Disclaimer: The Harry Potter Universe and all the characters belong to J.K. Rowling.

Many thanks to TabiPrewett for Beta'ing this chapter!

I want to announce/summarise a few things about this story:

- The first half of the story focuses on Harry/Daphne and their developing relationship, with the second half becoming darker in response to the war.

- My inspiration goes up and down so there may be periods where I don't update, followed by periods where I pump out multiple chapters in quick succession.

- Early chapters (1-5ish) contain canon events/recaps with small changes, this disappears after those chapters.

- A darker harry will come but no world shattering powers/heritages, although he will become strong, eventually.

- Daphne's personality is a lot warmer and more playful than the 'Ice Queen' she is usually portrayed as.

- Genres would be: Adventure, Romance, Angst, Tragedy, Hurt/Comfort, Drama, and some Humor.

- I rated it M for limes and battle scenes (for when they finally come) they might getpretty gorey.

- Slow, gradual buildup to all the events that happen. (No instant love or super Harry)

- Harry should be pretty canon with changes happening to him as the story goes.

- Changes will start happening later in the story: after chapt 5/6.

- English is not my native language. I am looking for a Beta.

- Multiple POV's (although most of it is Harry's)

- Chapters have a length of 5k-9k length each.

- Not everyone gets a happily ever after.

- Harry will start learning the Dark Arts.

- No Deathly Hallows.

- No bashing.

This is my first Fanfiction, rather my first at writing anything. Any help and/or feedback is welcome.

Lastly; I hope you give it a shot!

They were being pursued, dark spells and curses flying past them, none lethal; their master wouldn't allow them, but still dangerous. It was morning, the temperature low, the sky clouded and the air moist. A thin shroud of fog enveloped them all.

Three pair of hurried footsteps, coupled with heavy breathing ran along damp grass, heavier footsteps behind them. They were on the Hogwarts grounds.

To the left was the ever-dark forest edge, whisps of movement being seen between the dark trees and bushes. To the right was the castle, once the perfect example of a peaceful setting with warm lights coming from many of the windows and towers. Half of which he had most likely passed on some day of broom flying to ease his worries.

However today he would not be able to outfly his problems.

The castle was in ruins, shattered windows could be seen everywhere, fire raging within the halls, whether it was fiend or normal fire he did not know, nor did it seem to matter much now.

The castle was burning and he could faintly hear screaming in the distance, each sounding different, already telling him stories of what was lost in them. But he didn't need to listen to them to know what was going on; both near and in the distance he saw the cause of the chaos and destruction, Death Eaters.

There were too many for anyone to take on. Some were chasing students in their own pace, enjoying the hunt, meanwhile firing spells from their wands in rapid succession. There were colors flying everywhere, a few of them connecting with their victims producing new screams before they fell to the ground, unmoving.

Pain in his chest reminded him of his own situation, his breathing had become heavier and his shirt was torn revealing that he had a large cut in his chest. Blood had seeped out from it into his shirt making it warm, wet and heavy. The other two pair of footsteps came from Ron and Hermione to his sides, they too looked no better than him; They were sweaty, dirty and bloody.

Hermione was clutching her forearm a dark spot could be seen on it, with ominous tendril like veins spreading forth, which ever so slowly seemed to be spreading out as if trying to infect more of her healthy flesh around it. Her hair was a reflection of the bushy volume it used to be, now lying flat with mud and blood. Her eyes however were still the same, fear stricken but still showing him that her head was working furiously to come up with some plan of escape.

Ron's shoulder seemed to be broken and from the hairline above his forehead trailed a line of blood across his face to his chin. His face was grim and determined, telling him that he was willing to fight to the end, even if that came quicker than any of us wanted.

They came to an abrupt halt when some distance before them dark smoke quickly molded together into the wizarding nightmare: Voldemort, a triumphant look on his face, twisting his snakelike features in something even less human.

The spells around them had stopped and from all around he saw death eaters closing in on them from behind, from the tree line of the forest and those on the grounds.

He wasn't going to stop here, maybe they could make some kind of distraction… run into the forest and apparate away. But would that even work? How far did the wards stretch? Had additional ones been directed all around the area? What kind of distraction would work in the first place to divert the attention of all these death eaters? Voldemort however, was not going to wait for him.

He uttered a single syllable with unbound glee in his voice, impatience shining in his red eyes.

"Kill the spare."

The same words of death were spoken again, the same words as that fateful night of the Triwizard Tournament.

Death eaters immediately fired their killing curses at Ron and Hermione, time seemed to slow, and he seemed powerless in moving against it.

Before he could either conjure something to take the blow or push them away from the cursed light to the safety on the ground did he notice that it was already over.

Their bodies made their final fall as their eyes became vacant, making them unrecognizable to the orbs of life they once were.

His knees fell silently into the soft ground near them still not comprehending what just happened, not wanting to comprehend. He simply stared back at their faces, unblinking as his vision began to blur by tears forming in his own eyes.

In the distance he could see everyone else having met the same fate: the whole Weasley family, Remus, Tonks, Moody, Neville, Luna…Sirius.

He could sense that Voldemort had his wand trained at his back, the tip of his wand glowing a sickly green, the light being softly reflected on each of their faces "So it ends, Harry Potter."

He made a startled gasp as his green eyes flew open in panic and darted around the room from his rigid and sweaty position on the bed. The rusty sprigs creaking a bit as his body moved losing all tension it had once the realization sank in.

"Just a dream, just a dream Harry" he spoke to reassure himself, his voice distant and shaky in between his labored breathing.

He kicked the remaining blankets of him, wishing to cool down more. His head still pounding from the events that happened, or rather didn't happen. Making sure it's not some cruel joke as he thought about the last time he saw his friends alive and well. In the Hogwarts express and the station. Some still had bandages on then from the battle at the Ministry.

Frustration and sadness welled up in him thinking about the events that had transpired in the ministry. Frustration at how it could have been avoided if he had not fallen for Voldemort's trick. Not rushing in dragging everyone along into the department or by taking his occlumency more seriously and Dumbledore for not telling him the prophecy.

Sadness at the loss of Sirius: the only family he had left and himself for being powerless in the course his life was taking him. Why did he have to be the one to face Voldemort? Because the prophecy said so? How was he able to resurrect himself in the first place? You can't just resurrect anyone with a ritual right? Because then they might as well dig up some old heroes to help them... No! He thought, rationalizing again. It can't be that simple, there has to be more to it than that.

Maybe he could get permission from Dumbledore to look into the restricted section for any information or ask Dumbledore directly, he thought begrudgingly. Feeling unsure what to think and feel of the Headmaster. He could partly understand why Dumbledore withheld the prophecy from him, wanting to protect him from the burden he could now feel weighing on his shoulders.

To have this knowledge at the age of eleven or twelve would surely have influenced his joyful experiences at Hogwarts. Well, despite the horrors he came to face each year. He thought somberly.

But having known it earlier definitely would have its merits: he could have spent more time preparing, gaining knowledge, getting training, keeping his friends out of harm's way and saving Sirius!

Sirius... the name filled his heart with guilt again. Why was everyone being taken from him? He rubbed his eyes, his hands coming up wet. From his thoughts or the dream? He mentally shook his head, hoping to shake some of the thoughts off. It didn't help much as his thoughts wondered back to his nightmare.

Is that how it's going to end, helpless in the events and powerless against his enemies? He shifted from his bed to a sitting position, the bed moaning in complaint. His hair and back still damp from his sweat, making his shirt cling to him uncomfortably.

He had to prevent that from happening.

I still have time right? I can't get Sirius back, but I can still protect those left. Get information, skills and spells. Survive, get through this and make something out of it. At the very least make sure the others do; after all he dragged them into this, thinking about the injuries they received at the ministry. Sirius died, but none of his friends did, but what about next time? A next time will definitely come it was only a matter of time. When will that be? Who would be next? Where would he stand in it? Would it be his fault again? Putting others at risk?

He sighed. I need to stop pondering, start acting.

He glanced at the clock, the pointer slowly ticking, momentarily mesmerizing him by the continuous ticking in his otherwise silent room.

It was nearly 11pm, Harry knew that Dumbledore would soon be there and pick him up to take him to the Weasleys'.

He looked at the note on the desk that Dumbledore had sent him a few days ago between the messes of the books, wraps and notes on his desk. Stating his time of arrival.

The ground looked less hectic; a few papers of the Daily Prophet could be seen with headlines reading: HARRY POTTER: THE CHOSEN ONE? SCRIMGEOUR SUCCEEDS FUDGE and PROTECTING YOUR HOME AND FAMILY AGAINST DARK FORCES, which were given out to any wizarding home now that the ministry had to acknowledge the return of the Dark Lord after coming close enough with him to quite nearly exchange 'pleasantries'.

The minute hand finally reached twelve announcing that it was eleven pm. Hedwig hooted once softly from her cage as to make sure he was truly awake.

Outside the nearby streetlamps went out, his window and room becoming a bit darker. He stood up and went to his window to look; sure enough a tall figure was walking up the garden path; his billowing clothes making him look wispy in the dark.

Time to go; he thought feeling a bit better about getting away from his room and the Dursleys.

He grabbed his trunk and Hedwig's cage, hearing the doorbell ring as he opened his door. Downstairs in the living room his Uncle Vernon shouted, "Who in the the blazes is calling at this time of night?" Harry gave the tiniest of grins. He hadn't bothered to warn the Dursleys that Dumbledore was coming.

He descended the stairs, dragging his trunk in one hand with heavy thuds and Hedwig in the other to keep her steady. He was at the door before his Uncle even managed to hoist himself up from his chair; gravity sure is a formidable opponent.

"Hello Professor", he greeted the aged wizard, standing in the doorway, letting the professor silently know he was ready to immediately leave.

"Good evening Harry," said Dumbledore, continuing after seeing his readiness. "I'm sorry to say that you will have to stretch your patience a bit longer, seeing that we still have a few things to discuss with your relatives." He said looking down his crooked nose, a smile tugging at his lips, making his beard move.

Harry moved back, giving Dumbledore room to enter and seeing that his Uncle had arrived from the living room, looking purple already. Whether it was from standing up or seeing Dumbledore he wasn't sure; probably both.

"I think myself correct in assuming that my visit was an expected one for you?" Dumbledore asked pleasantly.

"However, it is much too cold outside for an old man such as myself, please excuse me." He said stepping smoothly inside, and closing the door behind him.

The whistle sounded followed by the compartment giving a little tug, indicating that the train that started his journey to Hogwarts, to his home. The scene of perron 9 ¾ began gliding away, Mrs Weasley moving parallel to the train, continuing her never ending goodbye's to them with shouts of: "Stay safe," "Do your best!" and "Clean underwear everyday Ron!" making harry laugh at Ron's flustered face.

"Seriously, what is she thinking shouting stuff like that, I'm not five anymore". He muttered with a sour face.

"Come on Ron, she's simply a bit more stressed and concerned now with the disappearances, not to mention the upcoming wedding and her…disagreements with Fleur." Hermione said, carefully picking words to describe the relationship between the Weasley matriarch and French witch.

The relationship between them was for Harry a mixture of humor and awkwardness, Mrs Weasley obviously didn't like Fleur. Fleur however, seemed to either be oblivious or uncaring; continuously telling how wonderful Bill was in everyway. That of course had Ron gagging multiple times at their display, whenever he was not gawking at her of course.

His summer at the burrow had indeed been eventful: order and silence held no meaning there, despite Fred and George apparent absence; now heavily spending their time on their flourishing shop, there had been little peace. Mrs Weasley often threw glances at the Weasley clock, all of the pointers indicating 'mortal danger' no matter where they were, or what they were doing.

Mr Weasley often came home from the ministry carrying news about people going missing, dementor attacks, and how Karkaroff; old headmaster of Durmstrang and retired Death Eater, had been found dead at a shack. Voldemort probably didn't take his leave kindly.

Diagon Alley had also changed. Streets no longer bustled with salesman and inviting shop signs or Witches, Wizards, and children filling the streets having excited conversations. No, they had made way for swindlers, boarded shops, and ministry propaganda posters. People moved in groups, huddled together, quietly moving to shops in quick and efficient manner hoping to get it done fast.

Dumbledore had send Hagrid along as guard for him and the Weasleys while they did their shopping for school supplies. He guessed it had rather been for pretense and an early reunion with Hagrid. Death Eaters didn't attack in broad daylight, Yet. Rather creating a fear of the unknown than known, leaving it to your own imagination.

When they came across narcissi and Draco Malfoy at Madam Malkin's, they noticed that draco acted a bit suspicious by jumping every time Mrs. Malkin tried adjusting the sleeves on his forearm. Growing frustrated, he had thrown off the robes and left with his mother, the shop windows vibrating at the force of the door he slammed shut.

They had seen him again while they were at the Weasley shop walking hurriedly along all alone without his mother.

They had followed him under the Cloak, going through Knockturn Alley and ending up at Borgin and Burkes. Malfoy wanted Borgin to give him answers on how to fix something.

Borgin told him he wasn't sure if he couldn't see it himself, which made Malfoy do something that made Borgin look frightened. Now he was threatening rather than asking him.

Malfoy had been touchy about his arm, his father's been imprisoned, and he threatened Borgin with something. Had Malfoy replaced his father as a Death Eater? To spy in Hogwarts? Why did he want to fix this object he couldn't show Borgin?

He told of his suspicion to Ron, Hermione, and afterwards Mr Weasley. They didn't share the thought saying that Voldemort would not employee sixteen year olds. How could they be sure? Despicable? Yes. Impossible? No.

He was pulled out of his musings as the compartment door opened and a voice asked,

"Hey guys mind if we sit here?"

In the doorway stood Neville with and Luna with Neville still looking a bit awkward but his voice sounded a lot more confident compared to last year. He also seemed to have lost a bit of weight, looking filled out instead of slightly overweight.

Luna hadn't changed much, a dreamy expression on her face and a copy of the quibbler already in one hand. Her collection of beads and trinkets although, seemed to have grown.

"Yeah sure, Ron and I have to leave though because we have a meeting in the prefect carriage followed by patrols." Hermione responded motioning for Ron to come along as Luna and Neville took the seats across from Harry.

Ron sighed, as he stood, "I'm not so sure if I still want to be a prefect anymore Hermione, all we do is babysit midgets and have boring meetings."

"Don't call them midgets Ron! They're first and second years." She chided, wanting him to set an example.

"Too bad, I'm quite good at Gnome throwing." Ron responded grinning a little at the thought and following after her into the corridor.

The door slid closed and a moment of silence followed, Luna's necklace rankled, breaking the silence. "Are we going to have D.A. lessons again?" she asked staring at a spot over my shoulder.

Neville too, looked expectantly at him for the answer. Trevor however seemed to sense his lapse of focus on him and jumped for freedom, making a squishy sound as it landed on the floor and went under the bench.

"Trevor!" Neville called, jumping much like his toad to find him. Harry didn't need to think long on the answer.

"No, sorry this year we will probably have some decent lessons again with Umbridge gone. Making the D.A. a bit unnecessary."

"That's too bad; it felt a lot like I had friends". Replied Luna as Neville resurfaced with Trevor, looking a bit disappointed at his answer, and embarrassed at Luna's.

Feeling a mixture of embarrassment and understanding he said "Don't say that Luna, you do have friends: Neville, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, me, are a few examples; saying not so disappoints me." It may have been a bit harsh he realized after saying it, but Luna only seemed to smile, content. "Your right Harry, the Wrackspurts almost got me."

Harry and Neville stared.

"A Wrackspurt… They're invisible. They float in through your ears and make your brain go fuzzy," she said. "I thought I felt one zooming around in here." She flapped her hands at the air, as though beating off large invisible moths.

He smiled a bit, glad that she seemed to have understood, in her own way. Further conversation was halted when there was a disturbance outside their compartment door; a group of fourth year girls were whispering and giggling together on the other side of the glass.

"You ask him!" Said one. "No, you!" Rebutted another.

"I'll do it!" And one of them, a bold looking girl with large dark eyes, prominent chin, and long black hair pushed her way through the door.

"Hi, Harry, I'm Romilda, Romilda Vane," she said loudly and confidently. "Why don't you join us in our compartment? You don't have to sit with them," she added in a whisper, indicating Neville, who had the toad in his hands and Luna, who was reading upside down.

"They're friends of mine," said Harry coldly.

"Oh," said the girl, looking surprised. "Oh. Okay." And she withdrew, sliding the door closed behind her.

"A-are you sure you don't want to go Harry? I mean its fine with me. I wouldn't want to keep you here because you're polite so you can really just-"

"Do you want the same speech Neville?" Harry cut across Neville's rambling, referring to his statement to Luna moments before.

"Err-no, sorry I understand." Neville mumbled, embarrassed. "How was Summer Harry?" he asked picking himself up with surprising speed.

The three of them discussed their holiday, Harry keeping his story simple until sometime later the door slid open again, "Wish the lunch trolley would hurry up, I'm starving," said Ron longingly, slumping into the seat beside Harry and rubbing his stomach. "Hi, Neville. Hi, Luna. Guess what?" he added, turning to Harry. "Malfoy s not doing prefect duty, he's just sitting in his compartment with the other Slytherins, we saw him when we passed."

Harry sat up straight, interested. It was not like Malfoy to pass up the chance to demonstrate his power as prefect, which he had happily abused previous year. Malfoy must have a good reason for resigning his prefect post, just as he had declined his offer to become Quidditch captain. As if he needed more time.

"Maybe he preferred the Inquisitorial Squad," said Hermione. "Maybe being a prefect seems a bit tame after that." Harry kept silent, thinking.

The compartment door slid open again and a breathless third year girl stepped inside. "I'm supposed to deliver these to Neville Longbottom and Harry P-Potter," she faltered, as her eyes met Harry's and she turned scarlet. She was holding out two scrolls of parchment tied with violet ribbon. Perplexed, Harry and Neville took the scroll addressed to each of them and the girl stumbled back out of the compartment.

"What is it?" Ron demanded, as Harry unrolled his. "An invitation," said Harry.


I would be delighted if you would join me for a bite of lunch in compartment C.

Sincerely, Horace

"But what does he want me for?" asked Neville nervously, as though he was expecting detention. "I'm afraid he will ask questions about your parents." said Harry, feeling sorry for him. "Oh." Was all he said, his face expressionless and his body stiff.

Harry wasn't sure whether he liked Slughorn or not. The man reminded him of a walrus with his round belly and groomed mustache. He supposed he had been pleasant in his way, but he also seemed vain and had looked much too surprised when Harry said that Muggle-borns would make a good Witches or Wizards.

Slughorn's foremost reason for these invitations was to get connections and profit from them. He thought thinking about how the home of the man was decorated by gifts of wealth and objects of rarity.

He concluded that Horace Slughorn was good enough of a person, but a collector, for both humans and objects.

Upon reaching compartment C, they saw that they were not the only ones who got slughorn's invitation. "Harry, m'boy!" said Slughorn jumping up, His shiny bald head and great silvery mustache gleamed as brightly in the sunlight as the golden buttons on his waistcoat. His belly instantly taking up the remaining space in front of a boy who looked nonplussed by the personal space invasion.

"Wonderful to see you again! And you must be Mr. Longbottom!" Neville nodded, looking as though he had after effects of the petrificus totalus, but managed to respond with a leveled "Yes sir." At a gesture from Slughorn, they sat down opposite each other in the only two empty seats.

Harry briefly looked at their fellow guests. Seeing the boy who nearly tasted Slughorn's belly, a Slytherin from their year, a tall dark skinned boy; there were also two seventh year boys Harry did not know and, squashed in the corner beside Slughorn and looking as though she was not entirely sure how she had got there, Ginny.

"Are you two familiar with everyone here?" Slughorn asked Harry and Neville. "Blaise Zabini is also in your year." He said indicating toward the boy that was Zabini who did not make any sign of recognition or greeting, nor did Harry or Neville: Why bother if he didn't?

"This is Cormac McLaggen, someone who you most certainly know. No?"

McLaggen, a large, wiry haired youth, only raised a hand in a greeting silent, and they nodded back at him in response.

"… And this is Marcus Belby, Maybe this time? No?" Slughorn said slowly, trying one last time. Belby, who was quite thin, gave a strained smile. "… Well, worry not for this last young lady tells me she knows you both!" Slughorn finished jovially, apparently glad that he had at least found someone familiar to them. Ginny raised her shoulders a bit and gave them a small smile.

Slughorn quickly seemed to round on each of them, already knowing his questions to ask about connections of their families. Belby regularly went on nogtail hunts in Norfolk with Bertie Higgs, Rufus Scrimgeour and Tiberius Ogden, much to Slughorn's delight. Zabini, who was interrogated after McLaggen, turned out to have a famously beautiful witch for a mother. Who had mountains of gold after each husband she had mysteriously died. Neville was next, and had indeed been questioned about his parents, wellknown Aurors. He had responded to each question but choose not to elaborate too much. Slughorn seemed to be unsure whether or not he took after his parents.

Lastly he turned to Harry, saving the most interesting for last, atleast that was how he got introduced; bringing up the many discussions and articles of 'the chosen one'. Thankfully though, Neville and Ginny rebutted much of these claims, allowing the topic of discussion to soon be about slughorn's reminiscence, but Harry had the distinct impression that Slughorn had not finished with him, and that he had not been convinced by Neville and Ginny.

The afternoon wore on with more anecdotes about illustrious wizards Slughorn had taught, all of who had been delighted to join what he called the "Slug Club" at Hogwarts. Harry could not wait to leave, but couldn't see how to do so politely.

They could finally leave when the train was dyed into red by the sunset, and Slughorn had sent them off, glad with the new information he had received from all of them.

Harry was about to return to Ron and Hermione but stopped himself when Zabini walked past him, and started heading to what he presumed to be Malfoy's compartment.

An idea occurred to him, a reckless one but with the potential to be very rewarding. Zabini would soon enter Malfoy's compartment again. If Harry could get inside underneath his Invisibility Cloak unnoticed, he could possibly hear a lot of interesting things.

He didn't hesitate for long and darted after Zabini and reached into his robe, searching for his invisibility cloak and trying to get it out. After a few moments of being unable to get the cloak out he looked down into his robe for a second, frustrated that the cloak was stubbornly stuck inside his robe.

He might have heard the compartment door slide but he wasn't paying attention to his ears nor the path in front of him, as his eyes were elsewhere.

His conquest for information on Malfoy was abruptly halted as he collided with a body seemingly appearing out of nowhere, which he noted; made a surprised squeak. He lost his balance, still managing to steer himself from not falling on top of the person before colliding against the wall between two compartments with his head.

Of course, just my luck he thought as he held his painful forehead. Feeling it throb.

"Watch where you're walking, dugbog shite!" came the color and spiteful reply behind him. He might have laughed, had it not been for the missed opportunity to listen in on Draco and his discomfort, courtesy from the wall.

"Your right I wasn't looking, sorry." He replied giving in to any blame. Better apologize and move on, before rumors go around of 'the-boy-who-assaulted' and the whole school turns on him again.

Turning around he saw it had been indeed a female voice, despite the language. Not to mention he noticed it a bit in the collision.

She was just getting up, having apparently fallen down to her hands and knees; she probably hadn't hurt herself, unlike him.

She had blonde hair, done in a ponytail, drawing attention more to her blue eyes and face, which was so far he could see, quite pretty despite the glare etched on her face. Her figure was light and slim, maybe a bit thin.

She righted herself, on her chest a green badge gleaming, a snake engraved on it; Slytherin. "What made you run Potter? Trying to catch up on your ego?" she bited, her posture proud with her chin slightly tilted upwards. Looking every bit the pureblood.

He glanced down the corridor just in time to see the door slide closed.

Great he thought then turning his attention back to the girl.

"Look who's talking. Feeling good about ourselves?" He said his eyes shifting back to her. The Slytherin however, seemed unaffected. In fact the rebuttal was already there.

"I for one am simply proud of myself and confident in my skills. In contrast to you and your wandwork I must say you're slightly above average at best"

Suppressing his annoyance he sighed, seeing no use in trying to think of a good insult with his headache, he walked past her back to his compartment. Hearing her grumble as she went back into hers.

Harry skulked past the other compartments, glad that the door only allowed people a quick glimpse of him walking by. Letting him mostly avoid the stares and whispers.

The whole chosen one business had gone around the whole wizarding world of Britain at the very least. Voldemort showing himself at the ministry made sure of that. At least for once the rumors were true. However he wasn't going to tell them that.

He felt guilty as he hadn't told Ron and Hermione about the prophecy; yes they deserved to know, but were better off not knowing a small if not minuscule difference in their safe being. They knew that Voldemort would be coming for him anyway. Whether it was for a prophecy or grudge didn't matter.

The prophecy to everyone's knowledge was lost in the ministry where it fell, unheard, which in a sense was true, since Dumbledore only heard the original all those years ago, and recently passed it on to him.

Opening his compartment door he saw that the lunch trolley had passed a long time ago as the space around Ron's seat was littered with empty wrappers. "Hey Harry, what happened to your forehead? Did someone headbutt you?" Ron asked as harry took the seat between him and Neville.

"No the wall did." he grumbled, "Bumped into a Slytherin and lost my balance." Ron made a face, probably imagining how putrid making physical contact with a Slytherin would make him feel.

"Nothing else happened I hope? In any case let me take care of that for you." Hermione said taking out her wand muttering "Sana Livore." Instantly easing his bruise and headache as he could feel the healing spell do its job.

Feeling his forehead he said "Thanks Hermione, and no, nothing happened apart from the insults." Reminding him of the girl, the squeak had been quite funny, probably embarrassed her. Heh.

"Where were you going harry?" asked Neville having seen him leave hurriedly. "Oh. I had to use the restroom; Slughorn's drinks went down quite fast." He said quickly thinking of an excuse. Hermione didn't look very convinced though, but apparently decided that it couldn't have been that important and dropped it, for now.

"So what did Professor Slughorn want?" Hermione asked. "To know what really happened at the Ministry." said Harry. "Him and everyone else here," sniffed Hermione. "People were interrogating us about it on the train, weren't they, Ron?"

"Yeah," said Ron. "All wanting to know if you really are 'the Chosen One'."

Harry grimaced "Yeah, I bet they did." he said grabbing a chocolate frog and seeing the card of Albus Dumbledore smiling back at him, making him somehow feel caught in the act of lying.

Harry was happy to lie in his bed again in the dorms several hours later, tired from the long journey and already surprised by the changes for this year.

In the Great Hall Dumbledore had welcomed them, and given them all a warning of the dangerous times that have begun with the resurrection of Voldemort. The following sorting ceremony and other announcements hadn't been all that special for once.. luckily. Except for the fact that Slughorn, the new professor who he had presumed to be the new Defense Teacher, was actually the new Potions Master while Snape would take over Defense.

He hadn't seen it coming nor was he happy about it, luckily he hadn't been the only one to think that way as nearly the whole Hall had begun chatting and whispering to each other in response until Dumbledore stilled them.

He sighed contently as the bed didn't creak or moan against any movement contrary to the Dursleys. Sleep quickly claiming him as he closed his eyes, already hearing Ron snore.

He didn't know where he was, how he came here, or when he came here. Everything was white, he couldn't even tell up from down. Already becoming disoriented he turned, hoping to find something in the white abyss.

Which he did. Behind him stood a black cage, the sudden appearance of it in his vision surprising him. It was a few feet higher than him and was perfectly square, a thick lock hanging on the door. It was shaped in the form of a serpent adorned with many details engraved in it.

Inside the cage was a humanoid shape, is had the size of a child, maybe 10-11 years old, standing upright. No human features could be described; it had none, the face was a smooth mask revealing no sockets for any eyes, nose or mouth. His body however was completely pitch black, painfully obvious in the White Sea around them. He seemed to be smoldering, from his body trails of smoke flowed into the air, polluting it.

They stared at each other for a while, at least he thought it was; the head of the strange entity was angled towards him. It started moving after a moment of deathlike silence, turning his head to the right and pointed. Harry followed his gesture and looked. In his vision now stood a small display cabinet.

Looking back at the entity he saw that he still in the same position, pointing towards the cabinet. Moving from his spot harry walked towards the cabinet and peered inside.

Only a single item lay within; a key, made with the same quality as the lock. Did he want Harry to get him out?

He looked back at the cage again. It didn't seem dangerous; in fact it felt like he wasn't an intruder at all. More like he finally saw something that had always been there.

It waited patiently for him. But… somehow he just knew that releasing him would be the wrong choice. That he would be releasing Pandora's box.

He leaned away from the cabinet going back to the cage, holding his gaze when he heard it; "Re—ase... ee." The voice was rasping and broken, as if a Dementor was trying to form words. He stopped walking, transfixed on the being. He opened his mouth hopefully being able to get an understandable answer "What are you?" For him the most important question. Only silence ensued. He started to repeat his question before the entire scene vanished before his eyes as the ceiling of the dorms filled his vision with light glaring into his eyes.

"Harry wake up mate, don't make me start slapping you, think you can sleep longer than me eh?" Ron had thrown open the curtains around his bed, allowing rays of bright sunlight to hammer down on him.

He fumbled for his glasses and put them on; his eyes still squinted from the light and sleep. The hell was with that dream? Luckily no nightmare but what was that all about? Limbo. Creepy kid. Snakes.

Harry shrugged it off as he started to change into his robes; sometimes you just have weird dreams. In any case it's better than waking up in cold sweat from the nightmares of the graveyard and ministry.