. /They have an owl too? Well, this looks like a good sign...

Deciding to take his chances, Harry made his way over to them, while the plump woman talked to what he supposed were her children. Harry also noticed

After waiting a moment for her to stop talking so he wouldn't interrupt, Harry carefully said, "Uh, excuse me..."

The woman turned around and looked at Harry with a pleasant smile on her face. "Yes, dear?"

"Well, I noticed you have an owl too, so, I..."

"You're going to Hogwarts too?" she asked, dropping her voice a few notches so no one else could hear them.


"Well, it's actually quite simple, my dear. Behind that wall which divides platforms nine and ten, there is a barrier. As long as it's open, you can run through it."

Another illusion, Harry thought. Figures.

"Well, then, why don't I show you how to go through it? Percy, would you like to demonstrate?"

What appeared to be her oldest son, who wore horn-rimmed glasses and had neatly-combed hair, walked forward. He waited for a break in the crowd, and then ran forward with his trunk in tow. For a moment, Harry was nervous that he would crash into the barrier... but to his great surprise he just vanished. Harry looked around to see if anyone had noticed that this older boy and his trunk had just vanished through a wall, but to his surprise, no one did.

"Ah, I think I get it now," Harry said. "May I try?" He figured that the sooner he was on the train and ready to go, the better.

"Of course, dear," the woman said.

"Thank you," Harry said. Lining himself up, he readied himself, waited for a break in the crowd... and he ran forward. Halfway from his starting point to the barrier, he thought he heard the woman say, "What a nice boy... so polite, too..."

Harry instinctively closed his eyes as he ran towards the barrier, just in case he really did crash into it... but when he felt no collision, he stopped running and finally opened his eyes.

He was now standing on a platform next to a scarlet train with the words HOGWARTS EXPRESS emblazoned on the side. Students were standing around with their families and relatives, their voices mixing in with the sounds of owls, cats and the occasional toad.

With nothing to hold him up now, Harry made his way towards the train and used the trunk's own subtle magic to lift it up onto the train, also holding Hedwig in her cage under his arm. From there, he easily guided it down the hall and into the nearest empty compartment.

With nothing else to do and no one else to talk to, Harry just made himself comfortable. After a moment, he opened up his trunk to get an Owl Treat for Hedwig.

As she enjoyed her meal, Harry heard the banter of the redhead family outside, who must have now all gotten onto the platform. Apparently, a pair of twin sons were making fun of their older brother (who had become a prefect), and there was also her youngest son who looked nervous and defensive about going, and an even younger girl who was asking why she couldn't go to Hogwarts (who was too young). Harry tried not to be an eavesdropper as their mother warned the twins that she didn't want to hear about them blowing up a toilet or something...

Soon enough, the train whistled, signaling that it was time to go. All four boys got on board, and their mother and sister waved them good-bye as the train picked up speed and disappeared around the corner behind the red and white painted gas holders (but not before the twins promised to send their younger sister a Hogwarts toilet seat) and into a tunnel. As he watched everything outside fly by, Harry settled himself in for a long ride.

Dumbledore was in the staff conference room, waiting for his three guests to come. They needed to discuss the safety of the second object which Hogwarts would now guard.

He had to admit, he was a little nervous; he could already feel his quick lunch unsettling in his stomach as he waited for them to arrive.

Soon enough, the married couple who had found the object came in through the fireplace via the Floo Network (although the wife had to help up her Muggle husband, who landed not-so-gracefully beyond the grate).

"Ah, Claire, it is so nice to see you again," Dumbledore said happily, his eyes twinkling. "And this must be your husband, Melbourne... I don't believe we've met."

"Headmaster Dumbledore," Melbourne said, shaking the old man's hand.

"Now, all we have to do is wait for the other guest to arrive," Dumbledore began to say.

"He is here," a heavily-accented voice said.

All three of them turned to see the Fish-Man standing there.

"I took it upon myself to learn your language," he said as he walked into the room.

"And you speak it very well," Dumbledore said, as a compliment.

The Fish-Man nodded.

Dumbledore seated himself at his usual seat at the head of the table. Taking the hint, the others seated themselves as well, with Melbourne and Claire on one side, facing the Fish-Man on the other side.

"Sir," Dumbledore addressed the Fish-Man, not knowing what else to address him by, "these are the Woolleys, who found your object after it crashed near their home. His name is Melbourne, and her name is Claire."

The Fish-Man bowed his head as greeting, but then looked intently at Melbourne. After a moment, he asked, "You are not magical?"

Melbourne shook his head. "No, my wife is a witch, but I'm not a wizard."

The Fish-Man accepted his explanation, and once that was settled, Dumbledore said, "Yes, well, I believe we should get down to business, then..."

Almost immediately, the Fish-Man asked the Woolleys why they had relinquished the object to Dumbledore. Together, they calmly answered that they felt it would be in better hands if it was left in Dumbledore's possession. The Fish-Man explained that the purpose of the last spell was to make sure that it found its way into the hands of the nearest people who understood just how important it was, and that they would be the ones to protect and guard it until he could retrieve it.

Husband and wife looked at each other before Claire spoke for the both of them. "We apologize, but we did not know that you wanted us to keep it strictly to ourselves until you could come back to retrieve it."

The Fish-Man merely nodded. "I understand," he said calmly. "I would also bring it back with me to my abode as soon as possible, but I am afraid that it would not be the wisest move at the moment."

"I take it this has to do with why you sent it away in the first place?" Dumbledore asked.

"Yes," the Fish-Man answered. "A dark being came to my abode, trying to attack me and take it from me."

Although he didn't show it, Dumbledore instantly became a little more suspicious at the mention of "a dark being." He then asked, "Could you please describe this 'dark being' for us?"

"It was like a small, dark cloud," the Fish-Man told them. "It had a definite pattern, as though it had a mind of its own - and it most likely did have a mind of its own. I even passed through it in a desperate gamble to escape, and it felt painful in many different ways as I did that."

Now Dumbledore was definitely feeling a little nervous and worried. Could it possibly be Voldemort? he thought to himself.

"Well, at least now we know about this 'dark being' so we can be prepared for it," Dumbledore announced. "But now the question remains as to what should be done with this object, especially given its nature and how powerful it is."

"I have an idea," the Fish-Man declared. Turning to Dumbledore, he said, "You said that you could be trusted? Then I would like to trust you with the safety of the object."

Dumbledore was about to respond when the Fish-Man suddenly added, "Tell me, has this castle ever been used in the past to guard very powerful and potentially dangerous items."

The Philosopher's Stone immediately came to mind. "Yes, it has," Dumbledore answered, "and I have used it to successfully guard many such items during my tenure as the Headmaster of this school. In fact, I would be happy to provide you with examples."

The Fish-Man seemed to accept this answer. "Very well," he said at last. "I would like to design a method to guard my own special item. Something efficient enough to ensure that no one who does not deserve what they seek can acquire it."

After a little bit more of discussion, it was made apparent that Melbourne and Claire Woolley were practically relieved of their duty with guarding the Fish-Man's special object. Furthermore, the Fish-Man would be guarding his possession as he stayed with the merfolk as their guest, until the trap set for the item could be completed.

Once the discussion was over, the Fish-Man bade the other three farewell and walked to the door. He was at the threshold when Melbourne asked, "Wait... what is your name?"

The Fish-Man stopped, and then turned to look back at them. "For now, it may be best if my name is not known."

"Then what should we call you?" Melbourne asked.

The Fish-Man paused for a moment, considering whether to use his real name or maybe a "code name," before uttering a single word:


The door to Harry's compartment slid open to reveal all four boys. "Well, I have to go to the prefect's meeting," the oldest brother - Percy, if Harry recalled correctly - said a little pompously.

"Have fun," the twins said together, smiling brightly.

Like some authoritative adult, Percy folded his arms and said, "Fred, George... I am a prefect this year, so do not make me have to put you in detention."

"Detention?" one twin (George) gasped in mock horror. "Oh no, not that!"

"Wow, you're wasting no time in exerting your authority, are you, Perce?" the other twin (Fred) asked.

Not quite sure how to respond, Percy grumbled something, turned around and left for the prefect's meeting.

Left alone, the twins decided to peruse their own agenda. "Well, we heard that Lee Jordan has a tarantula," Fred said, "so we'll see you later."

"Have fun with your new friend, Ron," George added to their youngest brother.

And with identical winks, they both left. Harry and this other boy - Ron - just looked at each other for a moment before either of them spoke.

"Hey, wait a minute," Ron said. "Aren't you that boy from the stationery store in Diagon Alley?"

Harry recognized him instantly. "Yeah, I am. Good to see you again."

Another moment before either of them spoke again, during which Ron sat down across from Harry.

"So... how did it go with the books or the old notes?" Harry asked.

Ron smiled a little. "Interesting tip... thanks, by the way. I guess having a bookworm like Percy as an older brother has its advantages. I never thought he'd be the kind to scribble in his books, but at least they're helpful scribbles.

"So," Ron said, changing the topic, "you play Quidditch at all?"

Harry shook his head. "No, but I've read about it."

Even though now Ron didn't feel the need to explain the rules to him, he still rambled on a bit about how great a sport it was. "Do you fly at all?" Ron then asked. "You know, on a broomstick?"

"Yeah, I've been flying for a little while now. Got my own broomstick for my birthday."

"Wicked! Which one?"

"A Nimbus Two Thousand," Harry told him.

If Harry had known how Ron would have reacted, he might have answered differently, lied, or not have answered at all, because Ron gave him a shocked and slightly jealous look. A moment after that, as Ron realized what he was doing, he quickly looked out the window.

Thinking back to their initial encounter in the stationary store, Harry remembered deducing how Ron's family might not have had all that much money, and then realized how Ron must have been defensive about it.

As was the case back then, Harry decided to share some similar experiences from his own life to try and make Ron feel better. In order to gain some trust, he had to give a little first.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I wasn't trying to make you feel bad."

"I know, I know," Ron sighed. "It's really not your fault. I realize that it's how things are with my family, and I appreciate everything they do for me, but that doesn't mean I can't wish for it to be better, right?"

"Right," Harry agreed. "Remember what I told you back in Diagon Alley? About my own relatives? I wasn't lying about that."

"You said that they were Muggles?"

"Yes, why?"

"Were they all like that?"

"What do you mean?" Harry asked uneasily.

"Are all Muggles that... well... mean?" Ron asked, searching for the right word.

"No, most of them are just fine," Harry explained. "However, you get a few bad people wherever you go... I'm sure the wizarding world has its own share of bad apples, right?"

Ron thought about it, and then nodded. "If you mean like You-Know-Who and his followers, or any other Dark wizards, then yeah, we have people like them."

"Yeah, Voldemort came to mind," Harry admitted.

Ron gasped.

"What is it?"

"You said his name!" Ron whispered, looking around as though someone might have been watching them.

At this point, Harry was beginning to feel like he had just committed a serious faux pas. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize it would bother you."

"Not just me, but everyone else in our world," Ron said seriously.

"Sorry," Harry reiterated. "It's just another thing I wouldn't know, since I was brought up by Muggles."

They both sat in silence for a little while. Soon enough, the lunch trolley came, maneuvered by a smiling, dimpled woman who asked them, "Anything off the cart, dears?"

Even though Harry had already brought lunch with him, he figured it wouldn't hurt just to see what he had. Even though he had never had candy often enough to feel a kind of addiction to it (like Dudley did), he did enjoy the occasional Mars Bar. However, this woman wasn't selling Mars Bars, or any other kind of Muggle candy, for that matter. She had all kinds of things which Harry had never seen before in his life, ranging from Chocolate Frogs to Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans.

"Is everything fine, dear?" the woman asked him.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I've never seen this stuff before in my life."

Not wanting to miss anything, he took a little of everything. After handing over the total of eleven sickles and seven Knuts, Harry brought it back with him to his seat.

Ron could only stare at the amount of candy which Harry brought back with him. "Hungry, are you?"


"Didn't bring lunch?"

"Oh, I brought lunch," Harry said as he opened his trunk and took it out. "I just figured it couldn't hurt to try something new."

Ron took out his own lunch, and looked a little disappointed with it. "Corned beef," he said by way of explanation, indicating the couple of wrapped sandwiches. "I guess she forgot I don't like it."

Harry looked at his own package, which had a couple of egg salad sandwiches. "I've got egg salad sandwiches," he said, holding up one of them for Ron to see. "Here, I'll swap you one."

"You sure you want this?" Ron said. "It's kind of dry..."

"I'll be the judge of that," Harry said.

Ron only needed a second to think about it. "Deal," he declared, and with that, the two of them threw their respective sandwiches at each other.

Ron was right about the sandwich being kind of dry, but Harry didn't mind. "It's not bad," he said.

"This is great," Ron said, taking a huge bite out of his egg salad sandwich. "I have to give Mum some credit, doing what she can when she can, but you can imagine how busy it is, trying to make lunches for five of us."

"I understand," Harry said. "Still, your brothers don't seem so bad..."

Ron snorted. "You obviously haven't been around them long enough, then."

"They don't bully you or anything, do they?"

Ron thought about that. "Hm, I dunno... Fred and George might tease me from time to time, and Percy acts all strict... but no, I don't think they bully me."

"They already sound a lot better than my cousin," Harry said. "I probably wouldn't mind having three older brothers."

"Five, actually," Ron said. "Bill and Charlie already graduated. Bill was Head Boy, Charlie was the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, now Percy's a prefect, and Fred and George mess around a lot but are still Beaters for the Quidditch team. I guess you could say I have a lot to live up to... but no matter where I turn, one of my older brothers has done it first. I guess you could say I want to leave a mark of my own, and do my own things."

Harry nodded at Ron's monologue. In some small way, Harry could sympathize; he had also wanted to get out from under Dudley's shadow, but that was more because Dudley was a bully, and definitely not a model child.

However, at the same time, both boys noticed that each other were being very secretive and very careful about what they said, not wanting to reveal anything which they would feel embarrassed by. Harry was concerned about the truth of his horrible treatment by the Dursleys, and Ron was concerned about how his family was poor.

"Also, your younger sister... what's she like?" Harry asked.

"Ginny is... well... Ginny," Ron said with a shrug. "Stay away from her," he then warned as an afterthought.

As Harry finished the swapped corned beef sandwich, he decided to change the subject. Looking at the candy which he'd just purchased, he decided to try some of it.

Holding up the Chocolate Frog, Harry asked Ron, "This isn't a real frog, is it?"

Ron laughed. "No, of course not."

"Thanks, just checking," Harry said. He opened it up to find a chocolate frog... and a card?

"Oh, about those," Ron said, noticing the look of confusion on Harry's face. "Chocolate Frogs come with collectable cards. Each one is some famous witch or wizard. I've got about five hundred of those things, but I still haven't got Agrippa or Ptolemy."

"Here, maybe you'll find one," Harry said, tossing another Chocolate Frog at Ron. Ron, surprised at this gesture, just barely caught it.

"No, you really don't have to," Ron began to say, but Harry insisted, "Please, don't worry about it... I think I'm going to need help consuming all this candy, anyway."

Ron looked rather humbled by this generosity, but he didn't complain. As Ron eagerly opened his own Chocolate Frog, Harry looked at his own: It was Albus Dumbledore, with a moving picture of him on the front of the card and a short description about him on the back, which mentioned things like vanquishing a dark wizard called Grindelwald, the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon's blood, and his work on alchemy with someone named Nicolas Flamel.

"Isn't this our Headmaster?" Harry asked Ron, showing him the card.

"Yeah, that's him," Ron said. "What do you say we go through the rest of the Frogs? See who else we can find. Maybe you can start collecting them." Looking at his own card, Ron said, "Aw, I got Morgana again, and I've already got six of her."

Harry thought about it, but only for a moment. Collecting something sounded like fun. "Sure, why not?" And with that, they got to work, eating the frogs and getting the cards.

After filling up on the Chocolate Frogs, they decided to put the rest of them away for now, but not before Harry had added to his collection Morgana, Hengist of Woodcroft, Alberic Grunnion, Circe, Paracelsus, Merlin, and the Druidess Cliodna

Harry then made to open a bag of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. "Uh, you might want to be careful with those," Ron warned him. "When they say every flavor, they mean every flavor, including some things you definitely wouldn't eat."

Harry raised an eyebrow. "Like what?"

Ron listed off a few more outrageous and undesirable flavors, and Harry looked surprised. So, together, they carefully nibbled on the beans to see whether their flavors were okay or not. The strange ones which they wouldn't touch, Harry just put back in the bag. Ron looked at him curiously, but Harry just said, "Hey, you never know when these things might come in handy. It seems like a bit of a waste to buy them and then not eat them."

Feeling that he had sat in one place for long enough, Harry decided to maybe go for a short walk throughout the train. After putting all the leftover candy back in the trunk and securing it, he told Ron he would be right back, and left.

On the way, he passed a brown-haired girl and a nervous-looking round-faced boy.

"Excuse me," the girl said, "but have you seen a toad? Neville can't find him."

"I can't believe I lost him!" the boy - Neville - said in despair.

"No, sorry, but if I do find him, I'll let you know," Harry promised them.

The girl cocked her head. "Have we met?" she asked Harry. "You look familiar."

Now Harry recognized her; she was that girl in Flourish and Blotts with all the books. "Yeah, back in Flourish and Blotts," he said.

Her face brightened up. "Oh, so good to see you again! My name is Hermione, by the way."

"Nice to see you again too," Harry said politely, yet feeling a little disturbed by her enthusiasm. "I'll just continue on my way, but I'll also keep my eyes open for the toad." With that, he continued before they could ask him anything else.

The next car over, he was nearly run down by a stampede of older students fleeing in terror (most of them girls), but he managed to survive by flattening himself against the wall as they passed by. After they were gone, Harry heard some voices laughing. Curious, he went into the compartment where the laughter was coming from, and saw Ron's twin brothers laughing with a darker-skinned boy with dreadlocks.

"Oh, hey there!" one of the twins asked. "How's everything with our little brother?"

"He's fine, thanks. What just happened?"

"Oh, Lee here was just showing off his new pet," the other twin said. "Go on, Lee, show him."

Lee was slowly taking the lid off the box, just for effect, but then Harry just rolled his eyes and said, "Oh, enough with the suspense, just show me already!"

"Very well," Lee grinned, "if you say so." With that, he whipped off the top of the box. Inside, Harry saw a big tarantula which was easily the size of his own hand.

However, instead of being frightened, Harry found himself almost intrigued. "Aw, cute little guy," Harry said.

"You like him?" one twin asked.

"Well, I'm not frightened by him, if that's what you mean," Harry responded.

"I don't know about the rest of you, but I think I like this lad!" the other twin said, clapping his hand on Harry's shoulder.

"Heh, thanks." Harry was about to say something else when he suddenly felt something. Suddenly, in his mind's eye, he saw an image of someone trying to break into his trunk. He remembered how Pim told him how he would know if anyone tried that.

"Nice to see you again, and nice tarantula, but I think I just remembered something," Harry said. "See you later." He then calmly walked out of the compartment, but after that, he quickly ran back to his own compartment.

Inside, he saw a pale boy with blond hair harassing Ron, as well as the Hermione and Neville. But he wasn't alone; he was accompanied by two big, hulking boys whom Harry thought would have felt right at home in Dudley's old gang. Currently, as the blond boy was harassing Ron, one of the two bigger boys was cornering Hermione and Neville while the other one was trying to break into Harry's trunk, which refused to open even a millimeter. Hedwig was still in her cage, but it was lying on its side on the floor, and so she was frantically flapping her wings and screeching as loudly as he could.

"Will someone just shut that ruddy bird up?" the blond drawled. "Well, what have we here, friends? A Weasley, a Longbottom and some Muggle-born from a family which no one's ever heard of before. A pathetic bunch if I ever saw one. Now, I don't know whose trunk this is, but I'm sure it has something nice inside. Maybe some leftover sweets from earlier?"

"I wouldn't do that if I were you, Malfoy," Ron sneered.

"That's Draco Malfoy to you, you sorry excuse for a wizard," the other boy - Draco Malfoy - sneered right back at him.

Now Harry recognized him: He was from Madam Malkin's shop back in Diagon Alley.

Harry barely had time to muse about how he kept running into all these other students whom he previously encountered a month ago, because now he felt his anger rising. However, he still made sure he kept calm and didn't do anything rash. Making sure he had his wand handy, he came into view of everyone else in the compartment.

"What are you doing?" Harry said, calmly yet clearly. All six of them stopped where they were and turned to see him standing there.

"I don't see how it's any business of yours," Malfoy sneered. He quickly drew his own wand and shot nasty-looking red sparks at Harry.

Harry didn't know what Malfoy would have thrown at him, but either way, he didn't want to get hit by it. He swiftly moved aside, letting the sparks fly past him. But during that moment, the movement from dodging the sparks swept aside a tuft of Harry which was hiding his scar from view.

He saw Malfoy's eyes widen in realization as he saw the scar. Even after the sparks had vanished, Malfoy just stood there for a second or two as he digested this new revelation.

"You... you're Harry Potter," he muttered.

Harry knew he couldn't enjoy this fragile cloak of anonymity any longer, so he just confronted his concerns about how other people might perceive him head-on. "Yes, that would be me," he said in a curt tone, not taking his eyes off Malfoy.

Harry had his eyes locked with Malfoy's so intently that he really didn't see the reactions of the room's other occupants, although he did hear Neville give a gasp of surprise, and maybe Hermione, too.

For a split second, Harry broke contact with Malfoy to see the reaction on Ron's face: His jaw hung from the surprise, but he also looked a little betrayed, as though he had been the butt of some big joke.

Even Hedwig, still lying on her side in her lopsided cage, seemed to be quiet at this moment.

I hope he understands, Harry thought in regards to Ron as he looked back at Malfoy, who now had a calculating look on his face.

"You know," Malfoy said, suddenly changing his tone and wearing a smile which Harry didn't find reassuring at all, "I think we got off on the wrong foot. Sorry about that. My name is Draco Malfoy, and it's a pleasure to meet you, Harry Potter. I hope we can move past this little... misunderstanding. Maybe we could be friends."

Malfoy stuck out his hand in an obvious attempt to shake hands with Harry, but Harry didn't accept it. However, he had to admit, this other boy had some serious guts if he could so calmly lie like that in an attempt to weasel his way out of trouble, as well as propose that they could be friends.

"I don't know," Harry said coolly, purposely keeping a neutral tone and stance. "I don't typically try to make friends with people who try and go through my things and harass other people."

Malfoy's face went an unpleasant pink at the realization that he had been caught going through Harry Potter's trunk by Harry Potter himself. On the side, Ron had a wicked smirk on his face, and was now looking rather amused.

Malfoy happened to catch Ron's reaction out of the corner of his eye and then turned to confront the redhead. "I wouldn't laugh if I were you, Weasley. I don't think a family like yours could afford to take on a family as wealthy as mine."

Ron's face instantly went red, and looked about ready to say something which probably wouldn't have been good. Thinking fast, Harry then innocently and logically asked Malfoy, "If your family is so wealthy, then why would you have to steal sweets from me?"

Especially with how Harry asked it in an innocent tone, it made Malfoy look even stupider and foolish in front of everyone, and Ron actually sniggered for all to hear.

"Crabbe, Goyle," Malfoy snapped, "get him!"

The other two boys disengaged from cornering Ron, Hermione and Neville, and turned their attention to Harry. They immediately flanked Harry, getting ready to punch him; they drew their fists back, let loose...

...Only to end up punching each other square in the face as Harry deftly moved out of the way at the last moment.

As the two of them fell to the floor, groaning, on either side of Harry, he turned back to face Malfoy. However, Harry wasn't really in the mood for taking on Malfoy or getting into any more violence... but then he got an idea.

"Fine," Harry said quietly, as he strode over to his trunk. As he touched it, it popped open, and with one swift movement, Harry snatched the box full of unwanted Every Flavor Beans and threw it at Malfoy. "Take it... since you obviously can't get any on your own."

Malfoy made no comment of any kind, but instead just sneered at Harry and the others before taking the Every Flavor Beans with him, telling Crabbe and Goyle to get up, and stalking out of the compartment with his two goons following behind him.

However, at the door, Malfoy decided to deliver one last parting shot. "I would also be very careful if I were you, Potter. The Dark Lord was very intolerant of your kind."

After they left, Harry turned his attention to the others. "Are all of you alright?" he asked them as he set Hedwig's cage up straight.

"Yeah, we're fine," Ron said, although he was still reeling a little from what had just happened in the past few minutes.

"Wow, you're really Harry Potter?" Hermione asked excitedly. Harry barely nodded once when she introduced herself as Hermione Granger and immediately launched into a long, tedious explanation all the different books which Harry was mentioned in, which then somehow mutated into an explanation about which House she wondered she would be sorted into, which then somehow led to an explanation about she was the first witch in her family who had never even heard of Hogwarts until she got the letter...

It was only after Ron coughed (which sounded suspiciously like an "Ahem" to Harry's ears) that Hermione stopped with her talking.

"Well, I think we had better keep looking for Neville's toad," Hermione announced in an authoritative kind of way, one which annoyed Harry just a little. With that, she led Neville out, both of them looking for the boy's toad.

Harry turned to Ron and asked, "What's with that?"

Ron shrugged. "They were in here, looking for his toad, when Malfoy and his goons came in," he explained. Remembering something else, he asked, "Why didn't you tell me you were Harry Potter?"

Harry felt uncomfortable about it, and unless he was imagining it, he could hear the slightest trace of betrayal in Ron's voice. "I didn't think it was important," he said simply. "Besides... I don't think I like the whole 'Boy-Who-Lived' thing. I'm just famous because I survived an attack on my family which killed my parents. Hardly the kind of thing I'd like to be remembered for."

Ron looked surprised, but deep down, he was resisting the urge to let his mouth hang agape. Whatever he was expecting from Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived... this wasn't it. From the way the great Harry Potter had been described to Ron as he was growing up, he almost expected to see some kind of divine aura of light around the boy now sitting in front of him, who looked just about as ordinary as the next boy - in the wizarding world or the Muggle world.

"By the way," Harry was saying, cutting through Ron's thoughts, "What did he mean with that last line about 'my kind?'"

Ron looked at him for a moment, thinking about how to explain this. "Do you know exactly why You-Know-Who was fighting and trying to take over?"

Harry shook his head. "Not really... I imagine he just wanted to take over and be in charge."

"You-Know-Who believed certain things, and so did his followers," Ron explained. "There's this ideology which has gone back for centuries, that 'pureblood' witches and wizards - that is, those who come from entirely magical families - are superior to other witches and wizards, and are more powerful than them. These bigots even have a special, nasty word for Muggle-born witches and wizards, which you shouldn't say or repeat in front of anyone." At Harry's blank look, Ron looked around before deciding, and then continued, "Okay, I'll say just this once: /Mudblood/. Trust me when I say you shouldn't repeat it."

Harry nodded, and Ron concluded: "Anyway, You-Know-Who wanted to make this new order, where purebloods were superior. For years, Voldemort fought the Ministry of Magic and terrorized the country, killing Muggles, Muggle-borns, some halfbloods, and anyone who defended them or didn't agree with him. Even if you were from a pureblood family and stood against him, you were labeled a 'blood traitor' and were considered to be just as bad as a Muggle-born."

Harry took in this information with shock and some disgust. Finally, he said, "You mean to tell me that this same Vol-, sorry, You-Know-Who who targeted my family was some genocidal madman?" (Here, Harry wanted to use that infamous dictator Adolf Hitler as an example, but he wasn't sure if Ron knew who he was.)

Ron nodded grimly. "Yeah, that's exactly what I'm saying. My family was also targeted; we were one of the few pureblood families which stood up to him."

"Hagrid told me that my mother was a Muggle-born witch. I don't know about my father, though..."

"I'm sure all Potters were on the side of the Light," Ron said, recalling what he could. "But the fact that your dad married your mum and had you as a son would have been enough justification for You-Know-Who to come after you... no offense."

"None taken," Harry said absently. "'Any excuse will serve a tyrant,'" Harry muttered to himself, quoting Pim from one of many philosophical dialogues which the two of them had had.

Ron looked at him for a moment before saying, "I hope I didn't upset you."

Harry shook his head. "No, that's okay, Ron, it's not your fault. Actually, I should be thankful for the information you've just given me." Looking off to one side, he muttered, "I thought something about Malfoy rubbed off on me the wrong way when I first ran into him..."

At the curious look on Ron's face, Harry explained about his encounter with Malfoy a month ago in Diagon Alley. "In fact, I actually saw him first before I ran into you at the stationary store."

"I've heard of his family," Ron said darkly. "After the war was over and You-Know-Who vanished, they came back, saying they'd been put under a spell to follow him... although if you ask me, they didn't need a spell to follow him."

Throughout the entire ride, the train had gone through one environment after another: First, they had gone through the city after leaving the station, then they had gone through suburbs, and then through the countryside, and now they were going through a shaded forest, made even darker by how it was late in the evening.

With minutes to spare before they pulled into the station, Harry and Ron changed into their school uniforms, and quickly put all their things away. During the rush, Harry found a fat gray rat near Ron's stuff, snoozing gently.

"Uh, Ron?" Harry asked, carefully picking up the rat and showing it to him.

"Oh, thanks," Ron said, relieving Harry of the rat. "This is Scabbers, my pet rat. He was originally Percy's, but after he became a prefect, Mum and Dad got him an owl, and so I got Scabbers."

"What should we do about our stuff?" Harry asked.

As if to answer his question, a voice echoed through the train, announcing how they would be reaching Hogwarts within a few minutes, and the luggage would be taken to the school separately.

"Well, I guess that answers your question," Ron chuckled. "However, you might want to let your owl out of her cage, let her fly up to the Owlrey."

"Good idea," Harry said, going over to Hedwig in her cage. After he opened it up, Hedwig got onto his arm and nipped at his ear. "See you later, girl," he said as he opened the window for her. She hooted and flew out.

After the train finally came to a complete stop, Harry moved with the other students off the train and into the station.

However, a familiar voice was calling, "Firs' year students, firs' years, over here!"

"Hagrid?" Harry called to the owner of that voice.

"Harry, you alright?" Hagrid called back.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"Good. Now jus' follow the other firs' years! Firs' years, follow me!"

With that, Hagrid led them away from the rest of the student body, down a steep, narrow path, and down to the water. There were a lot of small boats were floating on its surface, each one capable of holding up to four students. Once they were all ready to go, they took off, silently gliding across the water's surface.

About halfway through the voyage across the lake, Harry thought he heard something. Turning around, he could see Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle on another boat all to themselves; Malfoy was spitting something out and looking like he had just eaten something horrible. Harry looked closer and saw that Malfoy was clutching the box of Every Flavor Beans which he had given him to make him go away. Between themselves, he and Ron shared an amused look.

Soon enough, Hogwarts itself came into view, eliciting excited sounds from everyone else. Not long after that, they were docking at a quay under the passage itself, and everyone was getting out. Even during all the hubbub, Hagrid still managed to find Neville's toad Trevor and return the toad to its master.

Hagrid led them over to a door, which he knocked on, and soon enough, it opened to reveal a strict-looking woman.

"Here are the firs' years, Professor McGonagall," Hagrid announced.

"Thank you, Hagrid," she said, "I will take them from here."

Professor McGonagall led them all inside, as they walked with her in the led, she welcomed them to Hogwarts and explained about such things like Houses and points. She then left them alone for a moment and suggested that some of them might want to "freshen up." However, as she was looking at them one last time before leaving them, Harry could have sworn that she looked at him for a moment as though there was something more to him.

The few minutes that they waited there were relatively uneventful (except for when the ghosts came out of the wall, startling them), and soon enough, Professor McGonagall was back.

She led them into the Great Hall from a side entrance, where the rest of the students were already seated. Harry felt nervous with all the people looking at him, so he instead looked upwards, where he saw the night sky, as though the Great Hall simply opened up to the heavens (Hermione whispered to Harry about how it was enchanted to look like the sky outside, or so she read in /Hogwarts: A History/). In front of the group of first-years was a four-legged stool, upon which sat an old hat.

Harry and the other first-year students stood there while there was a moment of silence (during which time Harry wondered if he had to take a rabbit out of it), and the hat suddenly came to life: Two of its patches became its "eyes," a wide seam along the brim became its "mouth," and then it began to sing a song. It described how Gryffindor was for the "brave at heart," Hufflepuff was for those "unafraid of toil," Ravenclaw was for "those of wit and learning," and Slytherin were for those "cunning folk" who would do anything to achieve their ends. Well, at least this sounded fair and impartial enough for Harry.

After the Sorting Hat finished its song and the rest of the school applauded, Professor McGonagall began calling names. Harry and the others watched as their fellow first-years became the new members for this House or that one, starting with a pink-faced girl with blonde pigtails, named Hannah Abbott, who was Sorted into Hufflepuff.

Hary himself was nervous about it all, being put in the spotlight like this - it brought back not-so-pleasant memories from primary school when being picked for teams - and most of the others were nervous as well, but a few of them seemed excited by it all. Once her name was called, Hermione Granger practically ran to the Hat and eagerly jammed it on. When it announced "GRYFFINDOR!" about a minute later, Harry heard Ron groan loudly enough so that he would have been heard by the entire hall if it wasn't for all the applause from the Gryffindor table.

There were also occasional blunders, such as when Neville Longbottom ran to try on the Hat. After it finally announced "GRYFFINDOR!" a while later, Neville actually tried to run to the Gryffindor table with the Hat still on, eliciting a round of laughter from everyone else.

Harry also noted with cautious interest how Draco Malfoy was instantly Sorted into "SLYTHERIN!" after strutting up to the Hat as if he owned it.

There was also a brief moment of confusion when the name of one "Sally-Anne Perks" was called but no one came forward. After that brief moment of confusion, Headmaster Dumbledore got up and called across the Great Hall to Professor McGonagall, "Professor McGonagall, I believe that Sally-Anne Perks has been removed from the list of first-year students. It seems she has withdrawn from the school. Please continue."

Professor McGonagall continued, but only after people took a moment to whisper and murmur to themselves about how a student eligible for Hogwarts actually withdrew or didn't come. Harry guessed that it must have been unheard of. Exactly how many potential students turned down the opportunity to go to Hogwarts, or signed up to go to Hogwarts, only to withdraw from it later? He made a mental note to ponder about it later.

He wasn't that deep in thought, but he still suddenly jolted when Professor McGonagall announced his name. No sooner than Harry had started walking towards the Hat than the rest of the occupants in the hall began whispering and murmuring to themselves again, but this time, about whether or not this was actually "The Harry Potter."

Harry's sight when dark after the Hat fell over his eyes, and he heard a small voice in his ear: "Ah, young Mister Harry Potter, so nice to meet you at least, yes, such a pleasure. Now, which House to put you in... BY THE FOUNDERS!" (The last part was shouted for the entire Great Hall to hear, and it made just about everyone, even the teachers, jump out of their seats.)

Suddenly, the Hat began to start stuttering and blabbering for the rest of the hall to hear... "GRYFF - no... HUFF - no... RAV - no... SLYTH - no... ergh..."

The rest of the students began to whisper and murmur amongst themselves even more now, curious was to what Harry Potter had somehow done to the Sorting Hat. Deep down, the students in each House were secretly hoping that Harry Potter would be Sorted into their House (maybe except for the Slytherins - they were split on that issue themselves).

I'm sorry! Harry automatically thought, out of reflex. I didn't mean to do anything...

"No, no, not your fault, Mister Potter," the Hat said calmly to Harry in the small voice again. "It's just that I've really never had a young student before who could do just as well in any of the Four Houses."

I don't understand.

"First of all, let me explain. Everyone has all those values cherished by all four Houses, but some of them just have more of these particular virtues than those particular virtues, and so that's where I come in.

"I know what you're thinking, young Potter: It sounds flawed. Well, it is flawed, because the people who made it this way were flawed, because they were just as human as you are. After all, the whole universe certainly isn't divided up into Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws and Slytherins."

I agree there.

"So, now that we have that understood, we need to Sort you. So... let's narrow it down.

"I can see that you are a hard-working individual and wouldn't mind getting along with other people, especially as opposed to fighting with them. However, I sense that you also have something of an independent streak in you, and would sometimes rather be alone or do things alone - not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. And, on top of that, you realize you can't get along with everyone. So, maybe Hufflepuff isn't your fit.

"Then there's your more studious nature. I can see that you have some wisdom beyond your years. You have good study habits, although I wouldn't consider that to automatically be a Ravenclaw trait; if that was the case, most of the students from the other three Houses would be failing or dropping out. You like to read, but outside of class, you often read more for pleasure than to fulfill this infinite desire to absorb as much knowledge and information as you can, because you know that knowledge is infinite and you can't know everything. So, I'm not so sure about Ravenclaw either.

"That leaves us with Gryffindor and Slytherin, two Houses with a mean rivalry going all the way back to the Founders themselves. Just between you and me, the two Houses may not be so different, at least in some ways. They can both be very stubborn in what they do and when it comes to fighting for their causes; Gryffindors tend to fight more for what is right for everyone while Slytherins tend to fight more for what is best for themselves. It's amazing, really, how opposites can have so much in common with each other. Given your mixed upbringing, that makes it rather hard for me to choose between the two..."

At the mention of Harry's upbringing, he immediately began to worry. No, don't tell anyone, not about the Dursleys or about Pim! Please!

"Relax, Mister Potter. Your secrets are safe with me. Everything that goes on between me and the students remains absolutely confidential.

"So, back to the topic of where to put you... you developed some more Slytherin-like characteristics from your time with your relatives, because after all, you did what you had to do to survive, but on the other hand, you have definitely developed some more Gryffindor-like characteristics from your time with your new mentor and guardian. You maintain the secrecy, but of course, that's more to protect yourself from people knowing about where you fled from and where you reside now. Besides, Slytherin could help you on the path to greatness."

I'm not too keen about Slytherin, but that's because I'm concerned about some of the other students in that House. Some of them have ties to Voldemort, and joining that House might be putting myself in danger. On top of that, they don't seem too... welcoming. Besides, I'm really not interested in becoming "great."

"Oh, I do so hate it when politics interferes with something, don't you? Trust me, I am not oblivious to this either, and just between you and me, I think all four of the Houses have deviated a bit from what they once were, but in Slytherin's case, a lot of the current occupants are ambitious enough to be there, but their only ambitions are to obtain more of what they already have. Actually, if you were placed in Slytherin, you could probably do something good to improve the House's reputation as some kind of breeding ground for Dark witches and wizards.

"However, nor am I oblivious to the danger you perceive yourself to be in if you were placed in Slytherin House. I agree, putting you with them, especially when quite a few of them have ties to Voldemort's followers and minions, does not sound strategically wise to me."

Harry gave the mental equivalent of an acknowledging nod to this. I don't suppose you can just /not sort me into any of the four Houses? You know, like an independent program or something? That way, you won't have to worry about sorting me into any one House./

"I'm afraid I can't do that, Mr. Potter. I can't put a student into none of the Houses - or, just in case you're thinking it, more than one of the Houses. My job is to take a student and sort him or her into one of the four Houses which is most appropriate for said student."

It is time to do this, the Hat thought to itself.

"You seem to be very thoughtful and insightful, Mister Potter, and it would be nice to talk with you more, but alas, I still have to Sort you and the rest of the first-year students, and let things continue. So, to conclude this, I, the Sorting Hat, hereby sort you, Harry Potter, into...


The Gryffindor table exploded with applause and cheers. After Percy vigorously shook Harry's hand and Fred and George ceased with their calls of "We got Potter! We got Potter!" Harry learned that he had been under the Sorting Hat for several minutes. Now Harry could see the High Table properly, and at the center of it was Albus Dumbledore, just like he had seen on the Chocolate Frog card.

After Harry, there were only a handful of students left to go, including Ron. It only took a moment or two before the Hat also declared him a "GRYFFINDOR!" and he walked over, looking a little shaky but very relieved.

After the Hat Sorted a dark-skinned boy named Blaise Zabini into Slytherin, thus ending the Sorting Ceremony, Professor McGonagall collected the Sorting Hat and its stool and took them away. Once she had rejoined her colleagues at the High Table, Dumbledore got up to address everyone.

"Welcome!" he announced to the students, his arms opened wide. "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!"

As he sat back down, everybody clapped and cheered. However, Harry didn't know whether to laugh or not, so he just settled for an amused smirk.

Harry also made eye contact for a moment with Hagrid, who gave the thumbs-up sign back to him. As Harry turned back around, he suddenly saw Ron stuffing his face with food. Harry was about to ask the redhead where he got the food when he saw all the food laid out on the table before him, which must have somehow appeared in the moment during which he was looking at Hagrid.

All of the food looked so good... it looked as though better versions of the same food could not possibly exist. Were he not such a conservative diner, who only ate what he needed (and maybe then some), he might have gorged himself upon it. So, deciding to limit himself, he took a little bit of each from the various samples of meat and vegetables, and even took a peppermint humbug from the strange offering of those.

Harry didn't start any conversations of his own, but instead would occasionally listen to those of other students who wanted to share their thoughts with everyone else, such as when Seamus Finnigan joked about how it was a "bit of a nasty shock" for his Muggle father to find out that his mother was a witch after they were married. Harry even joined in with some laughter after Neville Longbottom shared a story about some magical accident of his, which somehow related to how he got his toad familiar, Trevor.

He also saw how nervous some of his fellow first-year students were, and while some of the older Gryffindors reassured the new students about some things, a few of them (namely Fred and George) took it upon themselves to scare the first-years by telling them of some of the things they would have to deal with. Meanwhile, Hermione was asking Percy about the classes which she would be taking.

Harry looked around, and suddenly, he found himself looking at - or maybe even through - one of the ghosts. This one wore a ruff, and was looking at him curiously.

"Excuse me, young sir, but by any chance are you Harry Potter?" the ghost asked him.

"Yes, that would be me," Harry said carefully.

"Oh, I did not recognize you by your scar," the ghost said. "I was just astonished... I've encountered and known a few of your ancestors over the past few centuries. You bear quite a resemblance to your father and other ancestors on his side of the family."

Harry was about to ask how old this ghost was, but then realized that asking "how old" might not be the right thing to say. So, Harry asked, "Why, how long have you been around?"

"I have been a ghost for nearly five hundred years," the ghost said matter-of-factly. "Actually, I haven't introduced myself, how silly of me... Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington at your service. Resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower."

"Hey, you must be Nearly Headless Nick!" Ron exclaimed. "My brothers told me about you!"

After a round of questions as to how he could be nearly headless, the ghost sighed and demonstrated by pulling on his left ear; the result was how his whole neck swung off his neck and onto his shoulder as if it was on a hinge.

Harry winced. "I don't think I want to know," he mumbled.

"Oh, nothing to worry about, I assure you," Nearly Headless Nick said smoothly. "Besides, I'm sure that my story can't be as morbid as that of the Bloody Baron."

At the blank looks, Nick calmly pointed to the horrible ghost sitting at the Slytherin table, close to Malfoy, who didn't look pleased by it.

When asked about how the Bloody Baron got all covered in blood, Nick just delicately said, "I've never asked."

"So, Harry," Ron said, deciding to strike up a conversation with him, "what do you think about Gryffindor so far?" Ron said it as though he had already been in Gryffindor House for a while.

"I wouldn't know, Ron, I just got here myself," Harry said casually and yet matter-of-factly. A few other Gryffindors laughed at this.

"I mean at least you're not in the same House as Malfoy or those other Slytherins," Ron said cheerfully.

Harry really wasn't sure what to say to that. He had also noticed how Ron spoke so fondly about Gryffindor just as Malfoy spoke so fervently about Slytherin.

"Ron, let me ask you something," Harry said carefully. "Have any of the other three Houses had any Dark witches or wizards?"

Ron frowned and furrowed his brow. "I don't think so," he said after a moment.

"Aren't there any witches or wizards from Slytherin who didn't go evil, but were good?" Harry added. "Just out of curiosity."

Ron stared at Harry for a moment, as if he was having a hard time dealing with the use of the words "Slytherin" and "good" used together in the same sentence. "If there were any, I wouldn't know," he said at last.

Harry sighed. "Nevermind," he grumbled. He decided that now was a good time to drop it, especially since a few other Gryffindors were giving him funny looks too.

Soon enough, dinner was replaced by dessert, and they had so many different kinds of things that Harry didn't quite know what to try first. As with the candy back on the train, Harry decided that trying this new stuff at least once wouldn't hurt.

During the dessert course, Harry just happened to glance at the High Table, where he saw most of the teachers talking with each other, including Professor Quirrell talking to a teacher with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin. Suddenly, the other teacher looked past Quirrell and looked at Harry. For a moment, the two of them made eye contact - and the next moment, Harry felt a stinging sensation where his scar was on his forehead.

Harry broke off eye contact and looked away, rubbing his head.

"Hey, everything alright?" Fred asked. The twins were looking at him.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Harry said. "It was nothing." After a moment, he asked, "Who's that teacher talking to Professor Quirrell?"

Indeed, the hook-nosed teacher was talking to Quirrell again as though nothing had just happened.

"Oh, that's Snape," George said with mock happiness. "He teaches Potions."

"Except he doesn't want to teach Potions, and everyone knows it," Fred explained. "He'd much rather teach Defense Against the Dark Arts."

"Snape knows an awful lot about the Dark Arts, so watch your step," George added.

Harry nodded. "Thanks." With that, he decided to put Professor Snape out of his mind and get back to the feast.

After the desserts also disappeared, Dumbledore stood up, and the hall fell silent to listen to him.

"So, now that we are fed and watered, I have a few start-of-term notices to give you..."

Dumbledore listed off how the forest on the grounds was forbidden to all students, how no magic should be used between classes in the corridors, how Quidditch trials would be held in the second week of the term... but there was also a new announcement for this year, about how "the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death."

Harry held back a laugh at hearing this, but he also noticed that very few other people did laugh.

"Well, I was going to get out the school song for the first time in ages, but I can see that all of you are rather tired, and want to go to sleep... especially since none of you want to miss your first day of classes tomorrow," Dumbledore said, smiling. "So, off to bed. Off you trot!"

The Gryffindor first years followed Percy out of the Great Hall and up the marble staircase. Harry didn't know exactly what to expect out of the castle, but for some reason, he felt that it shouldn't have to be so complicated with all the doorways hidden behind sliding panels and hanging tapestries.

Soon enough (although after a brief encounter with Peeves, the school's poltergeist), they were at the end of a corridor, standing in front of a hanging portrait of a very fat woman in a pink silk dress. After she asked for the password and Percy gave it ("Caput Draconis"), the portrait swung open and they climbed through into the Gryffindor common room.

From there, they crossed the room, and the girls went up one staircase to their dormitory and the boys went up the other to their own, where their trunks were waiting for them next to their four-poster beds. Most of them were just too tired to talk, so they just pulled on their pajamas and went to bed.

Even though he didn't eat too much, Harry had a strange dream. He dreamed that he was being told by some disembodied voice (which was coming from either Quirrell's turban or the Sorting Hat, he couldn't tell which) that this wasn't his destiny, that he should go elsewhere to achieve the true greatness he deserved. He tried to run from the voice, but wherever he turned to run, there was someone there blocking his path. First, there was Malfoy, gloating over him; then there was Snape, sneering at him; and then Harry ran into a deathly white figure with gleaming red eyes, which he only saw for a split-second or less before there was a flash of green light, accompanied by a cold, cruel laugh...

Harry then woke up in the darkness, sweating and shaking a little... only to fall back asleep, blissfully unknowing of the nightmare he just had.

Once Albus Dumbledore was back in his office and was sure that no one could witness him do so (aside from Fawkes the phoenix and the portraits, of course), he let out a big sigh of relief.

Harry Potter was now safe and sound here at Hogwarts, and under Dumbledore's careful eye. Now he could make sure that Harry was alright.

However, new questions began to form in Dumbledore's mind... Where had Harry been all this time? Why did it almost look as though the Dursleys had never mistreated him? Was someone else looking after him, or was Harry somehow managing to survive all on his own?

Subconsciously, Dumbledore was preparing to compare and contrast young Harry Potter to young Tom Riddle, but then he stopped himself just in time. He would not get into that now. If he really had to mentally compare and contrast the two boys, present and past, he would do so later and after he met Harry for himself.

Dumbledore knew now that placing Harry with the Dursleys was probably one of the worst ideas he had ever had - he had the guilt and the nightmares to show for it - and he just wanted to rectify his mistake. But at the same time, he didn't feel as though he could simply come to Harry and apologize profusely for that decision, because he needed the boy's trust if they were going to work together for Dumbledore to mentor Harry in how to fight Voldemort.

Even though he wanted to do so, even now, Dumbledore was not so sure about adopting Harry himself. He still feared suspicions and even accusations about things such as favoritism. Still, maybe he could see if one of the more trustworthy, noble families in wizarding Britain would be willing to adopt him, such as the Weasley family or the Longbottom family.

Of course, that was assuming that Harry didn't already have someone looking after him. In which case, Dumbledore would like to meet whoever was taking care of Harry.

Still, it could wait a few days. Dumbledore figured to give Harry a week, just to settle into life at Hogwarts and adjust to it, before asking to talk to him. Just knowing that young Mr. Potter was present and accounted for at Hogwarts was enough for now.

Even though now it was late, Dumbledore remembered how he had to contact a few different people and let them know that their respective objects had been secured.

First, Dumbledore contacted Nicholas Flamel. With a pinch of Floo powder thrown into the fireplace which turned the fire green, as well as a special password to gain access through this particular grate, Dumbledore stuck his head through and into Flamel's fireplace.

"Nicholas?" Dumbledore called out.

"Right here, Albus," Nicholas Flamel said as he walked into view and knelt in front of the grate, from whence Dumbledore's head was sticking out.

"Good evening, Nicholas," Dumbledore said cheerfully. "I just wanted to let you know that the Stone is safe and secure."

"Oh, you have it well-defended, do you? I know I told you that I didn't care about whatever defenses you put up, so long as it was well-defended."

Flamel saw that twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes, and he said, "Oh, don't tell me... you really went the extra mile, didn't you?"

"I played my part, Nicholas, but so did many of the other professors. We all contributed something of our own."

Flamel laughed heartily at that. "I don't suppose you can give me a tour of it sometime?"

Dumbledore shrugged as if to say Why not? "I am sure it can be arranged, old friend."

"I might just take up your offer some other time. Thanks again for calling me about this, Albus, I really appreciate it."

"You are certainly welcome, Nicholas. Good night."

"Good night."

On its shelf, the Sorting Hat sat... and thought.

The Hat knew that a lot of people probably would have been disappointed that he wasn't Sorted into Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw or even Slytherin, but it just hoped that those people would understand why Harry Potter was Sorted into Gryffindor.

First of all, Harry's special traits for all four Houses were not absolutely perfect and on level with each other - after all the Sorting Hat had been doing its job for a thousand years, so he knew that no one was that perfect - so from there, the Hat had to narrow it down.

Harry, while hard-working, was too independent for Hufflepuff, and while he had good study habits, he was not studious or obsessive enough for Ravenclaw. But as for the tie between Slytherin and Gryffindor... well, that was where things got interesting.

One thing which the Sorting Hat disliked was the system of Houses being forced on the students. In its own honest opinion, it made it hard for the staff to preach to the students about inter-House unity and getting along with each other when they were dividing the students up at the same time. True, the Sorting Hat and every professor in the school's history were just supporting the Founders' final decision to put students into Houses even after they were long gone... but the Hat had a shrewd feeling that if the Founders could have seen what had become of their Houses in the centuries since then, they might have reconsidered. (Personally, the Hat sometimes wished that it could just sit on a shelf for hundreds of years rather than come out once a year with a fancy song and then split up the students, adding to the continuing lack of unity between the Houses.)

In a way, Harry Potter being Sorted into Gryffindor was kind of based on politics. While it was Sorting the boy, the Sorting Hat could just feel the sheer potential which the boy had. This young wizard had the potential to change the world, especially for the better. The Hat knew all too well about how a person's House from his or her Hogwarts days could carry into their adult, post-Hogwarts lives and hang over them for the rest of their lives.

The Sorting Hat knew full well about the prejudice against Slytherin, as well as the prejudice which most Slytherins had. A good portion of them, through the centuries and even to this present day, had maintained those illogical prejudices against those who didn't have "pure blood." It was these kinds of things which gave Slytherin House such a bad reputation.

However, at the same time, the rest of the school (but mostly Gryffindors) had developed this kind of "counter-prejudice," this reverse discrimination against Slytherins, thinking them all to be evil. So, even some Muggle-borns or wizards who didn't follow that ridiculous "pure blood" ideology got lumped together with those who did, and as a result, hated the rest of the school for itself. It didn't help either that those same pureblood bigots took it upon themselves to represent and speak for the rest of their House. It was just a vicious cycle, back and forth.

So, that was where Harry Potter came in. If he was Sorted into Slytherin, the rest of the world would unfairly criticize him for all eternity. It probably wouldn't have mattered if Potter did something significant, like curing lycanthropy of giving Squibs magic, the rest of the wizarding world might have still rendered his accomplishments null and void, just because he was a /Slytherin/.

Well, that and the fact that placing him in the House which also had most of the children of Voldemort's supporters was obviously a recipe for disaster.

On the other hand, if Harry Potter was Sorted into Gryffindor, the seeming golden House of them all, people would definitely be more willing to listen to him then, and then Harry could use that to his advantage to put an end to the silly House prejudices and even the other prejudices in the wizarding world, simply because he was a /Gryffindor/.

Ultimately, between both the boy's traits and the good he could do if things happened a certain way, the Sorting Hat was confident in its decision to place Harry Potter in Gryffindor.

Besides, being Sorted into one House should not stop a student from getting along with those in other Houses, right?

Confident in its decisions, as well as glad that he had finished another Sorting Ceremony, the Sorting Hat settled itself in for the night and went to what could be considered "sleep." After all, it had to get up bright and early the next morning - especially if it was going to come up with a new song for next year's Sorting!

On a remote edge of the Hogwarts grounds, in the shadow of a tree, a dark being floated silently.

It was observing the castle, longing for what was hidden and guarded within it, behind its walls.

After some time, the Darkness whisked away, as if it had never been there at all.

A/N: So... I realize that some people are going to dislike me just because I didn't write something which they would have liked to see. I may as well explain some of those things now.

Regarding the chapter title... self-explanatory, and an obvious play on words with "school days." /(I'll come up with those clever and savvy chapters again soon enough, don't worry.)/

Regarding the interaction with Ron... I think that in canon, Harry sort of latched onto Ron for three reasons: Ron was the first person Harry's own age who was nice to him; Ron was more knowledgeable about the wizarding world; and Harry sympathized with Ron in some ways. But then again, this is a different kind of Harry we're talking about in this story.

One point from canon which I've heard discussed a lot was how Harry was rude in turning down Malfoy's offer. Well, at least now I gave Harry an excuse to act the way he did. Admittedly, one thing came to mind as I was writing it: The pilot episode from Superman: The Animated Series ("The Last Son of Krypton"), where Lex Luthor has the audacity to extend an offer of friendship to Superman, even after the hero saw what he did earlier in that episode. Also, as for the way Harry tricked Malfoy with the bad-tasting Every Flavor Beans... how was that?

I also decided to have Harry learn about the wizarding world's prejudices and that pureblood ideology sooner rather than later.

Melbourne and Claire are named after Dr. Daniel Jackson's parents from /Stargate//: SG-1/. We see a glimpse of them - as well as what unfortunately happened to them - in the episode "The Gamekeeper" (Season 2). Also, one Leonard Woolley (1880-1960) was a British archeologist best known for his excavations at Ur in Mesopotamia, and is considered to have been one of the first "modern" archeologists.

"Oannes" is a name for a mythical being in ancient Mesopotamian myth, who is supposed to have given mankind wisdom by bringing writing, arts and sciences. Stargate fans may also recognize Oannes from the SG-1 episode "Fire and Water" (Season 1), in which they are an alien race and one of them named Nem (or, as I like to call him, "that freaky fish-man") abducts Daniel Jackson to get some information. (Please note that, technically, the Oannes belonged to the ancient Mesopotamians, and not whoever owns /Stargate/.) I really know next-to-nothing about the Oannes from myth, and that part in the previous chapter where Oannes shapeshifted from a different and more fish-like form into a more human form was my own idea.

Regarding Harry's Sorting... Quite a few of you must dislike me now for this, right? My reasoning is explained during both the Sorting scene itself and the Sorting-Hat-thinking-to-itself scene. While this version of Harry was still Sorted into Gryffindor, this is a different Harry from the one we know in canon, and so things went differently in how he got Sorted. I figured that if I couldn't change the outcome, then I could at least change the process. (And I managed to give the Sorting Hat a headache in the process, which I hope will count for something.) HOWEVER, let it not be said that I'm biased in favor of Gryffindor - far from it, because I'm either a Ravenclaw or Slytherin myself. Maybe I purposely made Harry a Gryffindor in this story because I didn't want accusations of him being a Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu?

As for who Harry's friends will be... Maybe it will be Ron and Hermione, maybe it won't. But either way, Harry's probably NOT going to get along with them for the next couple of chapters...

I also took the liberty of tweaking Harry's nightmare somewhat.

You know what to do... review!

/-Quillian, 7/28/07/


In light of the release of the final book, /Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows/, as well as what ultimately happened in it, I just want to take the time to say the following...

I fully respect J.K. Rowling's right to write her own stories as she saw fit and was entitled to do. However, I plan to do many things differently... especially in regards to some of the things she has written which the fans have not liked so much.

This AU story is planned to span all seven years of Harry's time at Hogwarts as things play out. In addition, things will get more and more different as time goes on. Years 1, 2, 3 and 4 will keep some things in common with their canon counterparts, but will be different enough. (I consider Voldemort's return at the end of Year 4 to be the real turning point of the series.) Year 5 will be even more different. Year 6 will be very different from anything previous (admit it, how many of you liked it?). And Year 7... well, too soon to say, but I think you'll like what I've got in mind.

I know how much like canon this version of Year 1 is so far, and believe me, I plan to change that. I'm just trying to get a feel for it, testing the waters first (so to speak).

I am confidant that my originality will prevail in the end, and that you (the readers) will not be disappointed with the results.

Have you come down with a sickness induced by canon? Then Dr. Quillian has the cure!
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