Harry wandered the empty corridors savoring his last hours of peace before the school filled with the clamor of students. He idly chose a pathway that he was now familiar with due to his excessive wandering over the past few days. His shoes clacked lightly on the cold stone floor.
To kill... Harry jumped, and glanced around frantically. He could swear he just heard a voice. Want to hurt...
Harry whipped around frantically, finding himself staring at a large pair of eyes in the shadows. He screamed.
"Harry Potter must be quiet!" the creature said urgently, stepping into the light.
"Dobby?" Harry asked in surprise and relief, assuming it had been Dobby that he heard, warning him once more.
"Harry Potter should not have come to Hogwarts! People want to hurt him!" the elf squeaked.
"Dobby, relax," Harry said, stepping forward. Dobby stepped forward as well and grabbed onto Harry's shirt in a begging position.
"For Harry Potter's own good," he said and pulled Harry away with a pop.
Harry and Dobby landed in Spinner's End and Dobby let go of Harry to punish himself by way of the doorframe.
"Dobby!" Harry said angrily. "What'd you do that for? I can't stay here, school starts today!"
"Harry Potter is safe," Dobby said as if that resolved everything.
"Harry Potter has to go back to Hogwarts!" Harry snapped. "Midgy!"
No house elf appeared at his call. "Dobby sent Midgy away. Dobby said that master needed her."
Harry was close to throttling the creature. "Dobby," he said threateningly, "bring her, or me, back this instant."
Dobby shook his oversized head. "Dobby is sorry, Harry Potter."
He snapped his fingers and disappeared. Harry growled and stepped over to the Floo. Throwing down some Floo powder, he said "Hogwarts, Professor Snape's chambers."
The flame flashed green then reverted to orange. Harry tried again with the same result. He figured that Dobby must have disabled the Floo as well. He sat down with a huff, trying to figure out what he could do. His owl and broom were both at Hogwarts so he ruled that out. He did not know how to Apparate, nor did he know any messaging spells. He glanced at the clock and realized that even if he had transportation, the Hogwarts Express had already left. With no other options, Harry headed to the library in the hopes of finding a spell with which he could send a message to Severus. He stood before the tall shelves, cursing Dobby and wondering where to start.
"Master needed Midgy?" the wide eyed house elf squeaked moments after appearing in Severus's office.
Severus's brow furrowed. "I did not call you. Why are you here?"
"Dobby told Midgy that master needed her," she explained. "Master need Midgy?"
"No," he snapped, "Can you bring Dobby?"
She nodded and disappeared. Severus leaned back and thought over the implications of Midgy being drawn out of the house. He wondered where Harry was for in less than two hours the students would be arriving. Before long, Midgy returned dragging Dobby.
He cowered as Severus stood. "Why are you interfering with my house elf?"
"Dobby not interfere, sir. Dobby try to help."
"How is this helping?" he growled. "What were you doing in my house? I thought I put barriers up."
"Not barriers for house elves, sir. Dobby try to protect Harry Potter," he forced out, then ran for a fireplace poker to hit on his head. Severus strode over and jerked it away. "Harry Potter not safe at Hogwarts."
"Take me there," Severus ordered Midgy. "And you, Dobby, stop interfering or I shall tell your master."
Dobby's eyes grew wide and he nodded fervently.
Midgy grabbed Severus's hand and Apparated them home as only a house elf could from Hogwarts. Severus glanced around the room, finding no one.
"Harry?" he called. Footsteps sounded in the hall as Harry approached at a run.
"Severus!" he said happily. "I was looking up ways of sending a message. Dobby trapped me here. Hi, Midgy."
Midgy squeaked with chagrin and disappeared.
"I have spoken with Dobby," Severus said, "I put him back in line."
"Thanks," Harry said. "Do you really think it is that unsafe for me at Hogwarts?"
"I think you best be on your guard," Severus advised. "And I think we best get going if we are to be ready for the feast."
"Okay," Harry said, hoping that the Floo was working once more. "Will you teach me a messaging spell?"
"Of course," Severus agreed, gesturing to the Floo. "You first."
Harry threw down the powder and this time, the green flames stayed. In moments, they were back at Hogwarts.
"Well that was fun," Harry said sarcastically, sitting in one of Snape's office chairs.
"Harry, what did I tell you about going off with strange elves?" Severus admonished causing Harry to laugh.
"But really, what could be so dangerous here?" Harry asked.
Severus's face darkened. "There are many dangerous things that even Hogwarts cannot guard against."
Harry could feel the air adopt a strange chill. "That's encouraging."
Severus gazed at Harry with intensity. "Be on your guard," he repeated.
Harry nodded solemnly.
"Now go get ready. The train will be arriving soon."
Harry caught up with the second years as they entered the castle. He searched through the sea of children for his friends.
"Harry!" a familiar voice called from his left.
"Ron!" Harry replied with a smile, pushing his way over to them. They exchanged greetings and happily took a seat in the Great Hall.
"So what was it like having the castle all to yourself, Harry?" Draco asked excitedly.
Harry grinned. "I've got tons of stuff to show you guys. But there was one drawback..." Harry launched into the story of the events that occured earlier that day.
Draco's face darkened unexpectedly. He seemed deep in thought and ignored the questions that Hermione fired at Harry.
"Besides," she pointed out. "Dobby doesn't live at Hogwarts, how would he know?"
Hermione turned to Draco as it was his elf, hoping that he would offer an explanation.
"I don't know," he said. "I'd feel awful if my family was responsible for hurting you, Harry."
Harry shook it off, "It's probably nothing. I'm not too worried."
Thankfully, talk turned to the train ride until it was interrupted by the Sorting. Gryffindor gained a few new students including Ron's sister, Ginny, for whom there was much applause. A cheery first year was sorted into Gryffindor and took a seat a few people down from Harry. This did not stop him from leaning forward to stare at Harry, however.
"You're Harry Potter, aren't you?" he asked eagerly, though it was obvious that he knew the answer. "I'm Collin Creevey, can we get a picture?"
Harry noted the camera that sat beside him on the bench.
"Er, maybe after dinner?" he suggested awkwardly, flitting between being flattered and annoyed. He snorted lightly, imaging Severus's reaction to such a request.
"Sure, Harry! Whatever you want!"
Harry noted that he was extremely eager to please. Harry shared an incredulous look with Ron. They laughed together.
Dumbledore strolled leisurely over to the podium. "Well, another year here at Hogwarts, I hope it shall be rather more peaceful than last year," he said with an almost stern glance over at Harry an his friends. Harry was skeptical. "Let us welcome our new students and new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor, Gilderoy Lockhart," polite clapping filled the hall as Lockhart smiled charmingly. "I do not believe there is anything else of importance. Tuck in!"
People clapped again unnecessarily and food appeared on the tables. The hall was relatively quiet for a moment as the students became occupied with eating.
"How come Snape didn't get the Defense position?" Draco asked Harry.
Seamus spoke up from a few seats down, "'Cause Defense Against the Dark Arts is too close to Dark Arts," he looked at Draco appraisingly. "You'd know about that."
Dean nudged Seamus, "Be nice, you're acting like a Slytherin yourself."
"At least I was actually sorted into Gryffindor. Maybe he should've gone to Hufflepuff if he wanted acceptance," he said derisively.
Draco looked down and Dean shot another look at Seamus. He turned away. Harry wanted to say something to comfort his friend, but he was unsure of what he could say. After all, when he changed houses, he wasn't re-sorted by the hat...
"Hey Draco," Harry began, "I bet I can get you the Sorting Hat and we can see if you really ought to be in Gryffindor."
Draco brightened slightly, "That would probably help."
Harry nodded, "At the end, when people start leaving. I have my cloak with me."
Draco nodded and conversation around them resumed. After everyone was uncomfortably full, the food was cleared and the students rose to leave. Harry gestured that Draco should follow him. When they were sufficiently lost in the crowd, he pulled out his cloak and threw it over both of them. Carefully, they maneuvered through the people to the front where the hat on the stool behind the teachers. Approaching it, Draco lifted the edge of the cloak and snatched the hat. None of the teachers noticed. He stuffed it on his head.
"Unhappy with your house, were you?" Harry could hear it huff. "If I didn't do a good enough job the first time, why are you back?"
"They were unhappy with me," Draco muttered. "Can you re-sort me?"
It sounded as irritated as a hat could. "I suppose. Hmm..."
It was silent for a few seconds. "Gryffindor is what you want, is it? Well... yes I suppose, it seems unlikely now, but soon...yes. Gryffindor!"
Harry winced at its shout and glanced around to see if anyone had heard. The commotion in the hall was enough to cover it.
"Thanks," Draco said, satisfied, as he put the hat back onto the stool. They slipped back into the fray and Harry removed the cloak. No one noticed. Harry grinned at the success.
"Come on, let's get back to our common room," he said, leading the way.
Late that night, Harry retired to the dorm after taking far too many pictures at the insistence of Collin Creevey. His friends had long since went to bed, tired from their journey and sleepy from the large amounts of food. Harry pushed open the door quietly, afraid to wake his roommates. He walked over to his bed where it was situated between Ron's and Draco's. Harry pulled off his shoes and went to set them beside his bed when he realized that light was coming from Draco's bed. It shone gently from between the curtains. Harry bit his lip. He did not want to intrude on his friend's privacy but he worried that his acceptance into Gryffindor was not going as smoothly as he had hoped. After a long moment of indecision, Harry decided that he would simply peek in to see if he was alright. Without rising of his bed, Harry positioned himself so that he could see through the gap between the curtains. Draco was hunched over a small book, scribbling furiously. After a moment of writing, he would stop and stare at the book before continuing. His wand was held tightly in his left hand, giving off a soft blue light.
Harry watched for a moment, then decided that he seemed disturbed but not unnaturally so. In fact, he thought it was good that Draco was writing as an outlet for his troubles. Harry shrugged to himself and slipped into bed, drawing the curtains silently around him. After several minutes, the scratching of Draco's quill stopped and the covers rustled as he settled in. Harry fell asleep, satisfied that all was well at Hogwarts and hoping dearly that it would stay that way.