Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to the wonderful and talented J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, Scholastic, WB, etc. No money is being made and copyright infringement is not intended. This is for fun, so please don't sue me. I'm poor enough as it is.

Summary: Harry returns to his sixth year at Hogwarts to find that darkness is very quickly permeating the school. It seems as though the only person to realise this, is Harry. When all seems lost, two people come to him and offer their help. Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy. As the three work together to unravel the mystery that is hovering over them, they each have to fight their own battles and overcome the darkness that is threatening to take them.

A/N: I'm so excited to finally be able to post this new story. I have been working so hard on it while I have had writer's block on my other stories. I am really quite proud of myself for coming up with this plot line. I've never seen anything like it, so I'm hoping that it is original. Please be warned that this story does contain slash, H/D. I've tried to keep it mild so that everybody can read and enjoy, but I'm quite fond of writing the snogging scenes. ::guilty grin:: I also have to add, (THIS IS FOR GOOD REASON!!) that a lot of characters will be ooc. It's an important part of the plot as to why they are, so please don't flame me for doing this. Oh, and I also have to thank my wonderful, wonderful beta, Callie. She tells me her opinion on everything and without her, I'd have a whole load of run-on sentences, which I seemed to be doing a lot in these first couple chapters. I'll try harder, I promise!! Much loff to you! Anywho, I think I've talked enough, on with the story!

Chapter One

Harry looked into the mirror and gave himself a satisfied smile. He looked good... and he knew it. An emerald green button up shirt draped over his body covering up a black tank-top and form hugging black pants laid perfectly on his hips. It was the exact outfit that got all the girls to do a double take on him when he went out. Of course, there had been very few chances with wearing it over the past year since he had purchased it, what with being at Hogwarts for ten months. But tonight was a good night to wear it. He needed to be dressed up because the Dursleys were hosting a dinner guest that evening. And for once, Harry didn't object. He didn't object because this dinner guest was his godfather, Sirius Black.

When Sirius had seen him in this outfit a year before, he had grinned and called Hermione over to give him a review. She had done so blushing and barely muttered that it looked good. Harry ran a hand through his already messy hair, knowing it was no use to try to comb it and then smiled again at his reflection. Yes, even without the usual birthday presents from his friends, this was turning out to be a wonderful birthday. Which the lack of birthday presents kind of stumped him. The last time this sort of thing happened, Dobby the house elf had been intercepting his mail. And Harry was sure Dobby didn't have a legitimate reason for doing that this time. Although it seemed like the only logical reason as he hadn't received any word from his friends since the end of term.

Which was also highly unusual. When they had stepped off of the train, Ron and Hermione had promised to write every day asking whether Sirius had come to get him yet. The reason for this was because Sirius had been freed only a week before the end of term by Harry, Ron, and Hermione, of course. Voldemort had made some half-assed plan for Wormtail to capture Harry and bring him to the Dark wizard but the plan was foiled by the intrepid trio as the stuttering fool was no match for them.

So, at the Leaving Feast, Sirius had promised to come and take Harry away from his wretched relatives as soon as he got their new home ready, which happened to be Black Manor. A Manor that was rumoured to be even larger than Malfoy Manor. Harry couldn't help but grin at the thought.

Harry swung the bathroom door open upon hearing the doorbell ring downstairs. He ran happily down the stairs and, with very little composure for a now sixteen year old, ripped the door open. The sight that met his eyes almost made him laugh but he managed to keep it in.

"Sirius! Wow! You look... you look like a Muggle! And a well dressed one at that!" Harry exclaimed dumbly.

Indeed, he did look like a very rich Muggle. He was dressed in what looked like a black Armani suit and his shoulder length black hair was currently pulled back into a ponytail that rested at the base of his neck. Sirius gave a glare at Harry that was worthy of one of Snape's. Harry's large grin was immediately wiped off his face. "That was the idea, Harry. Your relatives are Muggles after all," he replied acidly. "Now, are we eating dinner on this front step or am I allowed to come in?"

Harry searched desperately for that twinkle that was usually situated in his godfather's eyes but found nothing. Surely this was an act for Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia. Sirius gave another glare that made him snap into action and stepped aside for the older man to walk in.

"And what in Merlin's name are you wearing? You look like a bloody ponce!"

Harry shut the door and stared for a moment. "You liked this last year when you saw me in it." Sirius merely raised an eyebrow.

"Nobody likes a liar, Harry. Are you going to show me to your relatives or not? I don't know the way around here, you know."

Harry swallowed and motioned for Sirius to follow him. If this was how Sirius really was, he wasn't sure he liked it at all. He desperately wished for this all to be an act. When they entered the kitchen, the Dursley's jaws dropped to their chest upon the sight of Sirius. Harry smiled. He definitely did a good job at impressing them. "Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, Dudley, this is my godfather, Sirius Black. Sirius this is Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley Dursley."

Sirius moved forward to shake their hands. Dudley merely whimpered and moved to the corner while holding his bum and biting his tongue. Sirius looked at him with amusement. "I won't do anything to you, Dudley. I haven't anything remotely wizard on me right now. Not even my wand. I assure you, I will not be enlarging any body parts of yours tonight."

The group then moved into the dining room and began eating dinner. Harry watched with a detached amusement/horror as Sirius conversed amiably with his aunt and uncle. Harry stayed quiet throughout the entire meal after a withering glare was sent his way by Sirius when he had said something. When the dessert had been consumed and the tea served, Sirius fixed his new-found glare on Harry once again.

"What's wrong with you? You've been extremely quiet tonight." Harry bit his lip as he felt his blood pressure rise from anger.

"I guess I don't have much to say tonight, sir." Sir? Where had that come from?

But Sirius just smirked in a satisfied sort of way. "Sir? Keep up that kind of behaviour and I might just let you come live with me after all." Harry's head snapped up and he stared into his godfather's light blue eyes that were currently shining with malevolence.

"Might? But you said at the end of term that you were going to get our new home ready and then come and get me. That's why I thought you were here... to come and get me... I already had my things packed," he added quietly as he looked down at his hands. Sirius let out a hearty laugh and slapped Harry on the back.

"Ah, kids. They are so gullible sometimes. Do you really think I have room for you at the Manor?" Harry opened his mouth to protest that he did think that there was room. "Silence!" snapped Sirius and then turned to Vernon. "Do you think we could go and have a private chat for a few moments?"

"Be my guest," grunted Uncle Vernon.

"Thank you." Sirius roughly pulled Harry from his seat and into the hallway. "What do you think you're doing?"

"What do you think you're doing?" Harry countered. "Since when do you treat me like the dirt on the bottom of your shoe?"

"Since I was freed and became myself again."

"Which I might add, I was the one who freed you! Don't you think you should treat me with more respect than this?"

"You forget, you had help in capturing Wormtail. Don't let your head get too big now. We don't want you floating away. I don't have the time to get you down."

"What happened to you? You weren't like this when you were about to be freed back in my third year. You seemed excited that I wanted to live with you!"

"Things change. People's wants change. I don't want you in my Manor anymore. As I said before, there just isn't room for a fifteen year old boy."

"Sixteen," muttered Harry. "It's my birthday today. I'm sixteen."

"Oh. Congratulations."

"What about mum and dad?"

"What about James and Lily?"

"They trusted you. They named you my guardian because they thought you'd take care of me! Shouldn't you follow through on that promise?"

"As to that, they're dead aren't they? What they don't know, won't hurt them. Now get upstairs and change out of those terrible clothes. People might start thinking you're a homo. I have to go and give your relatives some money for taking you in. It's the least I can do. Well, Harry, I'll see you when I see you then."

Sirius turned around and walked back into the kitchen leaving Harry to stand staring at the closed door. He hardly noticed when Dudley came and stood next to him and put a porky hand on his shoulder. The only thing he heard was the conversation taking place between his godfather, uncle, and aunt at the moment.

"I'm sorry to leave him here with you hard working folks but you must look at the bright side, he'll only be living here for another three months at the most. I'm sure he'll want to get a place of his own. I'll give him the money for that if he needs it. I want him out of my hair just as much as you do. I can only imagine the trouble he has caused you since you found him on your doorstep."

"We tried all we could. There was nothing we could do. He's a lost case," replied Vernon.

"Yes, there are some like that, I'm afraid. You tried all you could."

The conversation continued but it was now lost on Harry's ears. His blood was boiling and his jaw and fists were clenching and unclenching. Dudley started to speak but that was also lost on him. "Dudley."


"I'm thinking that you might want to get upstairs because I'm feeling pretty out of control and I don't want you to get hurt," he said through clenched teeth. Dudley's face lit up in excitement for some reason.

"You mean, you're going to blow somebody up again? That was bloody brilliant! If I could pay to see that again, I would! Especially if it were Aunt Marge!"

Harry turned a confused eye on his gargantuan cousin. "You thought that was funny?"

"Yeah! I mean, I was scared out of my mind but it was funny!" At that moment, a hearty laugh drifted through the door.

"Oh, the kid is hopeless! You should see him at school. He thinks he's so bloody fantastic because his name is famous..."

Dudley must have seen the murderous look on Harry's face because he scampered up the stairs as fast as his chubby legs could carry him. And not a moment too soon. As soon as he got up the stairs, all the glass that was within fifteen feet of Harry exploded and shot all over. He felt his skin being cut by the shards of glass but he didn't register it. All he could feel was the magical energy radiating off of him. The door to the kitchen swung open to reveal a very purple faced Uncle Vernon, a terrified Aunt Petunia and a livid Sirius Black. "Boy! WHAT did you just do?" thundered Uncle Vernon.

"I think that much is obvious," he replied quietly. "My magic has got out of control before this. Why has it come as such a surprise now?"

"There was no damn reason for you to be out of control!" screamed Aunt Petunia as she stared in horror at all the broken vases, picture frames and valuables that were now lying in pieces on the floor.

"Like hell there wasn't!" He screamed and then pointed at Sirius. "That stupid bastard! He's supposed to be my godfather! He's supposed to be my guardian! My parents trusted him with me. What did I ever do to you, Sirius, to deserve this? All I've ever wanted ever since I met you was to live with you. You've been my only hope to get out of here and now you've gone and told me that you don't want me. I thought you cared about me! If I would have known that you would turn out like this, I never would have captured Wormtail for you. I would have let him go. Because from now on, I don't care about you. I hate you."

A flash of emotion crossed his godfather's face but before Harry could analyse what it meant, it was gone. "What have you ever done to me, Harry?" Sirius asked in a deadly quiet voice. "You've caused nothing but destruction everywhere you go. Look at this hall, the living room. I'll have to go back home to get my wand now to fix it up. And didn't I tell you to go change your clothes? If I come back here and see you, you had better be in something different. Now, go!"

"I hate you," Harry hissed out venomously. "I never want to see you again."

He turned on his heel and ran upstairs, trying to hold back the tears that were forming. He couldn't let them see him cry. When he slammed his door shut, he leaned against it and slid down to sit on the floor, letting silent tears run down his face. He about jumped out of his skin when he heard somebody speak from his bed.


"Dudley, please go. I don't feel like being taunted right now. My day has been bad enough already."

"I wasn't going to taunt you. I was just going to tell you that I'm sorry about your godfather. Despite him being a wizard... I was looking forward to meeting somebody who liked you. It would be a change of pace around here. I didn't expect him to be so cold towards you."

"Me either. He's never been that way. I don't understand what's going on. It's almost as if he were somebody using a Polyjuice potion."

"A poly-what potion?"

"Nothing. Never mind."

"No. I want to know. What is it?"

"But... it's magic. You don't like magic."

"When it's used against me, yeah. Otherwise I wouldn't mind learning more about it. I just pretend to hate it more than I really do in front of mum and dad. So... what potion is this?"

"Er - Polyjuice potion. When a person drinks it, it turns them into somebody else. Say I had some right now and I added your hair to it and I drank it, I would turn into you for about an hour. It's pretty cool actually. I used it once in my second year at Hogwarts."

"Brilliant. So then bad people can use it then for their needs, right?"

"Yes, one of my professors in fourth year was a fraud using it. I'm hoping that that is what is wrong with Sirius. He's never shown any sign of hating me before now. He sounds more like my Potions professor. 'Potter, your head is too big. Why don't you stick a pin in that inflated ego of yours?'" he said, doing a cruelly accurate impression of Snape. Petunia yelled for Dudley from downstairs.

"Oh, I better go and see what she wants. I um... I brought you something as well. It's right there. Happy birthday."

Harry looked to his bedside table where Dudley had pointed and saw a present. "You got me a present?" he asked, surprised.

"Yes. I bought it with some saved up pocket money. I don't know if you'll like it because I didn't know what else to get you."

"I'm sure it'll be great. Thank you, Dudley." Harry stood up from his place at the door and let Dudley out. He closed the door again just as he heard Sirius muttering some spells downstairs, repairing the damage that had been done. He sat down on his bed and took the present in his lap, wondering what had got into his cousin. He opened the paper with care and smiled at the contents. It was a Discman and one CD. He had obviously been saving up a lot of pocket money to get this. The CD looked as if it had been burnt. It was a mix of Dudley's favourite songs; a mixture of rock, rap, R&B, alternative, and pop. It was just too bad that electronics wouldn't work at Hogwarts. Harry put the headphones on his head and laid down to listen to it, falling asleep in the process.


The rest of the summer wasn't all that bad. Dudley, for some reason unknown to Harry, was being extremely nice. Not that Harry was complaining. He needed at least one friend since his friends still hadn't been in touch. When Harry laid in bed at night, he'd laugh at the thought of how excited Dudley would get when Harry would teach him something new about magic. By the time August 31st rolled around, Dudley had already read through two of Harry's old textbooks. Harry had given him two more for the school year with a promise from Dudley that he wouldn't let anybody see them.

Harry was getting ready to go out and call the Knight Bus so that he could go to Diagon Alley when Dudley pulled him back into his room. "I don't know if you'll want to Harry but do you think we could write to each other? Does your school have an address I can send letters to?"

"Er- no. We'd have to use owl post."

"I don't mind. But I don't know how to handle Hedwig."

"I can teach you really quick. Just as long as you don't rough handle her, you'll be fine."

Harry gave him a crash course in the treatment of owls and gave him an extra bag of owl treats and was out the door. His day was spent in Diagon Alley where he surprisingly didn't meet any of his friends. He went to bed that night in the Leaky Cauldron thinking that he would at least see them on the train the next day. So the next morning, Tom the innkeeper hailed a Muggle taxi for Harry and helped him with his trunk. By a quarter to eleven, Harry was loading his trunk onto the train. The raven hair boy strained his neck trying to catch a glimpse of some red hair that would be the tell tale sign of a Weasley. Hopefully his best friend, Ron Weasley, or the bushy brown hair girl who was also known as Hermione Granger. The platform was quickly emptying onto the train so he climbed aboard and started another search of the compartments. When the end of the train was in sight, Harry heard the voice of Hermione telling Ron off for not doing his potions homework. He smiled broadly and opened the compartment. "Hey, strangers. I haven't heard from you two all summer!"

Harry furrowed his brow when Ron rolled his eyes and looked at Hermione with a look that clearly said, 'now what do we do with him?' "And for good reason," Ron muttered darkly while looking at the floor. Harry plopped down in the seat next to his friend and looked at him concerned.

"Care to enlighten me? Nothing serious happened, did it?"

"No, nothing serious happened," replied Hermione. "But Harry... I don't think you should be in this compartment."

Harry blinked. "Why not? I always sit with you two on the way to school." But his question was answered as the compartment door slid open to reveal a very happy Sirius Black.

"Ron! Hermione! How smashing it is to see you!"

Ron smiled and laughed. "You act as if you didn't just see us this morning, Padfoot," Ron said cheerfully.

Sirius laughed and sat down next to Hermione, across from Harry and put an arm around her. "Well, I can never get enough of my two favourite people, now can I?" Harry stared at his godfather in shock. That glimmer of laughter and happiness that he had so desperately looked for at his birthday was definitely back in his eyes. Maybe it had all been his imagination. Maybe it had all been an act. But then Sirius caught sight of Harry for the first time and the glimmer disappeared.

"Oh. Couldn't get rid of him, I see? The bugger just doesn't know when he's not wanted, does he?" Harry opened and closed his mouth like a goldfish for a few moments before he managed to get something out.

"What are you doing here?"

"Oh, nobody told you? I'm your new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. I decided to ride the train to Hogwarts to have some good old fashioned fun with my two friends here."

"Oh," Harry replied quietly while looking down at his feet.

"You should just go, Harry. None of us have anything more to say to you," said Ron.

"Ron... what did I do?"

"Don't make it harder than it already is for yourself, Harry. Just go," said Hermione sternly.

"The kids make a good point."

"Fine. I'll go."

Harry got up dejectedly, wondering what he had done to deserve this treatment. They had all parted on good terms and, as far as he knew, he had never done anything behind their backs that would have made them angry had they found out. So he left in search of the other sixth year boys or girls. He was in luck when he found Dean, Seamus, Neville and a Hufflepuff boy that Neville had become friends with the past year. There were still two empty seats. Harry stuck his head in and smiled at them. "Do you mind if I sit in here with you guys?"

"Well, actually we're full. I'm sure that there is an empty compartment elsewhere," replied Seamus. "Or somebody willing to take you in."

"But there are two empty seats..."

"We're full," said Dean firmly and got up and closed the door on Harry's face. Harry shook his head confused. What was going on? If this kept up, he'd have to sit in the hall... or bathroom. The search continued but with no luck. Every compartment was full. But the last one he checked only had three people in it. Harry steeled himself and opened the door, trying desperately to put a pleasant face on himself.

"Er - every other compartment is full. Do you guys mind if I sit with you?"

"Potter," Draco Malfoy scoffed. "Don't you have your stupid Gryffindor friends to sit with? Surely they'll take you in?"

"No... I, um, got here late and they were completely full already. Some Hufflepuff friend of Neville's took up the last place. Look, I really need a place to sit. I won't bother you, you won't bother me. You can go about talking about whatever stupid thing you were talking about before and I won't listen because frankly, I don't care what you have to talk about. I have other things on my mind."

Malfoy raised an eyebrow and looked Harry up and down and then looked him intently in the face. "What's got you in such a tight knot, Potter?"

"None of your business, Malfoy."

"Well, if you're going to sit with Crabbe, Goyle, and me, you're going to have to tell us what stupid problem you have."

"Why do you even care? Isn't it below a Slytherin to give a rat's ass about a Gryffindor's problems?"

"Truthfully... I don't care. I'm just extremely bored. We actually weren't talking at all before you came in. Might do well to have some sort of conversation going. Well.... are you going to just stand there like the idiot that you are, or are you going to come in here?"

"Oh, sorry. I didn't know you were actually inviting me."

"Right. Close the door. We don't need some lost Hufflepuff wandering in."

Harry closed the door with a soft click and moved to the empty seat across from Malfoy and next to the window. "So, spill it Potter. Give me some entertainment. Maybe this will give me a good laugh. These two dunderheads haven't got anything remotely witty to say." Crabbe answered in a deep grunt but then turned back to the game of chess that he was currently having with Goyle. Harry snorted in laughter but didn't say anything for a few moments.

"Actually, Malfoy... I really don't know what I can tell you because I can't even make sense of what's going on. And besides, I don't feel like talking right now. Maybe later."

Malfoy rolled his eyes and then announced that he was going for a walk down the train to see if he could get a rise out of anybody. Apparently, it was better than doing nothing. So, Harry took to watching the scenery roll by for the next half hour until Goyle yelled out, 'Checkmate!' and then left a few minutes afterward, both discussing what they would get from the lady who pushed the food cart. Malfoy came in a moment later shaking his head.

"Those two never stop eating! I just hope you won't have the dishonour of seeing them eat. Hopefully they'll take it into another compartment."

Harry nodded his head noncommittally. "Have fun torturing people, Malfoy?"

"Quite entertaining actually. Longbottom fell off his seat when he saw me come in. The stupid oaf."

"Why did you feel the need to go and torture people when you've got your favourite victim in the same compartment as you?" Malfoy shrugged and finally took his previous seat across from Harry.

"When you're here willingly it's not as fun. I knew you'd just take it in stride without the Weasel and Mudblood with you."

"Hmm... I suppose you're right."

"See? Even then! I just called your best friends by their favourite nicknames and you didn't even flinch!"

"Well... what can you do?" The blonde boy studied his nemesis for a few moments, biting his lip.

"Funny thing though," he said finally. "When I found your Gryffindor friends, they were in two different compartments. Four in one and three in the other. I couldn't exactly torment Weasley and Granger for too long since Black was in there. New professor and all that. So... why aren't you sitting with them? Was this some sort of bet or something? See how long you can sit with the insufferable Slytherin or something?"

"Hmm. Something like that."

"Okay, what is it really? You wouldn't have just agreed with me if it were."

"I don't know, Malfoy. I can't tell you anything because I don't know. So just drop it, please."

To Harry's great surprise, the Slytherin actually listened to his request. The two sat in a relatively comfortable silence for the next hour until Malfoy got extremely restless and whined Harry into a couple games of Exploding Snap! that Malfoy lost miserably in. Apparently, the game wasn't his strong point.

"You owe me three galleons, Malfoy. Pay up."

Malfoy grumbled incoherently but rummaged in his pocket, pulled out his money sack and extracted three galleons. Harry smiled smugly as he put the money away. "Nice doing business with you, Malfoy. Perhaps you'd like to get together some other time and lose spectacularly again. I could use the extra money."

"What, is it charity for the Weasel? The state of his robes get worse every year."

Harry chose to ignore that comment and looked at his watch. "Speaking of robes, we better change into ours. We'll be there in about fifteen minutes."

"I'm not changing in the same compartment as you, Potter." Harry rolled his eyes as he pulled his own robes out.

"If it bothers you that much, you can go into another compartment. I wasn't planning on looking at you. Seeing you naked wasn't on my agenda today."

Grudgingly, Malfoy took out his robes and they both turned their backs, careful not to look behind them in fear of seeing more skin than was necessary. And then, sure enough, ten minutes after they were done changing, the train pulled to a stop at the train station in Hogsmeade and the Hogwarts students disembarked. Harry got separated from Malfoy along the way but somehow, when he climbed aboard a carriage, he found Malfoy sitting across from two Hufflepuffs. The trademark scowl was placed on his face and Harry could tell that he was about to say something cutting to the two unsuspecting second years.

"I suggest you keep your mouth shut, Malfoy. I do have the power to take away house points you know," Harry said, pointing to his prefect badge.

"So do I," retorted Malfoy, also gesturing to his silver badge. "I was just about to take away house points from Hufflepuff for their inane chatter. It's giving me a headache."

"Live with it. You're the one who sat in this carriage."

"They're the ones who followed me in. Which is exactly what you did. My lucky day, sitting in a cramped carriage with two Hufflepuffs and my oh-so-favourite Gryffindor. Pinch me, the excitement is too much."

"Can't say I'm any more excited, Malfoy. I already had to spend all day with you."

"Oh, Merlin. You're right. This is going to be one of those years," Malfoy groaned.

"What do you mean?"

"When I can't get away from you. It's already started. I don't think I can take the pain anymore!"

"When have you never been able to get away from me?"

"Every year except for fourth year. That year I didn't have to face you in Quidditch. Granted, there were all those articles about you... but I suppose that was quite fun to torment you with. Everywhere I go, you're there. I walk into the Great Hall... oh look! There's Potter! I go into the bathroom and oh look! There's Potter again! I go into the library and oh look again! There's Potter, oh and Granger! And then I go to class and oh joy! Potter!"

Harry rolled his eyes and leaned back in his seat as the carriage started moving along the bumpy road. "I don't think that little speech could have been dripping with more sarcasm if you tried. It's not like it's any better on my side. Everywhere I go, you're there trying to make my life a living hell."

"Well, if you tried for one measly second to not be somewhere I am, then we wouldn't have this problem so much. I think you should work on it."

"Oh, and it's not your fault at all. Only mine. I'm sorry, Malfoy. I'll be sure to peek around corners to see if you're coming. And I'll ask Madam Pince if you've come into the library. For meals, you'll eat right away and I'll come in half way through. And when Snape walks into the Potions dungeon wearing a bright pink tutu and tights with his hair in bows is the day we get to completely avoid each other in classes that we have together."

"I agree with you on the classes. But for meals, I'd like to be the one who is fashionably late. You can be early for meals. But other than that, the plan will work fantastically. I have to say- wonderful idea, Potter."

"Merlin, Malfoy! You can't actually think I was serious! There is no avoiding it. And I think you're over exaggerating just a little bit. We don't always see each other. I think you'll just have to live with it."

Malfoy opened his mouth to protest but the carriages stopped and Harry quickly jumped out. "I'm not listening!" he called over his shoulder.

"I hate you, Potter!"

"Believe me, the feeling is mutual!"

Harry quickly ran into the Great Hall and found that all his 'friends' were clumped together and that there was virtually no room for him. "Oi! Harry! Come sit by us!" yelled a familiar voice. Harry whirled around and saw little Colin Creevey waving him over. Even for being a Fifth Year now, the boy had not grown five inches since his first year and was still extremely skinny. And for once, Harry was relieved to see him. He wasn't looking forward to the outright staring, but he was looking forward to speaking with somebody who liked him. Harry smiled and hurried over to him and his small group of friends.

"Hello! How was your summer, Colin, Dennis?"

"Oh, it was wonderful! Dad took some time off and took us to New York City! It was absolutely fascinating. You should have seen all the older women hitting on my dad, Harry! They said that they loved his accent. It was so funny!" exclaimed Colin. "Would you be interested in seeing the pictures later? I have five rolls and I developed them the wizard way. Dad was ecstatic to see them. He loves everything wizard!"

Colin continued in his inane chatter while Harry's attention started to wander. Every once in a while he'd omit a laugh when Colin would laugh and a 'mmm.' At one point, Harry caught Malfoy's eyes on accident and the Slytherin boy sent him a questioning look and looked pointedly at the Gryffindor Sixth Years where Harry should have been sitting. Harry shrugged, shook his head, and went about his observation of the Great Hall. Just before the Sorting started, however, both the raven hair Gryffindor and platinum hair Slytherin caught the looks of hatred sent to Harry by his 'friends.' Harry took on a sad look in his eyes and bit his lip.

As the First Years filed in behind Professor McGonagall, Harry's eyes once again caught Malfoy's. He was looking at Harry thoughtfully and, when he saw Harry looking, he looked at the Sixth Year Gryffindors with a look of wonderment and contempt. Harry then paid false attention to the sorting, for the first time that night, completely oblivious to the stare the blonde hair Slytherin was giving him.

A/N: Love it? Hate it? Tell me! Please remember not to flame me for the OOC's. I promise that it is all for good reason. I'm also sorry for not making up a better story for why Sirius was free, but I'm just so sick of making up that story that I decided to do a half-assed job on it. It'll have to do. Next Chapter: Harry finds a friend in Ginny. Lupin makes a return and a mysterious man is at Hogwarts. Mysterious to you anyway. ::wink:: ;)