This is another '5th year story'. I have gone a little by the rumors of the next book, but this is not an attempt to get as close to the book as I can get. I have tried to make it canon for as far as the first four books are concerned, although even that is difficult since (as all dedicated HP fans know : ) there are some inconsistencies between the books/movies and the books/interviews, as to the number of students at Hogwarts (numbers in the classes don't match up with the numbers JK Rowling named in interviews), doing magic outside school (Hermione repairing Harry's glasses in Diagon Alley), etc. Since this is their fifth year one of the things that bugged me most was that we still don't know the absolute number of Prefects chosen each year, but I went with two per house per year, if anyone cares I will tell you how I arrived at that figure.

I'm trying to finish it before June 21st but work is crazy and I don't know if I will make it! Don't worry, if not I'll still finish it as an AU story.

This is the sequel to 'Summer with –Oh no, not you!" which you'll probably have to read first or you'll be a little confused as to Harry's and Snape's behavior. No slash, and no Severitus, nothing really extreme, but it'll still make more sense.

Spoilers: all 4 books, some 5th book rumors.

Category: General/Adventure. Covers the entire year with some angst, some humour, some adventure and just about anything else.

Rating: PG/PG-13'ish for an occasional cuss word. No sex, no torture. It's a little darker than I'd planned on, what with the war preparations and all.

Ships: Nothing major, still a bit too early for my favorite pairing (HG/SS). Some HP/GW may start to develop but nothing major yet at this point! Any folks who think I'm a prude, fine, deal with it and be patient. Or, of course, you could check out some of my other stories which take place after school.: )

Disclaimer: I don't own them. JK Rowling does. I only play with them!

1. Arrival and the Sorting.

Harry scanned the long line of wagons and soon spotted Ron and Hermione. He rushed over excitedly. Some other students gave him strange looks, or called out to him asking how come he was here already, but he ignored them for now. He slapped Ron on the back, Hermione hugged him, and he was almost pushed over when Fred and George also joined in.

"It's great to see you, Harry!" Hermione said.

Ginny gave him a hug too, then blushed and quickly drew back among her brothers. She'd grown taller and cut her hair a little shorter, just below shoulder length. It looked good on her.

"Yeah, Draco was hoping you had missed the train, we just kept laughing and wouldn't tell him, drove him nuts," Ron told him.

"I'm sorry I missed that," Harry laughed.

"There he is now," George said, pointing. "Hey, Draco!"

Draco turned to look who was calling and blinked when he saw who George was pointing at. Harry waved, grinning, and Draco turned back quickly, striding off towards the carriages.

"Come on, let's get a carriage before they're all full," Fred urged them on. Not that such a thing ever happened, there was enough room for everyone, but they started that way anyhow.

Hagrid walked the length of the platform, calling for the first-years in his booming voice, raising his hand in greeting to the Weasleys and Hermione. He paused briefly as they passed him.

"Congratulations, Hermione, I see you made Prefect as well," he said, looking at her badge.

"Yes, thank you," Hermione said. Then she grinned and turned to Harry as Hagrid hurried on. "I thought I wasn't going to be chosen, Percy was owled at the start of summer."

Harry grinned back. Of course, he'd thought the same thing, but he'd also got himself in a lot more trouble, the previous years.

"You must have known you'd be Prefect," he said. "If you weren't, no one would be."

Hermione blushed, especially when the others all loudly agreed.

They found a carriage and settled in. Neville jumped in at the last moment.

"How come you're here, did you really spend all summer with Snape?" he asked, wide-eyed.

Of course, Ron and Hermione would've told some of their friends. Harry grinned again. It would be the ultimate nightmare for Neville, that much was certain.

"I lived," he quipped. "Barely."

Neville took the bait and started, and Harry burst out laughing. Especially when he noticed Ron was looking rather nervous as well.

"Oh, really, Snape isn't going to kill anyone," Hermione said, rolling her eyes. "How'd it really go?"

"It wasn't too bad," Harry said. He did not think he could explain, or that Ron and Neville would believe him if he did. Hermione might, but it'd take too long for the short ride to the castle. So he skirted the subject. "I should thank my uncle, I've been doing magic all the time and I've been able to fly every day."

"Did he really try to kill you?" Neville asked.

Harry shrugged. He honestly didn't know the answer, what would have happened if he hadn't been able to run. "I don't know, he just snapped. I'm glad I got out when I did. I'll tell everything after the sorting, or I'll be telling it a dozen times."

He could see Ron and Neville look a little disappointed, but Hermione nodded. "We're almost there anyhow," she said, looking out the tiny window of the carriage. Crookshanks meowed as in agreement.

-0-

Professor Snape watched as the students entered. Regardless of the trouble with Voldemort, there were as many new students as any other year. And almost all of last year's students had come back. Only one Muggle-born girl from Hufflepuff would not be returning, her parents had left the country and she had transferred to Beauxbatons.

Snape had been surprised to learn Draco was returning to Hogwarts. Lucius Malfoy was quite aware that he and Dumbledore knew him for a Death Eater, one of Voldemort's inner circle. And Lucius now knew without doubt that Snape had been a spy. Regardless, Draco was stepping down from one of the carriages, followed by those two goons of his, as if nothing had happened.

Snape looked at his favorite pupil and he wondered if Draco was lost to the Dark Lord already. He had favored the boy because of his father, at first. Lucius was high among the Death Eaters, as well as rich and powerful in the Wizarding world as a whole, and it had seemed prudent to remain on his good side. But over the years he had come to like Draco. He was a decent student, a little spoiled but no more than one could expect from someone who grew up as a Malfoy, and was not afraid to do what was needed to get it his way. A real Slytherin, unlike some of the others who merely followed the easiest road to success and who were too lazy or too stupid to ever reach anything much.

No, Snape did not know if he could trust Draco. Few students would know about him, even those who came from Death Eater families. Most parents kept their children from getting involved until they were older. But the Malfoys weren't like most people, and Snape didn't doubt that Draco would know he was exposed as a spy. Would he still be able to reach him, and prevent him from joining Voldemort as soon as he finished school, or had Draco returned only to spy in turn? There was no way to be sure. But he'd had to make him a Prefect. He was the best student of his year, and passing him over was not an option. Snape might as well deliver him to the Dark Lord himself.

Draco and his friends had reached the door and walked in.

"Professor," Draco greeted politely. His voice was as smooth as ever. Snape followed him with his dark eyes as the boy walked into the Great Hall, all but ignoring the greetings the other Slytherins gave him. Then he, too, walked into the Great Hall and took his place at the staff table.

Scowling, he watched the rest of the students enter. Most went directly to their own tables but a few would briefly stop by a friend from one of the other houses before sitting down. Few of the Slytherins would do so, of course, they mostly kept to themselves.

The noise level went up noticeably as a group of Gryffindors came in. The Weasleys were in the center of the group, as always. And, Snape sighed, Harry. Potter. He wondered if the boy would get into trouble again now he was among his trouble-making friends once more. Probably. Oh well.

Finally, the students all made their way to their own seats and the noise slowly went down. Minerva came in, leading the first-years. She put a small stool down and put the Sorting Hat on top of it. Moments later, the hat started to sing its song.

"You may think I look ratty,

you may think I'm old,

But I can tell you many tales

no one has ever told.

I am the Hogwarts Sorting Hat,

The smartest hat around.

There is no secret in your head

So deep it can't be found.

Even so, don't be afraid,

I will not do you wrong.

I'll only use what is display'd

To tell where you belong.

The Gryffindors are known to be

The bravest of them all.

Facing anything they see

Proudly standing tall.

The Ravenclaws would rather use

Their mind to make things right,

They feel that they can never lose

With knowledge on their side

Slytherins value their ambition,

Power, cunning and might,

They believe with certainty

It'll see them through any plight.

The Hufflepuffs then, at last,

Believe in working hard

With patience and endurance

They finish what they start.

Now put me on without delay

Just like all the rest,

I'll read your mind and I'll say

Which house will fit you best

It really was a different song every year. Why it bothered, Snape didn't know; the students weren't here for more than seven years. Only the staff got to hear more versions, and he, for one, didn't really care if the Hat used the same song or not.

The actual sorting, now, that was different. He watched all the first-years, already trying to determine which ones would be timid and which ones would be likely to get into trouble. And, of course, he would see which students were placed in his own house. Some he knew; the youngest Nott boy was sure to be a Slytherin, and Pansy's little sister. Not all siblings were placed in the same house, but the Parkinsons were an old pureblood family and none had been sorted into another house, ever.

Snape allowed himself a hint of a smile as the very first student, 'Aster, Janey!', was assigned to Slytherin. She neither seemed overtly nervous about being the first to be sorted, nor too bold. And not from a Death Eater family, either.

The next three first-years were sorted into Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. Then came 'Donner, Lana!', and the Hat shouted "Slytherin!"

Another family that didn't support Voldemort, at least not openly. Interesting.

'Drayden, Arnold!' became the first Gryffindor. Snape frowned as he noticed the boy's broad grin. No doubt he'd find that one breaking the rules sooner rather than later. His frown darkened as the Gryffindor table exploded in applause, the loudest as usual.

The Sorting carried on. Another Gryffindor, then a Hufflepuff, and three in a row for Ravenclaw. The next student was a Gryffindor again, then 'Holdings, Ray!' and 'Indigo, Shana!' were sorted into Slytherin. The Holdings family was another old, Pureblood family, strongly biased against Muggles but not Death Eaters. The girl looked rather timid for his house, but usually the Hat knew what it was doing. He would keep an eye on her to make sure she settled in. And to try and make sure the kids from Death Eater's families wouldn't get too much of an influence on her.

The next Slytherin was 'MacAlley, Taniya!'. Snape didn't know much about the families alliances, but the Hat took only seconds to decide and she seemed quite satisfied with its decision. And instead of clustering with the other new students, she took a seat next to one of the sixth-year Prefects. Now there was someone he'd keep an eye on.

A Ravenclaw and another Gryffindor came next, then 'Moore, Torin!' for his house. Snape didn't know the family and the boy seemed very quiet. Then 'Morton, Alyssa!' was sorted into Hufflepuff, and then it was the turn of the Nott boy. No surprise, he was indeed sorted into Slytherin, as was Nikka Parkinson.

The noise level was steadily increasing as the returning students chatted with the first-years who were sorted already and had taken their places at the tables. Snape scowled at the Gryffindor table, the source of the largest volume ever since their first new student had been selected.

'Seaver, Neysa!'

Snape turned back to look at the first-years and his scowl deepened. Seaver was Minerva's maiden name, and this girl was a remote relation of hers. He'd known she was coming, of course. The last weeks he'd had access to all student's files, and in Minerva's absence he'd sent out the letters to new and returning students alike. But he hadn't changed his opinion since he first found out; he wasn't happy about the prospect of teaching any family member of Minerva's. She bugged him bad enough when he took points from any of her Gryffindors, any time he'd have to take points from Miss Seaver would no doubt lead to another one of those discussions. As if it was his fault that damn reckless 'bravery' of her students got them into trouble all the time.

"Gryffindor!" the Hat shouted. Of course. Applause broke out, at the Gryffindor table and even from several of the staff. Now who was playing favourites?

A Ravenclaw, a Hufflepuff, and another Ravenclaw followed Miss Seaver, then two more boys were sorted into Slytherin. Both looked quite bold, and their families were, like the Holdings, strongly anti-Muggle. They'd likely get into trouble with the Gryffindors. Not that Snape minded that much, but he'd still have to make sure it didn't get out of hand. He always did; it was just that some of the staff had a different opinion on what constituted 'getting out of hand'.

There were four more students, but no more Slytherins. The last, 'Yule, Maisie', went to Gryffindor. Snape waited impatiently as the girl walked to her seat. Minerva took the Sorting Hat and the stool, taking them away. Then Albus stood up, and the noise finally died down, even at the Gryffindor table.

"Welcome, everyone. I will have some notices after dinner, but first…," the Headmaster paused dramatically. "Let there be FOOD!"

Exactly on cue, the food appeared on the plates, and the students roared in approval and, in case of many of the first-years, astonishment. Snape sighed. Of course the food appeared on the plates at exactly the right moment, it always did. Trust Albus to turn it into a Muggle magician's trick. At least the food was excellent, as always. He picked up his knife and fork and started to eat.

Much too soon, Minerva returned and took her seat next to him. Thankfully Arabella Figg, on his other side, had the good sense not to start a conversation with him.

Minerva did try to talk to him –won't she ever give up? As usual, when it wasn't extremely important school business that required actual conversation, he replied with a few nods and grunts and left the talking to her. He was glad when desert was served, and even more so when the meal was over.

Dumbledore stood up again and soon had the attention of all the students.

"Now that we've all eaten, as I mentioned before, I have some announcements to make. First, I'd like to introduce the new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Figg."

Snape glowered as the students and most of the staff applauded. His black eyes darted to the Gryffindor table, and he got a small bit of satisfaction out of noticing Potter clapped politely but rather unenthusiastically, then leaned over to speak to the Weasley boy. And if he wasn't mistaken, Minerva wasn't clapping quite as loud as she usually did. Well, he didn't like her but she, at least, had some sense. When she chose to use it, that was.

"For all the new students and as a reminder to those returning, the Forbidden Forest is, guess what, forbidden. That goes for everyone, no exceptions. It's also forbidden to use magic in the corridors between classes, and any gag items that create a mess are probably on the extensive list of forbidden objects of Mr Filch, the caretaker. I will spare you reciting the entire thing, since I suppose some of you do want to get some sleep before classes start tomorrow morning," Albus paused to wait for the laughter to die down, "but the entire list can be viewed in Mr Filch's office."

"There are several openings in the various Quidditch teams, anyone second year and up who is interested, see Madam Hooch," the Headmaster continued. "And last but not least, I must speak to you of a more serious topic."

The students who had started to murmur about the Headmaster's earlier remarks became quiet again.

"Although the Ministry of Magic still tries to deny that Voldemort has actually returned, and makes it believe the latest incidents have all been caused by Death Eaters acting without their old leader, all the returning students already know that Voldemort is, indeed, back, and trying to regain his strength. In the light of this, it is my duty to prepare each and every one of you for whatever may come. While a good part of the original curriculum will remain in tact, all classes will from now on pay special attention to various methods of defense. Students in all grades will learn basic offensive and defensive spells, the duelling club will be resurrected and students are encouraged to take part in it. And finally, any of those students fifth year and up who wish to learn and are judged capable by Professor Flitwick will start Apparating lessons. Fourth year students whose families are specifically targeted may also apply."

If the students had been deadly silent when Albus spoke Voldemort's name, now they started to talk among themselves, excitingly. The Ministry did not allow any underage wizards to Apparate, of course, but Snape fully agreed with the Headmaster's decision to break this particular rule. An age limit was always a rather arbitrary thing. Most of the fifth year students would be able to learn, if they paid attention for once, and a number of others would always be a danger to themselves no matter how old they were. Longbottom certainly would not be allowed to take these lessons, that much was sure. And for the rest, well, they could be facing worse dangers. Voldemort, for one.

"Time for bed, everybody. Th-th-that's all, folks!" Albus called out over the hubbub, squeaking the last few words in a funny, high voice, and for some reason a good number of the students across the hall burst out in laughter. Snape kept his face carefully blank as he stood, but inwardly he sighed, exasperated. The weird, stuttering voice wasn't that funny. At least for once, he wasn't the only one not to catch the joke, even the Weasleys were shrugging and giving Harry strange looks. With a swirl of his robes, he left the Great Hall.