Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me. I only own copies of all seven books, though I'd rather not acknowledge the last two.
Author's Note: I just had this idea, and decided to write it. I thought about another reason, besides choosing Draco Malfoy, Harry Potter might be made a Slytherin. And I got one. You'll have to read to find out.
Chapter 1: Anonymity
Harry James Potter, age eleven, rolled over on his little cot in the cupboard under the stairs. Unfortunately, the little cot was just a tiny bit too narrow for his unnaturally small frame, and he rolled off. He woke up with a start, his almost luminous emerald eyes blinking owlishly up at the ceiling. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, and decided that, since he was awake, he might as well get the mail and put it on the table for his Uncle Vernon to read with the morning paper.
He crept silently out of the cupboard and saw the pile of letters on the door mat. He picked them up, sorting through them almost mechanically, until he saw an anonymous letter that was addressed to him. Unsure of what the letter was about, he threw it into his cupboard to read later, and put the rest on the table, with the morning paper, and started making breakfast.
During breakfast, he went back to his cupboard to read the letter. The Dursleys never said anything about him missing breakfast, but that was because he was never allowed to eat breakfast. Harry opened the letter and read it, his eyes growing wider with each word. He knew there was something odd about himself, had always known. How could he not be a...what-do-you-call-them?...a wizard. He remembered all of the strange things that had happened around him or to him.
What do I do now? he asked himself, silently. He peeked out of the cupboard, and saw his “family”, the Dursley family, still eating the breakfast he had made them, without thanking him. He gathered up his few possessions, crept out of his cupboard, and out the front door. He walked down the street, trying to look like he was supposed to, instead of like a nervous child afraid of being caught.
So, over the next three days, he walked to London proper. Harry had no idea where he was going, but he was hoping he might see an obviously wizard building, where he could ask for advice. As he was wandering, he turned down Charing Cross Road, and saw a seemingly dilapidated old building, a bar called the Leaky Cauldron. He went in, cautiously.
“Excuse me, sir,” he said timidly when he reached the bar. “I just got a letter, inviting me to go to Hogwarts School...”
“Say no more, kid,” the barman said kindly. “Diagon Alley is out back. You press the... Oh, damn, I forget which brick you press.” He started looking around at the patrons. He finally spotted one, and looked relieved. “Excuse me, Professor Snape, could you possibly help this child access Diagon Alley?”
A greasy man with shoulder-length black hair stood up from a stool further down the bar. “Come on kid,” he grunted. Harry followed him out back, and Professor Snape pulled out his wand. He showed Harry the sequence of tapping bricks to help him remember which one actually opened the way, and went back inside.
“Thank you, sir,” Harry said to his retreating back. The surly Professor grunted acknowledgment, without ever looking to see who the child might be.
“Holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches. Go on, try it,” Ollivander said to Harry later that day, after handing him what felt like every wand in the store. Harry waved it, and it emitted gold sparks.
“Bravo, but very curious...” Ollivander murmured.
“Excuse me, but what's curious?” Harry asked.
“...It's not my place to tell you, young Potter,” Ollivander said heavily. “Not my place.” Harry shrugged off that answer, used to questions never being answered.
Harry felt very small in the little wooden boat crossing the lake to Hogwarts. The day seemed to have passed in a blur. He could barely remember asking the kind old barman how to get to Platform 9 ¾. He could barely remember going through the barrier, yet he had gone through. He spent the entire train ride alone in a compartment, listening to the other kids laughing and joking, telling their friends about their summers, and just being merry. There were three other kids in the boat with him, but they didn't speak to him.
When they reached the castle, Hagrid the half-giant took them up to the great oak front doors. “The first years, Professor McGonagall,” he said. She looked over the new students, and took Hagrid aside. Harry managed to overhear her words, but only because he happened to be standing on the edge of the crowd closest to her.
“The Headmaster has decided not to attend the Sorting, as he is too ill...”
Harry felt a flash of sympathy for the sick Headmaster, and silently wished him well.
The Sorting passed almost uneventfully, until Professor McGonagall reached Harry's name. “Harry Potter!” she called. Harry came forward from his place in the line, sat on the stool, and put the Sorting Hat on.
“Oh, very difficult, very difficult,” the hat whispered in his mind. “You have a thirst to prove yourself; and you have a great deal of courage, oh yes; and let's not forget that streak of cunning, oh no. It had better be SLYTHERIN!” Harry took the hat off and sat down at the Slytherin table, accepting his new housemates' applause.
The rest of the year passed uneventfully. Harry excelled in his classes, even topping Gryffindor Hermione Granger, though only barely. He never saw Headmaster Dumbledore close up, as he never got in trouble, but he did do what he could to ease the Headmaster's stresses. Including sneak down into the bowels of the school and steal the Sorcerer's Stone. He had figured out the Stone was there simply by following the trail of clues, and had managed to beat Voldemort there.
Dumbledore received the Stone wrapped in burlap, with an unsigned note telling him that Voldemort was after it and it needed to be hidden more carefully, or destroyed. He destroyed it, never learning who his benefactor might be. All he knew was that the handwriting on the note was similar to that of James Potter.
Keep this diary out of Ginny Weasley's hands. I believe it to be possessed or cursed. The note had been simple the following year, and Dumbledore had discovered the inner workings of the diary.
“Thanks,” Harry whispered to his unlikely ally. A young Gryffindor girl grinned.
“No problem,” she said before walking away. The girl, Hermione Granger, was his only friend, ever since he had dreamed of an attack on her, by a troll.
A young girl was crouching beside a toilet, hoping the awful smelly troll would go away. She was sure it had heard her crying, and thought it could get some easy prey. She screamed, begging for help, but help never came. The teachers had all been misled by a conniving Dark Lord.
When Harry had dreamed that, he woke up with a start. He didn't even know the girl in the dream, though he felt like he should know her. There was something about her... Something good, something he liked... He decided that if he saw her being attacked, he would do everything in his power to help her.
She had been attacked two nights later, and Harry Potter, the anonymous Slytherin boy, had followed the troll and fought beside her. She was his friend for life after that. They had left the troll unconscious in the girls' bathroom, and decided not to tell anyone about Harry's own involvement. He rather liked being anonymous.
“Harry, I'm your godfather,” Sirius Black said one evening after seeking out his godson, who had been sitting by the lake late into the night. Harry tossed a pebble into the lake.
“I know,” he said simply. “I overheard Fudge telling a couple of teachers the whole story. I never believed you were the traitor, you know. Hermione had already told me that Ron Weasley's rat had been acting strange, so she caught the little bugger. I put an Unbreakable charm on the cage, and I still have him in my room.”
“If you help me get into the castle, I can take the little bugger off your hands,” Sirius promised.
“Everyone will be in the Great Hall for the Halloween feast tonight. I'll take you to my dormitory. It'll be better then, so I don't have to face the other boys,” Harry said. He stood up. “The feast will start soon, we should go now.”
“Shouldn't you eat?” Sirius asked.
“Hermione always saves me some food from her table if she doesn't see me during dinner,” Harry said, shrugging.
“I'll ask you about 'Hermione' after we get my former friend,” Sirius said, winking suggestively. He transformed, and Harry led him down to the Slytherin dormitories. Scabbers never knew what had hit him, and neither did Fudge. But Sirius' name was cleared, and he took over guardianship of Harry Potter quietly.
“Harry, you can't go out without a cloak,” Hermione moaned. “It may be June, but it's still chilly at night.”
“Yes, dear,” Harry said, kissing her on the cheek. Over the last summer, Sirius had told him all about girls, and Harry had realized the “something special” he had seen in Hermione in that dream he'd had in first year had been the beginnings of love. He hadn't told her yet, because then he would be revealing his presence to the entire school. He would be the first Slytherin to date a Gryffindor, and that would attract a lot of unwanted attention.
“Tell me again why you're going into that damn maze,” Hermione said. Harry smiled softly at his favorite Gryffindor's inquisitiveness.
“Because I can somehow feel Voldemort's presence,” Harry said. “I feel it as a pain in my scar, which is a relic of the curse he used to try to kill me. I don't know how he came back, it must have been this year, but he's going to kill whichever champion reaches him first. Even if it's Krum, I'd rather no one died. Please, Hermione, trust me.”
“I trust you,” Hermione said firmly. “And I'll always fight by your side. Now, take this cloak I borrowed from Neville.”
“He's always losing things, isn't he? Alright. Wait for my return, then we'll see about reporting this incident,” Harry said softly, stroking her chestnut locks.
“I will,” Hermione promised.
Harry mounted his broom, the Firebolt Sirius had got him for Christmas the previous year, and flew high above the stands and the hedge maze. He slowly circled down lower, his eagle eyes spying out the figures advancing through the maze, until he saw the closest person to the trap. It was the Hufflepuff, Cedric Diggory. He waited until Cedric reached the center of the maze and reached for the cup, only for his eyes to fall on a sight that frightened most veteran Aurors: glaring red eyes gleaming out from under a pitch black hood. Cedric stepped back quickly, going for his wand, until he was disarmed by a negligent wave of the Dark Lord's hand.
“You foolish boy, you cannot fight me!” Voldemort sneered. Harry landed in the shadows on the other side of the cup.
“No offense, Diggory, but he's got a point,” Harry said calmly. Voldemort turned to see who had spoken, and saw the Gryffindor cloak billowing in the slightly chill breeze. “But, I'll fight. Gladly.”
“Then you will die alongside your friend, whoever you are,” Voldemort said easily. “Avada Kedavra!”
Harry spun aside, drawing his own wand at the same time. “Expelliarmus!” Harry incanted. Voldemort cast a shield, though it was vastly more powerful than any shield Harry had ever seen.
“Pitiful,” Voldemort jeered, attempting to break his foe's concentration. “Simply pitiful. Your mother must have been drunk when she allowed your father to defile her.”
“What about your mother? What did she do to your father, drug him?” Harry retorted. Voldemort seethed.
“How do you speak of my family!” Voldemort yelled before launching curse after curse Harry's way. He dodged most of them, his borrowed cloak swishing about his ankles, until he was able to launch a counterattack.
“Expelliarmus!” Harry yelled.
“Avada Kedavra!” Voldemort cast, the light from his curse illuminating his pasty skin and slit-like scarlet eyes. The two spells connected somewhere in the middle, and a golden cage appeared around them. Phoenix song, a soothing melody that gave hope to the pure of heart, sounded from both everywhere and nowhere at once.
“Diggory, run!” Harry yelled, turning towards the transfixed Hufflepuff. “Run! I'll hold him off!”
“No!” Cedric yelled back. “I can fight!”
Harry broke the connection between the wands before they could fight over it. He turned back to Cedric and said, “Grab the cup, and let's go! He's too strong!” Cedric obeyed, and the two boys ran. Once they were far enough away that the chance of pursuit was minimal, Harry leaned forward to catch his breath. “I don't know how he came back, but he did. Listen, please, please, don't tell Dumbledore I was here. Very few people realize that I even exist, and that I'm a Slytherin. I want to keep it that way.”
Cedric looked long and hard at this strange boy who had come to his rescue. “I won't,” he promised.
“Malfoy's probably the prefect for our year,” Harry said as he opened the annual letter from Hogwarts.
“Well, that's not important,” Sirius said, patting Harry on the shoulder. “What's important is that you're fighting against the things most Slytherins find holy, and I'm proud of you. And besides, Lucius Malfoy named old Snivellus godfather to his precious little Draco, so Snivellus is probably falling all over himself to make good on their bargain.”
“I never knew that,” Harry said. “And you never told me about his nickname, either.” He grinned wickedly. “Let the teasing commence.”
“Now, Harry, what kind of Slytherin are you?” Remus Lupin, Sirius' last best friend who had been sworn to secrecy, sighed. “Teasing a Death Eater who's bigger than you is just begging for trouble, especially if he's your Head of House at Hogwarts.”
“Ah, shoot,” Harry muttered, disappointed. “But at least Hermione and I can laugh about it behind his back.”
“That's speaking like a true Marauder and enemy of all that is greasy and evil,” Sirius said.
All it took for Harry to grow uneasy with the way things were happening at Hogwarts was for him to sit through five minutes of Professor Dolores Umbridge's welcoming speech at the beginning of term. He spied the look of distrust marring McGonagall's face, and the look of false serenity on Dumbledore's face, and came to a decision. Umbridge had to be undermined, and fast, before she managed to carry out a coup. He sought out a head of brown hair at the Gryffindor table, and grinned when he saw how still she was sitting.
Hermione, my dear, this is going to be fun, he thought to himself, his grin turning slightly wicked.
“You all have been gathered here, in secret, to learn actual Defense Against the Dark Arts,” Hermione said to the twenty-six gathered students. “Now, I must inform you that before every meeting, I myself will be learning the next spells I'll show you. I am not the highest authority in this organization, which will be called Dumbledore's Army. I learn from the General, who wishes for his identity to remain secret.”
“Come on, we're all in the DA together,” Ginny Weasley whined. “You can tell us who it is. I know you know.”
“Yes, of course I know who he is,” Hermione said coolly. “He knows who he is, as well. But he doesn't want anyone else to know who he is.”
That's my girl, Hermione, Harry thought as he supervised the first meeting from under his Invisibility Cloak, which he had obtained from Sirius, who had managed to nick it back from Dumbledore.
“Harry, we have a problem,” Hermione said apologetically near the end of the year. “We've been betrayed. Marietta Edgecombe went to Umbridge, I'm sure of it.”
“I jinxed the list of the members' names,” Harry said in response. “Anyone who sells out the group will have 'traitor' written across their faces in blinking orange pustules. A rather nifty spell, I think.”
“I agree,” Hermione said. “What's the counterspell to remove the pustules?”
“I rarely learn the counterspells, Hermione, because I don't intend to use them on my enemies. We've been friends long enough for you to get used to my Slytherin ways,” Harry said calmly. “The spell will wear off on its own in time.”
The next time Hermione saw Marietta Edgecombe, she also saw the pustules Harry had told her about, and silently thanked her lucky stars that he had chosen to remain anonymous all these years. However, that was the next indication to Dumbledore that he had an anonymous benefactor at Hogwarts, though he still had no idea who it might be. He thought back over the years, thinking over the various Sorting Ceremonies he had overseen, and tried to remember seeing anyone who might do something like name an illegal student club 'Dumbledore's Army'.
“There's something seriously wrong here, Hermione,” Harry said without preamble when they met in the corridor right after the feast.
“Besides the fact that you were denied Quidditch Captain as well as Prefect badges?” Hermione asked sourly. Harry grinned and stroked her cheek softly.
“You've always campaigned for my rights, I know, and I love you all the more for it,” he said just as softly as he caressed her face. “No, the problem is that Snape has been given the Defense Against the Dark Arts job at this point. I suspect him of somehow taking my blood and using it to resurrect Voldemort two years ago. The bastard's evil, and we both know it. Dumbledore just hasn't seen it yet, or rather, he doesn't wish to see it.”
“I thought you'd be secretly happy that your Head of House got the job he's always wanted,” Hermione said, slightly sarcastically.
“I just have this weird feeling he's going to prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that he's Voldemort's man,” Harry said slowly. “I've always distrusted him, for one reason or another.”
“That's because you're an excellent judge of character,” Hermione sighed, placing her hand on his cheek. Before she walked away, she kissed him quickly in the same spot her hand had occupied.
Neither of them knew that their friendly interlude had been observed by the Headmaster of the school. Dumbledore never thought he'd see a Slytherin that close to anyone not a Slytherin, and most especially someone he thought might be a Gryffindor student, though he couldn't see any House crests. For all I know they might both be Gryffindors, or neither might be, he thought to himself.
Dumbledore was surprised when his pet Phoenix, Fawkes, trilled a few melodic notes and disappeared in a fireball. He was even more surprised when Fawkes returned bearing a note. He took it and read it quickly, his eyebrows creased in consternation.
Snape is going to kill you, soon. The note stopped there, and there was no signature, just like on the others, but he still knew it was from the same person. He just had no idea who it might have been. He shrugged it off and prepared to depart. He had an idea of where another of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes had been hidden.
Frankly, I'm still surprised Cedric Diggory had it in him to duel Voldemort and walk away unscathed. I never thought he had that kind of talent, and then he returned from the maze and reported what had happened. Amazing, really, he thought. He walked to Hogsmeade and Apparated away, never noticing the shadowy figures watching him.
“There he goes,” Hermione said softly. “I'll call the DA, shall I?”
“Yes, we're going to need help. I've overheard enough of Malfoy's private conversations to know exactly when and how he's getting the Death Eaters in. The broken Vanishing Cabinet is still in the Room of Requirement, I think. Send a team to watch that hallway, and set a few to patrol the rest of the castle,” Harry said quickly, taking charge like he was born to do it. “I'll fly above the castle and watch for Dumbledore's return.”
“Why can't we just take Malfoy out now and be done with it?”
“Because then the Death Eaters are going to get jumpy, they'll come here in force, and we'll be in for it big time,” Harry replied as Hermione changed the time on the charmed galleons they had devised together. “Done,” she said. He nodded. “I've already contacted Sirius, and Remus,” he continued. “Good luck.”
“To you too,” she said softly as Harry mounted his Firebolt and flew up into the night sky.
Dumbledore just barely managed to get himself back to Hogsmeade, and then he saw the Dark Mark hovering in the sky above the Astronomy Tower. He Summoned a broom to fly back to school, as he could barely walk, and set off. Partway there, he was joined by someone else on a broom. This newcomer attempted to direct him away from the Astronomy Tower, but he pretended not to see him.
When the newcomer flew closer and grabbed his broom handle, Dumbledore could see a shadowed face. It looked like the same boy from the beginning of the year, the same boy embracing Miss Hermione Granger. He tried to get a closer look, but his vision was starting to become blurry.
“I tried to tell you, not that way!” the unknown boy yelled over the wind sourly.
“But the Mark...”
“Is a trap, sir. Let me lead you,” the boy said soothingly. Dumbledore succumbed to the boy's direction, and allowed his broom to be manipulated over to the North Tower. When they both landed, Dumbledore felt himself enveloped in strong, young arms, and looked up once. Through blurry eyes, the profile of the boy looked astonishingly similar to James Potter.
“Come on, hospital wing,” the boy said soothingly. “My people are keeping the way clear.”
Dumbledore barely noticed as their sprint to the infirmary was escorted by various students, all carrying wands. He did hear, of course, that the escorting students were shouting at the young man still supporting him. And he heard a strident female voice shriek, “Let them go! The Headmaster needs help! That Slytherin is on our side!”
Soon after that, Dumbledore fell into oblivion.
“Are you sure he's on our side?” Ron Weasley whispered uncertainly. “It looks to me like he's hurt Dumbledore.”
“He would never do such a thing!” Hermione responded hotly. “Now get back to the battle! More Death Eaters might come any second!”Harry just kept on going, half running and half walking as he carried Dumbledore. “Harry, don't let them get to you,” she whispered softly.
“Hermione, get our Potions kits,” Harry said instead. “I think he's been poisoned.”
“I have them right here,” she said, grinning. Harry grinned, too, as she kept pace with him. When they reached the hospital wing, they laid Dumbledore on the nearest bed.
“He's almost too light,” Harry said, worry creasing his brow. Then he saw the old Headmaster's blackened right hand. “Now what do you suppose that might be...?”
“I have no idea,” Hermione said. “It looks like a curse, though.” She waved her wand over his hand and arm. “And it's spreading. It's nearly reached his heart.” She looked up at Harry. “It'll kill him if we don't do something about it.”
“How much time do we have?”
“I'd say no more than a week,” she replied fearfully.
“Alright, you were better at concocting antidotes in Potions. I just impressed Slughorn with my cheek by grabbing a bezoar,” Harry said. “So, you stay here and save his life while I go kick some Death Eater ass.”
“Harry, be careful,” she moaned.
“Aren't I always?” He waved jauntily at her as he ran out the door, leaving her alone in the hospital wing with a dying man, because Poppy Pomfrey had already joined the fight.
Harry sprinted back to the North Tower, mounted his broom, and took off for the Astronomy Tower. When he landed, the door opened, and a Death Eater sauntered out.
“We've got you, now, Dumbledore...” the masked Death Eater sneered. “Hey, you're not-”
“You're right, I'm not,” Harry said coldly. “Stupefy! Incarcerous!” he incanted. Four more Death Eaters came up and Harry faced them squarely.
“What are you doing up here? You should be down there!” Snape bellowed when he saw a Slytherin student standing there.
“Go to hell, traitor!” Harry snapped. “Petrificus Totales!”
“Protego!” Snape muttered quickly. “You fool; do you know what you are doing?”
“Of course I know, bastard,” Harry said. He ran to the side, sweeping his arm out. “Flagrum flammae!” The whip of flame lashed out, striking the three Death Eaters behind Snape. Alecto and Amycus Carrow, as well as Draco Malfoy cried out in pain as the whip struck them. Harry drew his wand back and held it like the handle of a whip, and snapped it out to twist around Snape's ankles.
“Impressed, aren't you? Snivellus,” Harry said coldly.
“How dare you call me by that name?!” Snape shrieked.
“I am Harry Potter, and I dare to call any Death Eater by any name I choose!” Harry yelled, shocking the gathered Death Eaters.
“I knew it was you for years, Potter,” Snape sneered. “I took some of your blood while you slept, and used it to resurrect the Dark Lord.”
“I know,” Harry said. “I'm not stupid.” He snapped his wand out again, but he vanished the fiery whip. “Stupefy! Incarcerous!” he incanted, stunning and binding the four Death Eaters. He dragged them over to the door and started down the steps until he hit a barrier.
“Hey, who put this barrier up?” he asked the Order of the Phoenix combatants on the other side.
“Don't know,” McGonagall said, looking at him suspiciously. “I think it was a Death Eater.”
“Well, I've got five here, so there's a fair chance one of them did it,” Harry said, not really speaking to the Order members. “I think I know which one did it, too.” He revived Greyback and said coldly, “Tell me what kind of spell caused this barrier, Death Eater.”
“Go yank yourself, you little shit,” Greyback sneered. “I'll never talk.”
“Fine. Stupefy!” Harry said. “Well, that was a waste of time. Let's see, there has to be a way through...”
“Death Eaters can cross,” Remus said slowly. “I think it must recognize the Dark Mark.”
“Then you take these creeps, and I'll fly to the North Tower. The DA is still holding it,” Harry said, shoving the five unconscious Death Eaters through the barrier. “I'll meet you on the other side!” he called over his shoulder. He grabbed his broom and flew to the North Tower.
“There he is! He's back!” Ron Weasley shouted as he saw the Slytherin approaching at speed. He jumped out of the way as Harry landed. Hermione ran over to him, screaming, “He's going to be fine! I've found an antidote to the poison!” Harry just scooped her up in his arms and kissed her with all the passion he could muster. His knees went weak, and he leaned against the wall as he continued to drink in her scent and her kiss.
“Ummm...” Ron and Ginny muttered. “What are you doing?”
“Oh Merlin, I've wanted to do that for years,” Harry gasped as they broke apart. He turned back to the Weasleys and the rest of the defenders holding the hall. “The Order might need help fighting their way here from the Astronomy Tower.” They stood still.
“Well, go on,” Hermione said.
“You're the General, aren't you?” Neville Longbottom asked, shocked.
“Yeah, the DA was my idea, and I've been training Hermione to train you guys since last year,” Harry said. They ran off. “Now let's go look in on Dumbledore,” he muttered to Hermione.
When they reached the hospital wing, Dumbledore was sitting up in bed. He looked up as they walked in, and noticed their entwined hands. “Well, thank you for saving me,” he began.
“We're not quite done saving you yet,” Harry said, holding a hand up. “Hermione, love, I'll need your help.”
“Anything,” she said promptly. Dumbledore raised an eyebrow at the level of affection and cooperation between this Gryffindor and Slytherin.
“Use a Switching Spell to transfer the curse from him to me,” Harry said.
“It'll kill you!” Dumbledore gasped.
“No it won't,” Harry said kindly, his green eyes twinkling behind his wireframe glasses. “You see, when Voldemort left a piece of his soul embedded in my head, my body absorbed it. The love of my mother, and now Hermione, makes me stronger. The reason it's killing you is because you, unfortunately, don't have that power.”
“And why not?” Dumbledore said, slightly sulky. “I'm sure my parents loved each other when they made me, just like yours loved each other.”
“Oh, I have no doubt of that,” Hermione said. “However, Harry is love personified, and you are... one too many firewhiskies and an improperly cast contraception spell.” Dumbledore glared at her.
“Now, that wasn't very nice, Miss Granger,” Dumbledore said.
“What's the matter, can't take a joke?” Harry asked, grinning. “Hermione, cast it now.”
She waved her wand, muttered the incantation, and Harry cried out. When he collapsed, Hermione caught him. “Oh, Harry, I knew this was a bad idea,” she moaned.
“No, I'll be alright,” Harry gasped, trying and failing to stand upright.
“Are you sure about that?” Dumbledore asked, trying to leap out of bed.
“I don't think you should-” Hermione began, but Dumbledore was already kneeling beside them.
“Oh, Merlin, you're Harry Potter!” Dumbledore gasped. “Where did you come from?”
“I've been here for six years,” Harry said, his voice stronger. He managed to stand up, though his legs were still weak. “I think Professor McGonagall said you were ill right before my year was Sorted.”
“Yes, I had a touch of the flu,” Dumbledore breathed, still astonished to see Harry Potter in the flesh. “Are you sure you're alright?”
“I'll be fine,” Harry assured them both. “I feel stronger already.” Hermione performed a diagnostic spell on Harry and Dumbledore, and found no trace of the curse that had nearly ended Dumbledore's life.
“Now, perhaps you can tell me how you were able to use a Switching Spell to counter that curse,” Dumbledore said, following them out of the infirmary.
“Simple really,” Harry answered. “There was a physical manifestation of the curse, so that's what got transferred to me. Then love did the rest.”
“Okay, when you brought me here, I think you said your people were keeping the way clear,” the Headmaster began.
“The DA is holding the hall leading from here to the North Tower,” Harry confirmed. “I think there are also patrols going to the Astronomy Tower, which is where the trap was set. I've already taken the Tower itself, but there's a barrier preventing anyone without the Dark Mark from going up or coming down. Your Order probably still has a presence there, waiting for more Death Eaters.”
“How many were there on the Tower, Harry?” Hermione asked.
“Only five,” he said, disappointed. “The fight didn't last ten minutes. But I did get the ringleaders of this entire operation.”
“You got the ringleaders? Who were they?” Dumbledore asked.
“Malfoy and Snape,” Harry answered. “Ah, here they are now.” He peeled the masks off three of the Death Eaters as the Order members watched. “I'll bet this is Greyback. Nasty piece of work, this one.”
“I agree wholeheartedly,” Remus said with feeling.
“I thought you might,” Harry grinned. “I know how much you hate him.”
McGonagall muttered to Dumbledore, “Can we trust this Slytherin? Someone from his dormitory, as well as his Head of House, already turned traitor.”
“Minerva, do you not realize, this is Harry Potter,” Dumbledore said. “He's been here all along and right under our very noses.” They both looked, and saw Harry and Hermione locked in an embrace. “Perhaps we should give them some privacy.”
The Order members discreetly made themselves scarce, as Harry and Hermione continued to kiss. When they finally broke apart, they noticed they were alone.
“I'd like to announce the events of this past June fourth,” Dumbledore began in a ringing voice. Everyone stopped talking. “First of all, Professor Snape and Draco Malfoy contrived, and succeeded in getting, Death Eaters into Hogwarts itself. The intruders were fought off by members of the Order of the Phoenix and by several students who rose to the occasion. These students fought well and bravely, and I'd like them to stand up and come forward to be recognized.”
More than two dozen students, from Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff stood up and walked forward. Dumbledore looked among them; locked eyes with Harry who had remained seated, and said, “There is one more student who should stand. This student put his life on the line to save mine, and I will never forget his courage and honor. Harry, come on, stand up.”
The entire Great Hall watched in consternation as a tall young man stood up from the end of the Slytherin table and walked forward. “Harry Potter, and his band of combat-trained students, saved the school from being overrun by Lord Voldemort's minions. Eight Death Eaters were killed or captured, five by Mr. Potter himself.” He turned to Harry and continued, “Harry, I now have a wizards' debt to you.”
“And all I wanted was to help,” Harry said, smiling lovingly at Hermione.
* * * *
EDITOR’S NOTE: I know, I know, the “Harry’s-a-Slytherin” thing has been done before, and many times. The author just felt that she’d try her hand at it.
Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to ask you all a question. I know that I have asked you all many times to tell us how the author’s doing. Now I would like to ask you all how I am doing as an editor. Am I doing my job well? Or do I suck? Tell me in a review, please.