Harry looked towards the darkened sky. Hogwarts was basically a huge castle on the mountains, which resulted in a fantastic view of the night sky and when they actually got up to the castle, the lake and valleys that surrounded the aged castle, too. Harry couldn't help but feel this was all a dream...the letter inviting him to attend, being told he was a wizard, escaping the Dursley family...it all seemed to good to be true.
Either way, dream or not, he wanted every moment to sink in deep; the cloudless sky that was spotted with stars, the lake glistening in the moonlight, the gigantic castle that sat on the mountains...it was all perfect. He looked towards his newfound friend, Ron Weasley. The first friend he'd ever had.
Ron Weasley had ginger hair, blue eyes and lots of freckles. He was about the same size as Harry, and was extremely friendly. He came from a large wizarding family of whom were all poor. It seemed cruel that such a nice looking family like the Weasleys were poor, and obviously had to buy all of their stuff second hand, when there were families like the Dursleys that were well off with money, and you'd have to try hard to find a nastier family.
Harry shook his head slightly. He'd never understand how the world worked.
Harry looked towards the towering doors in amazement. Apparently they'd be walking through them in a few moments, to be sorted into the different houses. Personally Harry didn't really understand it, but he wasn't going to let anyone else know that, even Ron. One of the teachers, Professor McGonagall, was explaining quickly about the rules.
He heard a rumbling slightly to the left of himself, a sound that emerged several times a day from Dudley. Harry looked at Ron in faint amusement, who was stood on his left.
Ron looked sheepish. "Sorry, mate. Just a bit hungry," he whispered, glancing at McGonagall to see if she could hear. "I don't really like the look of her, do you?"
Harry glanced back towards McGonagall. She was wearing a pointed hat which looked like she never took off. She was obviously getting old, as the wrinkles said it it. She wore a stern-looking face. She obviously wasn't the type for jokes, Harry noted to himself silently. "No," he whispered back, watching the professor silently to see if she was looking in his direction. "No, bit too stern looking if you ask me. Looks as if she hasn't smiled in years..."
Ron smiled. "True."
Harry hoped he'd be in the same house as his newfound friend, as he found himself following the rest of the first years into the Great Hall.
"Potter, Harry," McGonagall called out. Harry pretended that he didn't hear the sudden rush of voices as his name was called out; Hagrid, the gamekeeper, had already explained to him that Harry was famous in the Wizarding world. He was the only person ever to survive the killing curse, Avada Kedevra. When Hagrid had told him this piece of information, Harry couldn't help but laugh internally at the resemblance to Abracadabra, the little kids' version that was often seen in fairy tales.
The walk up the steps to the stool and the hat seemed daunting. He couldn't help but think that the moment the hat touched his head, it'd mention how there must've been a mistake with the invitation to him. Then he'd be sent back to the Dursleys, never to see Ron, or Hagrid, or even McGonagall.
In his musings, he almost lost his footing and nearly tripped up the last step. Red-faced, he sat on the stool and looked at the people around the room. Everyone seemed to be on the edge of their seats, looking intently at Harry. Personally, he found it unnerving. He flashed a nervous smile to Ron, sat with his brothers at the Gryffindor table, who grinned back in response. He looked to the rest of the first-years to be sorted. A blond boy with a pointed face he'd never met before was looking at him thoughtfully. He smiled and Harry faintly smiled back. He couldn't quite get rid of the sick feeling in his stomach as McGonagall placed the hat on his head. At least he couldn't see anyone else as the hat slid past hit eyes.
Harry Potter, eh? A voice in his head said, and he found himself jumping in shock. Ah yes, how I've been waiting for this moment. I can remember when I sorted your parents...they were both in Gryffindor...shame that they died in the end, a pair of great minds. I can feel your worry, boy. Don't worry, I'm not going to send you back to the muggles...you have too great a mind. Harry visibly relaxed. Yes, a great mind indeed. Ah, this will be a difficult decision...I see you have plenty of courage, a Gryffindor trait...An intelligent mind, a Ravenclaw trait...A cunning and ambitious mind, a Slytherin trait. You would do great in Slytherin...
"SLYTHERIN!" the hat bellowed. Harry looked sadly at the Gryffindor table and wandered down to the Slytherin table, all of which were clapping. A few reached over to shake Harry's hand before he sat down next to one the older looking students. "Welcome to Slytherin," he said. "Ethan Weathergate."
"Harry Potter," Harry replied, smiling faintly and looking over to where Ron was sitting over at the other end of the hall. Ron looked at him for a moment, and Harry was unable to read what he was thinking, then he turned back and started talking to one of his brothers. Harry watched as Finnegan, Seamus got sorted into Gryffindor sadly. Why couldn't he be over there, too?
Harry tucked into all of the delicious food around him half-heartedly, not really engaging in any particular conversation.
"Hi," said the boy with the blond hair and slightly pointed face. The boy smiled slightly. "I guess you're a bit sick of hearing this, but I'm Draco Malfoy. Not really the house you wanted to be in?"
Harry smiled back, suddenly feeling a little better. "Harry Potter...no, not really. I guess it's that I don't really know anybody."
"Tell me about it," Draco said, eating some roast potatoes. "I only know a few people slightly here, but only by face, really. Mostly through my father's friends."
"Oh, so you're from a wizarding family?"
"Yeah...I've heard you've been living with your muggle relatives. I've never really met any muggles, but they've always intrigued me a little." Somehow Draco seemed to ooze intelligence and elegance.
"I'm not too sure you'd want to meet my relatives," Harry said, laughing lightly. "They're not the best of the bunch, lets just say."
Draco's eyebrows shot right up into his hair. "Sounds like you had a rubbish time there. I would've thought that being famous, they would've pampered you like a prince..."
"Ah, far from it. I didn't even know that I was famous anywhere until a few days ago. Shortly after I had the shock of my life, finding out that I was a wizard."
Draco's eyebrows knitted together in confusion and surprise. "You didn't know you were a wizard? Not even that you were famous? Woah, that's bad. So you're not the pampered little prince I'd always believed you to be?"
Harry smiled lightly. "No, sorry to disappoint."
"So you don't know about Quidditch or anything like that?"
Harry shook his head. "Quidditch?" he said in confusion.
Draco looked like Harry had just suddenly grown another pair of ears. "I'll have to fill you in on everything, then..."
After the Headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, made a little speech, all of the first years were made to follow the prefects to the Common Rooms. Draco was still talking about various different Quidditch teams, when Harry noticed one of the portraits wink at him. Harry stopped abruptly. "That portrait just winked at me, I swear," he said disbelievingly.
Draco laughed. "Of course! I forgot that muggle pictures didn't move! Well yeah, all magical photographs and portraits move...I think it's some sort of charm or something, never really looked into it myself..."
Harry gaped at the hundreds of paintings that were all waving, talking and in some cases walking out of their portraits. He didn't think he'd ever get used to things like this.
Meanwhile, Draco seemed to enjoy the fact that he was the one that was teaching Harry about the Wizarding World, when Harry noticed one of the staircases moving. "Does that usually happen in a wizards' home?" he asked, his brain feeling ready to burst from all of the information. "I wouldn't like knowing the fact that if I just slipped on the top step..." he shuddered.
Draco laughed again. "No, that's just Hogwarts. Besides, even if that did happen, there's all sorts of spells that protect you from falling over, it's completely safe."
Harry still couldn't help himself get off the moving staircase as quickly as possible. He didn't quite trust what Draco said about them as of yet.
For some reason they went upstairs only to come back down again. Either the Slytherin prefects were as dumb as they looked, or we were going on some sort of tour as the prefects led the way in silence. Or they were just talking to the people up front, but that did a great load of good to the people at the back like Draco and himself.
To be fairly honest, most of the people in Slytherin looked like they'd have to think pretty hard to add 2 + 2. Draco looked like he was thinking along the same lines.
"Some of these lot looked like they've evolved from the troll age...I doubt any have even seen a book before..." Draco looked mildly disgusted.
Harry's eyes lightened up immediately. He loved books. At the Dursleys that was all he seemed to get...Dudley liked to launch them at Harry as a game. Not that he ever wanted them back. Dudley and books just didn't mix. Harry doubted he'd even read if it told him where a pile of chocolate lay hidden waiting to be discovered, and that way pretty much saying something. So Harry used to read often. Well, when he wasn't doing the chores and such. "Ooh, I love reading," he said to Draco enthusiastically. "I should really lend you some muggle books sometime, they're the best."
"Really? Muggle books?" he said disbelievingly.
"Yep. Wouldn't really expect it, would you? But some of them are bloody brilliant."
"Wow, I'd love to read them sometime," he said, flashing a grin at him. "And thank god, someone else here knows how to read! I don't think I would've been able to last in this house with these lot," he added, nodding his head towards the rest of the Slytherins.
"Yeah, I understand. All of the clever ones are in Ravenclaw, aren't they?"
"Partly...I guess it depends. Some clever ones are placed in either Slytherin or Gryffindor, too. Because the founders found bravery and ambition higher than intelligence, the sorting hat often places others in different houses when it feels we have those traits, too. It's all pretty complicated."
"Well, you know when I had the sorting hat on?" He asked Draco as they turned as corner nearing the dungeons. "It was going on about placing me in Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. In the end it decided that I'd do best in Slytherin, but I can't help but wonder..."
Draco looked at Harry carefully. "You didn't really want to be in Slytherin at all, did you?" Harry shook his head carefully. "Be careful what you say around here in that case, then. Go shouting out that around the Slytherins and you'll find yourself beaten up on the floor faster than you can say 'Salazar'. Out of curiosity, why didn't you want to be in Slytherin?"
"Well I guess it's just what someone said...Something about only dark people get into Slytherin. It worries me; I don't want to become evil, you know?"
Draco looked like he was considering what he was going to say to Harry. "Well, I can't exactly argue with that, but it's not entirely true. Not everyone becomes dark, that's being a bit harsh to all of the people that aren't. I know a fair few that have come out of Slytherin and they are what people consider 'good'. But personally, this is my opinion: There isn't really a lot of difference between the different sides people are on; they both fight for what they believe in...they both fight for what they believe is the greater good. But really, it doesn't matter which side you're on, because either way no side is good are bad. Both sides will possibly even kill for their cause. So really, nobody ends up winning."
"That's another way to think of things..." Harry looked at Draco, suddenly feeling much better about being in Slytherin. "It's a shame everyone doesn't think the same as you, Draco."
With that, they carried on in a comfortable silence.
Harry and Draco entered their room, excited. Apparently, in the Slytherin dorms there were enough rooms to hold only two to a room. Harry felt marginally better about this, seeing as though he wouldn't need to share a room with the two gorillas that were also sorted into Slytherin. At least he felt safe around his new friend, Draco.
Harry jumped straight to his bed, the next to where Hedwig was sat in her cage. "Hey girl," he said to her. "I think I'd better let you out of this cage now, huh? You can get to know all of the other owls." He unlocked her cage and she jumped onto his knee and rubbed against his hand affectionately before flying off.
"Can I just say, your owl is absolutely fucking gorgeous, Harry," Draco said as she flew towards the Owlery.
He sighed. "Yeah, I know. I've only got Hagrid to thank for that."
Hagrid had bought him the snowy owl as a birthday present when he collected him from the Dursleys, as they refused to give him his letters from Hogwarts. The first time he'd heard about Hogwarts was off Hagrid.
"Hagrid? As in the gamekeeper?"
"The one and only. He looks pretty scary, but he's alright really."
"My father told me to avoid him. Mind you, my father doesn't want me to befriend any Gryffindors or Hufflepuffs." He sighed. "For some reason, he also wanted me to befriend you."
Harry turned cold. "Why?"
Draco hesitated as he was bent over his trunk. "Okay, promise not to judge me or stop being my friend or whatever if I tell you?" Harry nodded warily. "Well, you've heard of Voldemort, right? Well, you must've. He's the one that -" He stopped shortly, as if scared he would hurt Harry's feelings. Harry felt a little bubble of joy in his stomach. Nobody else had done that before. Usually they just carried on with no worry of hurting his feelings.
"That killed me parents and attempted to kill me, too. Yeah, I know."
Draco cleared his throat. "Well, yeah. To put it bluntly. Well, anyway...my father was one of his followers. Death Eaters, they called them. And he says it's only a matter of time before Voldemort comes back. And I guess he's sorta..." Draco rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. "Well I think he wants me to betray you eventually."
Draco took one look at Harry face and added quickly, "not that I would do, Harry! You do believe me, right?"
Harry was confused. Here was one of the first friends he'd made, ever. Maybe he was like the Dursleys, even more cunning? Instead of being nasty, he was leading him into a false sense of security, until one day he handed him over to his parents' killer. Or he could be actually decent, confiding in him just to make sure there would be not misunderstandings.
"I...uh – Well. I...I don't know."
Draco actually looked guilty and obviously wanted to take what he'd said back. "Look, I want to be your friend, Harry. I'm not going to betray you, I promise."
And Harry believed him when he said it like that, in that desperate pleading voice, as Draco had said that without breaking eye contact. "I'm sorry I doubted you, Draco. But you know, I can't help but wonder...I've never actually had a friend, and when I do it seems to good to be true and then you say that..." He looked at Draco's stricken face. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that."
"No, don't be sorry." His voice seemed slightly strained. "You've never had a friend?"
Harry looked away, ashamed. "No, I guess I haven't." He started to busy himself with unpacking his things, starting to feel awkward and needing something to do with his hands.
Harry stiffened for a moment as Draco's arms wrapped around Harry's body, then relaxed slightly. Draco wasn't going to hit him or-
"Well, you've got me now..." Draco paused and Harry knew he wanted to say something, but Draco remained silent and gradually let go of him. Harry felt at loss when Draco wasn't holding him anymore. It was rather intimate, something he'd imagine his mum doing, if she was alive.
Harry turned back to Draco, who was leaning on the wall looking at him intently. "I wish I could just live here, forever...never go back to the Dursleys. But I feel a bit uncomfortable here, too. I don't know anyone, I'm a walking wreck whose every emotion is viewable for all to see-"
"You're wanting to mask your emotions? Not let anyone see what you're really thinking?"
Harry thought about it. "Yeah. I don't like the idea that I'm an open book, easy for all to read...Let's just say that I just don't like to trust people too easily."
"Well," Draco drawled. "I happen to know how to do that. I've been perfecting my mask for about...let's say, since I was four? I always had to, father didn't like me acting like a child. I very rarely let people see what I'm feeling, as it would often get me into trouble. If there's anything I've learn it's not to trust people too quickly, and never let your guard down, whoever it is."
Harry felt hesitant for a second. "I – would you be able to teach me how to do it, too?"
"Sure," he said, walking over to where Harry was sat on the edge of his bed. "First thing is, you have to take control of the situation. Without that, there's no hope. Next step is, to learn how to feel nothing, make it a natural instinct." Harry tried for a second, shutting out all emotions and thinking of nothing but white emptiness. "That's great!" Draco said, encouragingly.
Harry heard what Draco said, but didn't take the bait – he knew that Draco was trying to make him show an emotion.
"Ah, you're gonna be good at this, Harry. You're a natural. Now you can stop...get some rest, you can try practice tomorrow. For now – sleep."
Harry hesitated for a split second and hugged Draco. "Thank you," he whispered into the blond's neck.
Draco hugged him back. "For what?" he asked calmly.
"Everything," Harry replied with ease.