Summary: After Vernon leaves, Petunia and the boys move in with vampire Amar, Petunia's old college friend. This brings into being a much more cheerful Harry, with many unusual habits. Happily dark Harry. Probably slash.

Rating: T just to be safe, might change later on

Will contain: Snape, somewhat pleasant Slytherins, purebloods, shifting staircases, competitions, hidden passages, first days, socializing, possible friendships, and a happily dark Harry, for the most part.

Notes: On a completely unrelated note to this story, I recently shaved off all of my hair. It was very liberating. I highly recommend it.

Don't forget to review!

Your House is Aflame

Despite Blaise's best efforts, they missed breakfast and barely made it to class as it was. The only thing that saved them was, in Harry's mind, some rather ingenious improvising on his part. This mainly consisted of dragging Blaise through the hidden passage to the third floor Charms corridor, and subsequently avoiding the all of the 142 moving stair cases and the throng of students trying to catch a glimpse of Harry.

Much to their surprise, they discovered that they were actually the first people to class.

"Bravo," Flitwick said, to Blaise's shock. "That will be five points to each of you for your ingenuity."

"Ingenuity?" Blaise sputtered.

Flitwick gave the boys an amused smile. "Why, for taking the passage instead of seeing how you would fare against the staircases. I have to say though; I hadn't expected it quite so soon."

"What?" Blaise managed to get out.

Harry, on the other hand, was looking quite pleased with himself. "Is it some sort of competition then?" Harry asked, taking a seat and dumping his book bag on the floor. He did rather hope so. He enjoyed competitions to some degree, and Blaise had said that he ought to be trying to earn points for Slytherin.

"Competition?" Blaise echoed.

"Very good, Mr. Potter," Flitwick praised. "Yes, I do believe it is. You may not have noticed yet, but Hogwarts is quite full of surprises. You might even say the castle is rather mischievous. Moving staircases, doors that won't open unless you ask politely. Why, there's even doors that aren't doors at all!"
Blaise, who appeared to have recovered sometime during this short, impromptu speech, slid into the seat beside Harry and asked, "Then what are they?"

"They're just solid walls pretending," said another voice, young and female. "Hullo Professor, Zabini, Harry."

"Hullo Milli," Harry said cheerfully, patting the seat on his other side.

"Very good, Miss Bulstrode," Flitwick cried. "One point to Slytherin. Did you happen to run into any such walls?"

Millicent sat down. "Several," she said dryly. "And it seems as though everything has moved around some since yesterday."

"Ah, yes," Flitwick said wisely. "That does tend to happen. Tell me, how did you find the classroom?"

"I asked one of the portraits if they could point me in the right direction."

"How clever! Another point to Slytherin!"

At this, Blaise stared outright. He seemed to be caught somewhere between hopelessly lost and vaguely impressed, and it left his face in a sort of odd place. "Professor," he said, in a carefully controlled voice. "I'm afraid I don't understand what's going on."

"Of course, of course. Potter, you seem to have caught on. Would you care to enlighten your friend?"

Harry beamed. "Certainly," he said happily. "Professor Flitwick is the Head of Ravenclaw. Finding the classroom is some sort of test, measuring our intelligence."

"And what," Blaise said, most assuredly not whimpering, "Does arriving first have to do with intelligence?" He seemed to be on the verge on realizing that life at Hogwarts was not going to be anything like what he had imagined, and did not know just how to resign himself to this fact.

"Mr. Zabini," Flitwick said patiently. "Intelligence is not just a matter of book smarts and applied learning. I should hope your time at Hogwarts will not only teach you magic, but also how to be free thinkers and problem solvers. Simply knowing how to do magic will not help you when you go to face the real world."

On one side, Harry seemed to be hanging on to their Professor's every word, looking fascinated. On the other sat Blaise, his confusion fading into thoughtfulness as he considered the words. Milli simply pursed her lips, not displeased, exactly, just considering.

Silence reigned over the next few minutes until a bushy haired Gryffindor girl stumbled into the room, appearing on the verge of tears. "Professor," she said in a trembling voice. "I've just come from the staircases, and it's awful! There's vanishing steps half way up! Isn't that dangerous?!"

"Ah, Miss Granger," Flitwick said calmly. "How good of you to join us. The steps didn't give you too much trouble, did they?"

And so it went.

Charms left Harry somewhat disappointed that he hadn't ended up in Ravenclaw, but he quickly realized that Flitwick would likely expect much more from his own students as far as cleverness went, and he wasn't entirely sure he could live up to those standards.

No more points were rewarded for arriving intact, but it was made known immediately that points would be awarded to the first three people who showed up to class, depending on how they managed to get there.

Harry was delighted. Of course, he and Milli certainly had an advantage, being able to explore the castle by night, and so did Blaise, by default.

Personally, Harry was quite pleased with the way things were turning out, and he wondered if the other classes would be the same. Blaise, however, seemed to be hoping that classes would not be similar.

History of Magic was a little trickier to find, as was Herbology, but only because it took some time to find their way through the castle and out the doors. Once outside, though, it was pretty straight forward. Harry was as disappointed by these classes as Blaise seemed relieved.

History of Magic was taught by a ghost who called them all by the wrong names and spent the period rambling on about the goblin wars. If Harry could have slept, he would have fallen asleep in that class. As it was, he spent the time watching Blaise furiously scribble down notes. Every so often, the boy whispered to himself, "do well in your classes, get points for Slytherin, make good connections," like it was his personal mantra.

It seemed the idea that finding the Charms classroom was somehow a measure of his intelligence seemed to have shaken him.

They had Herbology three times a week. It seemed to Harry to mostly be an overview of magical plants and their uses, and he was wholly disappointed to find that they didn't actually get to work with said plants until their second year. Instead, they would be learning how to care for Muggle plants first, to get something of a foundation.

Harry's nights were a completely different story. They had to study the night sky on Wednesday's at midnight, and this was easy enough to fit into his schedule. But it did make it slightly more difficult to find a new way to Charms on Thursday's, what with not being able to spend the night exploring.

It was more difficult to creep out of his dormitory every night than what he'd anticipated, and even more difficult to sneak around the castle without getting caught. Filch and Mrs. Norris seemed to be around every corner, and Peeves was always ready to announce their presence.

Even the portraits seemed to have something against students out of bed, and it seemed they had no qualms about alerting the teachers about the problem.

It turned out that the suits of armor were also animated, and while they didn't speak, they could move around and rattle their limbs and sometimes even draw their swords.

While Harry was still just as delighted with magic as he was the day he found out about Amar's secret magic shop, but some part of him was beginning to question the sanity of the teachers and other adults in charge of running the school, as well as Amar for sending him here.

No doubt about it, Hogwarts was dangerous.

The entire castle seemed to be designed to teach people to react quickly. To think fast. It never really seemed to settle, not even at night.

But then, Harry supposed that Hogwarts had been built in a different time.

Maybe back then it was dangerous to think that you were ever completely safe.