Harry Potter darted around a corner, ducking as he went to dodge a suit of armor. He charged down the corridor at top speed, chancing a look behind him just in time to see a light flicker from around the corner. Harry whipped his head back around to see where he's going and was surprised to find that he was near the Astronomy Tower.

He made a split-second decision to sprint up the spiral staircase in the, likely vain, hope that Filch would assume he had gone right towards Gryffindor Tower.

After what felt like an interminable period filled with his panting and pounding heart alternating filling his ears, Harry made it to the top of the tower. He braced himself on the railing along the top of the tower and attempted to regain his breath. The moonlit view of the grounds, and the stars, and the lake was simply breathtaking, but he took in none of it.

Once he could breathe again, he moved away from the edge of the tower and moved backwards to brace his back against the door frame before quickly flinching away from it.

Harry wasn't sure how he managed it, but he had managed to forget that his back still hadn't healed from his last encounter with Vernon's belt. He sighed and sat down on the rapidly cooling stones of the tower's roof, and gently rested his back against the door frame. He closed his eyes and waited for his heart to stop pounding.

He opened his eyes again after a few quiet minutes and looked up at the sky. As had been his habit for the past few months, he scanned the sky for Sirius, the dog star.

After a long silence in which Harry stared at the night sky, he began to speak, "I miss you, Sirius. I've never felt so alone in my life. At least when I was a kid at the Dursley's I didn't really know what I was missing. But now I do know, and you're not the only one who's left me. Ron and Hermione have started dating, and they never seem to have time for me anymore. I see them every day, but we rarely talk, and I want to tell them I want to spend more time with them, but I don't know how to do that and every time I try, I clam up and can't go through with it. I've never had friends before Ron, you know." Harry paused, and took a deep breath.

He continued, "At least I can take advantage of their absence to make up for all the time I should have spent studying over the years. I have to be ready to face Voldemort next time I face him. I can't be responsible for any more people dying. I just can't."

"I wish you were here, I'm sure you'd have some great tips for dueling, and you could tell me how to tell Ron and Hermione that I'm being left out. Maybe I'd even tell you about this summer at the Dursley's. They were worse than they've ever been before. I guess they blame me for the dementor attack, and that therapy that Dudley had to do. I don't even want to think about it." Harry sighed and closed his eyes.

With his eyes closed, he was suddenly reminded of Occlumency lessons with Snape last year and was filled with the same remorse, shame, and rage he always felt when reminded of that.

He really should not have invaded Snape's privacy the way he did- hence the shame and remorse, but he had also tried to learn Occlumency, but the instruction he had received was not adequate for him to learn, which brought him back to the rage. This was also tied into how Snape had handled that confrontation in Umbridge's office, but before Harry could spiral further, he grasped the memory of "Clear your mind!" and attempted to do so.

After some time during which he was semi-successful at clearing his mind, Harry opened his eyes and looked at his watch. He stared at it blankly for a few seconds before remembering that it hadn't worked since the second task last year.

"Tempus" Harry incanted under his breath. At seeing the result, he made a sound of shock before looking up to the sky briefly for one last look at Sirius.

Then he shook his head and hurried out of the tower. He hadn't meant to stay there that long, and now it was long after midnight rather than merely a few minutes after curfew when Filch had been chasing him.

He thought longingly of the Marauder's Map and invisibility cloak sitting uselessly in his trunk and sighed. There was nothing for it but to head back to his dorm and hope it was too late for any professors to be patrolling.

.

"Harry! Where were you last night? Ron and I were worried sick! We thought for sure that you'd had a vision or that something unspeakably horrible had happened to you or that-"

"Relax Hermione! Let the poor guy get a word in edgewise." Ron broke in, sharing an exasperated look with Harry.

Harry grinned at Ron. It was just like old times. Then he said, "It was neither of those things. You didn't really need to worry. The worst thing that could have happened to me is detention from Filch."

"But how were we to know that? There's always trouble and danger following you." Hermione said with a concerned look.

"It's nowhere near the end of the year though! You know that trouble keeps its distance until right around finals," Harry said with an unmistakable tone that meant he thought Hermione ought to have known that. "Anyways," Harry continued, "did I miss anything other than a Hermione panic?"

"I'll tell you on the way to breakfast, I'm absolutely starving!" Ron said, with typical enthusiasm.

"A nutritious breakfast is essential to a healthy diet, but Ron and I made plans to have breakfast with Professor McGonagall to discuss our career options." Hermione said, with a significant look at Ron.

"Didn't we already do that last year?" Harry asked, trying to ignore the rising suspicion that Ron and Hermione were lying to him.

"Of course, we did Harry, but I've done some more research and have some more questions that intrigued Ron, and that we want to ask her," she said as if he should have already known that. "You should go and eat breakfast without us in the Great Hall, but we'll be late if we don't leave now!" Hermione finished in a rush as she grabbed Ron's arm and began dragging him to the portrait hole.

"See ya mate!" Ron called over his shoulder as he disappeared into the hallway.

Harry looked away to hide the flash of hurt that was sure to show in his eyes. This would be the third time he'd be eating alone at breakfast in as many days, and there had been a time when practically nothing would prevent Ron and Hermione from eating with him.

He turned to head out for breakfast.

"Wait up Harry!" Ginny called as she rushed downstairs.

Harry stopped, and turned to face Ginny. "Hey" he said, a lingering tone of sadness in his voice that he couldn't manage to stop.

"Did you want to get breakfast with me? I heard Ron and Hermione had an appointment with 'McGonagall' and that they're ditching you again" Ginny said, the disbelief evident in her voice.

Harry cleared his throat, and said, "Yeah, Hermione said that she and Ron have more questions for McGonagall. And I'd love to get breakfast with you." Harry said. He continued, "Maybe you can tell me about whatever it was that Ron was going to tell me about."

"I can definitely do that! He was probably going to tell you about Gryffindor's newest student, not that there's a whole to tell, but can we walk and talk to breakfast?" Ginny suggested as she moved towards the portrait hole. "I'm starving!" she exclaimed beckoning Harry to follow her.

"That sounds good" Harry said, and followed Ginny out of the common room.

Harry and Ginny walked through the hallways in companionably silence. Harry rarely got to spend time with Ginny without the company of one of her many brothers, regardless of if that time was spent here at Hogwarts or at the Burrow. He found that he rather liked her presence.

After some time, Harry broke the silence and asked, "So, what's the deal with this new student? Why weren't they at the sorting ceremony? They're not a first year, are they?"

Ginny responded, "Like I said, there's not a whole to tell, McGonagall didn't really tell us much about him. All we know is that his name is Alfonse, he's in your year, and he's really standoffish." She shrugged and continued, "He refused to talk to any of us at all last night and left immediately after McGonagall announced him."

"A mystery then," Harry said with a jocular lilt to his voice, "Hopefully a less dangerous mystery than the one's I usually deal with."

Conversation paused as they passed three fourth year Hufflepuffs.

Harry continued, "It's weird, I didn't see an extra bed in my dorm last night. Does that mean he's sleeping somewhere else?"

Ginny pushed open the doors to the Great Hall and said, "I think McGonagall said that he'd be properly moving in later today."

"So, I guess we'll meet him soon," Harry sat down and scanned down the table away from the door trying to spot an unfamiliar face, "It doesn't look like he's here yet."

Ginny followed suit and started when Harry suddenly nudged her in the ribs and discretely pointed at a student down the table. "Is that him?" Harry asked quietly.

"No, you arse that's Satchel Montmorrison, he's a seventh- "

"Can I sit here?" Harry and Ginny quickly snapped their heads around to see a tall, blonde student with cropped hair, a short stubby nose, and light brown eyes, standing in front of them.

"My name is Alfonse, by the way."

.

Severus Snape focused his eyes on the bubbling cauldron. It had just turned a sapphire blue and all the previous trials went terribly wrong not long after the potion achieved this particular shade of blue.

The urge to start dumping any and every ingredient in his immediate vicinity into the cauldron in the hopes of salvaging the potion settled in as it occasionally did when a trial started going wrong.

However, his common sense prevailed, and he continued with his original plan that he had based on theories and the results of previous experiments, hopeful that this time he had pinpointed- and corrected, the problem with the potion.

Severus added exactly 10 mg of finely ground erumpent horn to the cauldron, stirred three time clockwise, and was about to stir six times counterclockwise when he heard someone enter his quarters.

After he had been discovered as a spy, his personal quarters had been warded even more heavily than they had ever been before, and his quarters had already been one of the highest security areas of the already secure castle.

Only himself and Albus Dumbledore himself had access. Even then, the only reason Dumbledore had access was because he insisted that someone needed to have access in the event that Severus injured himself while conducting one of his experiments.

Severus had agreed only reluctantly. While on some level he did agree that it was safer to have an exception to the wards, another equally loud part of him had screamed warnings at the thought of even one chink in the armor, so to speak.

Returning his thoughts to the present, Severus was able to easily contain the explosion that resulted from Dumbledore upsetting the balance of the magical energies in the lab.

He reached up to grab the neutralizer from the shelf above his cauldron and dumped in the appropriate amount to prevent what was left in the cauldron from reacting while he dealt with Dumbledore.

Finally, he turned around to confirm that, yes, Dumbledore had in fact walked into his lab without knocking, or better yet, telling him in advance.

"Is there something you wanted, Professor?" Severus ground out, glaring directly at Dumbledore, "because this trial was nearly complete when you walked in and caused an explosion with your vast levels of ambient magic. As I remember I agreed to have you keyed into my wards to help keep me from danger, not so you could put me in danger."

"Why yes, there was something of great importance that I wanted to discuss with you. I am very sorry that I disturbed your brewing, though I am sure you were perfectly equipped to handle any damage I may have done," Dumbledore said regretfully. "You see, I was quite unaware that you had moved on to an experiment that was quite so sensitive. Last I heard, you were experimenting on a potion that cared not at all about the magical environment."

Severus growled inwardly at the implication that he was supposed to keep Dumbledore constantly up to date on his experiments. With all the free time he now had thanks to not having spy duties, he was moving through trials faster than ever before and to keep Dumbledore updated would require seeing the man far more than Severus was willing to.

"Would you like to move this discussion to my office? After all, the only reason I came in here and interrupted your brewing was because you have a distressing lack of tea in your kitchen," Dumbledore concluded.

"You should know by now that I rely upon the house elves for tea, and while you may have been unaware of the sensitive nature of my experiments, it seems as if you were merely too impatient to wait for me to see you." Severus said with a hard look in his eyes.

Dumbledore hummed as he looked at the ceiling in a rather guilty fashion and popped a lemon drop into his mouth. "It appears you've caught me," he said around the lemon drop, "I do still wish to move this to my office, though."

"Fine. It's not like I have anything urgent to do now that my experiment has been utterly ruined." Severus looked at the disgusting mess in his cauldrons and resolved to assign Potter to clean them in his next detention. If only in the privacy of his mind, Severus had to admit that the brat could get a cauldron clean.

Dumbledore smiled happily and stepped to the side so Severus could lead the way to the fireplace. Severus grabbed a handful of floo powder and threw it into the gently crackling fire, making the flames grow and turn a vibrant shade of green.

"Headmaster's office," Severus called as stepped smoothly into the fire. Dumbledore grabbed a handful of the powder and followed suit.

Severus landed on his feet in Dumbledore's office. He stepped to the side of the fireplace and meticulously removed any ash or dust that had the audacity to cling to his robes with a quick Scourgify.

He looked up from his inspection of his robes just in time to see Dumbledore land in front of the fireplace. Dumbledore immediately went to sit in his chair behind his desk, gesturing for Severus to take one of the guest chairs as he went. Severus glared distastefully at the discordantly patterned plush armchair, and immediately transfigured it into a practical chair.

"I see some things never change" Dumbledore said, "I remember when you were a student and-"

Severus tuned out Dumbledore at this point, he longed to interrupt Dumbledore and put an end to his useless reminiscing with a snarky, "I may have more time now that I no longer have to spy, but I do still have things to do. Papers to grade. Potions to brew," but really, he had too much respect for the man.

Eventually, Dumbledore reached the point and Severus tuned back in in time to hear, "As you know, Harry is destined to play a vital part in this war, however much I may wish it weren't so. After the unfortunate events at the end of last year, I have a feeling that Harry has grown up enough to begin to take on a more active part in the war." The twinkle in Dumbledore's eye dimmed ever so slightly, but he continued "Yet I do not know for sure where his maturity level is, and I must be sure that he can handle it before I tell him about Voldemort's horcruxes; it could be disastrous if he is not," Dumbledore sighed and stroked Fawkes lovingly.

Severus had begun to feel an inkling of foreboding rise within him, and he quickly Occluded so he could listen without doing something rash.

"Given the events of this summer that compromised your position as a spy, your loud and frequent complaints about the horrors of teaching, and my own suspicions concerning feelings of uselessness that you may or may not be having, I have found a way to solve all my problems. You will deage yourself to Harry's age and become his friend!" Here the twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes came back brighter than before. "You can get to know Harry and judge his maturity level. If you feel so inclined, you can also train him in dueling." Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers as he smiled in satisfaction.

"I've made all the arrangements with Minerva. Your name will be Alfonse Hopkirk. You- "

Severus had been sitting in stunned silence, though the casual observer would not have been able to discern any such emotion from his face.

At the sound of the ridiculous pseudonym Dumbledore seemed to expect him to adopt, he snapped out of it, abandoning any resolution to not be rash.

"Headmaster," Severus snapped, "Are you joking? Because this has none of the usual hallmarks of your jokes. Those, at least, tend to have some element of humor."

"Aha! So, you admit that my jokes are funny!"

"Headmaster, you know that's not the point. Why did you really call me here?" Severus rather hoped his Occlumency was sufficient to keep the note of horror out of his voice.

"I've told you, my dear boy, I need you to go undercover as a student in Harry's year and assess his character for me."

"No."

"Severus- "

"Absolutely not."

"It's this or accompany Remus on an envoy to the werewolves."

There was another shocked silence as Severus assessed the possibility that Dumbledore would carry through with the threat. He came to the regrettable conclusion that he couldn't say with any degree of certainty that the threat was only a threat. Severus narrowed his eyes and said, "That's low even for you."

"I can't think of an easier way to get you to agree to do this for me. Except for bringing up Lily, but I think that's a lower blow." Dumbledore said with a happiness that only one who has just gotten their way can achieve.

Severus crossed his arms and stared stonily at one of the many trinkets in Dumbledore's office. A part of Severus knew he looked like a petulant child in that pose, but he decided that given the situation and what he was being asked to do, he was allowed to indulge himself.

And if anyone asked, he was simply getting into character.

After some time, Severus heaved a sigh, and muttered an agreement before rather hastily heading for the fireplace.

"Wait, Severus, we have details to discuss" Albus called after him.

Severus paused mere feet from freedom and turned around. "Since you clearly have this all planned out," he began slowly, desperately trying to find the words that would allow him to escape as he continued to talk, "you can send me the details in a letter. In the meantime, I have some brewing to do, since I evidently must build up a stock for Poppy."

Sighing deeply, Dumbledore said, "If you insist, though I really think you ought to play some part in developing the identity you will be wearing for some time."

Severus gave Dumbledore a disdainful look and moved the last couple feet towards the fireplace and picked up a handful of floo powder. He turned back towards Dumbledore, floo powder still in hand, and said, "Really how long could it possibly take to confirm that Potter is an immature brat."

Turning back around for a final time he tossed in the floo powder as he called out "Severus's Quarters."

.

Albus watched Severus disappear into the fireplace and smiled happily to himself. That could have gone much worse. He reached into his desk and pulled out quill and parchment to send Severus a letter containing the details of his undercover assignment. There really wasn't much to tell, just his pseudonym and some relevant details that were in the file that Albus had fabricated. Severus was certainly skilled enough to fabricate the details of his 'past' on his own. With a flourish, Albus signed his name and banished the letter to appear on Severus's desk.

Albus leaned back and put his legs on his desk, secure in the knowledge that Minerva was halfway across the castle teaching the third year Ravenclaw's and Hufflepuff's, and thus unable to scold him for his childish behavior.

As he reclined in his chair, he reflected on the crucial nature of Snape's success. Despite what he'd like Severus to believe, getting an accurate assessment of Harry's character was not the primary objective for Severus's time undercover. To be completely honest, and Dumbledore could be in the sanctity of his own mind, it wasn't even an objective at all. Harry has always been far too mature for his age, and he could have, and probably should have, told Harry about most of the things that he needed to know years ago.

The fact remained that Albus had told him nothing, however, and it was giving him an excellent fa├žade for the real reason Severus was being sent undercover. And, Dumbledore supposed, at the end of the whole thing he could, and should, start divulging some of that information to Harry.

But beyond that, Albus had a growing conviction that the animosity Severus persisted in holding to Harry was unnecessarily hindering the war effort. Were they on better terms, the events that lead to the demise of Harry's godfather may have been prevented. So, to end the animosity, Albus concluded that forcing Severus to get to know Harry was vital, and that having Severus go undercover as a new Gryffindor was the way to go about it. Albus congratulated himself on a plan well plotted with yet another lemon drop.

.

It was time. Severus was once again in Dumbledore's office, glaring at the potion vial that he was soon to drink. This whole affair was utterly ridiculous, and Severus half expected to wake up any moment now. To be completely honest, he desperately hoped he would wake up.

In less than an hour, Minerva would be introducing him to the denizens of Gryffindor Tower as their newest housemate, Alfonse Hopkirk. Thankfully, Dumbledore left much of the details of his past up to him, Severus shuddered to think what Dumbledore would have come up with on his own.

Really, the name was bad enough as it was.

"You know glaring at that potion won't make this situation disappear." Dumbledore said with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.

Severus shifted his glare from the potion vial to Dumbledore's face, and said "No, but it is the conduit of your asinine plan."

"Really, Severus," Dumbledore said, "It's not that odious of a task, nor should it take you too long. You should be taking the antidote, and returning to your usual form, well before winter break."

"Winter Break? As in three months from now? You can't possibly believe it will take me that long to befriend the Potter boy and assess his character?" Severus said incredulously.

"Now, now Severus, it's unlikely that you'll get any deeper understanding of Harry's character in less time than that."

Severus hated to admit it, but he rather suspected that Dumbledore was right about that. He had, however unwillingly, observed that Potter did tend to keep to himself, with the obvious exceptions of the youngest Weasley boy and Granger.

Dumbledore gestured to the potion vial that Severus still, somewhat unwittingly, clutched with a tighter grip than absolutely necessary, "Why don't you go ahead and drink that so Minerva can introduce you to the Gryffindor's, and you can get back to your last night in your quarters?"

Severus grimaced at this reminder that he would not have access to his quarters but did as Dumbledore suggested.

He knew damn well that what Dumbledore wanted, Dumbledore got. Especially at this late stage of the operation. And he really did want to get back to his quarters. He ran over the list of reasons he couldn't visit his quarters during the operation in his head to prevent arguing with Dumbledore- he would look petulant if he tried it, and he definitely did not want that.

At first nothing appeared to happen, and Dumbledore opened his mouth, perhaps to speculate about what had gone wrong, when there was a bright white flash.

After all the spots were gone from everyone's vision, Severus was gone, and in his place stood Alfonse Hopkirk.

"Well, the books certainly didn't warn me of that," Dumbledore said brightly as he conjured a mirror for Severus.

Severus took a steadying breath before examining himself. Alfonse was shorter than Severus had been, but then, Severus had been extraordinarily tall, so Alfonse was still quite tall. Where long, dark, greasy hair had hung about a long face and even longer nose, there was now spiky blonde hair that was refusing to stay flat even as Severus pushed it down. His nose was no longer the crooked monstrosity that others had described it as in their taunts, but was instead short and rather stubby. Light brown eyes sat underneath thick, untamed eyebrows that arched elegantly and clashed peculiarly with his stubby nose and completely ordinary mouth.

"I look ridiculous," Severus said.

"You look fine, dear boy, and in any case, it'll only be a couple weeks, just avoid mirrors for that long! You won't even start anymore vampire rumors since you won't be you!"

Severus held very still to suppress any reaction to the terrible joke, and in doing so noticed how different his body felt. To distract himself from the uncomfortable feeling, he drifted off to think about the potion that brought him into this position.

A side effect of the antiquated potion to cure warts that Dumbledore had found in an obscure book by an obscure author was that it would allow the drinker to take on a different appearance for any period time of time, until the antidote was consumed, but the appearance seemed to be completely up to the whims of magic Herself. The age and gender could be determined by subtle adjustments to the recipes, but even at the peak of the potion's use, nobody had found any way to change the appearance- though none of the appearances ever had any warts for obvious reasons.

Then the potion began to be used almost exclusively by the seedier elements of the world at around the same time a side-effect free version was developed, and its use was outlawed. The potion was subsequently forgotten by most. So, Dumbledore dug up the recipe, and Severus brewed it.

Thinking of it now, Severus had to wonder if this hare-brained plan hadn't been conceived of as a result of Dumbledore finding the recipe. After all, it would have been incredibly difficult to find if he had simply been looking for it, rather than if he had stumbled across it accidentally. Then again, maybe he was just that old.

Bringing his mind back to the present now that he felt more settled, Severus noticed that his trademark robes hung loosely off his shoulders, making him look younger than he was supposed to. He held his arm out in front of him and inspected the increased amount of fabric hanging down and covering his hand.

If he had had less experience with hiding his emotions, he'd probably have sworn angrily or at least sighed resignedly at the sight of his robes. However, Severus did have extensive experience with hiding his emotions, and however much he may have wanted to give in to those urges, the only indicator of the anger and resignation he felt was an additional glint to his now light brown eyes. He again waved his wand and resized his robes to the proper size.

Dumbledore clucked disapprovingly and waved his own wand. Severus's robes were now the Hogwarts uniform, complete with Gryffindor crest and tie. A brief shadow flitted across Severus's face, too fast for the casual observer to notice, indicating his anger at the change forced upon him.

"Well that certainly worked. You look almost nothing like yourself, Alfonse." Dumbledore said.

Severus began, a little incredulously "Of course it worked! I made it after all," he continued now a little annoyed, "and why are you calling me Alfonse? I may have to go by that ridiculous pseudonym for your little charade, but my name is still Severus."

"For you to be most successful at adopting your new identity, a complete immersion is necessary. That includes being called Alfonse by everyone, including myself, until your mission is over." Dumbledore explained.

"I suppose I have no choice in this." Severus said bitterly.

"It really is for the best." Dumbledore said, the twinkle in his eye undiminished.

"And, I suppose I must now alter all my clothing for this hare-brained scheme of yours, then, Professor?" Severus said, with particular emphasis on professor.

"Of course not, my dear boy! I've purchased all the supplies you will need to succeed for the duration of your mission." Dumbledore smiled benignly and continued, "Now why don't you and Minerva head over to Gryffindor Tower and get introductions out of the way before you lock yourself in your quarters for the night."

"Right. Come along Sev-Mr. Hopkirk." Minerva said briskly, turning to walk out of Albus's office.

Severus paused, staring blankly at the wall for a moment, before turning to follow Minerva. Or rather Professor McGonagall he mentally corrected himself, because he knew, even if he didn't want to admit it, that Dumbledore was right about immersion.

.

Minerva strode with purpose down the corridor leading to the Gryffindor Common room, her colleague turned student trailing behind her. They had started out in line with each other, but after several unfortunate incidences of Severus- Alfonse- Mr. Hopkirk- whatever- tripping over legs that were the wrong length, Mr. Hopkirk began walking behind her.

When Minerva tried to pause long enough for him to catch up to her, he slowed down enough to allow her to take the lead again. Minerva supposed that he was simply embarrassed to be suddenly incapable of something as simple as walking without tripping and allowed the distance to remain.

Before too long, they arrived at the portrait of the Fat Lady. The Fat Lady had been disappointedly inspecting the completely, and stubbornly, intact wineglass that she had been attempting to shatter with her voice, but when she caught sight of Minerva leading an unknown student down her hallway, she immediately perked up.

The Fat Lady opened her mouth, but before she could get any words out, Minerva cut her off with the password "Salve".

She simply did not have the time or patience to explain the situation to the portrait that could simply get the gossip from one of the students trying to curry favor after getting in after curfew.

As Minerva entered through the portrait hole, she brushed off any guilt that she may have felt at being so brusque with the portrait. She was, after all, in quite a hurry, and in no mood to stand around gossiping.

Mr. Hopkirk was still trailing behind her as they crossed the common room, comfortingly decorated in reds and golds and packed with students all dressed in the same, to stand in front of the merrily dancing fire.

The volume level in the common room had been nearly deafening when Minerva had first entered the room, but by the time she turned to face the common room, Mr. Hopkirk off to her side, it was nearly silent.

She had a quick recollection of the first time she came into the common room as Head of House. Almost nobody had stopped talking, and the noise level had seemed to crescendo. It had taken years before her reputation was substantial enough to produce the effect that she now enjoyed.

Minerva raised her hand, silencing the remainder of the students who had been talking, and began to speak.

"I have a quick announcement that is no less important for its brevity. There is a new student," here she gestured to the man turned boy standing to her side and continued, "named Alfonse Hopkirk. He transferred here from the United States and will be joining our sixth years in their dormitory tomorrow. Any other questions should be directed at Alfonse himself tomorrow. For tonight, your curiosity will have to keep." Minerva concluded.

The common room erupted into noise, and Minerva grimly ushered Alfonse out of the room. Really, she should have known better than to bring him all the way into the room for the announcement.

She wasn't sure she agreed with Albus's decision to announce Alfonse the night before he joined the general population. He said it would allow the students to get used to the idea without harassing Alfonse, but it would probably make things worse the next morning.

They hurried through the portrait hole. About halfway down the corridor, Minerva turned into an empty classroom, gesturing behind her for Sev-Mr. Hopkirk to follow.

As soon as he closed the door behind him, Minerva set a variety of privacy wards, not trusting her lions in the slightest despite the departure of the twins Weasley. She thanked anyone who might be listening for that small blessing, as she always did when she remembered that the twins were now gone for good.

"Alright Mr. Hopkirk, that went decently well. My lions will be inclined to be friendly, at least until the mystery surrounding you is resolved. Their continued friendliness is dependent on your response to them." Minerva said sternly and not very hopeful that he would even attempt to be friendly back.

She looked him up and down. The transfiguration Dumbledore applied to Alfonse's robes was wearing off, and they were beginning to look like Severus's trademark black robes again.

Mr. Hopkirk saw Minerva inspecting him and looked down to examine himself. He obviously saw the state of his robes, smoothed them down as if trying to remove lint that was not there, and said "I suppose that this is my cue to head back to my quarters and inspect the supplies Albus has provided." He looked longingly over his shoulder at the door.

It was quite clear to Minerva that the poor boy just wanted to be alone and gestured for him to precede her in exiting the empty classroom. As Mr. Hopkirk went right towards the dungeons, and Minerva went left towards her quarters, she mused that this would be quite the semester, and it was only the first Friday of classes.

.

AN: so just to be clear, this is not a snarry fic. anyways, please leave a review! barring something unexpected, updates will be sundays or mondays, and get ready for quite the ride y'all