It wasn't often that the great hall went completely silent. Usually it'd be the seconds before the headmaster made an announcement, or the moments when sleepy students first entered for breakfast.
Those two words from the sorting hat were more than enough to have that happen.
"NOPE!" The sentient headpiece yelped, leaping off Harry's head.
"I didn't know Alister could move like that." Dumbledore mused, watching the hat literally hopping away.
"Nope! Nopenopenope! Absolutely not!" Alister yelled with each hop, before McGonagall managed to catch him. "Don't you dare!" He protested as she moved to put him back on.
"Really now!" She glared at how the hat was acting. "This is your job!"
"You didn't see what was in his head! It looked at me like I was a bloody dinner napkin!" He flailed helplessly in her grip, his brim slapping away at her hand. "A mouth like that is most assuredly NOT meant to smile!"
"What's his problem?" Harry asked, giving the protesting hat a perplexed look.
"GRYFFINDOR!" Alister shrieked as McGonagall started to put him back on the boy's head. "YOU can deal with him, woman!"
The hall was again dead silent before Dumbledore coughed. "Yes, perhaps we should continue with the sorting. Mr. Potter, please take a seat at your assigned table."
Harry stood up, barely taking one step before wheeling around. "Wait, you Albus Dumbledore?" He ignored the indignant sputtering from McGonagall as well as several other students.
"I am...and Hagrid informed me about your...displeasure at learning about your vault key. However, I assure you that-"
"I. Don't. Care." He cut the old man off. "The fact is you kept a vault key for over ten years and never even had the decency to inform its rightful owner, namely me, that you had it. Or even ask to hold onto it. As for 'displeasure', try 'pissed'; did my parents know you had it?"
"Well…" Albus tried to think of a positive way to phrase his answer, that he'd had Hagrid retrieve it along with baby Harry to keep it from any of Voldemort's followers. But, how do you admit to that without sounding like a thief? He sighed, knowing he'd probably hate himself later for the tactic. "How would you have handled it in my place, Harry? A youngster, just orphaned, that would be hunted by everyone in the wizarding world for one reason or another with his only protection being anonymity protection, and an inheritance that was impossible to hide. What would you have done?"
Harry was silent. He didn't really have an answer, to be honest. He'd been in the wizarding world for just a couple of months, so he didn't really didn't know enough about it to respond. A part of him growled in anger, feeling cheated out of something it felt it deserved to be mad about.
Dumbledore spoke up again. "I apologize, and honestly I don't blame you for feeling offended at what I did, but I say with the utmost sincerity that I only did what felt the best course of action, and would happily discuss it at a later date. For now, though, there are other students to sort, and no one can eat until everyone is seated"
Harry stared at him, not saying anything, before turning back and heading to the Gryffindor table.
'Hopefully that will let his frustration settle in the meantime. And let me figure out an appropriate way to smooth things over.' Dumbledore thought, remembering one of the rules about dragons he learned during his time as a student. "Dragons do not suffer thieves lightly."
"Harry! What in the world got into you!?" Hermione demanded the moment he'd sat down. "You don't just talk to one of the greatest wizards in the world like that! How could you be so rude and disrespect-MMF!" She was cut off by Harry's hand wrapping over her mouth, then the same annoyed glare he'd given her on the train took the wind out of her..
"Like I told him; don't care. Greatest whatever or not, I do NOT appreciate learning that something that belongs to me was being kept from me like that. Especially when I wasn't even given so much as a notice. And as far as respect, he gives me a reason to, and then I'll respect him."
He'd barely managed to let her go when an older redhead, who's face indicated that he had a gardening trowel wedged somewhere tender, had a finger in his face. "You just lost Gryffindor fifteen points for that act, Potter!"
"What's all the racket!?" Erza demanded, peeking out from Harry's pocket, much to the surprise of those around. "I was trying to take a quick nap!"
"H-Harry!" Hermione squeaked. "Is that a real….fairy!?"
She must've liked fairies a lot, since her eyes were damn near sparkly. He leaned away from her a bit. "Not quite; she's…"
"What are you doing with a fairy, Potter!? Fairies are not on the approved pet list! Hand it over!" The orange beanpole held out his hand.
"Ok, first; who the hell are you? Second, what 'points' are you blathering about? And third…" Harry slowly dragged his nails over the table, gouging out four long lines, "HER name is Erza, and she is my familiar. Touch her and I'll forcefeed you your own testicles."
"My name is Percival Weasley, and I am the Gryffindor Prefect!" He stated, a little too pompously for Harry's taste. "Unless you wish the first issued detention of the year-"
"Weasley." Another boy spoke up, wearing robes with a blue trim on them. It was then that Harry noticed the Gryffindor kids all had red trim on theirs. "Even you know the house points don't start until tomorrow when classes begin. And the 'permitted familiars' list is a recommendation, not an iron-clad rule." Glancing at the gouges, he quickly leaned in. "Next time, think before you try and throw your weight around! Otherwise you really will need something reattached." The boy took a quick look at the teachers before pulling out his wand, disguising it as adjusting his robes. "Reparo." He whispered.
"Ok, that could come in handy." Harry watched the gouges slowly close up, leaving unblemished wood. "Have to remember that one."
"Hey, what was all the hubbub over here?" Ron asked as she sat down on the other side of Harry, watching Percy get pushed back over to his seat.
"He tried to confiscate Harry's..familiar..?" Hermione quickly snapped back to reality. "How'd you get a fairy familiar!?" She squeed.
"Found her in the bargain bin." He replied, smirking when Erza squawked indignantly.
"Anaki! Not funny!" She pouted, her cheeks puffing out.
"Well, I did get you for free technically." He skritched her head in a spot that made her let out a cute little squeak, causing Hermione, and a couple other girls that heard it to let out 'aaww's before Dumbledore spoke up.
"I have one thing to say before the welcoming feast begins; nitwit, oddment, blubber, tweak!" He chuckled a little when the food appeared, surprising the first years. 'Bless their hearts, they never remember that I say the same thing every year. And it never gets old!'
The moment his eyes landed on the platters of chicken breast, pork cutlets, and smoked sausage, his stomach gave a convincing argument to put everything aside for a plate...or three.
Meanwhile, Dumbledore had just settled into his own meal when he heard Minerva muttering to herself. He didn't catch all of it, but one sentence reached him…
"James and Lily would be turning in their graves learning what their child's become!" She grumbled, much to his surprise.
'Oh...oh bollocks.' He thought, hoping no one saw him pale lightly. 'I KNEW there was something I meant to tell her about!'