Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or YYH, nor anything affiliated with them.

Chapter Nine

It was a good while later that Kurama looked up from the "Hogwarts, A History" text that Boot had lent him. There was the sound of something rattling down the corridor outside of their room.

Boot started digging though his pockets at that and Kurama could hear the jiggling of coins as Boot quickly withdrew a coin pouch.

"What is that?" he asked, referring to the sound outside their door.

"The trolley!" Boot seemed pleased, "I was wondering if it would come any time soon!"


"Yeah, you can buy sweets and snacks from her. I`m gonna stock up now." He frowned, "I forgot my stuff at home."

"That's a shame."

Boot grimaced, "Yeah. They'll be stale before I get to them again. All those Chocolate frogs," he almost whined.

"I prefer Japanese-Muggle sweets, myself." Kurama volunteered.

"Muggle Sweets?" Boot sounded interested.

"Yes, they are very good." He slid a leaf in between the books pages and set it aside just as the compartment door opened and a rather old and lumpy woman peeked her head in asking, "Sweets, dearies?"

"Ah! Yes! I'll take some Pumpkin Juice and Chocolate Frogs and some Licorice Wands, please." Boot requested brightly. "Ah, Shuuichi," he turned to his compartment mate, "have you ever had any of this?"

"No, I have not." Kurama shook his head, getting up and coming to the door to get a better look at the selection.

"It's all very good!" Boot practically chirped, "And not too expensive either. Less than 12 sickles if you get one of everything."

Kurama nodded, quickly doing the math, "Not even ¥500. Do you have change for a Galleon?" He looked to the vendor.



Trunk finally in place, Harry kicked his feet off the edge of the seat and landed sitting on the bench.

Now all he had left to do was wait the ride out. His homework was complete, and he didn't feel like reviewing his textbooks.

He closed his eyes and leaned back in his seat.

For another school year, and just a "Dark Lord" and his merry band of "Death Eaters" out after his hide.

He had to admit, the last year had been hell. He desperately hoped there wouldn't be any more 'tournaments' until _after_ the end of his Hogwarts experience. He would be happy to be a spectator watching some other poor idiot get himself killed.

Harry grimaced. Voldemort could touch him now, and it was no less of a painful experience for Harry than it had been when he was eleven.

Physical impairment aside, it was looking more inviting every incident to try surviving by himself, back in the Makai.

He honestly couldn't say which option was worse.

He opened his eyes and looked at the clock before letting them call closed again, content to daydream.

Back in the Makai, as Kuronue, he had been great. One of the two greatest Thief-Bandits there were, with an amazingly powerful Kitsune at his side.

Merlin, he missed Yoko Kurama. Why such an awe-inspiring man such as he had taken interest in him, Harry honestly, to this day, did not know.

They had only met a few hundred years ago. Kuronue had only been a measly four hundred or so years old when he had died. He knew Yoko Kurama had been at least four times his age. Maybe five.

That Merlin-be-damned heist and detective! And that trap! Harry hoped Kurama had gotten away. Harry still didn't know, but he would find out soon if everything worked out for the better or worse, eventually.

He was finally fifteen, and he planned to train his magic hard this year. His physical state right now wasn't anywhere near close to where he wanted it to be, but had had time to overcome the weakness and malnutrition. Experience had taught his that the tiny form wouldn't likely get more than a few more inches in height and he doubted he could get his vision fixed any time soon, but he could work more on his speed and strength. Quiddich would actually help in that regard. Harry grinned as he thought of it. Chasing around the snitch and dodging bludgers actually helped his reaction speed, and it was a great source of fun during the school year as well.

Hundreds of years of training and practice down the drain!

But at least he was alive.

He snorted. He had heard that he was considered 'Gifted' at Quiddich. Gifted, his arse. Harry had been working on his speed for years, and he would only get faster.

It frustrated him badly, to be doing over so much work he had spent centuries on, but he wouldn't be 'dead' if he had been able to carry that along with his to this new human form.

Kuronue had been fast, and he had packed quite the deadly mark with his sickles, but this situation made him wish he had worked more with his Youki.

Yoko was amazing with his plants. Kuronue? He had some control over air and winds, enough for concealing mists and, if her were careful enough, blinding wind, sand, and dust storms.

The most it had been useful for was detecting and ambushing enemies.

That wouldn't be enough to save him now, and Harry was afraid to work on it with prying eyes. He wasn't sure if they could detect his Youki as 'magic', as his high reiki was, and he didn't want to take a chance that he could be expelled right now.

Everything was too dangerous right now. Especially with the political situation.

Even he knew, with his 'status' as the boy-who-lived that the Wizarding 'World' could turn on him in an instant.

At times, it seemed even more unstable that the Makai's, and what a nightmare that had been, was.

There had been a reason his Clan had been so isolationist.

He opened his eyes again and twisted to that his legs were stretched across the seat and his back was up against the window.

At least Malfoy hadn't found him yet. He wasn't in the mood to deal with his juvenile taunts, at least, not without Ron present. Ron's immaturity in return made all the taunts and insults amusing.

A friend could always bring humor to such situations.

Funny and annoying at once, at least the funny usually outweighed the annoying.

It wasn't much later that the trolley came. It was a little low on snacks, but that was okay. Harry just wanted some chocolate frogs and pumpkin juice, and he settled in to wait for his friends while he munched on them slowly.


"Harry!" Hermione spilled into the compartment, Ron falling in after her.

"Hermione! Ron!" Harry called back, laughing. "Was the meeting good?"

"We have a transfer student this year!" Hermione practically sparkled.

"Like last years' exchange students?" Harry asked, watching the two take their seats, Hermione across from him and Ron next to his feet, which were still up on the seat, "cause I think I already saw her."

"Her?" Hermione sounded befuddled and frowned in response. "Oh, no. Not like last year. This is a Hogwarts student now. She laughed and Harry noticed Ron staring at him, "And really? Her? Are you sure that you saw the exchange student? Our new student is a boy, Harry."

Harry cocked an eyebrow and pulled his knees up to his chest, confused. "I saw a girl with long red hair and green eyes. Very long very red hair. She sort of looked like Cho, too."

"That's odd. We were supposed to get a boy from Japan. Not a girl."

"Yeah, the Head Boy said his name was supposed to be summat like… Err. Shoe-itchy Min-ami-no."

"Oh Merlin Ron. Never call him that to his face." She made a disgusted expression her nose all wrinkled and her eyes closed as if in pain.

"Whaaaat?" Ron whined back. "What did I say?"

"I agree with her, Ron, don't ever try to call Minamino that. That was terrible. I think you meant Shu-i-chi Mi-na-mi-no. Try it again." Harry couldn't help but be horribly amused at the mispronunciation. How Ron could have ever gotten that monstrosity out of a simple Japanese name, Harry didn't know. Or well. It was Ron. Maybe Harry could understand. He tried to fight of a grin as he stared over his knees at his befuddled friend.

"Harry is right, Ron." Harry could hear the smile in her voice as she said this. "The transfer students name was supposed to be Shuichi Minamino."

"Augh. All right. Shoe-ichy Mi-na-mi-no." Ron harrumphed, "Sounds like I'm up for a round of do-re-mi." He snorted."

"Acceptable." Hermione approved with a sniff.

Harry laughed so hard he buried his face in his knees, shaking like a loon.

"Harry?" Ron had a weird expression on his face when Harry looked up. "Are you alright? It wasn't thatfunny, was it?"

Harry just grinned. "Funniest thing I've seen all summer. I've missed you. Both of you."

"Yeah. Sorry mate. I tried to get mum to get you to come over, but she said Professor Dumbledore said it wasn't safe for you." Ron slumped back into the backrest, "Even though we had Charlie putting up wards and everythin'."

"Yes. Sorry Harry, I wish I could have taken you with me when I went to Romania this summer," Hermione added, "but there wouldn't have been anything protecting you either."

"Err, yeah. That's okay. Your hands were tied anyway," Harry acknowledged. "How did your trip go, anyway?"

She fiddled with her robes for a moment before she answered and Harry could see Ron pouting.

"I had—"

"She had fun with Krum." Ron interrupted.


"Well, you were going to see him, weren't you?"

"That wasn't the point!"

They looked like they were brewing up another fight so Harry quickly intervened, "Hermione! Ron! I just want to know how your summers went! So would you please not argue!" …even though his intervention came out a bit petulantly. Merlin, did he sound like a little kid or what?

"Sorry Harry."

"Yeah, sorry mate." Ron echoed, a smidge contrite.

"So summer?" Harry asked again, getting more comfortable and propping his head up on his forearm.

"Well, yes. I went to Romania this summer," Hermione started again, "Krum did invite me at the end of last year. It was fun, and Krum was very sweet." She smiled. "I visited with Krum for a week and then my parents came to Romania too and we made a family vacation out of it."

"Krum has his own apartment." Ron added petulantly.

"Well, he is eighteen." Hermione added, glaring at Ron from her seat. "And he does have a job."

"I can't believe your parents let you!" Ron argued.

"I'm almost sixteen, Ron! My parents trust me!"

"Ron! That's her business, not yours!" Harry added, offended for her sake.


Hermione stood up, frazzled and angry. "Not your business! Keep your opinions to yourself!" she took a deep breath, "Harry? I'm headed to the lavatory. We should be at Hogwarts in ten minutes or so, so I'll see you at the carriages after the train stops," she added abruptly, stalking out the door and near slamming it shut behind her.

"Bloody hormonal, that one." Ron huffed.

"Merlin Ron." Harry, snapped, irritated, and suddenly remembering how tired he was. He dropped his knees into an awkward Indian cross on the narrow seat and tilted his head to the side as he observed his friend. It suddenly struck him, a flash of clarity on Ron's behavior.

Oh. So that was it. "You're jealous, aren't you." It wasn't a question.


"You are. I can tell." Harry scratched the side of his head. He didn't know how to handle this.

"No I'm not!"

"You are." Except argue about it, apparently.

"Not!" Ron was starting to turn a red that clashed vibrantly with his hair and drowned out his own freckles. Harry was right. He knew it, but did Ron?

"Ron. Admit it. You like Hermione."

"So what if I do?"

Harry cracked a grin, "Go after her—no, I don't mean literally. She'd hex you if you followed her into the bathroom—but quit poking at her so much and ask her out." There. That sounded like sound advice, Harry hoped. "Maybe you two would fight less then." Harry added at the flabbergasted look Ron shot back at him.

Ron practically drooped, "Nah mate, she'd never say yes."

Harry couldn't help but agree with Ron's assessment. It was probably true. "I dunno. Try being nicer to her? Treat her like you would if she were your girlfriend, sans the flirting and jealousy, maybe?" he suggested. "If she liked you more, you could try asking her later. She might say yes."

"I don't—"

The Hogwarts Express' whistle blew loudly and Harry could feel the train slowing down. "We're here!" Harry sprang off the seat, staggering a little at a jolt. He wouldn't admit it to Ron if Ron so happened to ask, but he felt a little relieved that the conversation was interrupted, aside from his exhilaration to finally be at one of the closest places he now had to the concept of 'home'.

The train stopped with a final hiss and jolt and Harry hurried for the nearest exit, leaving Ron behind and seeing many of his classmates again, but only one short glimpse of the vibrant red hair of the transfer student. Was Hermione sure that it was supposed to be a boy? Harry didn't quite think the redhead was tall enough to be a boy, though the exchange student wastaller than Harry himself was.

Smaller target, Harry tried to justify his height to himself, but he didn't quite believe it.

He spilled out onto the paved train stop in front of Hogwarts regal arched gates with the rest of his classmates. Hagrid could be heard already, calling for the first years and after a few minutes Harry could see Hermione waving through the crowd, standing next to some worn carriages with skeletal horses—Thestrals Harry recalled from his Care of Magical Creatures text.

He walked through the now thinning crowd, eyes locked on them. Was this really his first time seeing a Thestral? He didn't recall seeing them his first year, and his second, third, and fourth years arrivals had missed this mode of transport…

"Pretty aren't they?" Harry just about jumped out of his skin when he heard a soft voice pop up behind his shoulder, and he turned quickly, almost fast enough to make himself dizzy. A blond girl with blue eyes stood there, radishes hanging on her ears and bottle caps around her neck. Her hand was up touching the wand behind her ear as she looked past him, staring at the Thestrals. Luna. Luna Lovegood, Harry recalled.

"You saw Cedric last year, didn't you?" she asked before she quickly volunteered, "Mine was my mother."

"Err. Yeah."

"It's a shame that it takes seeing that to see them though. They really are quite beautiful, don't you agree?"

"Err… Yeah." Harry felt like he was repeating himself, and yes, they did have their own charm. Harry had seen much uglier in the Makai, so he hastened to add, "They are quite charming. Err… nice… bones."

The girl smiled and walked to one of the carriages and hopped in right after Neville

What a loony girl.

"Har—ry!" Hermione yelled, "Over here! Hurry! Before we take off without you!" A still blushing Ron stood beside her, his arms crossed defensively across his chest, stubbornly looking aside, much like a mule.

Ron would come around, Harry knew. He jogged the last of the way, slapping Ron's shoulder friendlily along the way and was the first to climb into the carriage, where he admired the satiny feel of the seats and the fancy tassels, all a century out of date. Ron and Hermione climbed in next, followed quickly by Susan Bones, and then they were off up the trail, rolling courteously with nary a bump.

The ride was quiet, each lost in their own thoughts while Harry peered out the tiny windows at the grass and trees they passed by.

Before Harry knew it, they were standing in a group, Hogwarts great doors before them.

Drawing in a fortifying breath, he waited while the Head Boy knocked on the doors.

It was time to be "Harry Potter" again. Arrogant, idiotic, and Gryffindor-ic—if ever there were such a word. Harry, or rather, Kuronue as he really was, didn't think he'd ever like to meet the boy so many people thought he was—including Professor Snape. Gryffindors were supposed to be brave and foolish. He supposed he had gotten that down to a 'T'. He was a classic 'Gryffindork' according to Draco, the pompous twit. As much as he disliked the kid, he was sure that the kid was right.

Harry didn't think he could have been a Slytherin. He had known, from the moment he had stepped foot into the magical world, that the citizens were dangerous. There was the classic corrupt government, filled with a surplus of hate for anything out of the accepted scope of normalcy.

Harry was by no means normal.

He already dealt with the consequences of being out of the norm at the Dursleys and he had no wish to deal with it elsewhere.

The wizarding world was far more dangerous than the Dursleys anyway and he didn't think he could afford for them to be set against him, especially not with what, who, and how he was supposed to be in their world. At the onset, he hadn't been as clueless as he had let on, that day on the train when Hermione had told him of the existence of books written of him. He had glanced through a couple while Hagrid had been distracted while he had been in Flourish and Blott's. He had been tempted to smuggle a few past his relatives when he got home, but had no clue what kind of security measures, if any, were employed in this world.

His first lesson on this new world was in history, and the history of Wizarding kind wasn't very reassuring...


Kurama hopped down the last stair and stepped to the side, letting the rush of students flow past him. Stopping to take in his surroundings, he looked up and around at the impressive forest of trees reaching into the already darkening sky, one hand coming up to linger with the seeds in his hair.

It was an old growth, gnarled and strong, and older than even he was. Something about it rang familiar, but Kurama just couldn't give name to what it was. It wasn't fear, though there was something about it that made him feel uneasy, almost queasy, and depressed—if he had to stick clear words to it.

In any case, Kurama knew a good opportunity when he saw one. He fingered the Spy Flower seeds that clung to his hair. It was altogether likely that this archway was one of the only entrances and exits of the Hogwarts grounds used by the mass populace—and if it wasn't, then it was likely to be the most commonly used one on the grounds.

He had left a small flower up near the front of the train, just in case, and only had a few seeds left by this point. He pulled his hand from his hair the seed clinging to his fingertips. He'd need to harvest more seeds soon, but leaving a flower on the gate was an opportunity he just couldn't ignore. He walked with the crowd through the gates, and let his hand just seem to brush the door as he passed it, leaving the flower nestled among the vines that clung to the bars where it bloomed rapidly, blending in.

Once inside the gates he stopped again, the crowd filtering on past him and let his eyes follow the fence, where it was all too soon swallowed by the trees and other flora.

Yes. It once again struck a chord, as being a view that he should remember, but he still could not bring what he was missing to mind.

"Firs' years, firs' years, over here!" a loud and gruff voice called over the din. Kurama paused. Well. It was his first year here…

"Ah! Mister Minamino! Over here, boy!" Hagrid called, spotting the new student. "Yer ridin' with the firs' years!" a huge man called boisterously, gesturing in welcome with hands bigger than trash-bin lids. Kurama hadn't seen anyone so big in almost a decade and a half, he realized and he walked up to stand next to a man that seemed almost double his own height.

Beady black eyes in a worn face covered with a wiry curly beard twinkled down cheerily. "Nice to meet you, m'name is Hagrid!" he grinned down, so at odd with anyone and everyone Kurama had ever seen of his stature, "I'm the groundskeeper and Care o' Magical Creatures teacher, I hope to see you in class."

Kurama smiled back, "I think I have that class, I will see you there."

"Good! Good!" Hagrid laughed, "Wait ov'r there while I get the res' of the firs' years." He instructed, gesturing to a dock that reached a ways into the lake before moving further into the crowed, calling "Firs' years, firs' years, over here!"

Kurama nodded to himself and walked over to where some other first years were waiting. They looked nervous as could be, tiny, fidgety, and wide-eyed. Also, Kurama noticed with amusement, much, much shorter than he was.

While he waited he looked around some more, his sharp eyes taking in details over the sea of children nearby. He could just make out Potter climbing into a carriage being drawn by a winged skeletal horse with teeth. Long sharp teeth. They looked familiar and it took Kurama a moment to realize that he recognized them as 'Thestrals' from his studies with Takanori-sensei.

Carnivorous flying beasts that could only be seen if the viewer has witnessed death first hand. Ominous superstition was attached to the creatures, but he'd read that there had been several packs domesticated almost like dogs or cats. He doubted they'd be present here if they weren't part of one of those packs.

The Thestrals started to leave, clawed paws tearing up little tufts of grass and pebbles, carriages gliding along behind them.

Hagrid approached soon after, a few scared first years trailing along behind him. "Al'righ' students! Off to Hogwarts!" He raised a hand beckoningly towards the water and little boats glided across the glassy surface of the lake and to the dock, "No mor'n four to a boat!"

Hushed whispers broke out among the children and a few gazed upon the boats with fear born of whispers of "But I can't swim!" and "My brother told me there's a monster in the lake!" while others looked excited and climbed into the boats with great hurry.

Kurama settled into one of the boats with a little blond haired girl with brown eyes who stared at him in fascination and two brunet boys who kept looking around as if they thought they'd miss a monster coming if they didn't.

"What are you doing here, Mister?" the little girl asked, with a doubtful expression on her face, "You're too old to be a first year, aren't you?"

"Ah, well." Kurama started, interrupted shortly as Hagrid called "Onward!" and the boat jolted. Both boys squeaked like mice, but the little girl didn't even flinch.

"Technically I am a first year… I just transferred here and I will be a fifth year student." He explained succinctly.

"So you get to ride with us?"

Kurama nodded, "I do, and I will be sorted with you as well."

"Do you know what they do to sort us?" that caught the two boys attention, and they chimed in their own inquires.

"No, I am afraid not." He denied.

"I heard you get to wrestle a troll…"

They all went quiet after that and settled in for the ride across the lake.

Ten minutes later they were climbing out of the boats and onto another dock, and then trekking across an open expanse of short grass to the double doors that led into the Hogwarts Castle.

Hagrid knocked with great thumping bangs, and a stern looking woman with graying hair pulled back into a severe bun answered with a small smile. She guided them into the foyer where they waited a few minutes and a quartet of ghosts passed through without seeming to notice anyone at all. Much to the dismay and excitement of several of the first years.

He walking through the doubled doors brought about a feeling of nostalgia. He didn't think it came from the building, as he had seen a few like it before, nor was it the people, or the feel of loose Reiki undulating across his skin, but there was something familiar and nostalgic about it all.

He almost felt like he was on one of his thefts and grand adventures again.

"I am Professor McGonagall, the head of house for the Gryffindors." She introduced herself, "Now, if you will all come this way," she gestured at the door, "one at a time, you'll be sorted."

There were a few whispers, and then everyone went quiet.

She opened the doors and the first years started filing in one by one to the sound of clapping.

"You are Mister Minamino, right?" She asked, as he passed by.

"Yes ma'am."

She nodded stiffly, "Welcome to Hogwarts, Mister Minamino. You will be sorted last and introduced to the rest of the students." Professor McGonagall informed him. "So, just wait back here by the door until I call your name."

"Yes ma'am, thank you."

She walked past him, up to a stool where a hat cracked open a rip, and started to sing, much to Kurama's and the new student's surprise.

After the hat's song about inter-house unity, courage, and strength and the sorting of the first years, Kurama came to stand next to Professor McGonagall, as she hid her scroll back inside her sleeve.

"Everyone, I would like to introduce you all to Shuichi Minamino! He is a very intelligent transfer student fresh out of Japan." She announced with a sliver of a smile, "He can speak English perfectly. Why don't you say hello, Mister Minamino?" she suggested

"Ah, Hello." Kurama started, smiling genially to the crowd, "It is nice to meet you. I hope we have a wonderful year together."

"He will be joining the fifth years." She added.

She lifted the hat, and Kurama tried to smother his concern that it would tattle that he was a demon out to the whole student body or refuse to sort him. He sat on the stool and clasped his hands on his lap as the hat came to set on his head, dropping down to his eyebrows.

"Well, what do we have here?" a voice asked, the one he had heard shouting the names of the four houses. "You're older than I am used to sorting." The voice reminded him a bit of Hiei, if Hiei were an old man.

"Hello." He responded cautiously.

"Indeed! Well, I can see a great amount of intelligence in you, and cunning and bravery—"

"What can you see?" Kurama asked, curious at the lack of questions about himself and his presence. If the hat could get into his head, shouldn't it be asking questions? Why was he here? What was he? And if it knew he was a demon—why should a hell spawn like he be allowed in the presence of human children?

"Oh, no, no. What a breach of privacy! You fear I can see your memories? I've had children fear that. No, you have to want me to know what you are thinking and then I will see it. Why, young mister Potter has done so, when requesting help during his second year! Quite a novel experience that was—oh, my. Bargh, I'm rambling aren't I Mister Minamino?"

Feeling a little relieved, he answered acerbically, "Just a little."

"My apologies Mister Minamino, I can simply see your… 'You'. How prideful or courageous, sharp or smart, loyal or honest, and cunning or cautious you are. I am simply a hat for sorting these qualities. In any case, you have a great amount of intelligence and no small amount of cunning and bravery… Where to but you indeed… Ravenclaw would be a good match and no objections?" he didn't pause for Kurama to say anything, knowing there was no logical protest, "Well, it better beRAVENCLAW!" the Hat all but roared aloud.

Taking the hat off himself, he set it on the stool and with a nod to a severe looking Professor McGonagall, he walked over to his House table amid polite clapping and towards Boot's waving arm.

Well, that was one unexpected hurdle crossed neatly.


"He really is a boy!" Harry announced aloud, to the not-so-muffled snickers of his tablemates.

Ron's jaw hung open, "Blimey hell! I can see why you thought he was a girl, Harry!" He blinked and rubbed his eyes roughly, as if he thought there was an obstruction that tainted his view of the new student.

The redhead walked quickly to sit next to Terry Boot at the Ravenclaws' table, and Harry couldn't help notice just now neat his posture was. It almost rivaled McGonagall's, he stood so perfectly straight.

All was quiet for almost a minute, while Harry stared and Ron started to get over his shock, before Hermione spoke up, sending Ron spiraling back down into it. "Whoa. I had no idea Japanese boys were so pretty."

"Hermione!" Ron was scandalized.

"What? A girl can look!" Hermione protested, crossing her arms over her breast defensively.

Harry simply laughed at that. Good ole Hermione. Leave it to her to notice someone pretty and smart.

Ron just huffed, glaring at her once before looking back at the new student who had turned to look at Boot and was displaying his profile neatly to those on their side of the Gryffindor table. "Bloody hell. He's prettier than Ginny."

"Ron!" Ginny snapped from a few seats down, "He is not prettier than me!"

Seamus laughed, "'E is too prettier than you Gin."

"Watch your back, Finnegan! I'll get you for that comment!" Ginny retorted, but Harry could hear the laugh in her voice. She wasn't serious. Probably.

"Our poor Gin-Gin, bested by a boy." Fred and George chimed in, in tandem.

"Fred! George! Don't make me hex you at the table!" she snapped, throwing a dinner roll at George's head. Fred caught it handily.

"Attention!" McGonagall called across the room, which fell silent within seconds.

Dumbledore got to his feet, his bright and cheerful robe sparkling almost as much as his eyes. "Welcome to another year at Hogwarts!" He called a smile curling his lips, "I'd like to—"

"Hem-hem!" a wide woman in bright pink interrupted.

"Introduce you to our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Umbridge." Dumbledore continued, ignoring the noise the woman made, "that will be all, please enjoy your fea—"

"Hem-hem!" the woman interrupted again louder, "I would like to say—" she started, cutting off Dumbledore mid-word, and launching into a grand speech about how her presence would change Hogwarts as an institution by the power invested in her by the Ministry of Magic.

The speech lasted nearly twenty minutes, and Harry soon lost track of what she was saying after she had repeated herself thrice and contradicted herself twice.

The speech was cut short by Dumbledore who intervened with, "And that will be all, lets feast!" and then clapped his hands, heralding the appearance of more food than Harry had seen all summer.

"Did anyone else understand what she was saying, or was it just me?" Hermione asked, her brows furrowed and a frown on her face.

"I quit listening." Ron admitted, already reaching for bowls of yams and Sheppard's Pie.

"She lost me when she contradicted herself the first time." Harry answered with his attention more on the food than Hermione's question.

"Boys! You should have been listening! She clearly said that she wouldn't be teaching us anything this year!"

Ron's "There was nothing clear about that," was drowned out by Harry's dismayed cry of "What?"

"She's not going to teach us anything!"

"But she's a teacher!" Harry argued, his attention fully on Hermione's visage.

"She just said that we'd be reading our book but not practicing anything, because we won't need it!"

"What about Voldemort? Or the Death Eaters?"

"I don't know!" Hermione almost looked ready to pull out her hair. "But I heard her say that!"

Harry was quiet for a few moments "Well, I heard her contradict herself a few times, maybe she said it wrong?" Harry knew better than to imply that Hermione had heard it wrong.

She sighed, worrying at her bottom lip with her teeth. "I hope so." She took a deep breath and picked up her fork, "because we need that class."

She pulled over one of the dishes and started moving some turkey off it and onto her own plate while Harry fiddled with his fork, his already meager appetite lost.

Harry gazed down at his too thin fingers, remembering that he really did need to eat something, whether he felt hungry or not. Not having Defense Against the Dark Arts… if Hermione was right, then there wasn't much point to Harry having bothered to come to Hogwarts this year. He needed defense to get a leg up for going back into the Makai. He had his textbook tucked safely away in his trunk, maybe he could teach it to himself?

He looked up at his classmates, who were cheerfully chattering away and digging into their food.

No one would defend him adequately, and he needed to be able to fight back. Needed to. Voldemort and Death Eaters or demons, it didn't matter, he'd always be in danger.

Maybe he could get tips on spells from Sirius or Remus over the course of the year? He wondered, already thinking ahead to how he would get around the obstacle.

He reached out and started dishing spoonfuls of food, grabbing a little bit of everything. He'd probably feel sick all night, but Harry was going to do his best to eat all he could.

He froze as another thought popped into his head—maybe he could work on his wind elemental abilities? They were weak and could definitely use some work. Were there wizards with elemental abilities, though? He didn't want to stand out too bad, his Parseltounge was already bad enough, and he almost never used that.

Maybe he could study at nighttime when everyone was sleeping? All he would need was his map and cloak… No, he'd lose too much sleep and everyone would notice. Or… he had a thought, maybe he could close his curtains and claim to be studying and then just go to sleep? Then work later when everyone else was sleeping? It was a thought.

He'd always had trouble sleeping at night anyway…

Right, well. He'd see. He took a few bites of his food.

"Hey, Harry, did you know that Minamino is only the sixth person in the last century that we have had transfer in after first year?"


"I read about it in Hogwarts, A History last year when we had the tournament students." Hermione perked up, in lecture mode, "The last one was in the nineteen-sixties, from South Africa."

"That's different." Harry acknowledged, putting another bite of food in his mouth.

"Well, the kid was from one of the settlements down there at the time, and was getting bullied at his school."

"Err, you know Hermione," Ron interrupted before Hermione could really get going, "I thought the Japanese were err… More like Cho."

"He is like Cho. Did you see his face?"

"I meant the hair and stuff." Ron clarified, "Black, straight, short. Is that even his real hair? I didn't think hair could be that red."

"I know. Is it even possible for someone who is Japanese to even be a red head?" Harry agreed. He couldn't recall ever seeing a Japanese human with red hair, let alone that red of hair.

"Yes, actually." Hermione jumped into the conversation, her fork resting on her plate. "They most regularly do have really straight black hair and dark eyes. I was surprised to see him. I don't think any of the staff was expecting a red-head." She picked up her fork and then set it down again. "Weren't you looking around? All of the other perfects looked really surprised too."

"No." Ron grumbled, "Why do you think it is that color anyhow?"

"I don't know. Either genetics or magic. He could even be a metro-sexual and thinks it looks hot." She looked at the back of his head and stared at the red hair that tumbled down over his shoulders.

Ron spluttered, "A what? A metro-whosit?"

"Simply put, a guy who likes looking pretty to attract women. Tend to dress well, and sometimes do make-up or style their hair."

"Oh. Like a poof."

"Ron!" Hermione protested.

"Ron!" Harry laughed, reaching for the pitcher of pumpkin juice and pouring himself a glass.

"What? That's pretty much what you said!" Ron exclaimed, aggrieved.

"I said women!" she argued.

"So a poof that likes women!"

"That makes him not a 'poof'!"

"…You just don't want to believe that he might be a nancy-boy, don't you." Ron squinted, his eyes nearly shut as he stared Hermione down.

Harry snorted into his pumpkin juice, "He might just have you there, Hermione."

"Harry!" Hermione cried, scandalized to have both of her friends against her on the subject.

He just grinned, happy to be among friends, and put another bite of food in his mouth.


|Drops fic for readers and runs as if her life depends on it, shouting back "Harry finally got off the TRAIN!"|

Oh, and you all should thank Katreal for helping me pry Harry off the train, without her questions and "*prod* fic?"s through messager, this chapter may not have been posted until next year. Katreal is a very helpful crowbar-because she asks questions. anyone else have any questions? I guarantee they make me write faster, though any answer I might have for your question could very well be "Err, do you really wan to know? 'Cause I'll be answering that later..."