When they got inside the castle, the first-years were told to wait in a hallway as one by one they were called in alphabetical order into the Great Hall, where an enchanted hat would tell them what house they belonged in. “Draco,” Harry called to his best friend, then again “Draco!”
“Hm?” he asked, turning around.
“What will you do if I’m not in Slytherin?”
“Well,” he said, putting his hand below his chin in the ‘I’m thinking’ position. “I guess we’ll just end up mortal enemies, constantly trying to make each other miserable.”
Harry looked at him hesitantly, unsure whether that was sarcasm or not. “Loosen up Potter,” Draco said finally, seeing Harry’s paranoia. “If you’re not in Slytherin, that’s unfortunate, but it’s going to take a lot more than an old hat to stop Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter being allies if that's what we feel like being.” He always used the word ‘ally’ rather than friend- it was just one of his impersonal ways of dealing with people. Reassured, Harry relaxed and listened to the sorting.
“Macmillan, Ernie,” called Professor McGonagall.
Ernie sat under the Sorting Hat for quite some time before at last the brim widened and it called out “Hufflepuff!” Draco smirked to Harry as Ernie Macmillan ran off to a table of students who were all rather unattractive and dim looking.
“Malfoy, Draco!” shouted McGonagall, and Draco clapped Harry on the back before striding out to sit beneath the hat. It barely even touched his head when it yelled out “Slytherin!” Draco turned around and gave Harry a thumbs-up before walking to his new House table.
“Nott, Theodore,” called McGonagall.
A mousy looking boy got up and was sorted into Slytherin.
“Patil, Padma!” yelled McGonagall.
The Indian girl who Harry had talked to on the boat ride to Hogwarts ran up and sat on the stool. The hat again took a long time in deciding before it called out “Ravenclaw!” Delighted, Padma ran off towards the Ravenclaw table.
“Patil, Parvati!” called McGonagall.
It felt to Harry like déjà vu as he watched Padma’s twin sister sit under the hat for a few minutes, until the hat yelled “Gryffindor!”
“Potter, Harry!” yelled Professor McGonagall.
Butterflies flying evasive maneuvers in his stomach, Harry walked up to the little stool, noticing that every eye, even Dumbledore’s, was on him, and that many people were whispering to each other. As the tattered old hat was placed on his head, Harry suddenly heard a raspy voice. Where to put you, eh? Bravery and then some, ambition aplenty, loyal… not a bad mind either… Harry realized it must be the hat, communicating with him. Slytherin, he told the hat. Put me in Slytherin. He hoped the hat listened to requests.
Slytherin, eh? No doubt you could go far there… well, if you’ve made up your mind- “SLYTHERIN!”
There was a great explosion of noise in the Great Hall as all of Slytherin table stood up and cheered, chanting “We got Potter! We got Potter!” The other three tables were hissing and booing the Slytherins, and Harry raced towards a seat next to Draco before some overly enthusiastic Gryffindors started throwing things at him. As he was halfway to the Slytherin table, he looked up at the staff table and saw a greasy man with long black hair staring intently at him, and next to him a pale man with a purple turban- “AURGH!” he yelled, suddenly falling to the ground as waves of pain rolled through his head.
As the pain receded, Harry heard a familiar voice call “Potter!” He felt Draco pulling him up to his feet, “Potter, are you okay?!” Draco demanded.
“Yeah,” Harry muttered weakly. “Yeah, I’m fine.” Pushing Draco away so he could stand properly, he walked towards the Slytherin table and sat down. Then he noticed that everyone was still staring.
“He’s okay! Eyes back in your sockets now!” Draco yelled, standing up. Professor McGonagall called another name, and, to Harry’s chagrin, everyone stopped looking at him.
“Who is that man?” he asked Draco, pointing up at the Head Table.
“That? That’s Professor Snape. He’s an old friend of my father’s. He was invited to the party we held for your birthday, but couldn’t show up.” Even now, Professor Snape was staring at Harry intently.
After the feast, the Slytherin first years were brought down to the dungeons, and into a sickly green Common Room. “We’re under the lake now,” the prefect, who was named Higgs, told them. “Boys, your dormitory is over there,” he said, and he pointed to stairwell that lead further down underground. Right next to it was another stairwell that went upstairs; “Girls,” said Higgs, “you two are upstairs.” Oddly, there were only two Slytherin girls this year, Pansy Parkinson and Millicent Bullstrode, along with 6 boys- Harry, Draco, Blaise Zabini, Crabbe, Goyle, and Theodore Nott.
“So you made it in after all, eh Zabini?” sneered Nott as they entered their dorm room, which was filled with four-poster beds.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Zabini asked coldly. Harry could feel trouble coming.
“Well, we all know your mum’s a pureblood, despite her… conduct. But who knows which victim- I mean husband, fathered you, eh? Was it the Mudblood one? Or maybe the old Squib in his 80s with a big old fortune in Gringotts?” Nott jeered.
As Blaise lunged at the laughing, wheezy Nott, Draco snapped his fingers and Crabbe and Goyle got between them, wrestling them to opposite ends of the room. “Enough of that,” snapped Draco, glaring at Nott. “If the Sorting hat didn’t find anything wrong with Zabini’s blood, I don’t think you will, Nott. Zabini, don’t get riled up so easily. You’re a pureblood- an elite, a civilized gentleman. Act like it.” Harry was rather impressed with the way Draco took charge of the situation, and the way that everyone quickly fell in line at the crack of his whip.
“So,” said Nott after a long silence. “You’re Harry freaking Potter, eh?”
Before Harry could reply, Draco again reprimanded Nott. “Watch your tone boy, or gentleman or not I will curse you into oblivion.” His wand was out, 10 and a half inches of white yew with dragon heartstring, pointed right at Nott’s face, which was getting paler by the minute.
“Yes,” said Harry, as Draco lowered his wand. “I’m Harry Potter.”
Crabbe and Goyle grinned stupidly, Blaise began looking him up and down, appraising him, and Nott just sat on his bed and looked at the covers.
To diffuse the tension, Draco asked “Goyle, how’s your mum doing?”
“She’s much better now,” Goyle said; it sounded as if made an effort to string words together.
“What happened?” asked Harry, who knew nothing about Goyle’s family.
“Mrs. Goyle got into an altercation with one of her Mudblood co-workers at the Ministry, which ended with both women going to St. Mungo’s,” explained Zabini. “That’s the wizarding hospital,” he added.
“What were they arguing about?” Harry asked.
“Apparently the witch was transferring to Arthur Weasley’s department because she didn’t like working with my mum, and she was complaining that the resumes they make you fill out have a section about blood-status,” explained Blaise, while Goyle nodded.
“What’s the old saying?” asked Draco. “Only the guilty tremble?” Everyone, Nott included, laughed.
The next couple of days passed so quickly, Harry couldn’t remember most of what happened. He started all of his classes, met his teachers, some of which (like Professor Flitwick, who taught Charms) he liked, some (like Professor Binns, who was a very boring ghost), and one (Professor Snape, the Potions Master) who he didn’t really feel one way or the other about. Every day, Snape refused to even make eye contact with Harry. He called on Gryffindors when it was a question he hadn’t taught yet (though he just stopped calling on Hermione Granger altogether), and on other Slytherins when the questions were simple, but he ignored Harry like wasn’t even there.
At the end of the first week, it was announced that first-years would be having a flying lesson with Madam Hooch, and this was the first thing Harry really looked forward to all term- being able to get back on a broomstick.
The lesson began very smoothly- the Gryffindor know-it-all, Hermione Granger, couldn’t even get her broom to come up. Then it took another agonizing ten minutes before Madam Hooch was done correcting everyone’s posture (including Draco’s), and confident that the class was ready to fly.
“On my whistle!” she yelled. “3- 2-” Just as Harry thought he was finally going to be allowed to fly again, Gryffindor’s #1 idiot, Neville Longbottom, flew ten feet into the air, stopped, dropped like a stone, and crashed into the ground. “Oh dear,” sighed Madam Hooch, picking up a sobbing Neville and dragging him back to the castle. “No one even touches a broom before I get back, or you’re out of here before you can say ‘Quidditch!’ Now come on, Longbottom.”
Thoroughly annoyed, Harry put his broom back on the ground as Draco bent over and picked up a glass sphere near where Neville had screwed everything up. “Look what Longbottom left,” he said, holding up the Remembrall.
“Put that down Malfoy,” snapped a tall boy with freckles and red hair- Ronald Weasley.
“Really weaselby, there’s no need to be confrontational,” snorted Draco. “Longbottom cost us a bit of fun, so it’s only fair that he should return it, right?” Crabbe and Goyle nodded sluggishly, and Harry grinned, amused at the way Weasley’s face was turning red at the word “weaselby.”
“Hey Potter,” called Draco, stepping onto his broom, “catch!” He threw the Remembrall high into the air, and leaped up after it.
Not to be outdone in the air, Harry too kicked off the ground, and grabbed the Remembrall out of the air as it began its descent back to earth. He pulled it behind him, then threw it as far forward as he could. Draco darted after it like a bullet, despite the sluggish old broom he was flying. After catching it, he threw it over his back, straight at Harry, who caught it again. Their passes became ever more dramatic as Ron Weasley fumed on the ground and Hermione Granger shouted at them about all the rules they were breaking. Finally, Draco threw the ball straight at the ground, and Harry swept downwards in a spectacular dive, catching it just as he pulled upwards. Seeing that his broom wasn’t going to pull up fast enough to avoid crashing, Harry leaped off his broom, rolling in the grass below. The Remembrall went rolling out of his hands, until landing at Ron Weasley’s feet. As the redheaded blood traitor bent over to pick it up, Draco landed behind him, causing a gust of wind which knocked Ron over, crushing the glass ball beneath him.
“You’ll pay for that Malfoy!” yelled Ron angrily, glaring at Draco, who now had both feet on the ground.
“Good thing it’s me and not you, eh?” snorted Draco. “How many months would your family starve if you had to pay to replace that dusty old orb?” Harry joined the rest of the Slytherins in laughing at Ron, whose face was now a shade of purple Uncle Vernon might have seen in a mirror.
“You are so dead the next time I get a chance,” growled Ron, trying to be threatening.
“Really weaselby?” asked Draco. “How about a wizard’s duel? You, me, no contact. Wands only. Are you in?”
Seeing that everyone was now looking at him, Ron had no choice but to accept- “Fine,” he snorted at Draco. “Time and place?”
“Trophy room,” replied Draco calmly- Harry would’ve bet that he already had a plan figured out- “Tonight at midnight. Potter here will be my second,” he added.
Knowing full well that no one was going to die, Harry nodded his agreement.
“Then Dean here will be mine,” said Ron confidently.
“No way man,” said the black boy, who was now stepping away from Ron. “Ask Seamus instead.” After Seamus said no, Hermione Granger, Parvati Patil, and Lavender Brown all denied wanting to be Ron’s second. “Alright,” snapped Ron finally, now the three shades darker than the darkest shade of red Harry thought humans could turn. “Neville will be my second. See you there!”
After that outburst, Madam Hooch returned, and seeing everyone on the ground, continued the flying lesson.
The next morning, to Harry, Draco, and the rest of the Slytherin’s delight, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and, somehow, Neville Longbottom had been caught by Filch out of bed at night, each received a detention, and lost Gryffindor a total of 60 points.
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