Destined to Repeat It by Bonehammer
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and associated characters belong to their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
Acknowledgments: to my husband, who can discuss Harry Potter as exhaustingly as investment funds.
7. The Green Disease
"What is Genius? It's fantasy, intuition, good eye and swift performance."
MARIO MONICELLI, "My Friends"
Malfoy was immediately in on the joke, which meant his two lackeys were also at their disposal, but Nott wouldn't want any of it.
The following morning, indeed, Harry caught him trying to sway Crabbe and Goyle while their lord and liege was in the shower, and it looked as if he was mere minutes away from succeeding.
"Do you think you'll be able to stay at Hogwarts after a stunt like this? Are you going to give up sleep forever after?" he was arguing desperately. "The seniors will have six years' time to pay back, and that's if we're not snapped in two right away. Potter cannot be touched, Boy Who Lived and all that. Malfoy's father is on the Board of Governors. You and me are not so special."
Malfoy's minions were ehrring and uhmming, which was as close to having second thoughts as they could get. Harry spoke suddenly, making the three of them start.
"Malfoy will vouch for you. Vince and Greg, I mean. The seniors will buy it... everyone knows you just do whatever he tells you to. And he won't want to spend the rest of his schooldays without his pals."
"That still leaves me out, Potter. Did you just forget I exist, or are you making me the scapegoat on purpose?"
Harry just shrugged, inwardly wishing for Nott to be right - that he would be the one expelled so Harry wouldn't have to be torn in two about him.
"Suppose I run to the Prefects with news of your hatching conspiracy?" Nott hinted rather nastily.
Harry shrugged. "I suppose there's nothing I could do to stop you. I also suppose you plan to give up sleep forever after... since I'd have seven years' time to get even. As you said, I can't be touched, Boy Who Lived and all that."
Even if it was Nott, Harry felt bad right as he spoke; using the advantage of experience to corner an eleven years old, using his own words against him. Slytherin was definitely rubbing off on him.
Nott suggested that Harry go do something anatomically impossible, and didn't speak to any of them for the rest of the day.
That evening, the four conspirators were sitting onto Malfoy's bed among crumbs and discarded wrappers, and Harry had to realize he had bitten more than he could chew. He had made up and discarded far-fetched plans that would have worked... maybe... but only with the Marauder's Map, the Invisibility Cloak and the Wizarding Wheezes' warehouse at his disposal.
Malfoy was describing how he would dive-bomb the Common Room with stink pellets if only he could smuggle a broomstick into the dormitory, when a shadow fell on onto the curtains and someone quietly slid them open from the outside.
It was Theodore Nott.
Harry assumed a fighting stance with a swiftness that would have been impressive if he hadn't been chewing on a big bite of a Pumpkin Pastry at the time, which promptly went down the wrong pipe. He gasped, but his throat refused to open, and coughed out what little air he had left.
"He's choking!" yelled the ever-helpful Crabbe and started punching him in the guts, then on the back when Harry, still hacking, curled into a ball. The room was becoming dark and distant when Nott spoke again.
"You lot are hopeless, d'you know that? Anapneo."
An orangey lump came rushing out of Harry's nose and rolled onto the floor, followed by Crabbe's toad hopping heavily towards the unexpected treat.
"Thanks," Harry said sincerely, appreciating the dampness of the Slytherin air as he'd never done before. "Handy spell."
Nott shrugged. "You're welcome. A no-brainer, really."
Then he told them about his plan. It was simple, did not require magic beyond their capabilities – none at all, in fact - and sounded absolutely devastating.
Harry was impressed, but not for the right reasons. Later that evening, as Malfoy took his thirty-minutes evening shower and Crabbe and Goyle fought over the latest Martin Miggs issue, he approached Nott one-on-one for the first time, while he was grooming his cat.
"From 'I won't have any of this' to pranking mastermind. That's a hell of a long road to cover in a day, Theo."
Nott stiffened visibly, his eyes shifting to the wand Harry was absently twirling in his hands. The cat sensed her master's tension and quit purring.
"So what? At least I'll see the seniors eat crow before we're expelled," he replied, with grim satisfaction. "And by 'we', I mean 'me, myself and I'. You're right: Draco will want to keep around his minions."
"But why did you even suggest this... thing? You heard us planning: we were going nowhere."
"Might as well be Kissed for a dragon. You're going to do something dumb eventually, and the seniors will never believe I wasn't in league with you."
Harry frowned. "Why wouldn't they? You hardly ever speak to us lot."
"You have a lot of catching up to do," Nott just replied, and there was no getting anything more out of him after that.
Harry lay awake in his bed for a long time after everyone had gone to sleep, thinking.
Was it stupid, gambling everything just to get even with the seniors once? Wouldn't their behaviour escalate even further? Ever since his Sorting he felt like he was groping his way in the darkness. Dumbledore had told him once to trust his instincts, but his instincts were suffering from stage fright right now and he was sorry he had even suggested the whole thing.
He didn't trust Nott to keep his mouth shut. He had openly said that he was afraid of being expelled, and the fact that they were following a plan of his would make it even easier for him to scurry to the seniors with horrible stories of how Potter and Malfoy were plotting against the House – or, even better, just Potter: Potter the half-blood, the Muggle-raised, the outsider who wouldn't fit in even with his roommates and had already managed to lose House points in Potions of all classes...
Speaking of Snape, Harry had little doubt of what his reaction would be on apprehending that James Potter's son was up to the same antics as his late father, now that the happy power to decide about his expulsion rested with him at last...
A sudden intuition, shocking and complete, made Harry jolt on the bed as he remembered the incident in its entirety – the flying jalopy, the terrible tree and Ron's Howler. But there was a way out. Oh, the seniors would be mad, Snape would be frothing at the mouth, but they wouldn't be able to do shit about it. Oh, they would think twice about messing with the ickle firsties again.
In his excitement, Harry could hardly wait for the morning. He needed to talk to Malfoy about his idea in private – Nott didn't have to know. And they would finally know where he stood.
Malfoy was puzzled, but answered Harry's questions nonetheless. Yes, of course you could send or receive mail without going to the Owlery: Salazar himself had designed this part of the castle, he knew students would need to conduct their business in private at some point or other.
"So the owls come down the chimney flue, like Santa Claus? Wouldn't they get roasted if the fire is going?"
Malfoy huffed like he had been tried to the very edge of his patience. "Merlin, Potter, I know you went to a Muggle school, but still!"
And then he treated Harry to a lesson about fireplace physics.
When a fireplace was on, it sent hot air up the chimney. This air had to be replaced, or it would be sucked back into the room together with all the smoke. Normally the air would draft from fissures in the windows, but in Slytherin the windows had to be sealed shut because the whole place was underwater.
"So here's where the fresh air comes in," Malfoy explained, leading Harry around the corner and in front of a statue. "And the mail, too, if necessary. Satisfied?"
Wouldn't you know it, another huge snake head, Harry thought; old Salazar had just as much taste in decoration as the average drug lord. This one was a cobra, portrayed rising from the floor with its hood expanded and its mouth, five feet long and three across, wide open. The statue was hollow: cold air was indeed flowing through the gaping reptilian maw, resonating through the bronze with a constant, low-octave whistle.
Harry stood on a chair to get a look inside.
"Pretty tight in here."
"What do you care? You're not an owl."
The floor tiles suddenly became much more interesting than anything Malfoy had to say..
"Soon," Malfoy had said, and he was as good as his word. The package arrived on Saturday, carried by no less than six large delivery owls, such heavy it was. So far it had been a dull weekend: Hogsmeade trips and Quidditch hadn't started yet, the weather was rotten and there was only so much homework to do, right at the beginning of term. Nott had been counting on this: the seniors were bored stupid and the arrival of such a treat was bound to get noticed. Crabbe and Goyle, large enough to act as a partial deterrent, were ordered to lag behind in the Great Hall, to make things smoother, whereas the three of them – Harry, Nott and Malfoy – carried the package, which was giving away a delicious smell of fresh bakery, back to the dormitory.
They had no soon turned the corner than two seniors were already on their case: half-trolls that Harry knew from the Quidditch pitch, Marcus Flint and Adrian Pucey.
"Ooh, lookee." Pucey clapped his hands in mock delight. "The freshies brought a nice present. Give it here, midgets."
"Come and get it." Malfoy's voice trembled ever so slightly, ruining what otherwise would have been a perfect delivery.
Flint flexed his shoulders. "We're mightier than Merlin compared to you firsties. Give it up before it gets nasty."
"No." Malfoy spoke slowly, like he was talking to an actual troll. "It's from home, and it's for my friends. Mother baked it with her own hands."
"Really?" Pucey advanced on them, smacking his lips obscenely. "I know a few things your mother could do with her own hands, Small Fry, and baking's not even on the list."
Flint sniggered. Malfoy, seething, let go of the cake and took out his wand, forgetting that they had agreed to pose only a token resistance.
"Take that back!" he cried. "Or I'll do things to you that..."
Pucey's own wand came out of his pocket like a bolt; Harry followed a very Gryffindorish urge, drawing in turn and leaving Nott alone to wrestle with the huge parcel.
"Take it back, Adrian," said a quiet voice.
The Seeker turned, a comical expression on his coarse features: the female Prefect, Fisher, had drawn out her wand as well, and had it pointed right at Pucey's. It was the longest Harry had ever seen on a witch, a Freudian affair easily thirteen inches and carved in a pattern of oak leaves; it seemed about to spear Pucey right in the hairy ears.
"That was way out of line, Ade," she said softly. "Apologize."
Harry could have married her right there and then.
Caught between two fires, Pucey had no choice but to comply.
"'m sorry," he grunted, although the expression on his face meant anything but. Slowly, Malfoy and Fisher lowered their wands, followed by everyone else. Nott gave out a loud sigh; Harry put his wand back up his sleeve and went to help him, but Fisher was there first: she Levitated the parcel out of Nott's arms and out of their reach with a sly smile.
"That was thoughtful of you lot. Just in time for breakfast. Mmmh, smells wonderful."
"No, you heard. It's Draco's. For us. For first years."
"You mean you don't count seniors as friends, Crackpot?" Fisher inquired, and Harry's prospects for marriage rolled over and died. "Tsk, tsk. I'll have none of this attitude."
"But..." Nott broke in.
"Shut up, Nuts. Now, normally such indiscipline would mean lines for the three of you, but because it's Saturday, and you brought cake, I'll pretend I misheard, for this time only. Another display of selfishness like this one and it's detention for you lot. Have I made myself clear, Small Fry?"
Malfoy glared at her with the look of a caged dragon. "Perfectly," he gnashed.
"Good. Now go. Don't you have revision to do? End of the year is only eight months away. Chop-chop!"
The first years ruefully watched the victorious trio go away with their booty, manoeuvring awkwardly around the bends. Harry was breathing heavily, like he had just ran a marathon; Malfoy's usually pasty complexion was now beyond the pale; Nott, who hadn't moved a muscle during the entire confrontation, was trembling all over with nervous energy.
They slogged off to their dormitories glumly, passing the three senior students, who had laid their war-prize onto the largest table and were now pigging out with a voluptuousness that would have put Dudley to shame. The cake had been hacked without much ceremony, but still looked mouth-watering, with festoons of cream, multi-colored icing and cherries. Prescott walked in, still in his nightgown and pyjamas, and his eyes went wide at the sight of the dessert.
"Oi! Gwen, you got married?"
"Not to these two, you prat. The freshies brought cake – wanna taste?"
"Do you even need to ask?" Prescott replied as Pucey hastily Conjured a plate and fork.
Soon as they reached their dormitory, first-years collapsed on the floor in a silent dogpile. Nott had his fist in his mouth; Harry was holding his midriff.
"Boys, that was great. That cake won't see it through the morning."
"Mother's a daft hand when it comes to charms," Malfoy boasted. "That Generosity Glamour was tops."
The door opened and Crabbe and Goyle came in, looking, as usual, like a pair of grotesques. They looked beyond themselves with outrage and confusion.
"But that – that was your cake, Draco!"
"And – and – they eat it!"
It was the final straw: Harry went into hysterics. He lay on the floor, breathing raggedly, with tears streaming from the corner of his eyes, and occasionally getting a pat on the back from the others.
And there was more. The seniors had fallen for the bait; they hadn't suspected a thing.
No one of first-years had tattled or let him down.
It was almost like having friends again.
The first symptoms began an hour later. Flint was sitting with his fellow fifth-years in the warmest spot near the fireplace, when another student broke out:
"For crying out loud, Marcus, you got cooties or what? Stop scratching, it's making me sick."
"Scr… Well, I'll be darned, you're right. I'm itching all over."
"And you're passing it on. Get away from me!" Prescott protested, kicking him and reaching down to scrape his own ankle.
Ten minutes later, most students were in such discomfort that they had taken most of their clothes off, the better to reach the itchy parts. And that was when the second wave of symptoms began. Adrian Pucey was the first rushing to the bathroom, soon followed by more students. But soon the demand for vacant seats and soft paper soon exceeded the offer. Cauldrons and phials had to be put to a novel employment.
What little could be seen and heard of the ongoings defied belief. First-years took it in turns to watch from the keyhole. They had barricaded themselves in, both magically and Muggle-style – although Nott had expressed disbelief that a simple juxtaposition of furniture could stand the wrath of a pranked Prescott.
Harry was lying on his bed, browsing an old issue of Trends in Transfiguration and affecting a bored look.
"Pranked Prefect Prescott. Can you say that fast, Malfoy?"
Malfoy, being himself, just had to overegg the pudding. "Pranked Prefect Prescott, Prefect Prescott pranked... uh... Prefect Prescott pranked by prats properly pestered Potter plenty."
Malfoy rolled a sock into a ball and threw it at him.
"Hey, can I help it I'm so brilliant?"
Harry promptly caught the wad mid-air and passed it to Crabbe, setting off an impromptu session of broomless Seeking within the room. "You're not brilliant, you're glossy. What do you comb your hair with, a trout?"
"How can you joke when there's people out for our blood beyond that door? Soon as they come out of it, it's curtains for us."
Harry made a show of turning the page. "You said you wanted to go out in style. If you can't stand the wait, there's always the third floor corridor to the right."
Nott shivered. "You're hardly funny, Potter."
"Nay, I'm funnier than a barrel of monkeys when I put my heart to it. Shall we go out? It's nearly time." He turned to Nott. "You're going to love what comes next. Trust me."
The furniture was moved out of the way and Malfoy, leading the procession as usual, opened the door onto a world out of reason.
"Harrowing harpies!" he cried. "What's going on in here?"
The common room, usually silent and like a library, was a mess. There were groaning youths lying on the tables, on rows of chairs, on sofas. A crowd of seniors stood in wait sporting various degrees of dishevelment. To the forefront, Prescott wore his robe inside-out, and his shoes were missing. Behind him, Flint, his crew cut glistening with sweat and sticking up like a wig of cropped quills, had tied a House banner around his private parts in Kreacher-like fashion. Adrian Pucey sported angry red scratches on his neck and forearms. The rest of the House didn't fare much better, although it looked like the major symptoms had run their course.
"All right, whose was the brilliant idea?"
"What brilliant idea?" Harry asked, tilting his head to one side.
"You know," said Fisher coming to the forefront, wrapped in bedsheets like a crazed Vestal. Her hair, usually held in two tight buns to the sides of her head, was now a tousled mane reaching down to her waist.
"What... you... you're telling me that the cake did... this?" Malfoy blurted, mouth and eyes wide open in surprise. But his countenance was starting to crack: Harry could see the sides of his mouth twitching.
Not a minute too soon, an owl came down the Common Room flue and perched on his shoulder. Malfoy untied the parchment from its leg and the owl took off again. Malfoy read under his breath, lips moving quickly, then handed the letter over. Fisher yanked it from his hand and read aloud:
"'Dear Draco, we just realized there was a terrible mistake. I made Dobby fetch Crystallized Essence of Violet, but he brought back Crystal Violet and I used it in the recipe. By all means DO NOT EAT THE CAKE! If you or some of your friends have already eaten it, go to the infirmary immediately and tell them what happened. I am awfully sorry for the incident. Love, Mother. P.S.: Dobby is ironing his ears as I write. I made sure he used the Linen setting.' Well, what can I say? What do we say to that?"
There was silence. Fisher, still holding the letter, slowly drew her wand and raised it towards the ceiling. Most other students – even some of those sprawled on the furniture – imitated her.
Harry met her eye with his jaw jutting out. He could hear Nott's quickened breath to his left and see Malfoy's forehead glistening with sweat to his right. He was about to say something in defiance when the spells started to fly.
From the raised sticks came fireworks and loud bangs; senior students launched into applause; confetti were flowing out of many wandtips and falling on the first-years.
"You're certified Slytherin material. Party!"
Prostrate students pulled themselves up or were Levitated out of the way; Pack and Scourgify took care of the mess; female first-years were called out of their dormitory to join the celebration. Trunks that apparently had always contained spare banners or chandeliers turned out to be refrigerated caches of brown glass bottles.
The following hour was a kaleidoscope of faces and speeches. Harry was introduced to a phenomenon that he had never witnessed before – smiling Slytherins. He was congratulated by people that he had only ever seen sneering or looking down at him. A fourth year that had hexed him into a suit of armour just the day before patted him on the back and pushed a Butterbeer in his hand. Seniors smiled and ruffled his hair and claimed that he would surely grow up to great achievements; a pencil-necked boy presented him with a whole year of History of Magic essays, ready to be copied; another one revealed the location of a secret passage to the Great Hall that saved a five minutes' roundabout trip. All around, the atmosphere was like the House had just won the Quidditch Cup. A Slytherin Beater was standing on either side of Nott's, with an arm thrown over his shoulder, and the trio was singing at the top of their lungs,
...Cast out the swines of faith untrue
And Slytherin shall stay pure
If Hogwarts means at all to you
If wizards are to endure...
Harry stood in a corner, still nursing the Butterbeer. He was way too young for it and would have paid the price tomorrow; by good luck was a , someone poked him lightly on the shoulder.
"Harry Potter, is it? May I have a word with you?"
Harry turned and was faced with a senior with a dark complexion, smooth features, and a hint of moustaches on his upper lip. He wore a turban, a bit like Quirrell's – which worried Harry some – but smaller and black.
"Taran Singh Rahal," the boy said, holding out a hand. Harry, in a Butterbeer-induced haze, took a while to understand that this had to be his name and not some outlandish spell, and held out a hand without realizing he was still clutching the empty bottle. Their handshake was a bit awkward.
"You may have heard this one before, but never the less, congratulations for making it into Slytherin."
Harry shrugged: it was becoming a twitch. "It was – You lot really don't trust Godric's Hat, do you?"
Taran of too many names shrugged in turn. "You heard Snape: noble tradition demanding that you prove yourself worthy."
"Yeah," Harry said noncommittedly, wondering where this was heading.
"Speaking of tradition, in Slytherin each first year is assigned to a senior for being tutored."
The haze Harry had been drifting in vanished at once, and he suddenly remembered who he was and what he was there for. The sensation was not unlike a fall from a great height, and he actually jerked. He looked over his shoulder at the Common Room: Flint was lecturing Crabbe and Prescott was engaged in conversation with Malfoy; Gwen Fisher and Pansy Parkinson were sharing an armchair and talking thickly. The uniformity of expression was remarkable: the seniors were doing most of the talking and smiling, the first-years were sporting frowns and looking perplexed.
First hazing and now fagging, he thought. Never let it be said that the Slytherin House isn't strong on tradition.
"And I have been assigned to you."
"I see. What do teachers think of this… tutoring?" He glanced at the older boy and saw his lips curl in a knowing smile.
"It's funny you should ask. The practice had nearly fallen out of fashion before Professor Snape reinstated it. He picks tutors personally," and Harry tensed visibly at that last part. But Taran didn't, or pretended not to, notice. "First year is quite peculiar this year, isn't it? I understand you were raised the Muggle way, just like me."
"You're a Muggleborn, then?"
Taran's dark eyebrows arched. "Would I be in Slytherin then? Ah, but I might as well be. My mother was a witch, but she... dropped out of practice when she was very young. My father's a Muggle... a number cruncher for insurance companies."
Harry had a hunch that there was more, but what had been said would have to suffice for the moment.
"So, what am I supposed to do?"
"Nothing much, really. For your luck, I don't play Quidditch, and neither, heaven forbid, Gobstones. I'll have some errands for you, mainly fetching books from the library – I'm involved in an extra project this year. For my part, if you have trouble with lessons, or if someone gives you grief, just come to me."
"Well, it's funny, because someone's just given me grief for a solid week. Is there anything you can do about it?"
Taran sighed, and sipped his drink staring at the wall behind Harry. "I'll just repeat to you what was told to me. Slytherin never agreed to the Sorting system. It was imposed from without. It has nothing to do with what the House is about."
"Uh-uh," Harry said. "It's about taking it ou.."
The older boy raised a hand. "Indulge me, all right? It is about composure, it's about restraint, and seizing the perfect opportunity when it presents itself. All of which you did in an outstanding manner. When first-years are Sorted, they don't know what to expect: they listen to the welcome speech, then they end up in Slytherin and find out the harsh reality. The hazing... it's a concentrate of the worst you can expect. And it is within Slytherin. 'In a controlled environment', as Muggles would say. So even if you eventually lose it, you don't lose it in front of the entire school."
Harry, who had lost count of the times Malfoy had lost it in front of the entire school, said: "I'm not buying it, you know."
"Well then. There's more. How do you get along with your dorm mates?"
"That's neither here not there."
"Then you're either very dumb or a veritable lone wolf. What is coal?"
"What you get from Santa when you've been naughty."
Taran chuckled. "The actual answer."
"Well um, mostly carbon, I guess."
"Yes, it is. But so are diamonds. What makes diamonds out of coal?"
Is this conversation going anywhere? Harry wondered. "Uh, I dunno... time?"
"Pressure actually. That's the purpose. You were forced together, pressure applied, and now you share a tighter bond. Do you think this would be necessary in Hufflepuff, for example?
"So you just give aggro to a bunch of kids just outside of home, until they somehow collapse into a fighting unit?" That's just..." Harry said, then he stopped.
That's just the kind of thing Dumbledore would do. Did. Fuck. Sorted too soon, indeed.
Meanwhile, Taran was reassuring him. "The hazing lasts for a week. Tomorrow would have been the day of your induction ceremony."
"Which involves... Wait, do I even want to know?"
"The induction helps those who waver to unwind into spiritual and intellectual growth... shed your previous skin, awake your inner snake and embrace the Slytherin identity. But as you see, it is seldom necessary. You've shown your worth."
Harry, already slightly intoxicated, pondered on what those words would translate into, once the juices and the alcohol started flowing. "Forgive me for being rather direct, but it doesn't sound like my idea of fun."
"And yet the ones who underwent the ceremony are strongly in favour of keeping the tradition."
"I think I know all that I want to know now. Just one more thing, does Snape know about this? The hazing?"
Taran smiled. "You've been here for just a week, otherwise you wouldn't ask. There is nothing that the man doesn't know."
Later in bed, fighting the onset of a massive hangover (courtesy of two shots of seven-year-old mead and his own eleven-year-old liver, Merlin, those seniors were criminals), Harry pondered the events of the day. He didn't think it likely that the Malfoy in his previous life had ever shed his previous identity or embraced a snake, metaphorically or otherwise: that cockyness hadn't been shattered until much later. So had he and the others turned the table on the seniors somehow? And how, without Harry as a catalyst? Perhaps Snape had passed words that the seniors would just have let it slide for once.
Well there was always Zabini. Maybe he had brought one of his mother's strychnine-laced cakes and terrified the House into leaving the firsties alone.
Whatever the means, Harry's routine was turned on its ear. The pranks ceased at once. Senior Slytherins would acknowledge their existence with an indolent wave as they crossed in corridors, and offer help with homework when asked (although something had to be offered in return, be it handwriting the fine copy of a hastily scribbled essay or a sample from Harry's quickly dwindling supply of Chocolate Frogs).
Harry was amazed: his Housemates were even more pleasant on the eye now they weren't actively snarling at him. His troubles with the senior students having been resolved, Harry was left with just his Head of House to deal with.
That, and his failed friends.
Looking at the Gryffindors across the Great Hall or the Potions dungeon unvariably made his heart sink. Neville, unsurprisingly, was the odd man out; Hermione was the twitchy ghost of herself, and that was understandable, given what her first month in Hogwarts had been. But Ron, who seemed to get along fine with the other first-years, simply looked away from Harry each time they happened to be in the same room. And Harry felt like he was letting them down.
When this happened, he took a few breaths and repeat to himself, like a lullaby, It's not about me. Not about me.
He would rather have Ron refusing to acknowledge his presence and live to tell the tale, than being on the run for years, only to end up hastily buried under a heap of rocks in the woods because of his misplaced loyalty to the Boy Who Screwed Up. And Neville... if it had been at all possible, Harry would have locked up Neville in a Gringott's vault, under armed guard.
Still, the rejection stung every time, especially when compared against his old memories. It was like being an amputee, and trying to grab something with a hand you no longer had.
That would have to be rectified as soon as practical, Harry mused, as he played wizard's chess with Nott while Crabbe and Goyle did push-ups on the floor, waiting for Malfoy to finish his essay so they could copy it.
He would cast a perfect spell from the get-go, regain some points, and establish himself as first-class wizarding material among his skeptical Housemates and beyond.
Next: All flights cancelled.
A/N: Any of you familiar with the novel The Lords of Discipline might have recognized the first-years prank. I couldn't come up with anything better.