Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Year 2: The Advancing of Shadows
Chapter 6: Warnings and Welcomes
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Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Book 2: The Advancing of Shadows
Chapter 6: Warnings and Welcomes
September 1, 1992
Harry awoke with a jolt on the morning of September 1st, and assumed for a moment that his excitement had simply gotten the better of him. The lack of light streaming into the room despite one of the four walls consisting entirely of glass indicated exactly how early it was. He typically rose before the sun had fully risen, but it had barely started peeking out over the horizon. There wasn’t even a tinge of sunlight visible in the sky yet, and the stars were still shining as brightly as ever.
Excitement pulling him back into the realm of consciousness wouldn’t have been terribly hard to believe — a similar thing had happened last year.
But he quickly realized that no emotion was responsible for his early and sudden start to the day.
He felt an odd weight on his lower body, as if something was attempting to pin him down. It wasn’t doing a very good job of it, he could still move without a great deal of difficulty.
He sat bolt upright when he looked towards his legs and saw large, green eyes. He had to resist the urge to cry out, not wanting to wake the rest of the house. Among them, he was by far the earliest riser and it would not do to disturb his hosts so unjustly.
He scrambled backwards, jerking his legs in an attempt to dislodge the creature, and snatched his wand from underneath his pillow before taking aim at the shape which was now slowly rising off the floor.
“It’s Dobby, sir,” came a high voice that was obviously putting in an awful attempt at whispering.
Harry glared at the creature and did not lower his wand. “Why are you in my room and watching me sleep then?” he demanded in a hissing voice that was much quieter than the elf’s attempts at a whisper.
The creature shuffled and cast its eyes to the floor. “Dobby didn’t mean to scare Harry Potter, sir. Dobby would never… Harry Potter is a great wizard.”
His glare did not relent. “Well, what were you doing then?”
“Dobby just wanted to talk to Harry Potter, sir. Talk was all… Dobby must warn him.”
“Warn me of what?”
After the way his last year at Hogwarts had concluded, Harry supposed the elf could be warning him of any number of things. Unless Voldemort made another bid for power that somehow centred around Hogwarts yet again, Harry felt reasonably confident nothing this year could possibly top the death of a fellow student and his own kidnapping at the hands of a long vanquished dark lord.
Dobby cast his eyes around the room as if afraid someone was listening. “It… it is difficult, sir. Dobby… Dobby wonders where to begin…”
“At the beginning, maybe?” Harry suggested dryly. When the elf began to fidget even more, Harry’s eyes narrowed. “Dobby, should you even be here right now?”
“Oh, no, sir, no . . . Dobby will have to punish himself most
grievously for coming to see you, sir. Dobby will have to shut his ears in the oven door for this. If they ever knew, sir.”
Harry wasn’t sure how to feel about that last comment. He had no idea whether or not the Malfoys treated their elves so cruelly but he thought they might have. Draco certainly seemed to view them as little more than animals. From what Harry had seen so far, he was hard pressed to disagree. They seemed to exist simply to serve the whims of wizards. Diana had even told him something of the sort when he’d asked what the creatures were not long after arriving.
“They’re called house elves,” she had told him. “They’re a sort of magical creature that has existed for as long as anyone remembers. If there are any records of how they came to be, I haven’t seen them. They’re not like witches and wizards. They have their own kind of magic that’s dependent on us. They get bonded to a family and rely on them. They need to be serving witches or wizards for them to keep their magic. They’re sort of just built for it; they even enjoy it.”
If this was true, Harry found it most odd that this particular elf seemed to be at least indirectly disobeying orders from the Malfoys. He wondered if the way the creature had subtly watched him over the summer had fallen into a similar sort of vein. Perhaps that was why the creature had been punishing itself so horrendously.
In the end, Harry decided he cared more about answers than the moral questions bumping around inside his head. Last year had taught him that those were extremely taxing and never seemed to yield results. It was also much too early for thoughts so deep and complex.
“The warning?” he prompted, casting his eyes back to the shaking elf in front of him.
The elf took a deep, centring breath. “Harry Potter must stay where he is safe. He is too great, too good, to lose. If Harry Potter goes back to Hogwarts, he will be in mortal danger.”
Silence stretched between them as Harry’s jaw slowly lowered. Even during his confrontation with Voldemort, he had never really felt as though he was at risk of dying. Except for those fleeting seconds before Dumbledore had arrived on the scene, he failed to see what could possibly happen that would put him in mortal peril.
“You want me to stay here?” he asked, shaking his head. “Dobby, even if I wanted to stay here, the Malfoys would never let me. They’d send me to Hogwarts, like they should. Hogwarts is where I belong; it’s where I need to be.”
“No! No! No!” Dobby argued, stamping his little feet to punctuate each word. “Harry Potter mustened go back, sir. He mustn’t… no matter what.”
“Why not, Dobby?” Harry was half sure this elf was deranged, but he thought he would at least humour it.
“There is a plot, Harry Potter. A plot to make most terrible things happen at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year,” whispered Dobby, suddenly trembling all over. “Dobby has known it for months, sir. Harry Potter must not put himself in peril. He is too important, sir!”
“What terrible things?” said Harry at once. “Who’s plotting them?”
Dobby made a funny choking noise and then sprinted towards the wall. Harry knew enough about house elves by now — and suspected enough about Dobby — to realize what he was about to do.
His hastily whispered jinx hit Dobby in the back, causing the elf to freeze in mid-stride. The effect would only last a few seconds, but it gave Harry enough time to scramble to his feet, grab ahold of the house elf, and haul him back away from the wall.
That had been one of the more recent spells Yaxley had shown him. It was simple, but technically not covered until fourth-year Defence Against the Dark Arts. Harry found this irritating, since it really was not difficult to cast. It just so happened that they didn’t learn about jinxes, hexes, and curses in any depth until fourth year, according to Yaxley.
“Dobby,” Harry asked very slowly, eyes narrowing upon the elf who still looked deadly serious. “This hasn’t got anything to do with Voldemort, does it?”
He could think of no other wizard who would strike fear like this, least of all fear that would prompt Dobby to warn him, of all people.
The elf clasped his hands tightly over his ears. “Speak not the name, sir, speak not the name!”
“Sorry,” Harry said, not meaning it one bit, “this doesn’t have anything to do with the Dark Lord, does it?”
Dobby seemed to search for the right words. “Not… not He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, sir..”
But Dobby’s eyes were wide and he seemed to be trying to give Harry a hint. Harry, however, was completely lost.
“Well then, I can’t think who else would have a chance of making horrible things happen at Hogwarts,” said Harry. “I mean, there’s Dumbledore, for one thing.”
Dobby bowed his head. “Albus Dumbledore is the greatest headmaster Hogwarts has ever had. Dobby knows it, sir. Dobby has heard Dumbledore’s powers rival those of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named at the height of his strength. But, sir…” Dobby’s voice dropped to an urgent whisper. “There are powers Dumbledore doesn’t… powers no decent wizard…”
A floorboard creaked out in the corridor and Dobby froze, his eyes bulging for a moment before he popped away, obviously fearing he would be caught. Harry thought it much more likely that one of the other elves was simply doing their duty, but of course it was impossible to tell.
The only thing he knew was that he was thoroughly confused and very torn on whether or not to tell Mr. Malfoy exactly what had just transpired.
Harry had decided not to tell any of the Malfoys so long as Dobby didn’t directly interfere in his affairs. Everything else that morning went smoothly and as planned; Harry found himself once more on the Hogwarts Express and unable to suppress an involuntary shudder.
The last time he had been on this train, he had been plucked straight off of it by a portkey given to him by one whom he had considered a friend. The prison which he had landed in no longer haunted his nightmares on a nightly basis, but it still crept up every now and then — and there was no unseeing the horrible sight he was made privy to.
Pansy was the last of Harry’s group to enter the compartment, doing so just as the train began to glide out of Platform Nine and Three Quarters on the long trek to Hogwarts castle.
The sun shone brightly outside; a stark juxtaposition to the gloom of last year’s first day of school. Harry watched it sparkle mesmerizingly off a lake as they began to enter less densely populated areas. He remembered from last year that they would soon spend a number of hours driving past large, open fields blanketed in vibrant fall colours that would only look all the more cheery when bathed in this beautiful sunlight. It was as if the summer was giving a final stand before quietly succumbing to the grasp of autumn and, eventually, winter.
“Any idea who this year’s Defence professor is, Draco?”
Theodore’s question drifted into Harry’s ears, causing him to pull his head away from the window for the first time in a while. The conversation going on around him hadn’t been overly stimulating and he found himself frequently spacing out. Probably because of the early hour at which he had been so unceremoniously awoken.
Draco cursed. “I knew I forgot to ask Father something.” He looked at Harry. “I don’t suppose you asked him?”
Harry had to resist the urge to raise an eyebrow. The emphasis the blond put on the word ‘you’ was odd. It was as if he spat it at Harry for reasons he couldn’t entirely work out. As a matter of fact, Draco had been acting strangely ever since his birthday and particularly since their trip to the alleys. He had even sniped maliciously at Ron Weasley while Harry and Lucius had been getting their photos taken. Mr. Malfoy had fortunately led his son away before any real harm could come of the interaction, but Harry remembered hoping at the time that Draco might have blown off all of his steam while sniping at Weasley.
Clearly he hadn’t, and it had only grown worse since then. If they were alone, Harry might have called Draco on it, but he didn’t dare do so in public. These people had been Draco’s friends before his, for one thing. Theodore had stuck with him during Harry and Draco’s schism last year, but he wouldn’t trust him to truly back Harry if conflict broke out.
“I didn’t, no,” he answered, trying to keep the coolness from his voice. Pansy’s eyes narrowed a fraction but no one else reacted, so he supposed he must have at least been mildly successful.
Draco waved a hand. “There you go, then. I suppose we’ll find out at the feast tonight. Let’s just hope whoever the old man hired isn’t completely useless.”
“Or scum,” muttered Nott.
This thought brought Harry’s mind back to the mudblood comment Tiberius Nott had made weeks ago at his manor and the inner conflict it had caused Harry. It had resulted in him doing a great deal of research into history.
One of the best things about the Malfoy family library was that it was not at all prone to being filled with censored material. The history books dotted around its ancient shelves were very much not the kind the ministry would approve of. According to Mr. Malfoy — who had called the ministry-approved books ‘censored trash’ — this was for the best.
Harry had learned a great deal from them. He had read about the witch burnings and the persecution witches and wizards faced while they’d lived in the open. Many of the worst accounts came from the Middle Ages, but they didn’t stop there. The Statute of Secrecy had been signed the same year as the Salem Witch Trials had taken place, after all.
It had only reaffirmed everything he had known about muggles and made his hatred all the worse. Even more so after reading up on the Statute of Secrecy.
There was a large part of him that thought Grindelwald had a point, as much as that thought terrified him on a number of levels.
Why was it that the witches and wizards were the ones driven into hiding? They were born superior, born with powers the muggles couldn’t hope to match. And they were just better. Harry had lived in both worlds and the magical one was just infinitely more interesting. It also didn’t seem to suffer from many of the problems its muggle counterpart did. Sure, discrimination ran wild, but it didn’t seem to lead to wars in the same way it did in the muggle world. There was of course Voldemort’s war — which was nowadays referred to as the Purity War — but even that had encompassed only Magical Britain. Witches and wizards had never seen anything like either muggle world war — even if Grindelwald had been a large part of the second. To what extent his involvement stretched was a highly debated topic, from what Harry had thus far read.
Muggleborns themselves… that was more complicated.
Harry could sympathize with them, on one hand. None of what they were being judged so harshly for was their own fault. They had no control over who they were born to or how they were raised. Harry fully agreed that the ones who tried to impose muggle culture on the wizarding world might be better off excluded — as he wanted none of the problems he had just hypothesized about to leak over — but so long as they were respectful, he had no problem with them on a personal level.
Not to say that he didn’t see the purebloods’ point.
His readings about muggleborns in particular had been very complicated, but much of it dated back to the philosophy Salazar Slytherin seemed to have held. He was, after all, perhaps the most infamous blood supremacist of all time — though Voldemort had been not-so-quietly giving him a worthy challenge in the past few decades.
Slytherin had lived in a time when tensions between muggles and wizards in Britain had been high. The books he had read about the man at Malfoy Manor spoke of him in a surprisingly favourable light. Mr. Malfoy had told him he’d had an interest in Slytherin from an early age and done his best to collect a large number of accurate, uncensored tomes about the man and his life.
Even in these, the details were blurry.
Most of them seemed to largely agree that Slytherin had feared a large-scale conflict between the muggles and the wizards. It wasn’t that he’d had any doubt which side would win, but the two sides interacted so closely that a war would have been devastating on either side. Especially with magical education in its infancy. Most witches and wizards of that age were much less skilled than their modern day comparables since they had never truly been taught actual magic.
Slytherin saw the muggleborn as a link between the magical and muggle world. He was in favour of splitting the two worlds, even back then, and he viewed the feat as impossible for so long as muggleborns were allowed entry into their world. He thought they would lead to the war he feared so greatly, hence his firm stance against their ability to attend Hogwarts.
That’s what most of the books had said, anyway; though a few had cited that he had never wanted to even stop muggleborns attending Hogwarts.
This was about where any semblance of the books agreeing with each other ended.
Some books painted him as a hero who sought the protection of the magical world. Others vilified him for going too far. Some said he had murdered, some said he had massacred, and some even spread a rumour about a fabled monster left at Hogwarts — though Harry found this last tale to be more unlikely than all the rest.
He had also learned an interesting tidbit about Slytherin while reading these books which had made his heart stop and his blood run cold.
All of the books had made a massive fuss about Slytherin being able to speak to snakes. Harry had at first been confused by this. Once he had been made aware of the wizarding world, he had sort of just assumed everyone could do it. He had done it at the London zoo and even a few times in the gardens over the years, though he only even remembered some of those occasions after his most significant interaction of the serpentine variety.
Apparently, the ability was not at all one most magicals had. The books all claimed it was an ability of those who were descended from Salazar himself, one that was called Parseltongue. Harry hadn’t thought the Potters shared any link to Slytherin. They weren’t noted in any of the books he had found in the library discussing the history of the language. The last known speakers of the language had been the Gaunt family, who — as far as Harry knew — had no line of relation to his own family.
He had pondered whether or not he should ask Mr. Malfoy about the ability to speak to snakes, but he had decided against it. Many of these books painted it as something foul, certainly not something to be admired. Even the books that depicted Slytherin in a relatively favourable light didn’t have great things to say about the ability. Its reputation had been tarnished over the years. With Slytherin’s own reputation, that of his Hogwarts house, the Gaunt’s well-publicized descent into deranged ruin, and the infamy of Voldemort, the language was nowadays largely viewed as an inherently dark ability.
Perhaps it was best if no one knew that Harry possessed it. Perhaps it was best if he just hid that ability away. It wasn’t as though it could be of a great deal of use, could it?
He somehow doubted that hypothesis as his brain ran wild with potential usages. Much of the Slytherin common room was covered in serpentine decor. He knew much of the art of the wizarding world had the ability to become animated, so he wondered if the snakes in the common room or around the school would be prone to the same ability, too. He was sure there were other uses he was missing altogether, but that was the one which had filled his young, imaginative mind over the past couple of weeks.
“Personally,” drawled Draco, “I don’t much care who teaches Defence Against the Dark Arts so long as they know one end of a wand from another. I’m much more interested in everything else happening this year?”
“Everything else?” Crabbe asked, leaning forward with curiosity. “What else is happening?”
Draco puffed out his chest. “I’m going to be playing seeker on the Slytherin Quidditch team.”
Pansy squealed and began hastily congratulating him, but Theodore’s eyes narrowed. “Confident, are we?”
Draco smirked. “It’s not in doubt, Theodore. Father’s bought brooms for the whole team. I’ve got mine already, of course,” he glanced towards Harry with a strangely tight expression. “So does Harry. He’ll be on the team too, naturally. Father’s holding the rest of the brooms for now. The team will get them once Harry and I are officially on the team.”
Harry had been reluctant to go with that plan. Their final stop in Diagon Alley had been Quality Quidditch Supplies. The shopkeeper’s jaw had nearly become detached from his face when Mr. Malfoy had purchased seven brand new Nimbus 2001s. He had said with no small amount of smugness that both Harry and Draco would get one and that the others would be used to ensure they made the Slytherin team.
Harry had felt torn about this. He did want to play on the team and had planned on trying out for months. Cassius would have probably killed him if he didn’t. He had been excited for the challenge though, to see just how good he really was next to his older, more experienced housemates.
It also just felt… wrong.
It felt like cheating and it was completely unfair to those without the funds to pull something similar off. That was to say nothing of those who would be racing on lower-quality broomsticks. Harry could sympathize with all the rest of them because it hadn’t been that long since he himself hadn’t had any money of his own. The course of action made him feel unclean, but he eventually decided to go along with it.
He wanted to be on the team and would have been extremely disappointed had he not made it. This was the cunning, Slytherin way, and guaranteed it would yield results. Harry would just have to get over his moral compunctions.
Draco had seemed unhappy for a different reason. He had asked for a gift when his father had promised to buy Harry anything he wanted. Mr. Malfoy had acquiesced, which meant the boys were set to get one gift each. But when they had reached Quality Quidditch Supplies, the man had purchased Harry one of the brooms without a second thought; Harry wondered if that’s what had made Draco start acting so strangely.
He had felt as though the boy was jealous for all these weeks but until now, he hadn’t been able to work out exactly what he was jealous over. This was petty, but it did at least make some sense from Draco’s perspective, even if it made Harry want to bang his head against a wall so hard that Dobby the house elf would have been proud.
Harry fingered the ornate ring he now wore. It had indeed turned out to be genuine and it had arrived at Malfoy Manor less than a week after their visit to Borgin and Burkes.
Draco seemed in a foul mood for the next couple of hours, right up until the trolley lady appeared in the doorway.
“Anything off the trolley, dears?”
They all scrambled to purchase sweets but when they were fully equipped, Draco didn’t turn back towards their compartment. After stuffing the confections into his pockets, he grinned maliciously.
“What do you all say we find Weasley and have a bit of fun? He must feel like a bigshot now that his father got that stupid bill passed.”
Harry had no interest in antagonizing Weasley. Every time he thought of the boy, he envisioned the broken figure being led away from Longbottom’s grave. That image seemed to have permanently stained itself onto the inside of Harry’s skull, but his friends were already moving to follow Draco.
Somebody touched his arm and Harry turned, meeting Pansy’s brown eyes. “Are you okay, Harry?”
He shook himself. “I’m… yeah, just tired.”
Pansy gave him a look. “You don’t want to go bother Weasley, do you?”
Harry shrugged helplessly. “I just… don’t really care. He’s never done anything to me and I don’t see the point.”
“I don’t much care either,” she admitted. “It’s probably going to put Draco in an even worse mood and I personally don’t want to be around that. I was thinking about catching up with another friend of mine — if you wanted to come too?”
Harry nodded gratefully. “Sure, who am I meeting? Or do I know them already?”
“Well, there will be more than just her in the compartment, but I’m mainly looking to catch up with Daphne. You know her, but I don’t think the two of you talk much.”
They didn’t, but Harry did know who Pansy was talking about.
Daphne Greengrass — Heiress of the Founding House of Greengrass — was a quite tall, blonde girl with pale skin, angelic features, and icy blue eyes. Harry had heard some of the older Slytherins say that she was quite the looker, but the sentiment hadn’t meant much to him.
Harry’s group of friends made up about half of the year, but Greengrass was also very popular and made up the other half. Harry hadn’t had much to do with her, but he knew she was both incredibly intelligent and seemed to be quite charming. In the end-of-year rankings, Harry had topped the list in Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, and Transfiguration. Greengrass had handily taken first in Astronomy, History of Magic, and Potions, leaving the deceased Neville Longbottom the top spot in Herbology. Greengrass had been second in Herbology and third in many other subjects, which had baffled Harry for some time. With the exception of Potions — a class she seemed to be a legitimate prodigy in — her practical work was nothing special. It wasn’t bad and she was decent enough at Charms, but she wasn’t one of the top few students in Slytherin, let alone the school.
After Harry’s conversation with Flitwick in the library last December, he thought he understood. Perhaps her theoretical work was just so good, her average wand work didn’t even hold her back all that much. If that was true, she probably scored higher than both Harry and Granger on the theory side of things. It was the only way he could rationalize her being so high in the rankings.
Greengrass was indeed not alone in her compartment, though she sat in the centre of one of the two booths. She was joined by who Harry recognized as Blaise Zabini, Millicent Bulstrode, Lily Moon, and Tracey Davis. Zabini was a tall, thin, athletic-looking boy with dark skin, intense, dark brown eyes, and sharp features. Bulstrode was the largest kid in their year not named Crabbe or Goyle. There were a few kids taller than her, but her bulk was truly impressive. She had thick brown hair that was about shoulder length. Lillian Moon was a plain-looking girl with mousy brown hair and eyes of a similar colour, while Tracey was a pretty girl with brown hair and sea green eyes.
“What brings you two here?” asked Daphne once Harry and Pansy had taken their seats.
He sat right across from Greengrass. Her stare unnerved him. He was pretty sure already that he was right about his assumptions; those eyes held a startling amount of intelligence that he had never seen in one so young. They seemed to penetrate him, as if they were picking him apart and analyzing his inner workings.
“Draco being a twat,” said Pansy.
Daphne rolled her eyes. “Ugh! What has the idiot gone and done this time?”
“Oh, nothing specific. He’s just been a right gloomy prat the whole train ride. Harry and I took the chance to run when he was gonna go off after Weasley.”
“I’ll never understand what you see in him, Pansy,” said Daphne. “He’s decent-looking and he has the family name, but that’s about it. His intellect is nothing impressive, he doesn’t seem to be overly interesting, and any conversation with him seems to have the words ‘my father’ crop up at least once.”
Pansy hid a giggle behind her hand and even Harry’s lips twitched. He really did like Draco,but Daphne wasn’t terribly far off the mark.
“If I were him,” said Tracey, “I’d talk about my father too. Maybe he thinks if he talks about him long enough, he might wake up one morning with daddy’s hair.”
This sent all the girls into peels of laughter and even Harry had to fight down his own amusement. It seemed wrong to openly laugh at someone mocking his best friend, but he had to admit, he liked Daphne and Tracey so far.
“Say, Harry,” said Daphne, skipping the formalities altogether. She seemed quite openly social so the move appeared to be quite in character. “Do you play chess at all?”
“I do, yeah.” It was a game he played quite often with Draco. At the beginning of last year, Draco had been trouncing him due to his lack of experience. By year’s end, the blond couldn’t seem to win a match. Harry learned quickly and he had largely taken to the strategy game like a fish to water.
“Care for a few games?”
They all talked for a large part of the ride; except Zabini, who Harry couldn’t remember saying as much as a word. Harry himself grew more and more quiet as his games with Daphne drew on.
She was either just much more practiced in chess than Draco, or she was astonishingly intelligent.
It wasn’t even that Harry couldn’t win; it was that he couldn’t compete. Usually, he could recognize patterns in new opponents and do better the more games they played, but this was the opposite and it was more frustrating than it had any right to be. By the end of it, Daphne was actually giggling at his expression and seemed to mostly be humouring him.
By the time he and Pansy left the compartment, night had arrived outside and they needed to change into their Hogwarts robes. As they made their way back towards their own compartment though, Harry’s mind couldn’t help but roam over all that had just happened.
Daphne Greengrass was pretty, popular, very charming, and naturally charismatic, but there was much more to her than that. He had an odd feeling that even her theoretical work didn’t tell the whole story, as far as she was concerned.
Some time later…
Draco hadn’t been at all pleased when Harry and Pansy had returned to the compartment. He had actually put up a bit of a fuss and it hadn’t helped when Pansy had told him where they had been. Harry was more than happy to get off the train and was oddly grateful for the fact that a number of bodies separated him from Draco.
Last year, they had entered the castle after crossing the Black Lake in small, rickety boats; this year, they would be taking the carriages up to Hogwarts.
Harry shuddered at the sight of the skeletal horses pulling the carriages. He had been exceptionally confused by them last June.
“They’re called thestrals,” Theodore had whispered to him quietly. Harry would never forget the look the boy gave him. It was more searching and evaluative than any stare Harry had ever seen. “They can only be seen if you’ve watched someone die and were old enough to understand what happened.”
He wondered, even now, what on earth Theodore might have put together. Was it possible the boy had deduced that he had watched Neville die? Or perhaps he thought he’d seen the demise of their Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. It didn’t really matter, he supposed, so long as he stayed quiet and didn’t press Harry on the matter.
Within a few minutes of taking seats at the Slytherin table, Harry’s group of friends watched as Professor McGonagall led forth the new crop of first years. Harry recognized Ron Weasley’s little sister from Flourish and Blotts. She was the second-to-last in the queue. The boy behind her looked oddly familiar to Harry as well, which was strange, because he was sure the two of them had never met.
The Sorting Hat sang a song which heralded a chorus of applause before it bowed to each of the tables and fell silent, prompting Professor McGonagall to begin calling the new first years forward.
Harry didn’t pay much attention until a familiar name was called.
Carrow was a Sacred Twenty-Eight family and Harry remembered that two of the family’s members were serving life sentences in Azkaban for their part in the Purity War.
That had been one of the faster sortings Harry could remember.
Merlin, what was it with the magical world and twins? There were of course the infamous Weasley twins, the Patil twins from Harry’s year, and now the Carrow twins? Given Hogwarts’ relatively small population, it was strangely impressive — especially considering Harry was sure he was missing a number of other pairs.
“SLYTHERIN!” the hat called just as quickly.
Harry felt a deep pang in his stomach as Colin Creevey scrambled unsteadily onto the stool. He reminded him painfully of Neville, even if he didn’t have a family name like Longbottom behind him.
The sorting continued, with only Benedict Cuffe, Natalie Farley, Alex Jugson, Martin Harper, Derrick Mulciber, and Rhea Rowle sorted into Slytherin.
Harry was sure Weasley would be an easy sorting, but the hat took longer with her than it had with any of the other new students this year. It did eventually proclaim her a Gryffindor and sent her off to the scarlet and gold table, but it hadn’t been a swift affair.
Bugger! That was why the boy had looked so familiar. His golden-blond hair, soft features, and blue eyes were terribly reminiscent of both his father’s and older sister’s. Harry had never even realized Cassie had a younger brother, but the likeness was obvious.
He was sorted into Slytherin almost as fast as the Carrows. By the time he had taken his seat with the other new Slytherins, Professor Dumbledore had taken to his feet, beaming at all of them as if nothing pleased him more than to see their faces whole and healthy.
“Welcome back!” he said genially. “Before I bore you with an old man’s long-winded ramblings, I will allow you all to fill your long-desiring stomachs with some truly excellent food. Tuck in!”
Golden plates appeared in front of each student and heaping mounds of every kind of food imaginable were everywhere. The showcase didn’t surprise Harry nearly as much as it had last year. Especially because now he was pretty sure the house elves had just taken Dumbledore’s cue. It still made him smile vaguely as he reached for utensils.
He got about five minutes into his meal before he began to feel uncomfortable and wasn’t sure why. It didn’t take him long. Glancing around, he quickly realized that almost all of the first-year Slytherins were staring at him, though Cadmus Yaxley was doing so with a painful intensity.
He understood why they were curious, of course. The Boy-Who-Lived being sorted into Slytherin House had caused quite the uproar last year. It was of no surprise that their attention would be focused on him, but he wouldn’t give the newbies the satisfaction of seeing him fidget. A year ago, he would have, but he was different now. He understood how Slytherin worked. It was all about power. He naturally had power over these kids, being older and having more influential friends, but if he let them off put him so visibly on the first night, that balance would shift.
He met the stare of Cadmus Yaxley head on, not so much as blinking until the younger boy looked away. He then gazed at all of the others in turn, raising a single eyebrow and asking a silent question.
They all went back to their food and he heaved an internal sigh. Merlin, Slytherin was exhausting sometimes.
Before he knew it, the dessert plates were clearing off — much to the chagrin of both Crabbe and Goyle — and Dumbledore had taken to his feet once more.
“Another year begins,” he said happily, “but not before I make you all aware of a few start-of-term formalities.
“Mr. Filch has once again asked me to remind you all that magic is not to be performed in the corridors. He has insisted that infractions of this rule will be treated extra harshly this year.” He smiled. “The same message goes for an impressive list of things pinned to the door of his office. You can view them all at any time for your collective reading pleasure.”
Harry wasn’t sure if he was imagining the amused twinkle in the old man’s eyes, but he hoped he wasn’t. It was so much more entertaining if it really was there.
“In case the bright new minds of today fail to ascertain as much from the name, first years should note that the Forbidden Forest is not to be entered under any circumstances.
“Quidditch trials will be held some time after the first week of classes. Please see your heads of house if you are a second year or above who is at all interested.
“And finally, the long-standing tradition of staffing additions continues. This year, I am especially excited for the occasion as it is my pleasure to welcome my very own brother, Aberforth, into the castle. He is most graciously taking up the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor, and I cannot wait to hear all about his lessons. He is most unfortunately under the weather and will not arrive until tomorrow morning.”
That… had not been expected.
The roar of noise that swept through the Great Hall was evidence of that. They’d had some fun throwing out wild theories during dinner but with no new teacher present at the staff table, they hadn’t had anything to go off of.
“It’s worse than I even thought,” huffed Draco. “He’s bringing in his own brother to teach!” He sneered. “One Dumbledore was already doing enough damage to this place, two of them might ruin it altogether.”
Pansy was just giggling. “Aberforth Dumbledore,” she managed to squeak out. “Isn’t he most known for getting caught for using illegal charms on goats?”
“Charming fellow, isn’t he?” asked Daphne as she passed them on their way out of the hall. “I can’t wait to learn all about magical creatures from an expert like him.”
This proved too much for Pansy, who nearly fell over as she was laughing so hard at this point.
Harry wasn’t laughing.
He was thinking that, yet again, it seemed like he was in for an interesting year at Hogwarts.
That chapter turned out longer than expected, but I do hope it didn’t drag. It’s nice to be back at Hogwarts, because I do have a lot planned for this year. I just ask for some patience, because some arcs might seem like they’re going a way people won’t like, but all will not end the way it may seem from the beginning.
Please read and review.
PS: The next chapter will be released in two weeks. THE NEXT SIX CHAPTERS ARE AVAILABLE FOR PATRONS RIGHT NOW AND THEY WILL GET 1-2 MORE COP CHAPTERS THIS WEEK! If you would like to read those chapters early, sign up to my Patreon page.
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