Disclaimer: Credit to JKR, slash implied, mild language, English is not my native language and this is unbeta'd.
I am under no obligate to respond to flames though I will roll my eyes and occasional make an obscene gesture. Thank You.
The great hall of Hogwarts castle was loud with cheer and excitement as the 7th year students lined up with their housemates. The heads of house were walking up and down the aisle ushering the students into manageable lines, though as soon as their backs were turned the students gathered back into circles with friends and year mates.
Harry Potter watched intently as the group of Ravenclaws were called first to take part in one of Hogwarts most ancient traditions. The class Cloak.
The wizardry version of the class ring. Each student was to stand within the arms of the ancient Cloak Rack, with it's clawed feet and wings of eagle arms. The body of a serpent twisted around the lean stem of the rack, the head of lions and badgers punctured the spindles on top.
The rack was a wash of each house color. It was large and ornate, as were many old traditional items in the wizard world. But once you stepped within the arms, once it read your magic… A special Cloak was produced. Unique only to you and your magic.
Most cloaks that were produced came baring the house colors of the graduating student and like a traditional class ring it would tell you the events and interests you, the student, had participated in throughout your school career, such as Quidditch, charms club or Head boy or girl.
But the cloak had its secrets as well or so most people thought, though if one took time to read Hogwarts, a History, all secrets would be revealed.
You see, along with the symbols of your past were secrets of your future. Secrets of what could be… should be, for everyone has a choice and no choice was set in stone or fabric for that matter.
And so Harry Potter watched as Ravenclaw after Ravenclaw was called forward, standing within the embrace of the wing cloak rack. As waves of energy radiated off the rack, as cracks of magic streaked across the room and with a slight hiss a Cloak, tailored made for that one person was produced.
Each student received their cloak with a slight bow to their head of house and to the headmaster and then hurried away without a backward glance toward the tables along one wall where heaps of books and old looking scrolls were sorted to assist you with a means of deciphering your cloak symbols.
Madam Pince stood among the students as they excitedly showed their friends and classmates what their future held.
Several robes had strange symbols the meaning of which the students could not find, others had simple hieroglyphics on their robes, others had simpler everyday items such as a broom or cauldron.
"Gryffindor," McGonagall called, beckoning them forward as the Ravenclaws finished up, "Ron Weasley, you're up first…come now hurry along."
Harry started as Ron was called he hadn't even realized that Gryffindor's were up next. He grimaced and fidgeted something awful. He didn't like this…didn't like this at all and would have given anything in the world to be anyplace else right that very minute.
Ron slowly inched forward surveying the rack wearily.
Hermione rocked on the balls of her feet excitedly next to Harry and Neville. Harry knew she was itching to rush forward and take her turn.
Harry himself was not in a rush. It reminded him of the sorting hat and the slight turmoil that came with that. The hat in his mind forcing him to decide houses and loyalties and his future. He did not like this at all, he turned and looked toward the entrance hall doors wondering what would happen if made a dash for it.
Ron stepped forward into the arms of the wooden cloak rack. Dumbledore tapped it with his wand and the large winged arms of the rack swept around Ron yet not touching him. He saw Ron stiffen and close his eyes. The air crackled with magic and with a loud hiss the Cloak rack snapped back into place and a formal wizard's robe appeared, hanging on the tip of one winged arm. The robe was primarily red, a row of small stars lined the collar and another grouping of stars were splattered on the elbows. Chess pieces decorated the bottom rim of the robe with tangles of devil snares streaking up the front.
Harry watched Ron pull the robe from the rack and take his bow. He quickly moved along joining the Ravenclaws who were now consulting a large circular chart. Harry snorted at how relieved Ron looked.
"Longbottom," McGonagall called randomly.
Neville rocketed forward. Nearly stumbling over the rack and colliding with Dumbledore who just smiled jovially at him.
Neville settled within the arms of the rack, he also shut his eyes. Dumbledore waved his wand and the arms moved to engulf him. Harry turned away, this all was making him increasingly nervous and a little nauseous, at least the cloak rack wasn't going to shout out his future like the sorting Hat had done.
He looked down the line, Sprout was fussing with several of the Hufflepuff's. The Slytherins were at the end of the line. They stood in small groups chatting casually with one another. Harry had a suspicion that they were mocking the cloaks of the other students. Snape was standing with them along the wall with his arms crossed over his chest watching the clouds move above on the enchanted ceiling with a sneer of disgust on his face.
"Potter ... Potter… Harry," McGonagall called shrilly, motioning him forward. Harry watched Neville run over to the other students that had already received their class Cloaks. He moved forward apprehensively. Catching Malfoy's eye, the blond smirked at him, who in return nudged Goyle who pointed and laughed.
As Harry neared the rack he could feel the ancient crackle of energy, a whisper rose out of the Spanish red pine, speaking to him, calling him forward. A loud deafening pounding in his ears silenced all noise from the surrounding students as he stepped within its arms waiting for Dumbledore to tap it into movement. He could feel a wind that didn't move beyond this moment sweep over him. Echoes of those who had come before him whispered in his ear and ruffled his hair.
Voices within held secrets though he couldn't catch what they were saying. They were talking about him. He had a sneaking suspicion they were trying to decided which marks to put on his cloak.
Harry felt this was very personal thing to be going about in front of all the other students, he would have preferred to do this in private or not at all.
He could smell the pine, the life in the old cloak rack. The winged arms held him tighter, he understood suddenly why every one of his classmates had shut their eyes. It was a powerful feeling, a powerful force of energy. The strength of magic was overwhelming and made him feel dizzy.
And then just as sudden it was over. A loud pop echoed around the room, startled Harry opened his eyes to find the arms were back in place, he turned automatically to take his new Cloak.
But as he reached up for it, Dumbledore's hand caught his. Smiling, the twinkle of blue eyes gleamed in the darkening great hall. Dumbledore swept the cloak from one of the arms and shook it out. Harry saw for the first time the rich tones of the silky material. The folds of the old yet new fabric.
A fury of red and gold stars emitted from it. Gold stars danced around the collar and a spatter on each elbow just like Ron's. Dark silver clasps circled in the middle to hold the red cloak closed. Snakes intertwined around the clasps and slid toward the hem of the robe, twisted around a cauldron and wand at the base of the robe, as the snakes crawled along the hem of the robe they gave way to devils snare. The wild plant also was along the hem of the sleeves. Settled in the back of the cloak was a deep red circle very small in size with several symbols inside, a map, a black dog, a cross, a skull, a broom, cauldron and open book with a heart in the center with a crown on top. Each symbol was the same color of deep red but if looked at from the side gave a look of shimmering dark green almost black.
The room went silent as Dumbledore swirled the cloak open and onto Harry's shoulders.
A gasp from the left then a muttered damn echoed across the hall. Harry's eyes nervously shot toward that side of the room.
Snape had pushed himself off the wall and was now standing very rigidly with his fist clenched at his side. Glaring at Dumbledore as if all that was about to come was his fault. Snape raised his wand arm shooting a stream of green stars into the air. With out a glance to Harry Potter he lowered his arm.
A rushing noise suddenly coursed through the school and then there was a sudden ruckus at the door as if something was knocking at them down to get in. A flurry of light spread beneath the door, the light pressed upon the door, growing brighter and stronger…until the doors shot open allowing entrance. As they did this a black cloak with dark green symbols shot across the room toward Snape.
The potion master shot out his hand automatically to grab the cloak in midair. Snape stared at his own class cloak for a moment as if making up his mind about something. It was nearly twenty nears old. It had been years since he had worn it, there weren't many occasions to wear it. It was primary ceremonial, besides the odd wedding/bonding, a naming ceremony here and there…besides that it hung in the back of his closet, with out a thought.
Harry watched Snape shake the cloak out and slide it on with a swirl of fabric.
The fabric moved and glided just as his every day robes did, the material seemed to glow for just a moment.
Harry's eyes didn't move from the man. From what he could see of the robes the front mirrored his to the letter only a slight difference in color.
Suddenly most of the Slytherins dropped to one knee with their head bowed. All the Ravenclaws in clear shock also dropped to their knees, as did most of the Hufflepuff's who simply looked confused.
The Gryffindor's hesitated but Seamus and Neville both knelt, Ron looked in shock as well and dropped to one knee the others simply followed suit.
McGonagall moved to assist Dumbledore as he knelt. Everyone was kneeling except Snape, who was staring at him strangely.
Harry felt nervous and desperately wanted everyone to rise to their feet, he tried desperately to think if there was a magic word he could mutter so every one would do so.
Harry looked around franticly. No one looked at them. Every head was bowed.
Harry could see that Snape was visibly grinding his teeth. The man quickly bowed his head once as if the movement pained him. Harry looked around, "return the bow Harry" Dumbledore muttered. Harry looked at him kneeling and then back to Snape and nodded.
The students began to rise as did the professors and headmaster. "Granger, Hermione" McGonagall called, "move it along Potter."
Harry numbly walked toward Ron, he didn't know what the hell had just happened. He pulled the cloak tighter around himself the warm sensation of the cloak covered him, he could feel the power of the cloaks magic. It's energy pulsating around him.
Ron was watching Harry wearily as he neared, "What's going on?" He wanted to pull the cloak from his shoulders, he was the only student wearing his cloak. Every one else had theirs spread out on the tables and were busy deciphering the symbols.
Ron's mouth twitch nervously. He looked at a loss and didn't know what to say. Hermione came up behind them carrying her new wizards cloak. "It's your cloak," she said simply picking up one of the charts a Ravenclaw had set aside. She began to point to different symbols. Each of which appeared on his cloak.
"The combination of these symbols along with the color of red and greens as you symbols colors, shows your courage, loyalty, nobleness, need to succeed… parseltongue." She trailed off, "all characteristic of both Slytherin and Gryffindor."
Harry jerked, trying to stop the shiver that ran down his back. He was both houses. He had never told Ron and Hermione that he was almost sorted into Slytherin. Only Dumbledore and he knew that and he had every intention of keeping that story to himself.
"What was that about Snape?"
Hermione hesitated, "…he has to accept that you're…that you are part of his house…your binding of his house, if you will." She flushed.
Harry narrowed his eyes, "what do you mean my binding."
Several Ravenclaw's hissed and moved away from them at the level of noise Harry was making.
Hermione looked down at her feet.
Ron sucked in a large gulp of air with a hiccup, comprehending what Hermione was talking about. He looked up at Harry wide-eyed. "Oh," he whispered. Then suddenly looked every place that wasn't Harry.
Harry could feel his face turning red with anger, maintaining his temper had been a problem ever since his 5th year and while he had tried not to yell at his friends he hadn't always succeeded and he felt very much that this would be one of those moments.
Hermione looked back up at him. "It means he has the same symbols on his cloak but in green and red. You're…" she nudged a crack in the stone floor with the toe of her shoe. "He would do well as your mate." She whispered.
Harry stood silent for a moment. His mind was blank. He heard the words but yet some how didn't understand the words.
"Explain it again." He choked.
"Well back in the founding of the school, Helga Hufflepuff…"
"The short version Hermione." His voice hoarsefeeling the panic rising in his voice, this had been the tightening in his chest from earlier.
"Right, well. Back when, if cloaks matched couples were to be married. They, as a couple, would run the school or Ministry, which ever they choose. Traditionally someone Snape's age is usually married by now. So of course many wizard and witches married while waiting for their cloaks to find the match. Purebloods hold it in high regards, It's an old tradition mind you. It's just the cloak racks way of saying you two would fit well together. That your magic compliments each other…that you could do great things together but you are held under no obligation to marry him." she finished up quickly, as Harry's face turned red.
Harry looked over at Snape. The potion master's eyes met his, Harry had a suspicion that Snape had been watching him ever since the Cloak rack.
"Snape putting his cloak on means he is willing to accept such…proposals…" Hermione continued
"What proposals… I didn't put my cloak on Dumbledore did it for me… I didn't know any of this…"
"No… it was rather sly of Dumbledore… I'm sure he knew what he was doing?" Hermione trailed off.
"What if I say no? Does anything bad happen?"
"Oh, no…nothing. But if you say yes, you together as a team run Hogwarts or the Ministry of Magic and your power, your magic is suppose to double, intensify… together you would be the most powerful wizard couple since the last… in 1852. Dumbledore and his wife... Anna," Hermione recited.
The Hufflepuff's were now entering the winged arms of the cloak rack. McGonagall duty was done and she was headed toward them, "Potter, Dumbledore wants to see you in his office after dinner." She nodded at him, her stern face said nothing of his future meeting. She turned as Harry nodded heading toward the opposite side of the hall. Harry watched her as she spoke briefly to Snape.
Harry watched him nod and look at Harry again. Snape's face was solid as stone showing no emotion.