(Author's Thanks: Funness, Euryleias, Alias, Harper, and DaughterofDeath for reviewing.

Disclaimers: All characters in the story belong to J.K. Rowling.

Warnings: This story will eventually be slash. If you are against homosexual relationships, please do not read this story. Any furious rant against slash in a review will be mocked. Thank you.

Author's Notes: Well, on accounts of everyone seeming to be gay, it goes like this. I figure there are 10 students in each House per year, which makes 40 students a year. If there are seven years, that makes about 280 students in the entire school. I recall a survey that said there was about 15% of the population is homosexual or bisexual. If there are 15% of Hogwarts who are, that makes about 42. Even 5% is 14 of the students. Not only that, but there /are/ straight couples in this... *points to Fred and Hermione and the two mysterious straight couples yet to be introduced* Not only that, but most of the Hogwarts group aren't gay. They're bisexual. Hope that makes sense.

~Cinaed)

Nest of the Phoenix

By Cinaed, Born of Fire

Chapter Nine

The dungeon room wasn't as damp and as dreary as it had been in his universe, Harry noted. Of course, he should have expected that. After all, if this world's Snape was a cheerful fellow; it would make sense that he could make his classroom much more hospitable for his students.

The Gryffindor were all sitting on the left side of the room, and Harry saw a flash of red as Ron looked up to wave at them, a boyish smile lighting up his face. Neville was sitting contentedly at his side, an amused smile on his countenance, and Hermione and Dean seemed to be engaged in an engrossing conversation. Tom was chatting with Parvati and Lavender.

Seamus and Draco headed over to share a table right behind Neville and Ron, and Harry abruptly realized that he didn't have a partner. He had already alienated most of the Slytherin, judging by the scornful looks they were shooting towards him, and so he hesitated. He hadn't been without a friend since before his eleventh birthday. Even when Ron had been furious at him during the Triwizard Tournament, Hermione had been there.

A friendly hand came to rest on his shoulder, and Harry looked up into Severus Snape's pleasant face. "Well, Harry, the class is simply completing a potion they began during their last lesson, so how about you come over to my desk and we'll figure out where you are in your studies?" That same blithe smile lingered on his handsome features.

"That sounds like a plan to me," Harry said, before realizing that he didn't have any of the books that they'd probably had to buy over the summer. It was so /odd/ to penniless again! He fought back a blush of embarrassment as he followed Snape to his desk.

Long graceful fingers picked up a piece of parchment and handed it to the teenager. "Glance over this list and see if any of these potions look familiar to you."

Harry obediently skimmed the list. It was identical to the one he'd been given at the end of his fourth year. "I was supposed to study half of these for my Potions class," he said after a moment, handing it back to the professor. Not true, but he'd only gotten about halfway through the list before he'd switched universes.

"Well, I simply had everyone write a list of the ingredients and uses of each potion on this list. You can copy off one of your housemates," Snape explained mildly.

"I'd rather just do the assignment on my own, sir. Oh, and um, sir? I had my trunk with all my books shipped from Durmstrang, but I don't think they've arrived yet," Harry explained, mentally reminding himself to tell Dumbledore about that lie. "Should I simply use someone's book until the trunk gets here?"

"That sounds like an excellent plan." Snape smiled warmly, and the brunet found himself smiling back. Perhaps he should start calling this Snape Severus in his head. After all, the man was very nice, seemingly an exact opposite of his parallel universe personality. "For this class, how about you borrow Draco's book and start working on this list?"

Harry accepted the parchment for the second time, and this time kept his grip on it, nodding a little and walking over to where Draco and Seamus were eyeing a lime-green potion.

"I think it's supposed to be sky blue," Seamus commented softly, before Harry gave a quiet cough to get their attention.

"Draco, do you think I could borrow your book during this class? My books haven't arrived from Durmstrang yet." Harry kept his voice polite.

"Of course." Draco reached into his bag and handed him a forest green book with golden writing that seemed to be written by ivy branches. It was not at all like the black tomes that Snape had always made them read.

"Thank you." Dumbledore had given him some parchment and a few quills to write with, and so Harry pulled a piece of parchment and a quill and settled down at an unused table. He began to carefully copy the needed information for potion after potion from the book.

As Harry wrote with meticulous precision, he listened vaguely to the conversations that reached his ears. Seamus had engaged Tom in a discussion about the Hufflepuff/Gryffindor game, and Hermione was explaining in her intense way to Dean the purposes of the particular potion they were creating.

"So you're Harry Mason. I must say, you don't look like a Slytherin," a mild voice commented, and Harry glanced up into Neville's gentle hazel eyes.

He couldn't help but automatically smile at this different Neville. "Does Draco?"

Neville laughed. "No, I suppose not." He offered a hand. "I'm Neville Longbottom."

"Yeah, Ron pointed you out," Harry said, shaking the hand firmly and marveling at the difference having sane parents had made in this slim and tanned Neville Longbottom.

"Oh, yes, he managed to get you to listen to his ranting, did he?" An amused smile curved his lips at that. "I'm afraid he tends to ramble on from time to time."

"Hey!" Ron protested, overhearing them and pouting in Neville's direction.

The Longbottom boy looked unrepentant, grinning at his boyfriend before glancing back towards Harry. "It's nice to meet you. I imagine you're enjoying the weather?"

Harry hesitated for a moment. Durmstrang was much, much colder, wasn't it? "Well, I haven't been outside too much yet," he said, settling on a safe answer. Another draft of cool air stroked his skin, and he found himself shivering again.

He noticed Neville's slightly puzzled look, and smiled sheepishly, finally remembering that Viktor had mentioned the bitter cold. "My trunk seems to have been waylaid somewhere, so I'm stuck with these robes. At least in Durmstrang I had /furred/ robes." He grinned. "Plus, I always shivered during my classes. I had to wear many, many layers of clothing every day."

"I'll bet!" Neville laughed, smiling a little. "Well, if you need some nicer robes, I'm certain that Draco will let you borrow some. He has a few extra."

"Thanks for telling me. Now I'll just have to sponge things off him," commented the brunet, grinning a little to show that he was only joking. He wouldn't want to impose on this world's nice Malfoy, after all. "So, anything I should be warned about for Hogwarts? I've learned from Tom that no one can keep a secret...anything else I need to know to survive?"

The Longbottom boy thought for a moment, his hazel gaze pensive. "Well, I could always warn you about which professors not to anger. Would that work?"

"Yes, please. I need to know how many of my stunts I can pull without being expelled," Harry said before he contorted his visage into a look of mock-innocence.

Neville laughed before tilting his head and saying, "Well, you've got Transfigurations next. You shouldn't mess with Professor McGonagall; she's fair, but she also will give you three months of detention if you fool around in her class. Then you have...Herbology after lunch, right?" He paused, but Harry shrugged. "Well, Professor Sprout is a great lady. You need to listen to her about instructions, but she'll let you get away with smart aleck remarks. What do you have after that?"

"Divination," Seamus said, glancing up to grin at Neville and Harry before returning to gazing worriedly at his lime-green potion, which was beginning to turn a vibrant pomegranate.

The Gryffindor looked startled. "You're taking Divination? Are you sure? Trelawney is—"

"-A bit batty. Yeah, I've been warned of that." Harry gave a careless shrug. "She's not cruel or anything right? No 'doomed student of the year' or anything?"

"Not...exactly. She's just a bit off. I took Divination in third year, and quit after a couple weeks to take Muggle Studies instead," Neville said, still looking troubled. "You should probably take another class, Harry."

What was with everyone wanting him out of Divination? The brunet couldn't help the annoyance that surged through him, and his words were a bit sharp. "I'll be fine. No batty teacher ever scared me away from a class before."

Neville sighed. "If you say so. Don't say I didn't warn you. Tomorrow morning you have History of Magic with Ravenclaw. Professor Binns is a ghost, and he's so boring that you'll want to die yourself. After that, you have Defense Against Dark Arts with us Gryffindor. The teacher is Draco's dad, so—"

"Wait, Mr. /Malfoy/ is the Defense Against Dark Arts professor?" Harry couldn't help but interrupt at that new piece of news. Dumbledore had said that Lucius Malfoy lived in the Secreted City!

"There's no one better," Draco called over, looking momentarily like the smug blonde of Harry's universe.

"Ahem." The sound came from Severus, who arched an eyebrow. He didn't have to say a word, but the order was clear: Concentrate on your work.

"Mr. Malfoy is a good teacher. You'll like him. He's really fair, if a bit intense. After that, you have Charms with Hufflepuff. You'll like Flitwick. He's amusing and very good at teaching. What was your last class?" Neville had automatically lowered his voice at the implied command, the brunet noted.

"Care of Magical Creatures," Harry informed him.

Neville fairly beamed. "Oh, you'll love that class! Hagrid is an amazing teacher. You'll have to get him to show you the Hippogriff he keeps. Buckbeak is really nice."

"I'll do that then." The brunet smiled a little. "Thanks for helping a filthy Slytherin out and telling me about the classes."

"It was no problem. I like to help newcomers," Neville said modestly, although he had turned pink with pleasure beneath his golden tan. "If you have any problems, I'd be happy to help in any way that I can."

"You know, Neville, if I was the jealous sort...." Ron smiled as he glanced over, winking at the two of them. "Anyway, I need you to double- check the potion. Is it supposed to be silver or a brilliant scarlet?"

"Scarlet, I think," the hazel-eyed boy said, moving to peer into the cauldron with a crease of concern forming between his eyes.

"Oh, good!" Seamus sounded relieved. "Draco and I were worried there for a moment since I thought it was supposed to be blue."

"Come off it, Finnigan." Dean sounded amused. "You know Draco's the bloody best student in the class. If it's scarlet in your cauldron, then the potion is supposed to be scarlet."

"Then again, there's always the Seamus factor," Lavender piped up, an amused note to her voice as the Irish lad flushed for a moment.

"Will you all lay off me about the Seamus factor?" he said in an aggrieved tone, pouting for a moment, as Draco seemed to struggle not to smirk. "That was last year, for Merlin's sake!"

"Come on, Seamus. We're going to torment you about that until we graduate," Dean commented, grinning impishly at his best friend. Well, Harry assumed they were still best friends.

"Aw, man...."

As Seamus groaned and Draco chuckled, Harry raised an eyebrow and commented in an undertone to Neville, "An inside joke, I take it?"

"It's a long story," Neville agreed, looking amused. "Remind Draco to tell you about it sometime." As Severus rose and drew his robes around him to declare that they needed to take a test sample of their potion up to the front for a grade, the Longbottom turned back to his and Ron's cauldron. The Gryffindor immediately made a sound of dismay. "Ron, a minute ago it was scarlet! Now it's turning orange!"

"I, um, used too much dragon scale, I think." The redhead's ears turned pink in embarrassment as Harry fought back the urge to snicker. Well, Ron wasn't any better at Potions here than he was in the other universe.

Sometimes it was nice to have similarities between the two worlds. Finding himself shivering yet again as a draft swept through his thin robes, Harry was rather eager to escape the chilly dungeon and go to Transfigurations.

As everyone rose and began to shuffle to their next class, Harry said good- bye to Neville and Ron and followed Draco out of the classroom, having to fight not to go ahead of the blonde and incur questions of how he had known his way around.

"You'll have a bit of trouble navigating the hallways, I'm afraid," the Malfoy said, shooting the brunet a sympathetic look. "The stairs tend to move, and the portraits aren't much help half of the time. They're too busy gossiping to point you in the right direction."

"We heard that, young man!" a portrait scolded, earning a sheepish look from the blonde and a chuckle from Harry.

"Um.... Sorry." Draco grabbed Harry's arm. "Let's go to Transfigurations, shall we?" He fairly dragged the brunet the rest of the way to where Ravenclaw and the other Slytherin were milling in front of McGonagall's door.

Pansy sneered when she noticed their approach, but otherwise didn't comment. She turned back to Crabbe and Goyle and murmured something softly to them, which made Harry a bit uneasy. However, he didn't have time to mull too much upon what she might be up to because McGonagall appeared at that point.

She hadn't changed one bit, Harry was relieved to note. The Transfigurations professor had the same thin lips that were prone to becoming a white line of disapproval, and the same keen gaze that raked over the assembled students. When her eyes landed upon the brunet, McGonagall's lips pursed, and she snapped, "Well, everyone, go inside and take your seats! Mr. Mason, a word outside the classroom."

It was only then that Harry recalled he was supposed to be a horrible troublemaker. Not only that, now he was a Slytherin. Damn, he and the Head of the Gryffindor House were going to get off to a bad start.... "Yes, ma'am?" he inquired once the other students had shuffled inside.

"I have heard of your escapades at Durmstrang, Mr. Mason, and I will warn you only once. I am not above convincing Severus to expel you should you prove to be as unruly here as you did at your previous school. Do not take a single /step/ out of line." Her warning was low, and as always, cut straight to the heart of the matter.

"Understood, ma'am. I was told not to do anything in your class," Harry said in the politest tone he could muster, nodding a little and resisting the urge to cringe when her scornful gaze raked over him yet again. Was this how his world's Draco felt whenever McGonagall scolded him?

"And you'd best not, Mr. Mason," she warned him before giving an annoyed flick of her wrist. "Now, get into class and find a seat so that I can begin my lesson. We were doing review of last years Transfigurations, so I suspect you will know everything. If you do not, speak to me after class."

"Yes, ma'am." Feeling as if he'd somehow already done something wrong, he entered the classroom. Draco was sitting next to an empty seat, so Harry walked over and sat next to him, flashing a subdued smile towards the blonde.

As McGonagall marched to the front and began to crisply speak of one of the easiest Transfiguration spells they had learned last year, Harry slumped a little in his seat, a pang of homesickness striking him. He didn't want to be here.... He wanted to be surrounded by Gryffindor who knew him as Harry Potter, not the troublemaking Harry Mason! Biting back a sigh, he barely paid attention to the class, and was rather relieved when Draco poked him and murmured that it was time for lunch.

"Really?" Harry blinked, dragged away from his lonesome thoughts for the moment. How had the two hours flown by? Shaking his head a little to clear it of the depressing memories of a Gryffindor group that had known him intimately, he smiled slightly towards Draco. "Well, I suppose that would explain why I'm starving...."

"Right, we have lunch, and then a twenty-minute break before we have to head over to Herbology," explained the blonde, smiling warmly in response. "If you need notes on what we've been studying, just tell me. I copied off Seamus, who copied off Ron, who copied off Hermione."

"Without her knowledge, I suspect," Harry said, and Draco laughed.

"Definitely without her knowledge. Hermione would have killed Ron if she'd known that he was copying her answers."

/That/ was the Hermione he knew. Harry felt his smile widen at the familiar image of the Granger chasing Ron around and threatening bodily harm. "I hope Dumbledore doesn't condone murder," he said in an off-hand way.

"Only the murder of the Macabre, I think," Draco said simply, pronouncing the word with an attempt at a French accent making it 'ma-cob'.

"The Macabre?" Harry fumbled over the word, feeling his brow knit in bewilderment.

The blonde looked puzzled for a moment. "You-Know-Who's minions?"

"Oh!" The brunet flushed for a moment, trying to cover up his fumble. "We call them Death Eaters in Bulgaria."

"Really?" There was the faintest hint of suspicion on Draco's voice. "That's a...unique title. I've never heard that one before."

The skinny boy gave a quick, nervous shrug at that, not liking the blonde's wariness one bit. Draco was his only ally in Slytherin, after all! "Oh, well, you know Bulgarians. They have odd names for everything."

"I suppose so," Draco said, but he continued to eye Harry oddly even after they had entered the Dining Hall and began to eat. Yes, the Potter was definitely going to have to be careful around the blonde. After all, having Hermione, Ron, Charlie, and Madam Pomfrey know about his being from an alternate universe was bad enough!

(To be continued...)