I'm going to use the real world calendar for 2001 in this, meaning Harry arrived at Hogwarts on a Saturday and then will have all of Sunday off before starting classes on Monday, September 3rd. Oh, and I nuked a good-sized scene here, which was essentially the original author beating off about how many friends-with-benefits Harry had, basically amounting to every light side-affiliated female in his immediate age group. Oh, he dumped Cho but bent her over a few times, Fleur was his sex toy, yadda yadda yadda. Yeah, let's not and say we did, hmm? Strangely enough, I don't feel like I've lost anything by removing either the scene or the idea of Harry being an utter manwhore. Anyone disagree?
"My name is Harry Potter… and you know, I wish my parents had warned me this was coming. I would have written a speech or something." He was honestly stymied for the first time since coming back. What did he say to make himself sound like a semi-average eleven-year-old boy? Without coming off as either boorish or uninteresting - or both, in one notable case - as the other boys had?
Leaning across Daphne and Hermione, Cherise patted Harry on the arm reassuringly. "This isn't your OWLs, Harry. Just relax and be yourself."
Giving the prefect a small smile and a nod, Harry thought for a moment before deciding on a brief summary that would give away precious little about him, forcing people to come to him and get genuine first impressions instead of forming it here. "Right then. My name is Harry Potter and I'm from Perranarworthal in Cornwall. My favorite colors are black, gold, and green. My father is a pureblood and my mother is a muggleborn; they were the Head Boy and Girl for the Class of '88. I like quidditch, reading, and I've been learning to cook from my mother because I have twin younger sisters who she was making help her and anything they touched turned out horrible. And I'm a growing boy, so a table full of food I can't eat is a crime." There was scattered laughter and Harry furrowed his brow; was there anything else he should tell them? Not that he could think of. Turning to the brunette beside him, Harry gestured for her to proceed. "Hermione?"
Hermione was busy glaring at Neville, who was staring back at her with wide eyes, evidently just finally noticing the presence of his abuser from the train. After a moment, she scoffed and looked away, turning her attention to Cherise. "My name is Hermione Granger and I'm a muggleborn from Winchester. I'm looking forward to Transfiguration and Defense Against the Dark Arts because they seem like the most exciting disciplines of magic. I want to learn how to fly and play quidditch, and back home I was the goalkeeper for my school's field hockey team."
While that didn't seem to mean much to most of the group, Dean gave a start at that and so did Megan. "Wow. You play field hockey? So did my sister but she had to give it up because she broke her leg one too many times and it didn't heal right." Deciding her outburst was a good enough reason to jump the line, she turned to the others and waved. "I'm Megan Jones, by the way. Pleased to meet you. Also a muggleborn, if you didn't pick up on that on your own. And if you can't figure it out from the accent, I'm Welsh. From Swansea, to be specific. I don't really have a favorite subject yet because I didn't get to Diagon Alley until two days ago because my family was too busy to make the trip from Swansea to London. I've always loved helping my mam in the garden, though, so maybe Herbology. Although if it's anything like normal gardening and we end up kneeling in the dirt, I'm going to be very glad we spent the extra bit of money to get the Evans Charm on all my skirts."
That grabbed Harry's attention. While it could very well be a charm created by someone named Evan, there was an equal chance that the spell's formal name was the Evans Charm… and given there was no magical Evans family that he knew of, what was the likelihood of another magical person sharing his muggleborn mother's maiden name? "The Evans Charm?"
Megan rose to her feet, as did Hermione. The two looked at each other before grinning and drawing their wands, each tapping the tip of hers against a seemingly featureless spot on the waistband of her skirt. "Real women wear trousers." Anne, Daphne, and Cherise let out indignant huffs at that even as Harry watched in fascination, the two girls' black uniform skirts morphing into slacks identical to the ones he was wearing. "The patriarchy is keeping me down." The trousers became skirts once more and the two girls retook their seats, ignoring the looks the other girls and even a few of the boys were giving them. Personally, Harry found it all quite intriguing. He knew his mother was a genius with charms from mentions by others even before coming to this universe, but he'd never even thought to ask what she'd done with the ten years of life she gained in this new world. He probably should have, he realized. Maybe there were other, more useful spells wandering around in that brilliant mind of hers that he could put to good use.
Dismissing those thoughts as contemplations for another time, Harry half-listened to Anne Weasley ramble on about life in Ottery St. Catchpole with five older brothers and a younger sister before tuning back in as the others realized they'd skipped two girls thanks to Megan's line jumping and attention turned to the former eagle and snake now in lions' clothing. The pair looked at each other across Cherise, each gesturing for the other to proceed, before Hermione leaned across two laps and jabbed Su in the ribs with her wand, prodding the diminutive girl into speaking. "Ouch. Alright, fine, I'll go. My name is Li Su. For those of you who've never met someone actually from China, that means my given name is Su and my family name is Li. Still, we're not that different. Unless we're friends, you're not allowed to call me Su, so just call me Li and you'll probably get an answer. I was born in Shanghai but when I'm in England, I live in Harwich in Essex. My parents are the current owners of a very successful import business - which means they get paid to find and bring stuff from around the world to Britain so you can spend your money on it - and when I graduate, I'm going to work for them."
There were a few confused murmurs as she finished but Su didn't seem inclined to clarify anything, they soon gave up and turned to Daphne. "My name is Daphne Greengrass and I'm a pureblood from Woodbridge in Suffolk. Since she doesn't seem to care about keeping it a secret, I might as well admit that Tracey Davis is my half-sister; she was sorted into Ravenclaw tonight, if you weren't paying attention. I'm the end of line for two houses through my father, including being the heir presumptive of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Greengrass, and a third through my mother. So as fun as it would be to play pretend and talk about what job I'd like to have some day, I'll probably be either engaged or married by the time we graduate. After that, I'll settle into the life of a proper manor housewife: raise a child or two, organize dinners and parties, and so forth and so on. I know that freaks you muggleborns out, but that's how our world works and so I'm just being realistic."
"Three houses, eh? Including a Noble and Most Ancient one?" Neville grinned and leaned forward in his seat. "Well, I'll have you know that the Noble and Most Ancient House of Longbot…"
Daphne narrowed her eyes, jabbing her wand forward. "Stupefy
!" A jet of red light caught Neville right in the face, throwing him back in his chair so hard it tipped over, spilling him onto the floor. While not particularly impressive in the grand scheme of things, the fact that Daphne could perform that spell so well as a first year was decidedly noteworthy. Everyone looked at Daphne in disbelief, the strawberry blonde glaring at Neville's fallen form as she tucked her wand away. "By the time we graduate. I'm eleven right now for one, and your family couldn't afford me for another." She looked around at her peers. "Anyone else want to make an early offer?"
The one true unknown from the sorting - Harry didn't count Ellen as such, given she was just the twin of someone who'd existed albeit as an only child in his original world - raised her hand, only to cringe at the glare Daphne shot her way. "Kidding!" The brunette ran one hand through her hair nervously as she looked around. "My name is Fay Dunbar. I'm from Kirkwall on Mainland Orkney. Like Megan, I'm pretty sure the accent makes it obvious that I'm Scottish. Um… I like quidditch like a few of you although I don't really have any one team that's my favorite. Anyone Scottish will do. I think my favorite subject is going to be Potions, I want to be an auror when I graduate, and… that's it I think. Ellen?"
"Dia daoibh. Guess the Sorting Hat felt like giving the dorm a complete set of non-English girls this year." Evidently giving birth to a pair of twins instead of having only one child wasn't the only difference when it came to this world's Williams family, Harry mused, because he distinctly recalled Siobhan speaking RP when he'd interacted with her at DA meetings. Her accent was also distinctly different compared to Seamus's, which was a surprise to him because… well, he'd never really been exposed to enough Irish people to know they had more than one accent. "My name is Ellen Williams, and I have a twin sister Siobhan who was sorted into Hufflepuff. She's identical, unlike Cherise's sister, and even without trying we keep ending up wearing the same things and doing our hair the same way. So don't feel bad if you mix us up when we're not in uniform, and we won't get mad either. And I'm not sure what classes I'm going to like or what I want to be when I grow up, but I have plenty of time to figure it out."
"That you do. One thing you don't have plenty of time to do here is sleep." Rising to her feet, Cherise stretched before covering her mouth as she yawned. "I don't know what kind of schedule everyone kept at home but classes start at nine o'clock sharp and breakfast is even earlier. So while you don't have to go to bed right away, I strongly recommend heading up to your dorms now so you can unpack and such." When nobody moved, she rolled her eyes before pointing one hand in the direction of the stairway that led up to the boys' dorms and the other towards the girls' stairs. "Shoo."
Harry offered the older girl a salute before hopping to his feet, waving goodnight to his friends - or the girls that were becoming his friends, at least - before making his way over to the stairway. The dull roar of the common room fell away as he ascended the stairs, but it quickly returned as the other four boys in his year piled in after him, Neville being carried by the other three. Rolling his eyes, Harry drew his wand and surreptitiously revived Neville. The boy thrashed, causing the others to drop him, and looked around in surprise. "Whah? Huh?"
"Daphne stunned you for being a twit." Harry grinned and grabbed his trunk from the stack in the middle of the room, pondering for a moment before grabbing the same bed as in his old universe. It was the perfect location in his opinion: neither too close nor too far from the fire, and not next to the door so he could sleep in on weekends while his dormmates got up and went about their plans for the day. "Was pretty funny, if you ask me. Right in the face at point blank range."
Growling, Neville struggled to his feet and pulled out his wand. "First that mudblood Granger back on the train and now this. Did you know they had to have Madam Pomfrey apparate onto the train an hour out so she could fix my teeth back up?" Rolling up his sleeves, he stomped toward the door. "I don't care if they are girls. Nobody treats Neville Longbottom like that and gets away with it!"
Harry narrowed his eyes. Even if he hadn't possessed a soft spot when it came to the girls in question, not only did he loathe the word mudblood, but violence against women was completely unacceptable in his book. Well, except for that time he'd cursed Bellatrix Lestrange to hell and back before ending her life. And the time he'd killed Alecto Carrow. But did either of those beasts really count as women? Oh, and there was the matter of his duel with Cissy, but that had been self-defense on his end and she'd recovered from it quickly enough. At any rate… "I don't think so, Longbottom. Now put your wand away before you get hurt. Again."
"And who do you think's going to hurt me? You?" Neville laughed and tapped his wand against his forehead. "I'm the Boy-Who-Lived. You're just the son of a mudblood and a whiny pureblood auror, according to my father. I got an exception from the Minister himself to begin learning magic last year. You don't stand a chance against…"
The spell caught Neville in the back, spinning him around like a top and dumping him to the floor as his wand was ripped out of his hand. Cherise caught it neatly and tucked it into the waistband of her skirt before gathering her blonde curls up into a bun and shoving her own wand through it to hold it in place. "I was just coming up here to see if Longbottom needed to be revived. Looks like I turned up just in time. Longbottom, ten points from Gryffindor for inappropriate language and threatening harm to your housemates. I'll be turning your wand over to Professor McGonagall when the prefects meet with her in a few minutes; you can explain yourself to her when you decide you want it back. If you need help with anything, talk to the second years or the three non-Weasley third years. And on that note… goodnight, boys. Harry."
Being singled out - and the little smile that accompanied his name - made Harry raise an eyebrow, but he shrugged it off as Cherise departed and closed the door behind herself. After watching the other three boys help Neville to his feet, Harry waited for the attention to inevitably return to him before raising his right hand and flicking his wrist, causing his wand to jump into his hand. "You're lucky I saw her behind you, Longbottom. She was a lot nicer than I would have been." Turning away, he walked back towards his bed. "Besides, Hermione already knocked out your teeth and Daphne stunned you. Do you really want to pick a fight with either of them a second time? If I'd lost to a girl once, I'd be embarrassed. If I'd lost twice, especially in one day, I'd be humiliated. I wouldn't be trying for a third time."
After casting a few protective charms around his bed as the others went back to fawning over Neville, Harry opened his trunk and dug around for a few minutes before finding the book he was looking for. A quick inspection showed the rest of his possessions had survived the journey unbroken and so after closing, locking, and applying a few charms to his trunk as well, he crawled up to rest with his back against the headboard and opened his copy of Snogging Seductresses: Things I Learned From the World's Most Provocative Magical Species
. And if this was another case of Lockhart and this 'Selene Shagwell' woman was just making up her adventures? Especially given the moving photograph of her on the back flap of the dust jacket? Harry didn't want to know about it.
Apart from the obvious allure of such a book, Harry was finding the information inside genuinely interesting. Selene had literally traveled the entire world, meeting and interviewing dryads, huldra, huli jing, kitsune, sidhe, sirens, succubi, and even an all-female clan of vampires that seduced their prey and took enough to survive but never killed. Veela, though, were of particular interest because of the upcoming - in a way - Triwizard Tournament, to say nothing of Anastasiya and Cassie. And what he found in the book shocked him.
Here, it turned out Anastasiya's wheat blonde hair wasn't dark for a veela, but rather light. Originating in the central and eastern regions of Europe, 'baseline' veela possessed either dark brown or black hair, rather than the silvery-blonde he'd become accustomed to from Fleur's presence during the war effort. Veela actually possessed a peculiar mix of dominant and recessive genes… and Harry had been rather amazed that a witch had known enough about muggle science to even mention something like that. Unlike his original universe, there were no half or quarter veela here; all girls born to veela mothers were veela, while all boys were simply human boys - albeit with a tendency to be a bit on the 'pretty' side. Their appearance genes, however, were largely recessive so apart from being 'pretty' as a rule, Veela tended to breed into the local population so that each successive generation looked more and more like the native people, until they were distinguished from the normal humans only by their fantastic beauty. And while the veela of this world had retained their allure, as was evident from his encounters with Anastasiya, they held mastery over storms and nature rather than fire. Not just offensively, either: some veela were known to possess the power to heal someone just by laying their hands on the sick person, and Selene had even met a veela who possessed prophetic abilities.
Idly wondering what abilities Fleur and Gabrielle - and Cassie, for that matter - possessed in this universe, Harry flipped to the next page and continued reading about, small world, Selene's wanderings in eastern Europe and her encounter with a trio of young veela named Anastasiya, Lena, and Yulia. In Ukraine. While it wasn't an uncommon name in the area according to his aunt… why take the chance? Granted Anastasiya was a pretty woman but she was his godfather's woman and there were just some things one didn't want to know about their family members. Skimming forward until her name stopped appearing, Harry perked up as a section on Selene's travels in Bulgaria began. If the Quidditch World Cup was anything to go by, they had some bloody gorgeous veela.
Plus he wasn't actually related to any of them.
"Right then. There are three rooms. That means four of us will be spread over the first two rooms and someone gets their own. Does anyone want to volunteer to be in a double or should we just put slips of paper in a hat and start drawing?" If there was one thing her parents had taught her how to do well, Tara mused, it was how to seize control of the rabble and guide them to the destination she desired for them. But while Lucius fancied himself a master of the art - and Draco was a pale shadow of their father - his abilities paled in comparison to those possessed by Narcissa Malfoy. She was a virtuoso in the fine arts of manipulation and control, manipulator of the manipulator. And at her right hand, Tara had learned a great many things that would serve her well in Slytherin. Starting right now.
Pansy sent her beseeching looks but after Tara failed to so much as blink at her - Pansy was a dear, but she wasn't going to voluntarily give up that much extra space for her - the black-haired girl huffed and turned to Millicent. "Want to room together? If there's a four out of five chance I'm going to end up getting paired with someone, it might as well be someone I know." The larger girl let out a grunt and shrugged before grabbing the handle of her own trunk in one hand and Pansy's in the other. Waving, Pansy opened the door to the leftmost room and the two disappeared inside to settle in.
And then there were three. After a moment, an idea came to Tara and she opened her trunk, slipping her hand into her money bag and retrieving a single galleon. "Why don't we flip for it? Parvati, you and I go first. The winner will go on to face Maeve and the loser goes in the double. Maeve, obviously you'll face one of us and if you win, you get the solo room. If you lose, you go with the other loser in the double. Sound fair?" The two girls looked at each other, shrugged ambivalently, and then turned back to Tara. "Good. Parvati, head or dragon? And I have to say, I love your name. Very pretty and exotic. My mother just took the name of a star and stuck an 'a' on the end of it to get mine."
"Thanks. It's the name of the goddess who was Shiva's second consort. Um… dragon, I think." Tara held out the galleon so Parvati could inspect it before pulling out her wand and using it to hover the coin a few inches over her palm. A whispered spell her mother had taught her just for this occasion - because people tended to accept losing better if they thought they'd actually had a chance at succeeding, according to her - sent the coin spinning end over end, creating a blurry golden ball that hovered over her palm. Parvati chanted 'dragon' softly under her breath as the coin began to slow, her eager expression morphing into a pout when the flipping coin stopped with Merlin's head facing upward. "Drat. Oh well. Maeve, your turn."
As Parvati collected her trunk and moved towards the room on the right, Maeve moved forward and used her finger to slowly rotate the floating coin. "Hmm. You're a Malfoy. My parents have told me what your family's like. I wouldn't put it past you to have a way of controlling that spell so the side you want always comes up. But then if I insist on doing it myself… I'd have to flip it the old-fashioned way and then you can make fun of me for doing it the 'muggle way' and I still have only a half a chance of being the one who gets the solo room. So… I think I'm going to save myself the trouble and go get to know Parvati."
Tara pouted as she watched the other girl go. "Hmmph. Well that wasn't as much fun as I was hoping. It's no fun knowing how to cheat if there's nobody to screw out of things." Tossing the galleon back into her open trunk, she closed the lid and slowly lifted it into the air with a swish and a flick. Then she strode forward, entering the center room and her home for the next ten months.
It was certainly… interesting. Her room at Malfoy Manor was southern facing, allowing her to look out over the expansive gardens and filling her room with light. Her dorm, on the other hand, looked out into the lake. Four globes of roiling emerald fire filled the room with an eerie, pulsating green light that cast odd highlights over the silver hangings of the four poster bed she'd be sleeping in.
Well, no amount of pondering how much nicer and more welcoming the other dorms might be would change the fact that she had been sorted into Slytherin. Squaring her shoulders, Tara floated her trunk to rest at the bed and then flipped the lid up again. She'd prepared for the eventuality that either the furnishings wouldn't be up to her standards or that she'd have spare room to use as she saw fit; her trunk was full of furniture that needed to be enlarged and moved into place, clothes to put away, books to shelve once there was a place to put them…
As far as dorms went, Tracey Davis mused, she didn't have it half bad. Definitely better than one of the underwater dorms her father had talked about having back when he was in Slytherin. And given that she didn't know anyone in her new house, she definitely wasn't going to complain about Ravenclaw Tower having individual rooms for each student instead of group dorms the way Gryffindor Tower did.
Her first taste of what the next seven years would hold for her had come when she'd been the one to answer the doorknocker's riddle for the group and they'd passed through a tunnel into the common room. Done up in shades of blue, the few walls not possessing bookshelves held windows that looked west out over the mountains, and the domed ceiling bore a beautiful painting of the night sky.
After a quick tour of the features of the common room - the bookcases organized by subject, study areas with special dampening charms to mute what little noise pollution the common room had, and the statue of Rowena Ravenclaw - the group had split in half and Penelope had lead them upstairs to show them to their dorms. There were seven floors, she'd explained, each housing a bathroom and one room per female student. As the girls aged, they would ascend the tower, eventually occupying the topmost floor during their final year. And with that, she'd left them to their own devices and headed up to her own dorm to settle in for the year, leaving the five girls standing awkwardly in the middle of the room. Tracey had been the first to crack, grabbing her trunk and fleeing through the door marked with her last name, the others bursting into motion behind her.
Giving one last look around her room, Tracey rose from the chair in front of the beautiful oak desk the school had provided her with and moved to sit on the edge of her bed. Picking up the mirror sitting atop her nightstand, she fiddled a tendril of mahogany hair before tucking it behind her ear and clearing her throat. "Daphne Greengrass."
After spending Sunday relaxing and 'exploring Hogwarts' with his friends, Monday dawned bright and early and, still used to his five o'clock wake up calls back at Potter Manor, Harry was up and moving before any of his classmates. Or at least up. Rather than go for a run either in the Room of Requirements or around the grounds, he spent a bit of time reading in bed before gathering up his toiletries and a clean uniform and heading towards the bathroom. A cold burst to wake him up, a quick warm shower to get clean, and then he was ready to get his day started.
Much to his surprise, there was already someone else sitting in the common room when he arrived. Hermione was sitting on a sofa with a satchel full of books at her feet, keeping herself amused by bouncing an orange ball against the head of a yard long stick. Harry eyed it curiously, wondering how hard Neville's head was by comparison and how it would fare against Hermione's field hockey stick if he was dumb enough to insult her when she had it out.
Or rather when, not if, he did it. Given how stupid the Boy-Who-Lived seemed to be in this universe, Harry regarded it as an inevitable event rather than a potential problem. Hopefully one he could manage to sell tickets to. George and Fred weren't the only ones who could profit off their peers.
Feeling a bit playful, Harry kept to the shadows and fired off a charm at Hermione, hitting the back of her head and creating Gryffindor red streaks in her chocolate brown mane. As he pondered a way to approach her and bring it up without immediately drawing suspicion to himself, Megan descended from the girls' dorms and squealed. "Oh Hermione, that's brill! Did you get one of the older students to do that to your hair or do you know the spell yourself?"
Hermione eyed Megan for a moment, reaching up to pat her hair, before racing up the steps into her dorm. Harry knew the exact moment she stepped in front of a mirror, as it was accompanied by the loudest profanity he'd heard since that time two young men had come to the front door of Number Four asking Uncle Vernon to sign a petition in favor of the Civil Partnership Act. When Hermione descended the stairs again, she looked around wildly before her eyes landed on him. "You!"
"Me?" Harry held his hands up in surrender and put on his best innocent face, slowly backing away from her. "Now Hermione, you shouldn't jump to conclusions. Just because I mentioned my father being a prankster while we were talking on the train doesn't mean I'm responsible for your hair spontaneously changing color."
Hermione continued to eye him suspiciously but thankfully Percy chose that moment to make his first appearance of the morning, and Hermione latched on to him in hopes of getting her hair fixed. After a simple 'finite' failed, he tried a few diagnostic charms and frowned. "It's definitely a cosmetic charm of some kind, but this isn't my area of expertise. It looks like you'll need to find one of the older female prefects, since Cherise is… unavoidably detained… this morning."
That caught Harry's attention; while he hadn't been at his most observant back in his first year, he was pretty sure he would have remembered a prefect turning up sick or injured on the first day of classes. "What happened to her?"
After a moment of contemplation, Percy sighed and leaned in towards Harry and Hermione. "Please keep this to yourselves, but Cherise decided that Dumbledore's warning about the third floor corridor didn't apply to her because she was a prefect and paid a visit during her rounds last night. She's currently recovering in the hospital wing."
Well bugger. Cherise had been nice enough to him so far and very easy on the eyes to boot. A girl like that getting mauled by Fluffy was a damn shame. They likely wouldn't be seeing her for a while, even with Madam Pomfrey's talents, and for all the wizarding world's ability to heal the body's insides, their ability to remove anything beyond minor scars seemed to be sorely lacking. And if Fluffy had gotten a few bites in, Cherise was going to come away from this bearing a resemblance to Remus. "Alright. Thanks, Percy. Ready for breakfast, Hermione? We can get our schedules for the year and see what classes we have today. Which reminds me, do you really want to drag all your books down there when you don't know which ones you'll even need?"
"Eh, I need to stay in shape. It'll be good for me." Hermione hefted her bag experimentally a few times before sliding the strap over her shoulder. "And I would, but I told Su and Daphne that we'd wait for them. Or that I'd wait for them, which means you're waiting for them if you want to eat breakfast with me. Although if they don't show up in the next few minutes, I might change my mind. I want to make friends and all, but nobody gets between me and my breakfast. Or my dinner. I'll tolerate lunch delays, but only if it's because of studying or sports."
Merlin, this Hermione was scary. Almost like what Harry would picture from a child of the Ron and Hermione of his old dimension, just without the freckles. Seeing as how he wanted Su to be part of his inner circle of friends in this universe - and hopefully Daphne as well - it was quite fortunate for him that they descended the stairs about a minute later, before Hermione could get too impatient and drag him off to eat.
"Nice hair, Hermione." Reaching up, Su tugged one of the red streaks and then laughed, dancing back out of the way as Hermione tried to slap at her hand. "You know, I liked that picture of you with the 'microbraids' that you showed us last night. Maybe we could braid the red streaks and put gold beads on the end? McGonagall might give you points for house pride."
Harry pondered that. Their head of house had an odd sense of humor. Maybe he should turn his own hair into red and gold spikes to see what she'd say? Mind busy trying to decide between fixing Hermione and changing his own hair, Harry didn't notice Daphne's approach until she elbowed him roughly in the ribs. "Don't even think about it, Harry." He raised an eyebrow and she tugged gently on his arm. "Whatever strange thoughts are going on inside your head. That is not the face of an innocent man. Now be a gentleman and escort me to breakfast. And can we try and save a spot for Tracey? She's mirror called me for the last two nights because she's lonely. I want to make sure she's okay."
Fine with him. Hmm. If he paid extra attention to her to help her get over her loneliness, she'd probably be more likely to… wait. The Sorting Hat had warned him about the habits he'd been developing as of late. So no, he would make a point of trying to include Tracey and keep her spirits up because she was Daphne's half-sister and an acquaintance - verging on a friend - in her own right. Any possible use she might have in his future plans would just be a bonus. "Sure. Why don't we take up six seats between the four of us? Two of us sit on each side of the table with a gap between each pair? You can invite Tracey and I'll see if my cousin wants to sit with us."
"Your cousin? Who's that? Because… I don't think there are any cadet branches of the House of Potter, meaning it's not a first cousin on your father's side. Your mother is a muggleborn, so I don't know her relatives." Daphne went silent as Harry led her through the portrait hole and towards the Grand Staircase, Su and Hermione chattering quietly behind them. "I know you're related to the Blacks through your father, meaning you have a bunch of more distant cousins there…" Harry raised an eyebrow at that; the girl was good. Probably knew more about his ancestry than he did, come to think of it. "Let me guess. Tara?"
Harry eyed at the strawberry blonde curiously, Daphne managing to hold his gaze for a few seconds before looking away. "And if it is? We're not quite best friends, but we're close enough that I'd enjoy talking to her at breakfast every now and then. Why not do it while you're inviting your sister over too? Having a Ravenclaw there too might keep people from freaking out about the Slytherin. Or at least freaking out as much."
Shrugging doubtfully, Daphne continued to avoid his gaze. "Fine. But if she ends up being mean to Tracey and I have to curse her to defend my family's honor or some such, don't say I didn't warn you." Turning her head, she eyed Harry critically. "You know, you're lucky my choices for friends are so limited, or you'd have to work a whole lot harder to keep me around. But Neville is vile and the other boys aren't anything to write home about either. Anne is… you know, I don't know if your family is friends with the Weasleys or anything so I'm going to just say 'no' and leave it at that. I know something about muggles through Tracey and my stepmother but Megan's a bit too muggle for my tastes. At least Hermione is interested in learning about my world, even if she's a bit snooty sometimes about us 'backwards wizarding folk'. Fay speaks Scottish Gaelic, Ellen speaks Irish, and the two are evidently close enough that they can go off into their own little conversations and ignore the rest of us. And Su's interesting because she was raised in an entirely different culture. But if I take Su or Hermione I get you, or at least that's what it feels like. Which is fine by me; I'm a long view sort of girl. When we get older, we'll need a nice young wizard to defend our honor. And with you, we get a nice young wizard who can cook too. How can we lose?"
Not knowing Megan enough to defend her - nor did he actually know the Weasleys here, so there was nothing to say on that front - Harry settled for nodding slowly before smirking at Daphne. "You sure you don't belong down in the dungeons with my cousins?"
"No thank you. Dank stone does nothing for my complexion." Daphne just grinned before slipping her arm through his. "And besides, you'll be the envy of boys in a few years. Three pretty girls for friends, and girls will be fighting for a chance to go out with someone with something close to proper manners." Well, Hermione probably wouldn't… but Harry decided to keep that thought to himself. She could out herself to the others when she was good and ready.
Entering the Great Hall and grabbing the last few seats at the Gryffindor table, the quartet settled in two to a side with Harry and Hermione serving as the buffer between their group and the rest of the table. After a moment's contemplation, Daphne took the seat on Hermione's side of the table while leaving the seat between them for Tracey and Su took up the seat to Harry's left at the end of the table, leaving a spot for Tara.
Place settings flashed into existence nearby as the hall's magic registered their presence, followed shortly by platters full of breakfast essentials, and Harry graciously allowed the girls to have first dibs before loading up his own plate and starting in on the most important meal of the day. An egg, some beans, and half a tomato later - Harry couldn't bring himself to touch the streaky rashers; he really had become spoiled while doing the shopping - breakfast was brought to an abrupt halt as an owl dive bombed the table, slamming into the bowl of fruit between Harry and Hermione and sending apples rolling down the table. While not quite Errol of the Weasleys - he'd yet to fly into a window or anything - he was getting on in years and was still kept quite busy. Lifting the poor owl free, Harry took the letter he carried before offering a piece of bacon. "Thanks, boy. Why don't you go find Albiona up in the owlery and rest for the day? I'll write something today and you can take it back home to mum tomorrow."
Silver Star hooted in relief and winged away, leaving Harry to return to his breakfast… and his first letter from home. Absently digging back into his scrambled eggs, Harry used his other hand to unroll the parchment so he could see what his mother - presumably; he couldn't see his father taking the time to sit down and write him anything - had to say.Dear Harry,
By now you've been sorted and - since the school hasn't flooed to tell us about a major fight in the dungeons - I'm going to go out on a limb and say you haven't been sorted into Slytherin. Ravenclaw? Gryffindor? You'll do fine in either, although if you end up in Ravenclaw, promise me you won't use your knowledge to get too far ahead. Your poor classmates will have breakdowns trying to show you up and that would just be mean of you.
Sirius said to remember that you're the son of a Marauder and pull as many pranks as you can, starting as soon as possible. Anastasiya said he's going to be sleeping on their sofa for the next week. Keep that in mind before you try something. I want to hear nothing but good things about you from your teachers. Especially given your advantage.
You know, I kept meaning to ask you why you were even bothering with Hogwarts, given your memories, but the time never seemed right. For some reason, though, I doubt you're there to cheat your way to the top of the class in Charms. Just promise me that you'll try not to get hurt doing whatever it is you're there to do.
Enough of that, at least for now. Good luck with your first day of classes. And for the love of God, Merlin, and anyone else listening… watch yourself around Severus Snape. Dumbledore may trust him to teach you children, but I've known him since before I went to Hogwarts. He is a vile, hateful man and you should be on your guard around him at all times.
PS: If you absolutely feel the need to prank someone, prank Snape.
PPS: I didn't say that and you can't prove otherwise.
Harry was frowning as he finished reading the letter, but let out a quiet snort of laughter as the last two lines disappeared from the page. Not that he hadn't been planning to stay on his guard against Snape anyways… but to have his own mother warn him was disturbing. He'd been aware of the past between them in his old universe. Was it the same here? Was this how his mother had felt by the end of her time at Hogwarts? Or had something happened after to fan the flames of dislike into genuine hatred?
Albiona disrupted his thoughts as she swooped down, grabbing a piece of bacon before disappearing back up into the rafters. Harry blinked and shook his head. Cheeky owl. Percy bustled past, dropping four schedules in the middle of the table near them. It took Hermione, Harry, Su, and Daphne a few moments to sort out which schedule belonged to each of them… at which point they all laughed, realizing that at this point, they all shared the same schedule. Harry looked it over; pretty much the same as he remembered. Thrice-weekly Herbology classes with Professor Sprout, History of Magic on Mondays and Wednesdays, Astronomy late on Wednesdays, Transfiguration, Charms, and DADA on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and double Potions with the afternoon off on Fridays.
A flash of blonde in the corner of his eye drew Harry's attention over to the entrance of the Great Hall, where the first year Slytherins were arriving for breakfast in two distinct groups: Draco and his two bodyguards leading the way with Tara and the other six students in his year forming a tight cluster that trailed behind them. Whistling to get her attention, Harry beckoned for her to join them. She rolled her eyes but, after exchanging a few words with her peers, crossed the room to join them. "The food isn't as good as when I cook, but want to join us anyways?"
Tara raised an eyebrow at that but took him up on his offer, sliding into the seat between him and Su. "You do know Hogwarts employs the largest staff of house elves in England, right?" Harry nodded. "And you think you can do better? You really do take after your father, don't you?" Narrowing his eyes, Harry scooped some scrambled eggs off his plate and shoved them into her mouth. Tara glared back at him as she chewed slowly before making a face and swallowing. "…I'm not going to say it. You don't need any bigger of an ego."
"Aww. You know I'm your favorite second cousin once removed, Tara."
"You're my favorite cousin period and you know it. But only because Crabbe is a gorilla, Dora's a freak, and Aunt Anastasiya has made Cassie so bloody neurotic that she's impossible to get past polite conversation with. Although those delicious splits of yours might win you a few points if we discover some decent competition for you someday."
"Hmmph." The others were sniggering at the byplay and Harry decided to cut his losses before Tara managed to convince the rest of his friends it was Pick On Harry Day. Looking around the hall, he realized that Daphne had missed her sister's entrance and pulled out a piece of parchment and a quill, scribbling down a quick note before using a spell to fold it into an airplane and send it shooting across to the Ravenclaw table. Instead of landing neatly in front of her, though, it lodged in one of Tracey's pigtails just past the hair tie and Harry cringed. "Oops."