The hall looked the same, restored to the familiar appearance of before. However for those that had fought, the memories remained. Professor McGonagall stared out at the busy hall; the students sat as before in their houses, dressed in their robes, the same excitement on their faces as they all focused on the stool currently holding a small fair haired boy. Professor Flitwick was currently levitating the sorting hat onto the boys head. Professor McGonagall changed her stare from the familiar faces to the new faces of the first years. The group was no larger nor no smaller than previous years, a sight that comforted the old witch. Many of the teachers had worried that after the final battle parents would be apprehensive about sending their children to an old battle ground, a worry not needed as within the week of the acceptance letters being sent letters of confirmation returned.
Professor McGonagall snapped out of her musings as the words left the old hat. Sitting up straighter she applauded along with the hall as the boy rushed to the house of red. Even though she was no longer the head of the house, pride still ran deep in her. This was when her eyes met the brilliant emerald eyes of Harry Potter. Yes the boy-who-lived had agreed to return, along with his two friends. Nodding her head in welcome, McGonagall couldn't help but return the smile Harry had enthusiastically sent to her.
Next up was a dark haired girl, rather tall for her age. "Slytherin!"
Only the house of green and the staff clapped this time, causing the headmistress to frown. The prejudice against the snakes had increased over the summer. Coughing McGonagall rose from her chair.
"Now with the sorting done, I'd like to welcome you all to Hogwarts. Whether it is your first year, or you have returned." The students turned to glance at Harry and his friends, "Firstly rules! No one is to enter the Forbidden Forest; there is still the danger that lurks within it and secondly, Mr Filch has asked me to remind all students that products from Weasleys'Wizard Wheezesare are banned. I believe you all know how we expect Hogwarts students to behave, so without further delay."
Raising her hands McGonagall clapped twice, the sound echoed around the hall. Within seconds the banquet had appeared. Returning to her seat McGonagall smiled at Flitwick who had returned to his own beside her.
McGonagall waited in the hall to empty before she headed back to her office, twice she had to redirect herself. Continuously having to remind herself her office was no longer beside the transfiguration room but was now Dumbledore's old office. Upon reaching the golden statue she smiled gently,
She'd chosen to keep the password, in tribute of Dumbledore. Not that she'd ever tried one of the sweets, instead deciding to keep to Dumbledore's tradition of keeping a bowl of the sweets on her desk. As an offering of comfort, Dumbledore always said. As she stepped into the round room her eyes fell on the bowl she'd restocked hours earlier. Hesitantly she reached out and picked up the treat. Years Dumbledore had tried to persuade her, sighing in defeat McGonagall popped the sweet in her mouth.
"Knew you'd try one someday."
Looking up at the large portrait McGonagall chuckled as Dumbledore smiled down at her. The painting waited for the old witch to seat herself comfortably before asking.
"How was the feast?"
"Successful, though I think we're going to have trouble with the houses. More so than before." McGonagall pushed her glasses up her nose as she spoke, "The tension in that room during the sorting. If only there was a way to stop this silly rivalry, especially with you-know..."
McGonagall paused in her words as the painting frowned down at her, "Oh all right, now that Voldemort has gone. They just need a way to see that they're the same."
Silence fell between the two as more of the portraits returned to their frames. The room had begun to grow dark with the disappearance of the sun. Flicking her wand the candles jumped to life, the flames now dancing in an invisible wind.
"I think I have a plan," Dumbledore's portrait finally spoke.
"Oh?" McGonagall couldn't help raise her eyebrow as those blues eyes twinkled.
"But I'm afraid it'll mean once again Harry's year at Hogwarts will not be an ordinary one."
"I doubt he'd want it any other way Albus" The portrait of Professor Snape finally spoke.
Harry supported his head with his hand; afraid if he didn't he'd fall asleep. His eyelids felt heavier and heavier with every word Professor Binns spoke. Harry was sure he'd dropped this lesson years previously, however it appeared all the students who had returned to repeat their seventh had been forced into taking more lessons, now that they were older than the average student they should be able to handle it. Harry's eyes had almost closed when something tapped him on the back of the head. Sitting up Harry twisted round; Dean was currently laid across his desk asleep. The puddle of drool that lay beneath the boy told Harry it wasn't he who had tapped him.
Harry's eyes glanced down to the floor, where now lay a piece of parchment screwed up into a ball. Bending down he picked it up, it was too small to hold a message. Looking around the classroom Harry saw Seamus and Neville currently bewitching small pieces of parchment and sending them at each other. Perhaps they'd miss fired. Shrugging Harry dropped the ball onto his desk and tried again to focus his eyes onto the textbook beneath him.
Again Harry felt something hit him on the back of his head, turning to look at the floor Harry suspicions were confirmed as he reached down for the ball of parchment. Pulling out his wand Harry sent the ball flying at Neville, successfully hitting the boy between the eyes. Bewildered Neville and Seamus both looked over at Harry.
"What?" Neville mouthed.
"You're hitting me" Harry mouthed back.
Neville frowned as he tried to make out what words Harry's mouth was trying to form. It wasn't until Seamus whispered that Neville shook his head.
"Not us," Seamus shrugged.
Harry picked up the first ball of parchment to show them, it was then that Harry realised that Neville and Seamus had turned their parchment purple. It hadn't been them. Mouthing a sorry Harry returned to look at the front. Just then something hit him. Spinning round Harry saw both Seamus and Neville pointing at the back of the classroom.
Following their fingers Harry's eyes met the cold grey pair of Draco Malfoy. The blond grinned and waved cheekily, Goyle chuckled beside him whilst Zabini just shook his head, a small smile on his face. Harry stared at the blond, waiting for him to say something. However Draco just continued to stare back, his smile playful.
"What you looking at mate?" Ron quizzed sleepily. Lifting his head from his arms Ron turned to look at the back of the classroom also, upon seeing Draco Malfoy Ron frowned, this grew deeper as Malfoy and Goyle playfully waved back at the redhead.
"I can't believe they let them back in," Ron sneered as he turned away from the Slytherin's.
"Most likely because of his mother, I'd be dead now if it wasn't for her." Harry also turned away, the Malfoy's had been spared Azkaban because of Narcissa's actions that night.
"Has anyone spoken to you about Quidditch?" Ron moved closer to Harry as Hermione tutted disapprovingly beside them.
"Well Ginny was telling me that, after it got out you was returning to Hogwarts this year, she got loads of owls from the team suggesting having you back as Seeker. Ginny even said she was thinking about asking you to be Captain again." Ron winked and nudged Harry in his ribs gently, "Imagine it Harry. You Captain and Seeker of Gryffindor Quidditch team again, we'd never lose a match!"
Smiling back weakly Harry thought over Ron's words, "But I don't think it's fair of me to take Ginny's position and take the Captain's band from her. She worked hard to get them."
"Harry please, Ginny is the first to say you're a better seeker and captain! Besides Ginny's a much stronger chaser in my opinion."
"Well we'll just have to see won't we? It's not up to me, if I get asked...And only by Ginny! Then maybe."
Ron rolled his eyes playfully at Harry's reply before scribbling something down on the parchment he'd been doodling on. Stretching Harry ruffled his hair causing it to sit out at odd angles, uncaring he slumped back in his seat as there was a sharp knock at the classroom door. Suddenly the class sat up straight and opened their text books, giving the image of a perfect student.
The door slowly opened to reveal Professor Tomlin, the man was tall and his body showed his love of sport earning him a few fans among the students. He was the new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher and since her promotion had taken the role of head of Gryffindor. He had dark hair which, like Harry's, appeared to have a mind of its own as it too was untameable, his grey eyes cast quickly over the students before falling upon Professor Binns.
"I'm so sorry to interrupt Professor, I was wondering if I could steal Harry away from you." Tomlin smiled at the class, causing many of the females and a few of the males to swoon.
"Erm...Yes. Yes of course." Binns dismissed Harry with a flick a of hand as he returned to the subject he'd been drowning on about for the lesson. Sharing a curious look with Ron, Harry packed his stuff hurriedly and rushed out of the room. Giving a cheeky wave Tomlin shut the door behind Harry.
"Have I done something wrong Professor?" Harry slung his bag over his shoulder as they both headed down the empty corridor.
"Not at all Harry, I doubt even you could have gotten into trouble on your first day!" Tomlin laughed. Harry smiled as his thoughts played back his second year. They continued down the corridors, the conversation switching between Quidditch and DADA, it wasn't until Harry recognised the new corridor they'd turned into he frowned.
"Why are we going to McGonagall's office?"
"She would like a word with you, nothing to worry about."
Harry could feel his heart begin to race as his mind thought over his actions that day. He hadn't done anything that could require him to see McGonagall. Reaching the statue Harry wondered what the password would be, catnip? Unable to stop himself Harry's lips spread into a smile.
His smile faded as the grief for hi former headmaster rose in his heart. Tomlin knocked twice on the door before pushing it open. Harry was surprised to see the office hadn't been changed, except instead of Fawkes's perch there was now a scratching post and basket that held a tabby ginger cat.
In front of the large desk currently sat three students, none Harry knew by name. However they each wore different colours, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. And now Harry was there they had the set. Beside McGonagall stood the heads of the houses, Sprout, Flitwick and Slughorn. McGonagall smiled welcoming at the two newcomers, waving her hand at the remaining empty seat. Seating himself next to the girl wearing the Slytherin uniform Harry dropped his bag at his feet. He took one quick look around the office; it was exactly as he remembered it. It was then his eyes fell upon the two portraits behind the teachers. The twinkling blue eyes and cold black eyes he remembered so well from his past stared down at him.
"Right everyone seems to be here, so let's begin." Harry's eyes snapped down to the witch before him. "I'm sure you're curious as to why you're here, and as to why everyone else is. Well it has been noted, particularly from the welcoming feast, that house hostility is worse than ever."
Harry was aware of the girl beside his tense.
"So we have come up with a plan to show to you all that it doesn't matter what colours you wear, it's the person inside. It has been decided that each of you will be placed into another house for a month."
Harry's mouth fell open, and by the disagreeing groans from the other three he was sure they weren't too happy about the arrangement either.
"What about Quidditch?" The boy from Hufflepuff was on his feet.
"Do not worry about Quidditch, all matches shall be postponed until after."
"Why us?" Harry couldn't help but look up at the portraits as Snape rolled his eyes and looked over at Dumbledore. His gaze dropped down as McGonagall gave him an apologetic smile.
"I have been informed that each of you was almost placed in a different house from the one you're in now." Harry was aware of the other students glance at him. "And so we feel that it would be best to use you as it has already been decided which other house you'd possibly best suit."
Harry dropped his head; his secret from all those years ago was out. Harry absent mildly stroked the red material on the cuff of his robes.
"You will live with, eat with, study with and occupy your time with the new house you are to be placed with. If you have any problems please see the head of your new house or do not hesitate to come and speak personally to me. Your new uniforms and trunks will be waiting for you down in your new dormitories. And now to re-house you. Miss Lucas you are now in Hufflepuff."
Out the corner of his eye Harry saw the girl in blue nod.
"Mr Stratton you are now Gryffindor,"
The boy from Hufflepuff nodded.
"Miss Price you will now be Ravenclaw..."
Harry was suddenly aware of all portraits and the three students staring at him.
"And Mr Potter is to be in Slytherin."
"No way had he nearly gone to Slytherin," The boy named Stratton muttered.