A/N: To all of you who loved the bear, my daughters created one like it at Build a Bear for their babysitter and she was sitting on the hospital bed with it when the idea came to us. And no, the one from BaB doesn't stalk people, at least I really hope not. Ginny isn't necessarily evil, she is just a spoiled brat in this story.
(Lockhart vs Granger)
"When I spoke to Albus, the goat buggering bastard promised that as soon as I was settled, he would have Professor McGonagall bring Harry to me in Sydney." Remus was telling the Black family adults and a few select Hogwarts professors who had gathered in his new place to hear what had happened to him for the last nine years.
Andi, Cissa and Sirius were listening in horror while Filius and Minerva were shaking their heads. Remus had been telling them what had happened from his viewpoint the night the Potters had died.
"I didn't realize it was not the truth until the owl I sent to Albus when I had arrived in Sydney; after the fiasco of a job he had set me up with in Melbourne, came back undeliverable." He said with a heavy sigh.
"I went to the Australian Ministry of Magic and sent out a message with one of their diplomatic owls, which also came back undeliverable as well. They were very helpful, even arranged for a different job and a new place to live. They had someone who dealt with exclusively with werewolves there on full moons."
"I had read that the Australian Magic government were progressive compared to Britain but it was more than that." Remus said softly. "They went out of their way to help me. I was injured at work and saw the man who had shot the spell at me. MacNair was a a known Death Eater and I was sure that all of the troubles were connected."
"The government tried to convince me to stay, they were sure that the attack and the new laws were separate events and they wanted to keep me safe but I just was so sure that I had to get back. I have already been there almost a year, foolishly believing that all of it was somehow a mistake. So I began to petition the courts there and the Aussies were most helpful but the man in charge kept complaining about how pedantic the Brits were being."
"When six weeks later, I was attacked again, I asked the man I had been working with, he was honest with me and said he didn't get why it was taking so long. At that point, I had an epiphany and realized going through their courts would take too long to protect Harry. I keep looking back, thinking what if I hadn't ran, would I have won muggle custody of Harry here in Britain."
"No, you can't look at it that way, Remus." Narcissa said looking at her cousin's red and sandy colored haired friend. "From what Albus put Sirius through, how he knowingly left Harry, there was no way that you would have won custody of him no matter what courts it went through."
"Albus fooled all of us, Lupin." Minerva said quietly. "How did you get to Salem where you were found?"
"I took a cargo ship to Hawaii, which is this beautiful island chain in the Pacific, working for the cargo container company. The owner is an American Were, it was safest but I found that I get terribly seasick so I needed to recover. I was too weak to travel and needed to regain my strength." He said. "I took another boat to Peru and needed more recovery and then traveled up the coast back to the states. That was the most difficult part of the trip as there is little magic cooperation in South America."
Gathering his thoughts, he stated "When I arrived in Mexico five years ago, I ran into a werewolf from San Francisco, he warned me to be careful as pureblood wizards in Mexico eat werewolves shot while in their condition."
Seeing his former teachers wanting to gag, he gave them a reassuring smile and continued his story. "I was aiming for Texas but somehow crossed the border into Arizona. Traveling through America was different. They have specialized clinics for werewolves and help them find work in either the magical or the muggle world. I went to work in the muggle world, and began to send muggle mail to any muggle born witch or wizard I remembered."
"How did Albus find out?" Andi asked. "I mean he isn't exactly adept in the muggle world."
Shaking his head, Lupin said "I don't know, until Sirius told me, I stupidly believed that there was no way that Albus had been part of it. If I hadn't read the court transcripts and talked to Harry about what Albus has pulled in the past year, there is a part of me that would want to say it can't be true."
"That is because he was the one who got you into Hogwarts." Sirius said looking at his old friend. "My entire stay in Azkaban, I was convinced that Albus had to be dead, that was the only reason I was still in Azkaban."
"At the trial, as I listened to him speak and sitting next to Harry it became even more real for me." Remus said. "James and Lily's son is twelve years old. I got the feeling from Albus that he had intended for Harry to be a totally different person than he became."
"I think that you are right, especially considering how horribly he was treated." Cissa said and looking at the others added "He could have so easily gone dark as a result of his abuse, could have turned into a right bastard. It was my fear for Draco, that his father's verbal abuse would twist something in him. I truly think that it was that train ride with Harry shaking his hand that made a difference."
"Harry has a way of looking at things that is wonderfully refreshing considering everything he has been through." Filius said. "I read his essays and he has this way of expressing things that shines through. I know from a meeting with the Weasley twins that he managed to convince them that picking on younger year students was bullying. Whatever words he used had got through to those two in ways that I never did. That Minerva never did."
"He is far from perfect though." Minerva cautioned Remus. "He works hard and gets very good grades but at the same time, once he masters a assignment and his friends who he helps at times masters it, he gets bored. I can see it in his eyes."
"You know, speaking of his friends." Sirius said thinking about something Harry had questioned him about regarding wands, he asked "When Neville Longbottom was here the other day, I noticed his wand had his father's initials and asked him about it. Augusta Longbottom isn't likely to listen to me, but someone needs to tell her to get that boy his own wand."
"I will speak to her." Minerva said then her eyes narrowing reminded Sirius. "You do recall that there is to be no wand use during the summer for underage wizards, Mr. Black, don't you?"
"Oops, I knew I forgot something." He said winking at her. "I have never liked that rule, we both know that pureblood witches and wizards used theirs all summer long and that especially for muggle born students it means that their parents can't see the magic that their children are learning."
"I do but do something about it legally, don't encourage the children to break the law." She scolded.
Harry was telling the others the story that Remus had told them and was asking Hermione if she had a muggle atlas as they sat in the Granger den. When Dan Granger entered the room he found the two boys and his daughter tracing a route across the United States.
"Are we plotting how to run away from home?" He asked leaning on the door jam.
Harry lifted his head and with a cheeky grin asked "That depends, sir. Do you know if your wife and Draco's mom have any more diabolical plans to make me go shopping again? While I am ever grateful for their help, I just can't do that ever again."
"I thought my daughter said Gryffindors were brave, young man?" He asked his eyes twinkling with the need to laugh.
"Sir, bravery is knowing something is dangerous but doing it anyhow in spite of being scared because someone you love needs saved. Shopping with those two, fit the definition we found of insanity recently." He stated in response.
Amused, Dan asked "What is this definition you found?"
"Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." He answered.
"Oh dear, so I guess that means you won't be going to Diagon Alley tomorrow with Emma and myself." He asked politely. When they perked up at the idea, he gave them the rest of news. "I believe Ms Black was supposed to be bringing you."
Draco dramatically threw himself back and called out to the ceiling "Kill me now."
"Thank goodness Neville and Susan already left the two of you have scared him so badly about shopping, he now shakes when the topic comes up." Hermione said glaring at the two boys.
On the trip back to Hogwarts that evening, Filius looked at his headmistress and asked "I thought you were going to bring up Severus' furry little problem?"
"I thought about it, but it was rather amusing the desperate lengths he has gone to the last three days to get rid of that bear." She said with quiet chuckle. "He almost hexed Albus the delusional fool when he came to me asking for a job. I am staying out of it, other than the bet of course."
"Oh course." Flitwick answered as they entered the newly cleaned and remodeled castle. Arriving in his office, the half goblin found Severus where they had left him, going over his private charms books. "Have any luck, Severus?"
"No, I still can't find an answer." The man said wearing a scowl on his face as he put the book he had just finished back and reached for the one next to it. "I don't get it, Filius. The charms seem to be a simple enervate and animation charms but yet I can't get that idiot bear to cease and desist."
"At least you managed to remove the tracking charm." He offered as a silver lining only to have the taller man thank him for his help and carrying the offered book back to his own office.
Seated in his office, hiding from the stuffed bear lurking in his own chambers, Severus went through his meticulous notes to figured out how so that he could find out the who.
He had at first been determined to demand answers from Sirius Black but he knew from school that it was Lily and James who were better at charms than Black was. James and Sirius were transfiguration and all three of the stronger male marauders had almost been his equal in Defense of the Dark Arts.
He had heard that Lupin was back in the country and had been convinced he had helped except that the bear had already been in his office when the man had come home.
Hearing the annoying male voice of that idiot Lockhart down the corridor, irate that he was in the dungeons, Severus went to find out what he was doing as he was only supposed to be moving into his office and quarters that evening.
Looking out his door, he closed it as quickly as he had opened it. A life sized painting of Lockhart was being transferred into the castle the muggle way via the service doors and Horace Slughorn was helping the idiot.
He would rather face that annoying bear than either of those inane morons. Entering his quarters, he was cheerful when he saw the bear was still where he had left it. He had conjured up shackles and had bolted them to the wall, with one set around each of the joints and another around the stomach and neck.
Pouring a glass of muggle brandy, he sat down and contemplated how to ask Draco about the bear without upsetting his godson. From the letters had received, Draco seemed to have had a great summer learning that the world was much larger and more diverse than he had been aware thanks to his father.
Thankfully school started later this week and he would be able to talk to him face to face. He looked at the note on his coffee table and reaching for it, grimacing at his agreeing to let Neville Longbottom into the small test class for Second year potions. Still he had to agree with Minerva's suggestion that only teaching the three best students wasn't really a test on whether the new text book would be helpful.
Albus was seated at a table in the Hog's Head grumbling into his morning pumpkin juice. Minerva had refused his request to teach potions after he had read that Severus was moving to a different position. She had reminded him that he was forbidden to do any potions after his small mishap that the ministry had overblown regarding his lemon drops.
Seeing Molly Prewett exiting the pub, he breathed a sigh of relief at having escaped that particular nightmare. She had been equally thrilled when she had received a note from the Wizengamot since it had let her off having to return the betrothal funds to him.
She was moving in with a Prewett relative and hadn't been too happy about that except that she would no longer have to work at the pub.
Looking through his mail and finding a letter from an old friend, Albus let out a slow smile. Reading the job offer, he debated refusing it but then he saw his brother Aberforth glaring at him and knew that this might be the best move. He would be able to influence a good portion of the wizarding world if he took it.
Sending out a reply with his brother's owl, he went to visit the Ministry, he loathed not having Fawkes any longer. The ruddy bird had been freed by the Unspeakables and had disappeared.
There was a large crowd when Hermione and her family arrived at the Leaky Cauldron. Looking around at the crowd of witches dressed to the nines heading through the wall had the muggle born witch shaking her head.
Finding Harry and Draco in Madam Malkin's Robes for all Occasions being measured for new school robes Hermione asked "What is going on?"
"Get this, some git is signing his books in Flourish and Blotts and all these middle age witches are going bonkers." Replied a young wizard standing behind Harry and talking to him.
"Hello, Wood." Hermione said greeting the upper year student. "Are you ready for the year to begin?"
"I'm ready for Quidditch to begin." He said with a smile and then mentioned "Thanks to my OWLS I'm not too worried. Es and O's with an A in Transfiguration."
"That's great." She replied then moved closer to the older student to ask him what they had been like and what he was taking for NEWT level classes.
Hermione was so enthusiastic that when it was his turn to be measured, he had blushed a bit and asked "Granger, uh, would you uh, leave. I have to undress to try on my new practice uniform."
Blushing beet red, she backed into Harry who was talking to Cissa and the seamstress about what colors. Cissa was determined to put him in at least some green, but he had pointed out he wasn't in Slytherin so they were working on a compromise even as he hugged Hermione.
Leaving the store, Harry and she were teasing Draco about getting an owl or a cat as they crossed over to pick up treats for Hedwig. Inside, when he fallen for a gray owl that had a wing span that expanded over the three students. "This is the one."
Harry paid for his treats and Cissa called for Dobby who took the owl home as the students discussed what to name him. Hearing their own names being called, they greeted Neville who proudly showed them his new wand.
Moving along with the crowd towards the bookstore to pick up the new Herbology book and to greet their friends, Harry saw the Weasley children and looking around, sure enough saw Lucius Malfoy wearing a malevolent smile on his face as he stared at Arthur Weasley and his brood.
Harry watched, waiting for the moment to retrieve the diary, he was hoping that it still happened so that he escape the attention of that fraud Lockhart by finding a way to knock the books out of Ginny's hands.
Neville told his grandmother that he would go inside when they arrived at the packed store and Hermione grimaced but went in to pick up a book she had wanted while her father and Remus who had arrived went to get their potions supplies. Sirius was meeting them in a bit and had ducked into the nearby Quidditch store when they had first arrived.
The crowd of women pushed and shoved until the foursome of Mrs. Granger, Cissa, Harry and Draco were in the store and trying to find a quiet corner. Listening to the self-serving git speaking in the front of the store as he announced that he would be teaching at Hogwarts this year, Harry and Draco rolled their eyes at one another then realized that the two mothers had been pushed forward until Narcissa and Emma were standing near Lockhart.
Hermione shoved her way as politely as she could so that she had joined her friends just as Neville returned clearly not happy. "What do they see in him? Grams always says never trust anyone that smiles too much at you and all that burk does is smile."
Heading outside, they ran into the Weasleys and Harry made a point of standing there them as Arthur stiffly greeted Malfoy whose eyes went to his son and openly sneered at him then picked a fight with the balding red head that was broken up by his eldest son.
Just like the last time the two wizards were expelled from the store, but unlike the when helped her pick up the school books there was no diary and since Ginny wasn't holding anything, he was at a loss for where the diary was. "T-thank you."
Nodding and walking away, Harry missed the almost obsessed way that the little red headed girl watched him walking away and how she took notice of who was with him. She knew Neville and she was sure that the blond boy was the son of the man arguing with her father, but the girl was no one she knew and she didn't like that another girl thought she had the right to spend any time with her hero.
Bill Weasley had seen Harry politely handing his sister her books and walking away without a second glance and then looking at Ginny winced as he realized that nothing they had told her over the last few weeks had settled in her mind. To him it was clear that she still believed she had some sort of rights regarding the BOY-WHO-LIVED.
Looking for Charlie who had taken Ron with him to go shopping, he hoped that Ginny might believe the dragon trainer as he had had no luck with her.
Inside the bookstore, as women got their books signed, Narcissa and Emma who were trapped by the pressing thongs, was quietly speaking to Sirius who had pushed his way into where they were standing.
"I sent everyone over for ice cream so that I could come find you." Sirius announced then looking at Narcissa asked "Did Lucius bother you when he was in here?"
"No, I did meet his lovely fiancee though." She said with a quiet chuckle. "Ms Nott felt the need to mark her future territory as Mrs. Lucius Malfoy and I was so tempted to warn her but when she insulted Emma, I figured she can find out the truth for herself."
None had noticed the crowd growing smaller as Cissa and Emma filled him in the tete a tete with the delusional woman when Emma felt a hand touching her rear end. Blinking and not reacting in case it was an accident when the hand ran down her butt and tried to cup it, she turned, and used one of the self defense moves she had learned in her adult education class.
One Gilderoy Lockhart moaned loudly and bent forward to cup himself as he fell to the ground and howled like a banshee.
"What did he do?" Sirius asked looking at the angry woman advancing on the man with the blond teased curls. Emma Granger looked like she was about to do serious damage to the idiot.
"He put his hands on me twice." She said scowling at the fool sobbing like a baby. "I let the first one go, I thought it might have been an accident but the second time he went a little further."
"Get up, Lockhart." Sirius demanded then looking around for the owner of the store, saw that a woman wearing bug glasses and carrying a small notebook was laughing as she glared at the 'great author.'
Pulling the man up, Sirius pulled his wand out and demanded that he apologize to Emma Granger.
With a leer, Lockhart stood and leaned in and said "She has been making eyes at me all afternoon. I was just giving one of my many, many fans what they want."
"Listen you git, if you ever touch any woman like that again, your twigs and berries will be stomped on until you will wish that you had procreated while you were still you because I will remove them with a scalpel." Emma stated as she leaned in towards the man still winking and smiling at her.
Throwing her hands in the air as he kept acting so strange, she waited until they were at the door and then looked at Sirius and said "I can't believe that old goat Albus Dumbledore felt that a man like that should be allowed to teach students."
Leaning in, he grimly said "Me either but I can deal with him. I just need to speak to Severus Snape. There is a potion that I can require him to take as a professor at Hogwarts so that if he so much as thinks of touching a student he ends up permanently in St. Mungos."
"Good." She snapped and left the bookstore still carrying the book she had intended to purchase, but she had been so angry she had forgotten about it as they joined the others. Walking back and handing it to the owner, she said "Any one who brings a wizard like that in their store for profit, is not someone I will do business with."
The two grown men had been furious when they had heard what Lockhart had pulled and Remus demanded to be there when he met Snape. "Why can't you just hire another teacher and just pay him off?"
"That idiot contract that Albus signed. Don't worry, Minerva already has a plan and she will be starting it this evening." Sirius said still glaring at the door of the bookstore where the preening idiot was waving to women walking by.
The Grangers and their daughter left, Hermione reluctantly because she had so much she wanted to talk to Harry about leaving only Narcissa and the two boys as Remus and Sirius decided to go to Hogwarts and inform the Headmistress the latest about her newest professor.
Harry was finishing off his never ending ice cream bowl while Draco was wizard and witch watching. Seeing the tiny blond wearing strange earrings carrying her own school supplies without an adult with her, had him curious until finally an adult showed up. The adult was dressed stranger than the girl if that was possible but something kept him watching the tiny blond.
"Draco?" Turning to find out what his mom wanted, he saw the girl running down the alley with her hands now empty towards a store he didn't recognize. "Draco?"
Oh, yes." He said turning back to the others. "Are we heading out now?"
"Yes, we have been trying to get your attention for several minutes. Is everything all right?" Narcissa asked clearly worried.
"Yes, just gathering my thoughts." He replied, his eyes going to where he had last seen the small blond. Shrugging, not sure what had caught his attention about her, he carried his bags as they worked their way towards the Leaky Cauldron and home.
Severus was off the premises when Sirius and Remus told the Headmistress what had happened. She pulled out the contract that Gilderoy Lockhart had signed and to her furious disappointment they couldn't fire him for the behavior because Emma Granger was a muggle. "Someday I can't help wondering if all of Albus' great love of muggles was a sham. The laws he left in place are terrible."
"I want you to require him to take the Hands to yourself potion." Sirius demanded.
"The thing is that school rules require that if I force one male professor to take the potion I have to require them all to." Minerva quietly stated.
"Can't we give the rest a placebo." Remus asked.
"If I could I would. Let me ask Severus, there might be a similar potion that we can slip to him without violating any laws." Minerva said.
"When did Hogwarts stop requesting that teachers take the potion?" Sirius asked.
"Several years ago. Severus is pretty much the only single male teacher who is young enough to be a worry and I never worried about him." The Headmistress replied.
"Severus Snape is more likely to go down on his knees and propose to Hagrid than touch a student in that manner." Sirius said with a chuckle at the mental image his hyperbole had created in his head. The laughter went away as he looked at Minerva. "I am not so sure about Slughorn either. He used to be pretty touchy feeling with the students."
With a sigh, she leaned back in the oddly comfortable muggle chair on wheels that she had been sent 'anonymously'. "Severus is in a rather unpleasant mood and already dislikes those two. I am more afraid of his doing permanent damage to one of them than anything else if I were to ask him to make a potion because I will have to tell him why."
"What's going on?" Remus asked. Sirius and the others had assured him that Severus was if not pleasant at least civil lately.
She gave them a thorough looking over then said "Did either of you send him a present this week? A prank?"
"No, he is teaching Harry, I wouldn't risk his education just to pull a prank on the man." Remus replied and Sirius nodded in agreement.
"Someone pulled one and I wish I could tell you about it but he made me take a wizard's oath not to tell anyone what is going on, until he finds out who did it." Minerva replied.
Now curious, but needing to get home, the two men left and Minerva went over to her list of potential prankers and crossed them off the list.
Hermione arrived early for the train this time and found Neville already situated. "Draco and Harry are running late. Dora accidentally stunned Harry this morning. Something about she met Remus Lupin and lost control of her magic."
As students arrived on the train and the noise level got louder, their friends and acquaintances stopped in but no Harry, no Draco were there when the Hogwarts Express pulled out of the station.
In a compartment four cars up, the Weasley twins and Lee were talking with a dejected Ron who had laid into Ginny about what she had done to his broom that morning. "Now there is no way I can try out for the Quidditch team now."
"Sorry Ron. I wish we could lend your one of our brooms but we would need it for a game against you." Fred said.
When Ernie, Justin and another of their friends came to drag Ron to their compartment, Lee had gone to get something from the sweets cart, George said "What did you hear Bill tell Percy?"
"Watch the princess." He replied. "I still can't believe how she treated Luna when she came to the house the other day. I thought she was best friends with the Lovegood girl."
"What did Bill tell Percy she said?" George asked.
"He didn't tell him, just said that it was about Harry Potter." Fred replied.
Knowing that Lee would be back soon, George said "The thing is, she will be disappointed once she actually meets Harry. He is a great guy, but those books is what the Princess bases Harry on."
Alone in a car, Luna was hiding behind the Quibbler, hiding her pain at the way the girl she had been friends with so long had just cut her emotional again. Ginny had made it very clear that she was cutting their friendship because she didn't want anyone connecting her with Ginny.
The red head had opened the compartment door and sneered loudly as some upper year girls walked by. "Sorry Loony but I was only your friend because I didn't have any other options. Why would I want to be friends with someone who sees those nut job animals that you claim exist."
In London, at King's Cross Station, Draco and Harry were seated on bench, trying to ignore all the strange looks coming their way at the sight of the luggage carts they had nearby full of trunks and owl cages and even an owl.
They had been unable to get through the barrier and due to the full moon the night before Remus was unavailable and Sirius had left for Salem to bring back their test version of the Wolfsbane serum which he had gotten used to taking. Narcissa had come with them to the station and then had apparated away when they had assured her they would be fine since she had gone to attend the goblin meeting that Sirius had had to skip.
Except... they weren't fine. Something had blocked them getting through to catch the train to Hogwarts. Harry had covered Hedwig with his cape and had taken him outside to send him to Hogwarts hoping that someone would show up and help them get there.
He knew it wasn't Dobby this time, and thankfully there was no flying car but he was really hoping that they didn't have to deal with the Whomping Willow again.
Hearing their names, they looked up and saw Severus Snape standing there. Deciding that it was his fate to spend the second year opening feast with the man, Harry glumly greeted him. "We can't get through the barrier."
"So your owl informed us, Mr. Potter." Severus said and discreetly checked and found he could step through to the other side. Having the two boys attempt it, he saw that it rejected them. "Clearly there is a problem. Lets get to a private spot and get the two of you and your belongings to Hogwarts."
"Thanks, Severus." Draco said then winced. He had forgotten the rule that said he was to call him Professor Snape when others were around.
In a discreet spot, he asked Harry if he knew what a Portkey was. When he nodded yes, he asked them to keep their belongings in their hands then sent them on to Hogwarts before double checking and apparating himself there.
Finding them putting their trunks in one of the waiting carriages, he joined them and questioned them thoroughly about what had happened.
"I don't understand what happened but I will let the Headmistress know why you are here so early. Your classmates should be arriving in an hour or two. That is a very fast owl you have there, Mr. Potter and intelligent too since he went directly to Professor Flitwick and myself when it couldn't find the Headmistress."
Shocked at the compliment, Harry nodded numbly then they were told to stay out of trouble until their classmates arrived.
Deftly escaping babysitting duty, Snape went to his potions lab and picked up the vials of pale gray smoking liquid and went to find Minerva McGonagall who had been called to the ministry by DMLE Head Bones, they had been sent proof of another Horcrux and it had been quickly destroyed leaving only the possibility of one more.
"This should teach the man to keep his hands to himself. If he even thinks of a student, he gets a mild sting to his arm. Touches one, it knocks him out and if he tries anything more serious, well let's just say it won't be pretty."
"Thank you, Severus. I can't believe I am having to worry about this. We have been so used to you and your sense of what is right and wrong, we forgot that not all male teachers have the same." She said shaking her had as she called for the Head House elf and asked them to put it in the correct goblets.
"I have set up the classroom for the upper year Offensive spells students, the new potions lab I am using is already set up for Slughorn to let his students destroy."
"Why are you staying in the old rooms?" She probed. They had offered the new rooms to him but he had rejected them.
"It's closer to the Slytherins and this way we can keep Slughorn out of the stores and the more rare potions books that we had to retrieve when he left the last time." Snape replied. "Now if you will excuse me, I have to go change to attend the opening feast. Potter and Black were heading towards the Quidditch pitch when I came in."
In his quarters, Severus saw that the slippery little bear was out from his shackles and winced. When he had woken up this morning, the bear which had been on his bed had once again asked him if he needed a hug.
Thinking that maybe, just maybe it was some sort of answer to the spells, he had said yes and let the idiotic thing give him a hug, only for it to hop off his bed and go sit on a low bookshelf.
Snape had been so sure that it had ended the charm that he had worked in his quarters that morning. Until his cussing at an interruption from Slughorn who kept talking about all of his influence and how he could help his former student to greatness. The bear had waited until Slughorn had left and suddenly looked at him and said "Some people need a sympathetic pat on the head with a hammer."
To his total shock, Severus had let the bear's words sink in and found himself sitting in his chair, staring at the black bear and laughing. Gaining control and making sure that no one had heard him, he looked at the bear and said "Thank you, I needed that."
"Do you need another hug?" It had asked and his smile slipped away as he realized he was getting used to conversing with a stuffed animated bear that he had no idea what had been done to it.
On the train as they got closer to Scotland, Hermione who had gone to the loo saw the blond girl sitting in a compartment crying. Looking around for a prefect and finding none she knew, she went inside and asked "Who made you cry?"
Lifting her head, the girl with the unfocused gray eyes asked "How did you know that someone made me cry?"
Sitting across from her, Hermione softly said "I used to cry all the time like that in the bathrooms at my old school when people made fun of me."
"Oh, why would they do that?" She was asked.
"They called me a know it all and bookworm and buckteeth and bushy tailed because of my hair." She said. "Things are much better at Hogwarts. I have good friends and there are a few people who tease me but I just remind myself that I can always turn them into a frog when I am a seventh year student."
Laughing quietly, the blond said "The girl I thought was my best friend just told me that we weren't friends and that she only was my friend because we lived near each other then called me Loony like the other kids in our village."
"Well hello Loony, I am Know it All." Hermione said holding out her hand.
That made the other girl laugh again then asked "What is your real name?"
"What's yours?" She retorted.
"I asked you first." Luna replied.
"You did, didn't you. Well I am a Hermione Granger, a second year muggleborn witch in Gryffindor. What about you?"
"Luna, Luna Lovegood, first year hoping to be in Ravenclaw like my mom Selene." She said shyly. "Though, maybe I might ask to be in Gryffindor."
"Either way we can be friends. My friend Draco is in Ravenclaw. I have another friend Susan who is in Hufflepuff." Hermione said. "My other friend Neville and my best friend Harry are in the same house as me."
"Are you sure you want to be seen with me?" Luna asked.
"Come join us, something happened to a couple of our friends, they were supposed to be on the train but didn't make it so we are hoping to see them at the Opening Feast but I can at least introduce you to Susan and Neville."
"Okay. What about my trunk?" Luna asked.
"Why don't you change into your school uniform now and we will head down to our compartment. Your things will be fine if you lock it, the house elves will transfer everything to the castle." She said.
Hermione waited for the petite girl to change and then walked with her to their compartment. In it, they found Susan offering them the last of her fruit snacks. "Auntie doesn't like me eating too much candy, so she sends fruit with me."
In another compartment, Ron who was fed up with Ginny's lack of remorse and her obsession with Harry Potter finally snapped when she laid the blame on their father for not having their mom at home.
"Sorry Gin-Gin, Molly did that, not dad." He retorted. When she snapped at him for calling her by her first name, he said "You don't get it. Dad, Bill and Charlie are still protecting you, well I am done. Your and Molly's obsession with bloody Harry Potter are why our family is a mess. Harry Potter would rather marry a harpie than marry you."
"You don't know what you are talking about, Ronald." She cried out.
"Yes I do. Molly and the former Headmaster tried to trick Harry into marrying you. He doesn't even know you exist, Ginny."
"Yes he does, he smiled at me at the bookstore and helped me pick up my books when they got knocked over. See, he knows me and wants to protect me."
"Oh for the love of all Merlin's gold, Ginny, Harry would have done that for anyone, even me. Even one of the slippery nasty Slytherins because that is how he is. You are so stupid. GROW UP, GINNY. Harry Potter is a pipe dream that Molly and you used to destroy our family. You are even lucky to be attending Hogwarts because of what she did."
Ginny couldn't believe that Ron was talking to her this way, he knew better. Mom had made him promise to always protect her and yet here he was lying about her betrothed. Mom had written to her promising that while things HAD changed, she would still get to marry her prince. Her mom had never lied to her before and she knew she wouldn't do it now.
At the end of the train ride, Ginny was furious. Ron had thrown her out of their compartment and she had been forced to sit with some other first years and listen to them giggle all about getting to know HER betrothed.
Staying silent, thinking of the joy she would get as they watched Harry Potter properly welcome her into Gryffindor when they got to the school, she missed seeing Luna walking by with the same bushy haired girl who had been with Harry in Diagon Alley.
Standing near the boats, she watched as Luna waved towards someone getting into the horseless carriages, she wouldn't let the blond get into her boat with her, smirking at her until Hagrid moved over and after shaking his head at Ginny helped Loony sit with a very excitable muggle born and some girl holding onto the edge of the boat scared to death.
Hermione flew into Harry's arms and gave him a huge hug. "Where were you?"
"Some thing odd happened and the barrier wouldn't let us through." He said with a shrug. "We sent Hedwig since she knew Hogwarts better than Yoda does. Professor Snape came and sent us to the school with a portkey."
Neville and the others soon gathered around Harry and Draco with the exception of the Slytherins as they moved towards the Great Hall. "So how was the train ride?"
"Okay, we meet this first year girl that someone had been picking on. Her name is Luna, Neville said she lives near his family and the Weasleys." Hermione said as Draco was telling Penelope Clearwater why his owl was named Yoda.
"So you went to one of these movie places and saw this Yoda. Who is a green version of Professor Flitwick?" The Prefect asked.
"No, we saw a movie marathon, it was three movies back to back and we had popcorn and crisps plus all sort of other junk food to eat." He told her. "Mr. Granger has all these movies and we watched them at their house."
The students separated all heading to their house tables as they looked up towards the front to where there were several new faces and a new headmistress.
Looking at the teachers, trying to figure out who was bringing in the new students, Harry was surprised to see Madam Hooch the flying teacher and Quidditch referee leading the first years.
Barely listening to the sorting, his mind on all of the changes he hoped to make this year since the Goblins had pretty much destroyed all of the horcruxes. They still needed the diary but he was sure that it would end up here at some point this year with either Ginny Weasley or by some other manner.
Harry saw Ron Weasley and knew that one of his chores was to get a certain rat. To find a way to move onto holding Hermione's hand without his getting all sweaty and to...
Hearing the name Colin Creevry, he smiled at the enthusiastic boy ended up in Gryffindor yet again. Swallowing the sudden lump in his throat as he repeated word for word what he had said the first, time, Harry happily held out his hand to shake his and welcome him to Gryffindor hoping that he could make sure that the muggle born wizard had a future this time.
His mind drifting again, trying to decide whether or not to tell someone about the over-sized snake in the chamber, he heard Madam Hooch calling out Luna Lovegood and noticed Hermione's smiling reaction.
When Luna ended up in Ravenclaw, Harry hastily added protecting the blond to his list of things to do then saw the way Draco was eyeing the blond and blinked, something was telling him that he wouldn't have to worry about Luna, that someone else would deal with anyone who hurt her.
He was finishing his mental list when he realized that it was Ginny being sorted and that there was soft mumbling when it seemed to take forever.
Ginny heard her name being called by the professor and sat down smirking as she waited for it to shout Gryffindor.
"Interesting, very interesting. Why are you so determined to end up in Gryffindor?"
"Because my betrothed Harry is in there, my family is always in Gryffindor."
"That isn't true, I seem to recall putting your brother Ronald in Hufflepuff last year." The hat replied.
"Well I belong in Gryffindor." She retorted. "So just do your job and put me where I belong."
"Well you certainly don't have the brains for Ravenclaw, you are sly and ambitious but you lack cunning, so I can't place you in Slytherin."
"Oh course not, I am not evil. I told you, I belong in Gryffindor." She smugly thought.
"You don't have the loyalty of Hufflepuff BUT I can't in good conscious just give you what you want when you don't have the attributes for my house." The hat replied. "Still, what do I do with you?"
"Gryffindor you stupid worn worthless rag." She snapped. "I. BELONG. IN. GRYFFINDOR!"
"No you don't." The Hat replied silently to her then shouted "SLYTHERIN!"
There was silence in the Great Hall as the hat shouted out Slytherin for Ginny Weasley. Her brothers weren't as shocked having dealt with her this summer, but the rest of the students could only stare as she refused to get off the stool and go to her house table.
"Ms. Weasley, please join your house mates." Madam Hooch said reaching for her arms and removing the stool and hat.
When she walked towards Gryffindor, determined to go where she was destined, Hooch turned her around and said "Over there."
"No." She answered. "I refuse to sit in Slytherin."
Hooch looked up at Professor Snape who was still the Head of Slytherin and he nodded and moved down from the Dias and escorted the red head who fought with him and was stunned by her own older brother who asked permission to go with them.
Snape accessed Percy Weasley then gave him permission to follow them. In a small office nearby, he sat Ginny down and listened to her babbling. Rolling his eyes at the Potter fan girl, he said "Miss Weasley, you will be going down to your dorm room and straight to bed. I will have the house elves bring you down some dinner but you should know that this is the last time I wish to see this behavior from one of my students."
When she still kept protesting, he looked at Percy and then called for a house elf who assured the Professor that she would take Ginny to her dorm in the dungeons. The girl threw yet another tantrum and shaking his head knowing he was in for a bad year with her, Snape turned to Percy Weasley and said "Mr. Weasley please contract your father or one of your elder brothers and have them come to the school as soon as they can tomorrow. Luckily classes won't start until Monday but I would like your sister dealt with before she offends her own house mates."