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That's Him by rogerdoger
Chapter 1: The Great Harry Potter Comes Back to Hogwarts
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The cool September air made the hair on the back of Harry’s neck stand up. It was unusually chilly for September 1, but maybe that was the weather reflecting Harry’s feelings about coming back. King’s Cross Station was crowded with witches and wizards making their way to Platform Nine-and-three-quarters. Harry stood beside his trolley, waiting patiently for a large family of wizards to go through the enchanted barrier. Their size reminded him of the Weasleys and Harry couldn’t help but reminisce about his first time boarding the train to Hogwarts. Back then, his biggest worry was missing the train. As Harry grew up, he began to face even greater challenges each year.
Last year, he fought Voldemort, the most powerful dark wizard to ever exist, and defeated him. The constant threat on Harry’s life was now gone, and he wasn’t sure what to do with himself. It was his best friend, Ron Weasley, who had encouraged Harry to join him and Hermione Granger back at Hogwarts to finish their schooling. When Ron had approached the subject, Harry was taken aback. He had thought he and Ron were on the same page: after the dangers they had faced together, going back to school seemed so trivial. It took some convincing, but Harry decided that maybe it was a good idea he return. Better than moping about all day, as Ron had so graciously put it.
So here he was, walking briskly into the wall between Platforms 9 and 10 and emerging on the other side to greet his friends as they boarded the Hogwarts Express. Hermione was chatting excitedly about all the different classes they could take to help them succeed in their chosen career paths. Her hand was entwined with Ron’s, but her boyfriend just rolled his eyes.
“Blimey, Hermione, we haven’t even boarded the train yet.” Ron shook his head, but gazed affectionately down at her.
Harry chuckled. After years of bickering, Hermione and Ron had finally realized that they were meant to be together. Harry wished he could say the same about himself and his ex-girlfriend, Ron’s younger sister Ginny. They got along well and were happy with each other, but something just felt off between them. The breakup had been mutual after Harry had been pulling away for a little bit.
The three friends found a compartment on the train that was empty and sat down, stowing their trunks overhead. Harry had not yet bought himself a new owl after Hedwig had died. It felt like he was betraying her: she was more than just a letter-carrier, she was his first friend. Her empty cage was back at the Burrow, where he had been staying over the summer.
Harry glanced up at the compartment door. A group of first years were slowly shuffling down the corridor, obviously trying to sneak a look at Harry and his friends. He rolled his eyes, “This was one of the reasons I didn’t want to come back. People staring at me like I’m in a zoo. It gets tiring.”
Hermione nodded sympathetically. “I know what you mean. I have a feeling that a lot of the younger students will be awestruck by the great Harry Potter. On our way here, Ron and I passed by a third year Ravenclaw pestering Luna about you.”
Harry shifted in his seat, “Oh, Luna came back?” He supposed it was reasonable that she did. She was a year younger than Harry and had gone to Hogwarts last year before the Death Eaters took her to Malfoy Manor. He wondered who else had returned to Hogwarts.
Ron seemed to read his mind. “Let’s see… Ginny, Luna, Dean, and Seamus are all here… who else…” He trailed off thinking hard, when suddenly a thought seemed to strike him. “OH! You won’t believe this. Hermione doesn’t believe me, but I saw him, I did.”
“Who?” Harry asked, intrigued.
“You did not see him Ron. It was probably some tall fifth year. He doesn’t look anything like the guy we saw.” Hermione said matter-of-factly.
“Who did you see?”
“I’m telling you Hermione, I would never forget the face of that dirty, rotten…”
“WHO?” Harry bellowed, annoyed that he wasn’t being told information that Ron thought was interesting.
It was Hermione who told him. She turned to face Harry, and in a tone that suggested she thought Ron’s idea to be ridiculous, she said, “Ron is under the impression the person we saw earlier today on the Platform was Draco Malfoy.”
Chapter 2: Why Is His Hair Blue?
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“You’re joking.” Harry shook his head, “Malfoy wouldn’t dream of coming back. Last time I checked, he was a Death Eater. He was forced into being one, sure, but a Death Eater nonetheless. Also, what do you mean he didn’t look like him?” As long as he’d known him, Malfoy had looked generally the same: slicked-back blond hair, pointed chin, cold, grey eyes, and a perpetual sneer.
“Well, for one thing, the person on the Platform was several inches taller than Malfoy. He was probably taller than Ron.” Hermione began. However, this was all she could say before their compartment door slide open.
The trio’s good friend, Neville Longbottom stood there, grinning. “Hi, guys! Didn’t think you lot would be coming back. Only reason I found out was because I overheard some first year girls in the corridor talking about Harry Potter and his dreamy eyes. Thought I ought to investigate.” He invited himself in and sat down beside Harry.
The rest of the train ride consisted of small talk and questions about what Hogwarts would be like after the life-changing battle that had taken place there. Thoughts of Draco Malfoy had disappeared from the minds of Ron and Hermione, but Harry couldn’t help but think…
A lot had changed for him during the time between Voldemort’s death and his return to school. For one, he had definitely grown up. His summer months hadn’t been thrilling; it was a time of healing for the Weasleys and many others who had lost family members to the dark forces that had once plagued the wizarding world. For the most part, he took turns minding his godson, Teddy, with Andromeda (Teddy’s grandmother). It was in between shifts of watching the baby that Harry really had time to process the events that had taken place. He recalled one afternoon, a few days after his breakup with Ginny, when he had taken a walk to clear his thoughts.
It was a warm day, with few clouds in the sky. Harry was walking through the field behind the Burrow, remembering the night Dumbledore died. Malfoy had seemed scared then, his confidence faltering, lowering his wand. It was right then when Harry confirmed it with himself: Malfoy did not want any part in this. Yes, he was prejudiced and bigoted, but he did not want to kill anyone. Harry decided to put himself in Malfoy’s shoes. He was, after all, just a sixteen-year-old boy. Harry had also been forced into doing great tasks that someone his age should not have been expected to do. The difference, he concluded, was the fact that his actions were for good, and Malfoy’s for evil.
The screech of the train’s breaks snapped Harry back to reality. They were here.
As he and his friends gathered their things, Harry made a mental note to himself: He forgave Malfoy, just a little, and if he was at Hogwarts, Harry wouldn’t torment him like he expected others to do.
As Harry stepped off the train, a familiar voice calling “Firs’ years, firs’ years over here!” made him beam.
Rubeus Hagrid towered over everyone, but remained the most welcoming person Harry had ever encountered. “’Arry!” Hagrid boomed, clapping Harry on the shoulder. “Good ta see ya!”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione exchanged brief pleasantries with the half-giant and kept moving, hoping to secure a carriage all to themselves. There was room for four, but Neville had gone off with Seamus, Dean, and Luna. As they wanted in line, Ron tugged on Harry sleeve.
“Look,” he whispered, gesturing at the tall boy with pastel blue hair who had gotten in line behind them, “It’s him.” But before Harry could turn around, Hermione ushered them into a Thestral-drawn carriage. The rule was to share the carriage until it was full, so the blue-haired boy followed behind.
Ron and Hermione sat across from each other, with Harry beside Ron. As the mystery boy was putting his trunk in the back, Ron whispered to Harry, “I know it doesn’t look like him, but it is, I swear. He’s just gone off and transfigured his hair, that’s all.”
Harry leaned in so Hermione could hear as well, “I don’t think it is, really. Malfoy’s obsessed with his hair, he would never…” he didn’t finish the end of his sentence because the carriage door had reopened and the blue-haired boy clambered in, his long legs folded awkwardly so his feet wouldn’t touch Harry’s.
He looked up at the same time as Harry and those grey eyes flooded with recognition, just as they did once before, at Malfoy Manor.
Harry swallowed, “Malfoy.” He nodded and felt weird addressing this boy who looked so different from the person Harry once knew.
Malfoy nodded back, “Potter.” Then, to Ron and Hermione, “Weasley, Granger.” He stared at his feet.
Harry couldn’t believe his eyes. It was certainly Malfoy, he could see that. But something was off. His hair was most obvious. No longer blond and flat to his head, it was longer and a pale shade of blue. Another thing was his height. When standing, Malfoy would be a full head taller than Harry. And then there was his face, which remained the same except for the fact that he was no longer scowling. Now, Malfoy had an almost nervous look to him, though he was trying hard to keep relaxed.
Perplexed, Harry resorted to staring hard out the window, trying his best to keep from glancing at Malfoy. The carriage jolted along the dirt road to Hogwarts in awkward silence. Ron and Hermione appeared to be having an urgent conversation with their eyes; Malfoy had pulled out the latest edition of the Quibbler (the Quibbler!) and was concentrating on the article he was reading.
After what felt like hours, they had reached the gates of Hogwarts. Harry felt a wave a contentment crash over him. Hogwarts was the first place where he felt truly welcome. Any apprehension about coming back was long gone. Even Malfoy’s suspicious hair change seemed unimportant once the magnificent castle came into full view. He sighed, pacified. Whatever happened this year, Harry knew one thing was certain. Hogwarts was his home.