Harry spent the whole meal chatting away with his new housemates. He had never gotten to really know them in the previous timeline. All he really knew about Susan was that her aunt Amelia was the head of DMLE. She had been a loyal DA member and fierce fighter especially after her aunt died. Sitting next to her was Hannah Abbott with her hair in her customary pigtails. Hannah had also been in the DA. Across from them was Ernie MacMillian. He was still as pompous and arrogant as Harry remembered him. He had also been the DA and wasn't a bad guy when you got to know him. Sitting next to Ernie was Justin Finch-Fletchley, the muggleborn who had been petrified in Harry's second year. He had also been in the DA.
He listened as they talked about themselves. He learned that Hannah and Ernie both loved to collect chocolate frog cards. Hannah was a half blood while Susan and Ernie were both purebloods. Justin told them how he was down to go to Eton when he learned he was a wizard, and decided to go to Hogwarts instead.
Even the elder years chimed in from time to time. There sitting not far from Harry was in fact Cedric Diggory. Harry stared for a moment as he sees his death in his head. However he quickly shook himself out of it as they asked him about himself. He decided for the obvious reasons to not tell them very much. He said that he had grown up with his aunt and uncle and cousin who were muggles. He told them that they didn't get along. When they asked him about what actually happened that night, he told them that he didn't remember, even though he knew exactly what had happened.
Supper went by rather quickly. The only interruption was when Professor Sprout came up to Harry saying that Professor Dumbledore would like to see him after the feast and to wait in the great Hall after the others left. Harry spent what remained of supper thinking up a plan to keep Dumbledore from getting even more suspicious and yet keep himself from promising anything. He wanted to keep Dumbledore in the dark about him not being under his control for as long as possible.
Before he knew it Dumbledore was standing up to make his end of feast speech. “Ahem – just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few start of term notices to give you. First years should note that the forest on the ground forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well. I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors. Quidditch tryouts will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact Madam Hooch. And finally, I must tell you all that this year, the third floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death.” With that statement murmurs and whispers broke out throughout the hall.
“And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!” Cried Dumbledore. Dumbledore flicked his wand and said, “Everyone pick their favorite tune, and off we go!” The school bellowed the school song. Harry pretended to sing along, but didn't really. He was too busy thinking about his conversation with Dumbledore that they were about to have. As Harry remembered for the first time, the Weasley twins finished last. “Awe, music, a magic beyond all we do here! And now, bedtime. Off you trot!” Dumbledore said dismissing everybody but Harry.
Harry waited as the hall slowly became void of the students and teachers alike. The whole time he waited, Dumbledore was looking at him. As the last of the students and teachers left, he said, “Follow me.” Harry then followed Dumbledore all the way up to the familiar statue standing outside a familiar office.
As soon as they got in, Dumbledore motioned for Harry to sit in the seat across from him. As Harry complied he noticed that the usual twinkle in the headmasters eyes was gone. Harry looked around the office. It was just as he remembered it from before Dumbledore's death. The walls behind the headmaster's chair were plastered with portraits of past headmasters and headmistresses. All of them looked to be asleep, but Harry knew they were pretending. They would be listening to every word said in the office. Beside Dumbledore's desk was Fawke's perch which currently Fawkes was perched on. As Harry met Fawke's gaze they both nodded to each other.
“You wanted to see me headmaster.” Said Harry turning to look right into Dumbledore's eyes. Harry felt the tickle of legilimancy against his shields. He let it pass leading Dumbledore see only what he wanted him to see.
Professor Dumbledore then proceeded question Harry.
“Why did you leave your relatives Harry? They were quite worried about you.” Asked Dumbledore.
“My relatives don't like me very much professor. They were never very nice to me. I just wanted to get away from them I didn't mean to make anybody worry.” Said Harry playing the part of a naïve 11-year-old and letting Dumbledore see some of the things that the Dursley's had done to him.
“Where did you go?” Asked Dumbledore.
“I just kept running.” Said Harry letting images of the numerous times he had run through Little Whinging in his past life run through his mind making sure that the slightly older version of himself was obscured.
“Why didn't you respond to my letters?” Asked Dumbledore.
“Well...” Stated Harry hesitantly as if he was embarrassed. “I couldn't find a pen or paper to reply. I told your bird to tell you where to find me but I guess he didn't.” Said Harry with a sigh. As he told Dumbledore this, images of his talking to Fawkes with the background blurry flitted through his head.
“I see.” Said Dumbledore slowly. “It's all right my boy. No harm done. You are here safe and sound now and that is all that matters.” Harry gave him what he hoped was a hesitant smile.
“I'll be sure you get home to your relatives safe and sound this summer. Don't worry.” Said Dumbledore the twinkle returning to his eyes. “I will do what's best for me.” Said Harry smirking internally and so glad that his plan had worked.
Shortly after that, Dumbledore called Professor Sprout up to his office. She then escorted Harry down to the Hufflepuff dormitories. As Harry remembered it was not far from the kitchen. They soon came to a pile of barrels. Professor Sprout showed him exactly what barrels to tap in the rhythm of Helga Hufflepuff. They were soon going through the tunnel entrance.
This opened up into a very cozy common room. It was a large, earthy, round room with low ceilings. It felt almost sunny. The round windows had a view of dandelions and rippling grass. There were plants around the room. Professor Sprout told him that some of them even would even sing and dance. There were burnished copper touchings with plush, cozy yellow and black patterned sofas and chairs. Professor Sprout pointed to two large circular doors at the end of the room. She told him that one on the left was the one that led to the boys dormitory.
Harry quickly went through and found the room that had a brass number one on the front. He went in and quickly found his bed, it was the only one that didn't have the curtains closed. He didn't even have time to change. He was so tired he realized. He fell on the bed and was asleep before his head hit the pillow, his last thought being' I hope all my conversations with Dumbledore aren't as tiring as that one was.' For some reason he didn't think that would be the case.
The next morning Harry got up early as was his tendency. He decided to go for a quick run around the lake before breakfast, it was good to get and keep in shape after all. After that we got a quick shower. He then proceeded to drink down a nutrient potion. As he was leaving, his other two dorm mate's were just starting to wake up. After getting directions to the great Hall from Cedric, he made his way there to the Hufflepuff table.
He was not sitting there long before Hermione walked in. she also tended to wake up earlier than most. He waved her over. She looked at him a little weirdly. He repeated the gesture. She finally walked over.
“You do realize we are in different houses right?” Asked Hermione as she slowly sat down.
“Yes.” Stated Harry. “But in the rules it says that the only time we need to sit at our house tables is during the opening and leaving feasts. Any other day we can sit wherever we want with whomever we want.”
“You read the Hogwarts rulebook?” Asked Hermione. “I was going to get myself a copy but my parents said it was too long. It's only 1724 pages.”
“I read it. Yes.” said Harry. “It is important to know the rules of the school you're going to be attending after all.” Hermione nodded in agreement.
“Will you let me borrow it sometime?” Asked Hermione
“Sure.” said Harry.
As they finished speaking, Neville walked in. Harry repeated the gesture that he had when Hermione had previously walked in. Neville walked over even more reluctantly than Hermione had. Harry told him what he had Hermione. After he finished Neville looked a little more relaxed, but still nervous.
They then began to eat. They chatted for a time, but as they did Harry noticed that Hermione looked more and more anxious. Finally he said, “Whatever you have to say get it off your chest Hermione.”
With a rush of breath Hermione asked, “Why didn't you tell us you were Harry Potter?” It was clear to Harry that she had wanted to ask him that since she'd come down but had been too polite to do so. He knew that he was going to get asked why he had hidden his identity from them by them eventually, he just had rather it had not happened. He didn't know if they would understand and he didn't want to lose his friends.
“I'm sorry I hid who I was from you guys. I really didn't want to, but I wanted people to get to know me as me before they knew who I was. When I heard that I was famous, and that everyone knew my name I knew there would be some people who would want to be friends with me just because I was the boy- who- lived and not because I was Harry. I then I decided that I would not tell anyone my name till it was absolutely necessary.
I knew that who I was will be revealed at the opening feast, but I didn't want anyone to know before that. That way I had a chance to get know people as Harry and not as the boy- who- lived. That way I would have a chance to make real friends and not just hangers on or people who just wanted to be friends with me because of what happened when I was just one years old. I do regret deceiving you guys. You have been nothing but nice to me. However, I will not apologize for doing something that I felt was for the best. Also I do not like the spotlight much. I did not want people gawking at me before necessary. Everyone else is right now.”
Sure enough everybody else was. Ron who had just entered and looked at them with a bit of a glare and Malfoy was still giving them weird looks. “And besides, now I know that you two are my real friends instead of just people who befriended me because I am the boy- who- lived. I hope that this will make our friendship stronger. I knew you're mad but I hope you are able to overcome your anger and still be friends with me.” Said Harry with a sigh.
He knew Hermione would be mad he just hoped that she would be able to stop being mad at him for what he had done. He meant every word of what he had said. He had done it knowing that Hermione would be irritated at him.
After a few minutes of contemplation Hermione finally said “Alright I forgive you. I don't like being lied to but, I understand that you had a good reason to.”
Harry then turned to Neville and said, “What about you Neville? Do you forgive me?”
“Yeah. I understand why you did what you did.” Said Neville hesitantly “I'm not going to lose my first friends just because of a little deception.” With those words Harry smiled. They then turned back to their breakfasts.
They were almost done with their breakfasts, when Professor Sprout came up to Harry. She asked why Neville and Hermione were sitting there when they were not Hufflepuffs. Harry told her what he had told them. She looked mildly surprised, she clearly had not read the rulebook, but allowed it. She then handed Harry his schedule.
When she returned to the head table it was clear to the trio that the other professors asked her if she had an answer as to why they were all sitting at the same table when two of them were not of that house. The looks of surprise on their faces was priceless. Snape sneered of course. When professors Flitwick and McGonagall came to give Hermione and Neville their schedules they said not a word. Harry found it was the same as his. He didn't remember all the houses having classes together at the same time, but figured it was a nice change that he would be able to sit with both Hermione and Neville in every class despite their being in different houses.
They quickly finished their breakfasts. They then asked Cedric if he could tell them where their classrooms were for the day. Cedric was kind enough to tell them where to go. They then left the great Hall to go to their first-class which just happened to be charms.