Disclaimer 1: This is fanfic. That means I do not own any of it. I just borrow it to play with for a little while and let people see the pathetic results if they really want to.
Disclaimer 2: I'm not making any money from it. It's just for fun.
Disclaimer 3: What isn't borrowed is all made up. None of this is real or most likely at all realistic. Please don't trust any of the information in here. Most likely you know more about whatever I'm writing about than I do.
Disclaimer 4: Attitudes, views and opinions expressed by the characters or in the story are not necessarily those of the author. Even when writing Science Fiction or Fantasy I do not tend to attempt to create perfect/better worlds in which everybody gets a happy end ... or whatever is best for them. Please accept that some characters will have a bad ending or be unhappy.
Disclaimer 5: I intend no insult to anyone. If I offend anyone I'm very sorry. Please understand that it was an accident as I tend to be very clumsy in these things.
After the sorting, which was short enough, there was a long speech by the headmaster.
"He's the Gryffindor master," Napier explained to Colborne. "So we don't see much of him except for meals."
"And punishments," Colburne suggested.
"What?" Harry exclaimed. "Oh no! He is really nice! I've never seen him punish anyone. I bet he never does."
"Considering the lack of discipline of Gryffindor house," Napier said. "I'm inclined to agree. Each house is usually disciplined by its own master."
"Even the girls?" Colborne asked scandalised. "The older girls?" Judging from their size some of the girls especially in Ravenclaw were old enough to have already left school and be out. What they were still doing here Colborne couldn't even guess.
"Why, of course," Napier said. "Everybody."
Then he grinned. "They're hit across the hands, of course. What kind of discipline did you expect?"
The sort he was used to from his old school of course. He knew that his father had been somewhat shocked when he'd found out about it, but he hadn't been surprised at children getting flogged per se. It had been the frequency and number of strokes that the kind reverend hat thought excessive.
He was in for yet another surprise when the food appeared on the tables by magic and everybody started serving themselves whatever they wanted and in whatever amount they wanted.
"You mean we can just eat as much as we want? The food isn't counted out?" It certainly looked like there was more here than all the students together could possibly eat, rather than less than they needed.
"Why of course," said Harry who had by now turned the right way around, around a mouthful of beef. "Do Muggles have to pay extra for food at their schools or something?"
"No, but there was only ever just enough for everybody," Colborne explained. "So whenever someone took more than his proper share someone else had to go hungry."
"Well, there are always plenty of leftovers here," Harry said and pushed another slice of meat onto Colborne's plate. "So there's no reason to be shy."
"They aren't wasted," Wellesley finally spoke again and in an almost approving tone. "They are given to the house elves and other servants."
Well, that was alright then, Colborne decided.
He wasn't sure what to make of Wellesley, yet. Napier however appeared to be nice enough and none of the older students had shown surprise or dismay at him talking with a first year. Even Harry seemed to amuse the older Slytherins more than annoy them and Colborne resolved that he would probably not get in trouble over befriending a boy only one year younger than himself. Such friendships might be common enough considering that every year only three to four new boys appeared to join each house. It stood to reason that they weren't always of compatible interests and tempers and might look for more fitting friends in the preceding or following years.
The Slytherin prefects, one girl and one boy, both to Colborne's surprise only fifth years, led them to the Slytherin common room, a comfortable sitting-room in the dungeons from which two side doors led to the dorms.
Harry was not allowed in here, though and after a failed attempt to convince the prefect gave up with a sigh, then spontaneously hugged Colborne good-night and ran back towards the stairs before the older boy recovered from his surprise.
The prefect sighed as well.
"You will get used to the surgeon's children," he then informed the first years. "They are left to run wild all over the school. That one is the worst of the lot, though, and I don't think he means to be troublesome."
The dorm itself was smaller than Colborne was used to, two rows of only ten beds each. Just like in his old school the youngest boys slept closest to the door, but he was lucky to have the second bed in his row, so if the custom of turning out and flogging the two boys closest to the door, if there was any talking after curfew was practised here as well, at least he would not have to suffer for the older students' misbehaviour.
He found his trunk at the foot of his bed and Lucullus in his cage which was mounted on a hook in the wall ... which had to have been hastily installed specifically for Lucullus as Colborne couldn't see any other hooks near any of the other beds.
"The house elves will have put it there so the cats won't be able to reach the cage," Napier supposed.
Indeed there were several cats in the room. Colborne frowned at a particularly athletic-looking tabby.
"The house elves also put spells on our pets that prevent them from harming each other, so you don't have to fear for your owl's life, if he does get out of the cage or one of the cats manages to get up there," the prefect added. "This is just so the cats won't scare him."
For the second time that day Colborne found himself explaining the difference between canaries and owls.
"They are songbirds," he finished, remembering that this had satisfied Harry.
"Why would you want to keep a songbird?" Wellesley sneered at him. "They aren't even any use."
"Can't you imagine what would have happened, if I'd brought an owl to my Muggle school?" Colborne challenged.
It turned out that Wellesley could not. He had never even seen a Muggle school and didn't know that Muggles didn't keep owls.
"Well, now you know, and that is why," Colborne claimed.
There was no need to tell anyone that Lucullus had been bought to keep him company, because he'd been afraid of leaving home when he was seven. Not when everybody here seemed to consider it perfectly normal to bring a pet to school.
No adult appeared in the dorm all night, or if one did, he was quiet enough that Colborne slept through it. It seemed to be up to the prefects to enforce curfew.
Wellesley reacted only with a very grumpy look when Colborne wished him a good morning and so Colborne decided not to attach himself to him and Napier again. The other two first year boys didn't seem to want a third around either, which forced him to wander along to breakfast on his own.
The moment he reached the great hall however Harry rushed up to him with a squeal of delight and a long tale about what he and his sister planned to do today and did Colborne want to come along?
"Maybe," said Colborne cautiously. "If I have finished my lessons and the master lets me go."
The Slytherin classroom was longer and wider than Colborne was used to and well lit by candles and torches that seemed never to burn down.
The benches looked somewhat strange, as if they had been stretched somehow to allow for room for more students.
"First years in the first bench," the prefect explained. "Girls on the left side, boys on the right."
Right under the master's eyes then. That was a little uncomfortable, but the bench had room for five students so at least they wouldn't be crowded.
What was more disquieting was that Colborne didn't know any of the students near him. The other two first years, still too taken up with each other hadn't bothered to introduce themselves and Napier and Wellesley were back in the third row as a quick glance behind informed Colborne.
Damned, this was not at all good news. Loners were easily picked on. He had to at least find some allies among his house-mates, but of course without letting on how desperate he was about it.
The master was an old, thin wizard with cold green eyes. He didn't introduce himself, apparently preferring to set straight to getting to know his new students.
"Ah yes, Boot," he commented after reading out Boot, George's name. "I well remember Anthony Boot. You are his grandson, then?"
"His nephew, Sir," Boot explained. "He is my father's oldest brother."
"Well, I hope you will do your uncle credit." He frowned at the student list. "A Colborne? That's something new. Which one of you is Colborne, John?" He glared at the two remaining first year boys.
"I am, Sir," Colborne confessed forcing himself to meet the master's eyes. He was terrified of teachers.
"Samuel Colborne's son?"
"So they tell me, Sir."
"Tell you?" thundered the master. "Whatever do you mean by that?"
"Well, Sir," It seemed advisable to distance himself as far as possible from his father and whatever it was that he had done to displease people at this school. "Only that I find it hard to think of a man I cannot remember as my father when there is another that I do know and call by that name. It is rather confusing to me, Sir."
He added his best stupid expression for good measure. Until now this had always sufficed to convince adults of his slow-wittedness and gullibility. This new master however gave him a hard and calculating look and with a sinking feeling Colborne realised that the man had seen such tricks before and did not think himself so far above a mere child that he mightn't be outwitted.
"Well, I d hope that you aren't about to disrespect my house by spouting any of his brainless ideas."
"Oh no, Sir," Colborne assured him all wide-eyed stupidity. "I never have any ideas at all. And I am very happy to hear that you don't want me to. My old master was most displeased by my lack of them."
The other students laughed, but the master's calculating look remained. "I find that very hard to believe ... or maybe I shouldn't. You are a Slytherin after all."
The older students' laughter changed very suddenly to a softer, more nervous tone.
"I will be keeping a close eye on you."
Things didn't improve from there. Apparently all the other first years already knew some magic.
On the other hand his bad performance should confirm his claim that he couldn't remember his father, Colborne hoped, and maybe the master would even reconsider his doubts of his stupidity. Nevertheless the suppressed giggling of his classmates hurt and Colborne was quite relieved when they were allowed to leave the classroom for lunch.
"So, how's school then?" Harry demanded. "Did you learn any spells yet?"
"No," Colborne confessed. "But all the others already know some."
Harry nodded eagerly. "Slytherin hardly ever gets muggle-borns, so they would be likely to. I think the founder didn't like muggles. Or something like that. My father would know."
Colborne let Harry prattle on and pretended to be too engrossed in the conversation and food to notice that Napier and Wellesley were watching him.
Luckily the master spent the afternoon teaching the older students and Colborne was spared any further humiliations. Reading his 'Basic Grammar of Magic' at least wasn't difficult. He idly doodled the various wand movements described in chapter one onto his slate and daydreamed of foreign lands and glorious battles.
The master walked past and glanced at the slate once, but only gave a curt nod and walked on. Apparently it qualified as practising.
Harry was hopping from foot to foot outside the classroom door when they were let out and almost dragged Colborne outside to teach him how to fly a broom. The lesson earned them both several bruises from collisions with each other and various objects and Colborne a fall into the lake, but the worst consequence of it was the disapproval of the prefect who grumbled about Hogwarts prefects not being allowed to flog students and reporting him to the master, if he came in dripping wet all over the carpet ever again.
"A flogging on the very first day," Wellesley commented sounding amused. "I'm sure that would have been a school record. You sure know how to pick your acquaintances, Napier."
Napier ignored him and handed the utterly unimpressed first year a towel to dry his hair. Colborne had been flogged enough not to be bothered by people merely wishing they could do so.
"Empty threats aside," Napier told him, " You also missed the tour of the library and I don't think the prefect's in any mood to give you a private repetition after this stunt."
Colborne shrugged. "Then I will just ask Harry. He'll probably know where it is just as well as the prefect."
"Most likely," Wellesley commented. "But I do doubt he'll be able to teach you how to behave there."
Colborne shrugged again and left the commonroom. He had nowhere else to be, but didn't feel like sitting around among house-mates that didn't like him. He might as well explore the school on his own.
"Well, you've managed to drive him off," Napier commented to Wellesley. "I hope you're satisfied."
Wellesley shrugged. Who was John Colborne after all? The family hadn't even been of any relevance before Samuel Colborne had utterly ruined its name by his ridiculous ideas.