Ends and Means

Hello everyone. I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Years! Sorry I'm so late in my updating but I'm afraid I got a bit caught up visiting relatives and friends. Anyway, I'd just like to thank all my lovely reviewers. You guys are a great source of inspiration and I appreciate every single one of your reviews. Thank you all so much. I hope you like this chapter. Though it's not one of the most exciting chapters I've ever written, it hopefully shall indicate where I'm kinda heading with this fic. Bye for now!

Replies to reviews:

Everyone: I'm glad that so many people liked Harry's entrance. To be honest, that was a kinda spur of the moment thing, so I'm glad it was generally received well. To the people who didn't really take to Harry's dramatic entrance, there actually was a reason behind it, as you'll find out in this chapter. If you're still unsatisfied, I do plan on some scenes later on where Harry unleashes all his pent up rage. Be patient please.

2693: Hopefully some things will become clearer in this chapter for why Harry is acting as he is. I would also like to point out that this is a fan fiction, meaning that the plot of my story will deviate from the canon. Consequently, the characters will be put through different situations than the canon and thus their personalities will adjust accordingly. So yes, Harry and everyone else will be OOC. (I mean no disrespect when I say this. I just want you to see where I'm coming from.) In regards to Harry's anger, he will most definitely be angry with certain people but please bear in mind that there are many different ways to convey anger. If you have any suggestions that you would like to put forward, I'm more than willing to consider them. Ta.

AnnF: I'm sorry if you did not find my last chapter up to par. Looking back, I agree that some of the premises I made are a bit dodgy but I don't think they are completely implausible. Neither the Quibbler nor Xenophilius Lovegood seemed a very reliable news source to me so I don't think that Harry not knowing who the new Minister was is such a bad premise. Frankly, I can picture Xenophilius not caring at all about who the present Minister is.

In regards to the Minister muscling his way onto the train, when I read HBP that was the kind of impression I got of his character: brash and forthright, so I wrote what I did with that in mind.

Hopefully this chapter will explain to you why Harry was acting so 'immature, irrational and bipolar' and I hope you accept my reasoning.

ObsidianEsper: I'm considering it but to be honest, you're the first person who's suggested such a thing and I've never had any complaints about my writing before in this fic. If that changes, I promise I'll get one.

Everyone: I still haven't decided on who I'm going to pair Harry with. Should I pair him up at all? Hmm… What do you guys think? Just so you know, Hermione and Ron are going to get together. That's all I've really decided upon for now. Sigh…

Well, that's all for now. Please remember to review, okay?

Chapter 11: Dinner Drama

"What the hell do you think you're doing, Potter?" Snape spluttered, the first one to break the heavy silence that had consumed the Hall.

"I'd have thought the answer would be obvious, sir" Harry replied, in a somewhat derisive tone. "Every other student is here so I'd assumed that my presence was expected here as well. It's not my fault that my friend wanted to come too," he concluded, gesturing towards the star thestral who had begun to sniff Snape's oily hair suspiciously.

"Call it off, Potter," Snape ordered, wearily backing away from the thestral's ministrations.

"I can't, Professor. I have no right to issue any command to an intelligent creature that can think and act for itself. It would be cruel to take such a right away, would it not?" Harry questioned, innocently.

Snape couldn't help but look away as he recognised the double meaning of the statement, causing Harry to smile somewhat bitterly.

"Now, Harry…" Dumbledore broke in.

"I would appreciate if you would address me more formally, Headmaster. After all, we are at school, sir. It would not do to be so casual."

"Fine then, Mr Potter," Dumbledore acquiesced with a frown. "I was just going to suggest that perhaps you and Professor Snape could continue your conversation afterwards, at a more appropriate time. We were halfway through the Sorting when you and your friend arrived. I don't think it would be fair to deprive your school mates of their dinners for any longer than we have to."

"You're right, Headmaster," Harry conceded. After giving the thestral a quick thank you pat, he gracefully jumped off the Staff table and made his way over to where McGonagall stood with the Sorting Hat in her hands.

"I'm sorry for interrupting you, Ma'am. Please proceed, " Harry apologised, bowing slightly in deference.

"Thank you, Mr Potter. I am glad to see you are doing well," she responded, her eyes softening slightly.

"Thank you for your concern, Ma'am. It's always good to know that someone cares," Harry stated casually, looking pointedly at Dumbledore.

With a last nod towards his Transfiguration Professor, Harry turned and made his way calmly towards the Gryffindor bench. He sat himself well away from Ron, Hermione and Ginny, placed between Neville and a small second year girl who squeaked when he smiled at her.

"Blimey, Harry," Neville whispered in awe as the Sorting began once more. "That was one hell of an entrance. How'd you get the thestral to do that?"

"I didn't do anything," Harry muttered back, keeping his voice soft so as not to draw attention to their conversation. "It just came to me and offered me a lift. Since I was running a bit late, I accepted its offer but I never suspected it would deliver me right into the Hall. I wonder if I'll get into trouble for this?"

"Who cares! I have no idea how you did it but whatever 'it' was that brought you here made for one bloody brilliant stunt!" Dean chipped in from where he was sitting across from Neville.

"Almost as good as the Weasely twins' exit last year," Seamus commented, prompting the four boys to chuckle fondly in remembrance of Umbridge's face last year.

"Hem hem," a soft voice coughed over the quiet Hall.

At the all too familiar sound, the four boys wrenched their attention to the staff table, half-afraid of what they'd find. To their immense relief (not that any of them would ever admit it aloud), none of them could spot the toad-faced woman. Instead, they found Dumbledore, blue eyes twinkling mischievously as he looked directly at Harry.

Harry met his gaze unwaveringly.

"You don't think he heard what we were discussing, do you?" Neville asked fearfully.

"Nah, we're too far away for him to have heard a thing. It has to be some sort of coincidence," Seamus reassured, sounding as if he were trying to convince himself as well as Neville.

Harry on the other hand, knew that it was no coincidence that Dumbledore had imitated Umbridge at that exact moment. The timing was much to perfect for it to be so.

"He's warning me," Harry thought with certainty. "This display of power on his part is a reminder that I am in a place where he holds the advantage. He's going to be watching every move I make," Harry deduced silently. "I'm going to have to act carefully whilst I'm here."

"Now that the Sorting is completed and I have all of your attention, I would like to introduce the newest member of our staff, Professor Slughorn" Dumbledore gestured to a rather large-bellied bald man who raised a stubby-fingered hand in greeting. "Professor Slughorn is an old colleague of mine who has agreed to resume his old post of Potions master. That said," Dumbledore continued, ignoring the confused mutterings of the students before him, "I am pleased to inform you that Professor Snape will be taking over the mantle of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher this year."

A loud chorus of groans met this announcement but a dark glare from said Professor quickly quietened the crowd.

"Well that's about all we have in way of announcements apart from the usual things like stay out of the Forbidden Forest and no magic is to be used in the corridors. So, tuck in," Dumbledore smiled, his arms open in invitation.

As soon as the words had left the old man's lips, the tables groaned as large quantities of food magically appeared. Harry wasted no time in tucking into the delicious delicacies supplied by the house elves.

Conversations immediately began around the Hall, every single one of them focussing on Harry's entry into the Hall. Harry grinned as he noticed this. Frankly he wasn't too thrilled by the increased attention on him but if there was one thing he'd learned since coming to this school, it was that he would be the centre of attention no matter what he did. So, when the star thestral had brought him directly into the Great Hall, he had quickly decided to make the best of a bad situation. By arriving so dramatically, he'd effectively turned people's attention away from talks of him being the 'Chosen One'. It wasn't a long-term solution but it would cut him a bit of slack for a while. He had done a lot of thinking whilst staying over at Luna's house and had come up with several plans of action to tackle his latest year at Hogwarts. If he were to succeed in implementing these plans then he would need to control where people's attention was focused in regards to him. Thus, he would employ the so-called 'Slytherin' part of him that the Sorting Hat once insisted he had. It would take all his cunning but by the end of the year, he would hopefully be in complete control of his life without anyone realising fast enough to stop him. That was his ultimate goal.

Neville's abrupt laughter drew Harry back into the present.

"Snape doesn't look to pleased with you, Harry," Neville stated through a mouth of roast beef. Following the direction of his friend's gaze, Harry snickered as he saw that the star thestral was still present at the Staff table. Though the ruined plates had been magically repaired long ago, the thestral was so intent on continuing its investigation of Snape's dark locks that it refused to move, stopping both Snape and Dumbledore from partaking in the meal. All the other teachers were standing about unsurely, wanting to help but none of them knowing what to do. Hagrid was not present to deal with the creature and as some of them couldn't even see the beast, they just floundered around uselessly. The only one who was unaffected by the thestral's presence was McGonagall who sat to the right of the Headmaster, calmly sipping a cup of tea as she watched her peers amusedly.

The star thestral paid no mind to the chaos around it, preferring to focus its attention on sniffing the potion master's hair. It mustn't have like what it smelt for suddenly the thestral sneezed, much to Snape's disgust and the students' (the ones who could see the creature) amusement. After snorting loudly in Snape's general direction, the star thestral then launched itself back into the air and out the door.

Ignoring the dark glares being sent his way by the Slytherin Head of house, Harry went back to his food. For once, Harry actually enjoyed hearing people talking about something he had done. It was immensely entertaining listening to people speculate over just how Harry had arrived. As most people present hadn't been able to see the thestral, wild and somewhat stupid guesses were being tossed around. Some were insisting that he had ridden a disillusioned broomstick, others were claiming the Giant Squid had simply tossed him into the Hall because he had angered it. A lot of spells Harry had never heard of were mentioned by some of the more pompous Ravenclaws whilst an obviously muggle-born first year in Hufflepuff was drawing parallels between Harry and Superman.

Harry's enjoyment abruptly died as he noticed a few of the seventh year boys at the Ravenclaw table were mocking Luna as she told them that Harry had ridden on a thestral.

He knew that Luna's explanations usually involved fanciful creatures and generally didn't make much sense but that gave the Ravenclaw seniors no right to simply dismiss her words as stupid, especially in this case as she was right. Angered at the senseless bullying by the supposed 'smart' house's senior members, Harry stalked over to them. He had always hated bullies because of his upbringing at the Dursley's but he felt doubly angered that someone would do this to his blonde friend. She deserved better.

"Oi, Luna," Harry greeted stepping in front of her, purposely positioning his body to block the boys from her view. He could feel the anger of the boys rolling off them in waves as they realised that he was purposefully snubbing them. "Why don't you come sit with Neville and me?" Harry offered. "I'm sure you'd prefer to have some intelligent company."

The Ravenclaws around them bristled at the blatant insult.

"What the hell are you implying, Potter?" one of the more burlier Ravenclaw boys demanded.

"You lot are supposed to be the smart ones, right? Well how is bullying someone who speaks their mind an intelligent act? Your academic abilities will get you nowhere if you are too narrow minded to accept and consider someone else's ideas. You're practically dooming yourself."

"You're one to talk, Gryffindor. Your house is comprised of members who aren't even smart enough to tell their arses from their wands," came the sharp retort.

"A common misconception and I find it sad that you've obviously accepted the idea without question," Harry shook his head. "We Gryffindors aren't dumb or foolish, we simply think that going out and experiencing life for ourselves is much more important and fulfilling than reading about it in some old book."

Harry smiled as he saw that none of the seventh years could come up with a decent rebuttal.

"The good thing about Ravenclaws," Harry thought as he watched them, "is that if you beat them in a game of wits than they will actually sit back and think about what you've said. If I had done the same with some Slytherins, I would have been jinxed before I said two words."

"Good day, gentlemen," Harry nodded as he took Luna's hand and dragged her back to the Gryffindor table.

"That was a good debate, Harry," Luna acknowledged as she smiled at Neville in greeting. "You've improved."

"Living with two Ravenclaws can do that to you," Harry responded, thinking back to the fierce word and wit battles he had had with both Xenophilius and his daughter over the summer. "Very useful skill to have," he concluded happily, "and because I didn't end up having to exchange spells with them, I didn't draw the attention of everyone like what usually happens when I have an argument with someone."

All too soon dinner was over and Harry got up to leave the Hall. He made sure to stay as far away as possible from Hermione, Ron and Ginny, as he walked with his Housemates to the Gryffindor tower. Arriving well ahead of them, he swiftly made his way to the sixth year boy's dormitory waving to and greeting people as he went. As he was the first of the boys to arrive at the room, he grabbed the necessary gear and went into the bathroom. After removing his magically shrunken Firebolt from one of the pockets of his robes, he tossed the dirty clothes into the hamper for the house elves to wash for him before stepping into the shower. When he was done, he climbed into his pyjamas and left the bathroom. By now, the other boys were present each in various states of undress as they all prepared for bed. Calling out a general 'good night' he crawled into bed, steadfastly ignoring Ron's answering 'good night'.

Hidden by the heavy curtains that surrounded his bed, Harry whipped out his wand and cast a silencio charm on the curtains. It had become an everyday practice of his so as not to alert anyone if he had a nightmare.

Satisfied with his work, he then began his nightly Occlumency exercises, taking the time to properly sort out and organise his thoughts in his mind. With the aide of some of Xenophilius' books, he had found a few mental techniques, which had help to strengthen his Occlumency shields over the course of summer. Though they still had a lot of room for improvement, Harry felt they were at least strong enough to detect any Legilimency attacks from Snape or Dumbledore. It wasn't much but it was a start.

"This year will be different," he vowed silently as he felt sleep overwhelm him.

A/N: I'm kinda curious to find out just where people who are reading my fic are from. So when you push the little purple button below to review (c'mon, you know you want to…), please also include what country you're from. Cheers!