Disclaimer: I, by no means, claim to own anything remotely related to the Harry Potter Universe. Or that of the One Tree Hill Universe, for that matter. No copyright infringement intended.
AN: Happy Valentine's Day, people. Or, to those other few: Happy Return-Of-The-Champion's-League!
Here's a present from me to you.
Chapter One: People Get Ready
Sirius Black liked to make a big deal out of the little things in life.
There was, admittedly, very little excitement to be found in a trip to King's Cross Station on September first, but Sirius liked to spice things up, if only to annoy his best friend and her son. He sang songs the entire car ride to the station, told unfunny jokes, reminisced about his school days and passed on terrible advice.
Lily Evans had to put a hand on his thigh to stop his rambling, when she spotted the widening of her son's eyes at some of the things he was hearing. "Sirius, please, you're scaring him," she said gently.
Sirius looked at the boy through the rearview mirror. "Nonsense. Your boy's faced off against Voldemort; he can handle anything."
Lily grimaced at the sound of that. She did not need to be reminded of her son's exploits during the Tri-Wizard Tournament the previous school year. Especially not so callously. Her glare was enough to get the Marauder to sober up.
His response was automatic. "I'm sorry. You're right." He glanced at the boy in the backseat once more, and was surprised to find him grinning. "Traitor," Sirius mouthed for him to see.
Harry Potter couldn't stop his snicker.
"Don't you start," Lily said, turning her head to look at her son. "You're only encouraging him."
"It's the last time I see you both until Christmas," Harry said, shifting slightly in the backseat of the car, so he could lean forward and talk to his mother properly. "Let us enjoy it while we can."
Lily rolled her eyes. "We're going to miss you too, Harry."
"What? No! That's not what I said."
"It's what I heard," Sirius said, enjoying Harry's sudden discomfort a little too much. "Isn't that what he said, Lily?"
"Guys," Harry whined, a small smile on his face. "Stop."
"Is he getting embarrassed?" Sirius asked. "I think I see a blush. Is he blushing?"
Harry dropped his head. "If you keep it up, I'm going to Apparate right out of here," he threatened.
"You'll be arrested."
"Let James try."
"Harry," Lily warned, her tone of voice forcing him to clamp his mouth shut. His mother normally didn't like it when he talked about his father, at all. It didn't matter if it was in a good light or not. Any talk about James Potter wasn't well-received by either Lily or Sirius.
Not that Harry blamed either of them. At the end of the day, Harry didn't like it when other people talked to him about James either. He especially hated it when his idiot brother talked about James, and it was just about Jack Potter's favourite thing to do whenever Harry was around.
My dad this, and my dad that.
"We're here!" Sirius suddenly exclaimed as he pulled the car over to the side of the road so he could maneuver into a parallel parking spot. As a Pureblood, it'd taken him a while to get used to the idea of driving a car, let alone actually driving. Lily taught him the mechanics of it years ago, but it took him a further few months to get on the road and become the driving menace that Lily and Harry always knew he would be.
Sirius slipped into the parking spot in one slick move, and threw a fist into the air in triumph. "Am I a champion driver or what?" he asked.
"Sure you are," Lily said sarcastically, rolling her eyes once more. He could be such a child sometimes.
Sirius exaggerated a gasp. "I can't believe you're leaving me with her, Harry," he said dramatically. "What kind of wingman are you, Potter?"
"If I could not go to school, you know I would," Harry said, as he opened his door and climbed out onto the sidewalk.
If he were being completely honest, he would have to admit that the London air was different to the air he breathed at home. It felt both heavier and lighter at the same time, simultaneously stifling and freeing.
Lily caught Harry's attention by putting an arm around his shoulders. "Penny for your thoughts?"
He managed a smile. "Is it too much to ask that we get back in the car and go home right now?"
She hugged him lightly. "It'll be fine, Harry," she said soothingly. "It's just another year."
"No it isn't," he countered. "You already saw what the Daily Prophet is saying about Jack. They're bound to start on about me at some point."
"Ignore them then."
Lily turned to face her son. "You are Harry James Potter. You are kind and brave, caring, loving, and oh so very handsome." She smiled at the first sign of his blush. "What the world thinks of you doesn't matter; it shouldn't. It is what you think of yourself that counts, okay?"
Harry nodded numbly, though he didn't tell her that her words weren't actually helping. He'd never actually told her what it was really like for him at school, and he wasn't about to start. Not when it looked like she was just getting her life together again.
"Lily, are you starting with your lectures again?" Sirius asked, cutting into the profound moment between mother and son. "Leave the poor kid alone."
"He's not a kid, Sirius," Lily responded.
"And that has to be the saddest thing I've ever heard." He shook his head. "Come on, let's head inside so we can save Neville from Madam Longbottom before she pinches his cheeks right off like the last time."
"What, Lily? You saw what happened last year," he said, somewhat innocently. "The poor boy's been belittled his entire life. Would've been a Gryffindor if it weren't for the old bat."
"I'm just telling the truth," he said, shrugging slightly.
"And, by all means, do, but preferably in the privacy of Grimmauld Place. She is a Wizengamot member, remember?"
"As am I."
Lily sighed. She could never truly understand the reason behind Sirius and Augusta Longbottom's strained relationship. It was something that neither Head of their families liked to talk about and Lily gave up questioning them both a very long time ago.
"Are you sure you have everything?" Lily asked her son as they started to walk towards the entrance to the Station. "I won't be sending you anything that you've forgotten like I did last year."
"I packed everything," he said, grumbling slightly.
She raised an eyebrow, hearing something different in his voice. "Everything?"
Harry risked a look at Sirius, and then visibly steeled himself for the conversation that was about to occur. "Everything," he repeated.
Lily brought them to a stop. "Harry, we talked about this," she said sternly. "We decided."
"No," he said automatically. "You decided."
Lily blinked. "Harry?"
"I don't get it, Mum," he said. "You always tell me that you want the best for me; that you want me to be the best I can possibly be, so why won't you at least let me try?"
Lily sputtered. Where was all of this coming from?
"So, yes, I packed everything, and I'm going to try because I think I deserve it. Just because I'm known as the other Potter, doesn't mean that I actually have to be."
Lily was stunned, and it showed on her face. Clearly, her son had spent quite a while thinking about this. It was definitely something he felt strongly about, from the hard-set look of pure determination his face. He was decided.
Harry nodded once, and then turned and started to walk again, signifying the end of that topic of discussion. He needed to keep walking before his mother guilted him into giving up on his decision. He wouldn't put it past her; she'd done it before. She'd even written to Professor McGonagall about it once, and Harry'd ended up in detention for no reason on the all important day.
Lily was eventually jolted into moving by Sirius' hand on the small of her back. He said no words as he guided her through the crowds filling the Station, following Harry. Sirius watched in mild amusement as the teenager made great effort not to look back at his mother.
"Did you know about this?" Lily whispered to Sirius, once she'd recovered from Harry's sudden declaration.
Sirius took a deep breath. "I bought him a new one."
Her eyes snapped towards him. "You did what?" she practically shrieked.
"He asked, Lily," he said simply. "He never asks for anything. This is important to him and, after the debacle that was last year; how can you possibly say no?"
"He'll get hurt."
"Then he'll grow from it," Sirius said. "Don't you think he's good enough?"
"It doesn't matter," she whispered hotly. "We both know that, even if he is better; there's no way that - "
Sirius cut her off. "He already knows," he said gently. "Don't you think that the last fifteen years of his life have taught him more than enough about where he fits into the great big world that we've thrown him into?"
"I just want to protect him."
"I think you'll find that he's perfectly capable of taking care of himself."
Lily sighed. "But he's still a child," she said, contradicting her earlier statement. She knew she was being difficult, but any mother wanted her kid to stay a kid, even when he just wasn't.
"Who's desperate to be a man," he said. "You don't get to pick and choose, Lil. He's growing up, too fast, and you're going to have to accept it one of these days."
She looked at Sirius. "I don't like it."
"We're not asking you to," he replied softly. "But, if he doesn't try; he'll regret it. And, if you don't let him try, well, I think you'll regret it too."
"When did you get so wise?"
It would have been easy for Sirius to play off her question, even making a joke about it, but something felt serious about this moment. "I was forced to," he said carefully; "you know, when my once best friend decided that raising his son just wasn't for him."
Lily bristled, decidedly refusing to engage in a conversation that remotely involved James Potter.
"I'm going through," Harry called out from in front of them, and then disappeared through the pillar before either adult could even respond.
"He probably can't wait to see Luna," Sirius joked.
"Oh Sirius, we both know that he has a crush on a certain little redhead."
Sirius shook his head. "Potter men and their redheads," he grumbled.
Lily threw him a wistful look, but chose not to respond. If her son was lucky, he would get over his crush quickly. Potter men and redheads didn't work out, and the sooner he figured it out, the better.
They followed Harry through the pillar onto Platform 9 3/4, and Lily automatically smiled at the sight of the Hogwarts Express. As terrible as it was to be out in public in the Wizarding World, even with Sirius, Lily couldn't mistake the feeling of magic in the air. It was wonderful, and definitely something that she missed.
"There he is," Sirius said, gesturing to a point ahead of them.
Lily's eyes followed his gesture and she spied her son standing with his two best friends, Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood. The trio were talking to Neville's grandmother, Augusta, and Luna's father, Xenophilius Lovegood.
"Just looking at Xeno gives me a headache," Sirius whispered, referring to the colour of Xenophilius' robes, and Lily couldn't contain her laughter.
"I quite like the colour," she whispered back, as they approached the group. "It brings out his eyes."
Sirius sniggered, absently dropping his chin onto her shoulder. "Do you think it would suit me?"
"I think you know just what I like for you to wear, Sirius Black," she said breathily, and Sirius yelped.
"I hate it when you do that," he said grumpily.
"Do what?" she asked innocently.
Sirius didn't get a chance to respond, because Neville and Luna were suddenly noticing and greeting the pair enthusiastically. Augusta less so, of course. And Xeno, well, he was as flighty as ever.
"Are you two ready for another year then?" Lily asked her son's two friends.
Luna nodded. "I do hope it will be less exciting than last year."
"You and me both," Harry commented, chancing a look around the platform to make sure that the very people he didn't want his mother to see weren't anywhere in sight. He was deeply protective of her; had been since he was old enough to understand just what Lily Evans had been forced to go through.
"It probably won't be," Neville said, somewhat darkly. "Especially not after what Jack's saying happened during the Final Task."
Harry practically shuddered, and all the adults shifted uncomfortably. The tale of Voldemort's return did cause panic in the Wizarding World but, with the Ministry of Magic refusing to acknowledge the Dark Lord's resurrection; many witches and wizards weren't preparing for the War that was sure to occur.
"Look," Sirius said to three teenagers. "This isn't something that you three need to be worrying about right now," he said seriously. "You just stay focused on school and enjoying your time together, okay? We'll take care of what needs to be taken care of, all right?" He waited for their collective nods. "Now, I think you better hop onto that train and find yourselves a compartment all for yourselves so you can plan all your awesome pranks."
"Sirius," Lily said, shaking her head.
All the Marauder did was wink at the trio.
Harry initiated the farewells, stepping forward to hug his mother, his godfather, and then his mother again. Neville received an awkward hug from his grandmother, while Luna was lifted off the ground by her father.
The group was just separating when they arrived. Lily visibly tensed, and her two boys automatically stepped towards her, Harry and Sirius moving into position to shield her from whatever looks were sure to come their way.
It didn't take very long.
As soon as they spotted them, expressions changed, and brows furrowed in obvious disdain.
"Take her home," Harry said to Sirius.
Sirius wasted no time in proceeding to lead Lily away from the new arrivals. No further words were exchanged, and Harry remained unmoving until his mother was safely off the platform and out of sight.
"Are you okay?" Neville asked Harry.
The raven-haired wizard shook his head. "Let's just get onto the train."
Luna gently tugged on his sleeve. "It looks like your father is trying to get your attention."
Harry forced himself not to turn his head to look in the direction of the other group. "Well, I've been trying to get his attention for years. Let's see how he likes it."
Luna giggled. "The nargles are going crazy around his head."
"I can only imagine."
Neville shook his head. "Where's your trunk, Harry?"
The wizard pat the pocket of his jeans. "Sirius shrunk it for me," he said. "I'll be able to expand it when we get to Hogsmeade. And Hedwig's already at Hogwarts, probably. Hopefully. She was being difficult this morning."
Luna started them walking, bouncing slightly with each step. "How did your Mum take the news?" she asked as they went.
"What news?" Neville asked.
"Harry's going to try out for the Quidditch team this year," Luna informed him.
Neville just stared at his best friend. "Are you trying to have the entire school hate you?"
Harry shrugged. "Oh, don't be so dramatic, Neville," he said happily, patting his friend's shoulder somewhat condescendingly. "The Slytherins are going to love me."
"Because you're going to make Jack's life a living nightmare?"
"Voldemort has nothing on me."
The three of them laughed to themselves as they climbed aboard the train. Harry helped Luna with her trunk and they found a compartment in the last carriage of the train; hopefully far enough away from the bane of Harry's existence.
"Do you know who your House's prefects are?" Neville asked Harry once the three of them were settled in their own compartment.
"Probably Granger," Harry said; "and maybe Jack. Or Weasley. Something tells me that Dumbledore might think that Jack has too much on his plate already, with everything that's already going on in his pampered life."
Luna raised an eyebrow. Her friend was definitely more snarky this day of all days.
"What about Hufflepuff?" Harry asked Neville, ignoring Luna's curious look. He did not want to have to explain that his mother's reaction to the other group bothered him in a way that he didn't fully understand.
"Hannah and Ernie, definitely," he answered. "Or maybe Justin, but he's more of a troublemaker, really."
"It should have been you," Harry said.
"It should have been you too," Neville returned.
Luna sighed dramatically. "Yes, yes, we know our lives are so terribly unfair and we just have to accept the unjust nature of living as we do," she said, sighing. "Tell me if Sirius and your mum are together yet."
Harry laughed lightly, and then he sighed. "Not yet, no," he said quietly. "She's not ready yet. At least that's what Sirius says. But he's patient, I guess. He says she's worth it."
"She is," Luna agreed.
Harry merely nodded, as his eyes drifted away from his friends to look out the window. He caught sight of several red heads bobbing as they moved as one along the platform. His eyes automatically searched for a particular redhead, and a small smile took place on his face.
Because of it, he missed the amused look exchanged between his two best friends. Apparently, he was totally predictable.
Harry's smile quickly turned into a scowl when he caught sight of his brother, Jack, moving into view. He was forced to look away when Jack and said certain redhead hugged and shared a chaste kiss.
When Harry did eventually look back out the window again, he watched the entire scene play out before him. James Potter pulled his son into a tight hug, before Jack was hugged by his own mother, and then his sister. His family.
It made Harry burn with anger and, ashamedly, jealousy. He hated himself for it because, truly, he loved his life, and his own family, but he couldn't help what he felt. At least, that was what Luna told him. He wasn't sure if he believed her though.
When the train started to move, Harry gave his friends his full attention. He'd missed them during the summer and he wasn't afraid to tell them. It was the type of relationship that they had. They talked about things in profound ways, and he sometimes thought that it was because they all came from somewhat different family situations.
The first visitor to their compartment, of course, was Draco Malfoy. It was expected, really, because the Slytherin made a habit of visiting both Potter boys on the train to and from school. The trio joked that Malfoy had to have a crush on at least one of them. Or both, really. There was no other explanation.
"Oh, Potter, Potter, where's your other half?" Malfoy asked, entering the compartment without even bothering to knock. He was flanked by his trolls, Crabbe and Goyle, but Harry wasn't worried. In a duel, whether verbally or with wands; Harry would always come out on top.
Harry sighed, barely lifting his gaze. "Malfoy, please, I already have enough antagonists in my life, without having you to deal with as well."
The blond frowned. "Whatever. Where's your brother?"
"Do I look like I care?"
"So helpful, Potter."
"I'm glad you think so," Harry said. "Now, please can you leave? Your mere presence is sucking the good air right out of this room, and I'm struggling to breathe."
Malfoy huffed. He opened his mouth to say something else, probably something to do with his father; but Harry cut him off.
"Leave, Malfoy," he said through gritted teeth, his eyes flashing dangerously. "I'm not Jack. He's the one you have the problem with. Not me. You'd best remember that you don't want to start any trouble with me."
And Malfoy did remember. Where sometimes Jack fumbled with his wand and stumbled through his comebacks against the Slytherin; Harry did not. Harry Potter was a very different boy to Jack Potter, and the entire school was now going to know it.
Malfoy shook his head once, before he turned on his heel and ushered his goons out of the compartment, and then followed them out in silence.
Harry heaved a sigh.
"He definitely likes you," Luna said, laughing at Harry's exasperated facial expression.
Neville chuckled. "I'm sure that he would've liked to stay and keep talking to you," he teased. "Malfoy's spoilt for choice, isn't he?"
Harry shook his head. "I hate you guys."
"You love us," Luna said, giggling. "Don't deny it."
Harry couldn't fight off his grin, and it broke out on his face. "I really missed you both."
Luna moved from the seat opposite him and sat down right beside him, absently leaning her head on his shoulder. She closed her eyes immediately and, within minutes, she was asleep.
Harry looked at Neville curiously.
"Something about a midnight expedition," he replied, shrugging slightly. "Xeno apparently wanted to get one last one in before Luna returned to school. It was unsuccessful, as you know."
"One day, they'll find something."
"Don't encourage them, Harry," he said, more forcefully than he first intended. "Look at her, she's exhausted, and Xeno is obsessed. We both know that it's unhealthy."
"What would you rather have him do, Nev?" Harry asked seriously. "If this is the way they deal with their grief, how can we judge them? There are worse ways, and you and I both know that."
Neville dropped his gaze, his mind automatically flying towards his own grandmother. The way she dealt with her grief was detrimental to the mentality of her grandson, and only Harry and Luna were what kept Neville from drowning in the mounting failure that he felt whenever he was reminded how much less he was when compared to his father, Frank Longbottom.
"Are you going to nap as well?" Harry asked, changing the subject.
"We've barely been on this train an hour and we're already getting into the heavy stuff," he said, sounding slightly amused; "I think a nap will do us both some good."
Harry just about managed a smile. "'Night, Neville."
He chuckled, before he shifted to get comfortable, closed his eyes and promptly fell asleep.
Harry sat perfectly still as he listened to the steady breathing of his friends and watched the world pass him by. He felt slightly melancholy about the journey to Hogwarts. He loved school, he did, but it was so stressful, and rather tiring. His brain had to be on every second of the day, constantly on the look out for possible pranks and unseen attacks, from House enemies and from those who were supposed to be allies.
Harry also had his schoolwork to look forward to. It wasn't that he liked working at school; he just liked learning. And, in magic, there was always plenty to learn. He was Lily Evans' son, after all.
He didn't, for a second, think that he could ever beat Hermione Granger to first place in their year, but Harry truly gave her a run for her money. Even the Ravenclaw students didn't compare, and that really irked both the students and their Head of House, Professor Flitwick.
Harry, under his mother's tutelage, was already well ahead in the year's work, which was something he would never boast about. At Hogwarts, Harry was silent in class and in his House. He was a wallflower, watching, listening and not being seen. It was what he preferred, really.
This year, things would be different.
This year, everyone would remember that Jack Potter was not the only one.
Harry hated the Sorting Feast. The food was fine, and he was even happy for the little first-year students starting their lives in this truly magical world, but none of it could make him forget that he couldn't sit with his friends. It was against the rules on their first night.
Sometimes he hated that he was a Gryffindor, that Neville was a Hufflepuff and that Luna was a Ravenclaw. And, even if he'd taken up the Sorting Hat's offer of Slytherin during his own Sorting; he still would have been sitting without his friends... If they'd even ever become friends then.
It was difficult to consider, but it was all his mind would think about as he sat surrounded by his fellow Lions. They were chatting to one another over him and through him, ignoring him as they usually did whenever Jack was around. Or even when he wasn't.
To his left sat little Colin Creevey, who was not exactly little anymore. Colin was probably Jack's biggest fan, and Jack loved it.
Harry sighed, turning his attention to his right, where Hermione Granger was sitting, talking on and on about Merlin only knew what. To her right was Ronald Weasley, who was happily digging into the Feast, seemingly without a care in the world. And, opposite them, sat Jack Potter and Ginevra Weasley.
Without his say so, Harry's eyes lingered.
"Please can you pass the mashed potatoes?"
Harry blinked, his head turning. "Huh?"
Hermione Granger was looking at him curiously, clearly waiting for him to catch up. "The mashed potatoes, Potter; do you mind passing them over?"
He stared at her for a moment, before he jerked into motion, leaning to his left and lifting the bowl of mashed potatoes.
Hermione didn't smile when she took the bowl from him. "Thank you," she said flatly. Then, seemingly making a decision, she added: "I'd be careful if I were you."
Her eyes were kinder than he'd ever seen; not that he'd ever really looked before. They were actually rather fascinating, a deep hazel brown in colour with flecks of amber, and maybe a touch of gold if one looked close enough. "You don't want to be caught staring."
His brow furrowed. "Staring at what?"
"Who," she said, her voice slightly raspy. "You do know that my redheaded friend over there has a boyfriend, right?"
He blinked back his panic. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said nervously.
"Don't worry," she said, sensing his unease. "It's not as if I'm going to tell anyone."
"Why wouldn't you tell anyone? I'd imagine that you and your friends would have a right laugh about all of this, wouldn't you?"
"You'd imagine wrong," Hermione eventually said.
Harry just stared at her.
"I'm not out to tease you," she admitted quietly; "though you don't seem to handle it all that well, to be perfectly honest." She sighed. "I just think that you need to be reminded that she has a boyfriend and, if he finds out that you've been staring the way that you do; it'll just get ugly. And I sure as hell don't want Ginny caught in the middle of all of that."
Harry couldn't remember a time when he'd heard her say so many words to him at any one time, and he found himself a little intimidated by how spectacularly calm she seemed. They never talked. As long as she was friends with Harry's brother, then there was practically a wall between them. He knew next to nothing about her, even though he claimed to be a wallflower. All he'd learned, really, was that she was very academic-minded, and superbly loyal. Because, really, you had to be loyal to willingly deal with Jack Potter on a daily basis.
"It's as if you're looking for trouble," she said thoughtfully, absently dishing some mash onto her plate.
He eventually found his voice. "I'm not."
"Because, if you were, please let it be for more than just a girl," she said seriously. "If you're determined to break out of whatever box you believe you're in; by all means, do it. But do it for the right reasons."
Now, he definitely hadn't expected to hear her say that to him. She was saying things. Truthfully, he didn't even think that anybody noticed.
She gave him a small smile, as if she were just catching herself having such a conversation with him. "Don't listen to me," she chastised herself. "I'm not making any sense."
"Yes you are." He kept his eyes on her, the image of who he thought she was shifting rather dramatically. She saw more than he gave her credit for. Of course she had to be more than just Jack Potter's best friend; the same way that he was so much more than Jack Potter's brother.
Hermione felt a little uncomfortable under his heated gaze. "Umm," she sounded. "Just remember what I said."
"Exactly what am I remembering?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Ginny is very important to me," she added, ignoring his attempt at humour. "I won't have you use her as some way to get back at your brother."
Harry blinked. "I wouldn't."
"I know," she agreed. "But you understand why I have to say it, don't you?"
"You'll be careful then?"
He nodded again. "I will."
"Good." She leaned back, making as if to turn away from him, but he spoke up before she could.
She met his gaze once more; those hazel brown eyes holding him captive. "Hmm?"
"Why did you tell me all of this?"
She shrugged. "Why not?" And then she really was turning away, leaving Harry to mull over mysterious warnings and mashed potatoes.
He spared a quick glance at Jack and Ginny, before returning his attention to his food. It was as if his conversation with the girl to his right went entirely unnoticed, which wasn't a surprise. There was too much excitement in the air and, well, Harry Potter was invisible.
Harry finished with his supper quickly, and then stood up to leave. On his way out of the Great Hall, he stopped to ask the sixth-year female prefect, Emily Camp, for the password to Gryffindor Tower, and then he was on his way.
He waited in the corridor just outside the doors to the Great Hall for almost five minutes before he was joined by Neville, and, two minutes after, Luna as well.
"I was right," Neville said, as they started on their way towards the Ravenclaw dormitories. "Our prefects are Ernie and Hannah."
"Padma and Michael," Luna informed them.
Harry nodded thoughtfully. "I've got Granger and Weasley," he said. "Which means that I'm going to have to be extra careful this year. My guess is that Granger will take her job seriously."
"Padma as well," Luna said.
Neville didn't even bother to mention his own prefects. They didn't matter, not really.
"Maybe we should refrain from meeting after curfew this week," Harry suggested. "We'll learn their schedules and then plan around that."
Luna nodded her agreement. "I'll have you know that I have a ton of ideas for the year."
"So you said."
She grinned mischievously as they came to a stop at the portrait leading into the Ravenclaw Common Room. "I better get inside before the little ones arrive." She quickly hugged them both, before she hurriedly responded to the proposed riddle and disappeared from sight.
Neville looked at Harry. "Has she told you any of her plans?"
He shook his head as he started them walking again. "She's a sinister little thing, that one."
Neville didn't respond immediately. "Are you seriously considering trying out for the Quidditch team?" he asked, finally voicing the question that'd probably been playing in his mind all day.
Harry sighed. "To be perfectly honest, Nev, I haven't yet decided," he confessed. "It seems like it'd just add so much stress to my already jam-packed O.W.L. year, and my mum's all miffed about it. Plus, you look like you might even start crying."
"No I don't."
Harry chuckled. "I'll see how I feel," he said. "It'll probably depend on how much of a git Jack is this week."
Neville shook his head. "You just want to turn this entire school on its head, don't you?"
Harry grinned in response. "Wouldn't it be fun?"
"I think that you and I have vastly different definitions of the word 'fun,'" he said, rolling his eyes. "You're just playing with fire, Harry."
"Maybe I am," he said, sighing. "But aren't you tired of being invisible? I know I am."
"Is this about Voldemort?"
"No," he replied quickly. "This is to do with me."
"Not Jack? Not your father? Not even your mum?"
Harry brought them to a stop. He always told his best friends the truth, and this time would be no different. They knew practically everything there was to know about him anyway. "I can't say that they aren't a factor - my mum especially - but this really is to do with me. I've spent a lot of time thinking about it."
"I can tell."
"Are you mad?"
Neville shook his head no. "A head's up would have been nice though," he said, shrugging slightly. "Because, the second you step out into the light; you're taking us with you."
"Will I have to drag you, or are you going to come willingly?"
They shared a laugh, and then continued on their way in silence. Once Harry dropped off Neville at the Hufflepuff dormitories, he practically sprinted to Gryffindor Tower. He arrived just before Ron and Hermione appeared with the newly Sorted First-Years. He was taken aback by how small they all looked, wide-eyed, excited and nervous. Had he also been that small in his first year?
Harry disappeared through the portrait hole, barely looked around the Common Room, and made his way up to the boys' fifth-year dormitory. Thankfully, it was empty. He quickly located his trunk, which was at the foot of his new bed, and he let out a relieved breath.
They'd been a time when his trunk didn't arrive, in his third year, and it was now always a struggle for Harry to leave his expanded trunk on the train for the House Elves to bring it up to the Castle. It wasn't that he didn't trust the House Elves; it was that he didn't trust his roommates.
Harry had learned that the trunk had arrived, but Jack and his friends had taken it somewhere. They'd managed to get it open somehow and gone through his things, ruining things, stealing things, and now Harry made sure to arrive early enough to make sure it was safe.
It also helped that his mother added her own protections to the trunk.
Harry kneeled down in front of his trunk, unlocked it and popped it open. There it was. His brand new broomstick. A broomstick that may or may not see the light of day, with the way things were going when it came to his mother and his friends.
Right now, it didn't matter what he decided when it came to the Quidditch tryouts. Whether he did or didn't was unimportant. If Harry truly did decide that it was time for him to stand up and get noticed, Quidditch would just be a platform. One of many.
Because there were other ways.
And, being the son of Lily Evans, Harry Potter had thought of nearly every single one.
It was his time now, and people had better get ready.