Harry finished copying Lupin's History homework - in the span of a single day, Lupin had given up Spinnet's class as a lost cause and was no longer pretending they had to try for good marks - and put it on top of the pile of finished work.

"What's next?"

Lupin was reading a thick tome while waiting for them to get caught up, and he closed it with a reluctant sigh. "What do we have for Transfiguration? I've misplaced my notes."

Harry recalled that Lupin had taken off rather fast as soon as class had ended, trying to avoid having to tell Harry the truth about Noah Perkins and the many deaths Harry hadn't known about. "Maybe one of us got them by mistake."

He and Sirius looked in their bags.

"I've got them," Sirius said, pulling out some very wrinkled parchment and dropping it in front of Lupin. "You're welcome."

Lupin tried to smooth out the notes with an annoyed expression.

Harry looked at his own notes. "Looks like we're supposed to read the first two chapters again and write an essay analyzing the work we've done in class so far."

"I guess that lets you off," Sirius told Lupin with a grimace. "You got it right the first time you tried. What is there to analyze?"

"That's worse, really," Lupin said, a little too quickly. "I still have to write something."

Sirius didn't look like he agreed with that reasoning.

"Really," Lupin insisted. "I don't know why Transfiguration is coming so easy to me. It's your subject."

That placated Sirius a bit, and he got out a quill and parchment. Harry quickly followed suit.

"Do you think my problem is too much power?" Sirius wondered out loud, tapping the feathered end of his quill on his chin. "Transfiguration isn't usually so... explosive."

"I would have said it was lack of focus," Lupin said, "but I could tell you were really trying today."

"I was," Sirius said, looking a little miffed again. "Wasn't I, James?"

"Yes, definitely," Harry agreed. "I would rather my match caught fire - mine did nothing. Again."

Sirius dropped his quill and patted Harry on the arm. "It isn't important, James. You'll get it. Transfiguration is damn hard and hardly anyone in class is making better progress than you."

Lupin seemed to be under the impression that Harry had purposely gone for Sirius' sympathy, because he was grinning encouragingly at Harry from behind Sirius' back.

"I know that," Harry said, swallowing his desire to point out that all the other students were having the subject for the first time, while he had five years of it under his belt. If Lupin thought he was on the right track, then he would keep going. "I'm just glad I have you two with me. I don't think I could do this alone."

Sirius patted him again. "You never give yourself enough credit."

Harry shrugged. "I like to be honest with myself, and that means admitting I haven't done as well in my studies as I could have."

Lupin winced a little, which Harry thought meant he was overdoing it.

"I mean," he added hastily, "I was always getting sidetracked by all sorts of things. Like Voldemort. And trying not to be killed."

Sirius squeezed him around the shoulders. "Poor James. It was really rotten you had all that dumped on you."

"So, uh... I'm actually sort of enjoying being back," Harry said, trying to sound like he meant it. "It's very odd, but... sort of nice. You know? I keep thinking it's so... normal."

Sirius gave him another squeeze. "No one said you couldn't enjoy yourself - did they, Milo?"

"Not at all," Lupin said. "I think a normal year at Hogwarts could be good for all of us. Just think what an amazing chance it is to get to know each other. You and I didn't get to meet James until he was a teenager. This could give us all a chance to make up for lost time."

Sirius gave Lupin a suspicious look; Harry decided they had pushed him too far and he was catching on. "Maybe..."

"And, of course, it's a great way to keep James out of the public eye," Lupin added. "You do hate attention, don't you, James?"

"Yes," Harry said. "I really do. I hate not being able to go out without people staring at me."

"There, you see?" Lupin said. "A nice, normal year is exactly what he needs after everything that's happened to him."

Sirius looked at them with narrowed eyes. "I didn't say otherwise, did I? Of course James needs to stay here - what choice does he have? They all think he's dead."

"I'm glad we agree," Lupin said.

"Don't argue," Harry said, his shoulders drooping. Couldn't they keep from arguing over him for one evening?

"We're not arguing," Sirius said, still glaring at Lupin.

They started on their essays in silence.

All Harry could think to write was that he needed more practice. He couldn't wait for Charms the next day; he had found First Year Charms very easy compared to Transfiguration. If Charms still came easy to him, he would feel a lot better about his lack of progress in Transfiguration and other subjects requiring wand-work. Right now, it looked like both Lupin and Sirius were ahead of him, Lupin with his perfect needles from matches and Sirius with his nasty stinging hex.

He made himself feel a little better by recalling that he had done better than either of them when Snape had given them his spare wand to try.

Lupin was done with his essay and had opened his book again. Harry sighed and tried to focus; he didn't think McGonagall would call one paragraph an essay.

"Done," Sirius said, shoving his essay away from himself and flopping over onto his back. "Hurry up, James."

Harry looked over at Sirius' essay, just as Lupin peered over the top of his book.

Sirius, clearly, didn't think one paragraph was too little.

Lupin sniffed irritably and went back to his reading without comment.

Harry managed to squeeze a few more sentences out of his unfocused brain, but he knew his essay was far from his best work. So much for what he had just said about trying harder to do well in his studies.

"Don't stop on his account," Lupin said when he saw Harry put down his quill. "Take all the time you need to do it properly."

"I can't concentrate," Harry said. He didn't want them to start arguing about him again. "I think it's as good as it's going to get, honestly."

Here, Hermione would have snatched up his essay and read it, pointing out a dozen ways he could improve it. Lupin, however, only eyed it doubtfully and shrugged.

"Can we take a break now?" Sirius asked, stretching. His shirt started to ride up, exposing his stomach, and he yanked it down. "I'm hungry. Anyone else hungry? James?"

"Not really," Harry said. "Besides, we aren't allowed out."

"You are," Sirius pointed out. "You don't have detention."

"Patrick..." Lupin said in a warning tone.

"Professor Snape did say we should stay in here," Harry said. "I think he meant all of us."

Sirius gave him a long, frustrated look. It was all Harry could do not to squirm; he could practically hear Sirius' voice accusing him of not being like James again.

"We still have Potions to do," Lupin said. "That's the last thing. Let's get it done."

Harry dragged his eyes away from Sirius. "What do we have?" He ducked his head and hid behind his notes so they couldn't see him licking his dry lips. "Hmm... just reading about the potion we're going to make using the ingredients we prepared today."

"I wrote we will have to use our notes to brew the potion, instead of our books," Lupin said. "We might want to go over what we wrote in class, just to make sure we didn't make mistakes."

Harry checked his notes again. He didn't have anything like that. "Oh."

Sirius made no move to begin.

"You better start," Lupin said, frowning at him. "We aren't on your team and if you fail, so will Noah. That's no way to make friends."

Grumbling under his breath, Sirius opened his book so roughly that he tore two pages down the middle, but got started on the work.

"Milo?"

Lupin's quill paused, dripping a glob of ink onto his parchment. "Yes, James?"

"Do you think Professor Snape is a good teacher?"

Sirius snorted so violently that ink from his quill went spraying across his parchment and the bedspread.

"I think..." Lupin hesitated. "I think he gets results. It's not a secret that most of his students pass their O.W.L.s and those who take his N.E.W.T.s class do very well, too."

"So, you don't think he's worse than Alicia - Spinnet, I mean?"

"I think," Lupin said, looking uncomfortable, "he's found a teaching style that gets results, and he doesn't care to look for another."

Harry sighed. Leave it to Lupin to avoid answering.

"You're barmy," Sirius said, shaking his head.

They finished their work in silence. Harry was yawning by the time he had looked over his notes one last time.

"Go to bed, James," Lupin said, sliding the Potions textbook out from under Harry's hand. "It's been another long day, hasn't it?"

Harry nodded. It certainly hadn't been an easy one.

Lupin was studying him intently, frowning. "Take the Dreamless Sleep. You need some uninterrupted rest."

Harry nodded again, wishing Lupin wasn't right. Between the awful History lesson, the ugly reminder of the Hogwarts battle, the run-in between Ron, Neville, and Malfoy, and the overheard conversation between Ron and Hermione, his chances of sleeping through the night were grim. He doubted he could avoid nightmares; the potion would just push them back until he ran out of it, forgot to take it, or fell asleep unintentionally while studying. Sooner or later, he just knew he would find himself trapped in a dank underground passageway, his ears filled with terrified shrieks as the walls caved in.

Lupin's stare turned worried, and Harry forced himself to smile before Lupin went running to Snape again. Snape had already provided the potion. Pushing the nightmares back for a while was about all anyone could do, and Harry knew it even if Lupin didn't.

By the time he got back from the bathroom, Lupin had cleared away their books and had the lights dimmed. Sirius was already sitting in bed, changed into pajamas and staring morosely into space.

Under Lupin's watchful gaze, Harry climbed into bed and took out the bottle of potion.

"Good night," he said, swallowing a dose. He put the bottle back and lay down, letting his eyes fall shut and feeling the potion begin to work before it even settled into his stomach.

"Take some. The git said he had more."

Harry held on to consciousness long enough to hear Lupin protest.

"Shut up and take it, Moony."

Harry, even a heartbeat away from complete unawareness, felt his lips start to curl into a smile. However many things had gone wrong, there were still some things that made life worthwhile.


Their feet were dragging as they headed for History class the next morning.

"I knew it was bad it was first thing," Harry grumbled. "I just had the why wrong."

Lupin didn't try to be the voice of reason. His expression was a bit grim.

"Just stay out of it today," Sirius suggested, looking at Lupin instead of at Harry, even though Lupin had yet to say anything. "Whatever she does, she isn't as bad as -"

"Shh!" Lupin hissed with extra venom, his eyes darting toward a pair of Ravenclaws just ahead of them.

Sirius shrugged at Harry. "Well, I'm staying out of it, anyway," he said with a tone of finality, as if that settled everything.

Harry, having five years' worth of 'staying out of it' attempts under his belt, just sighed again.

They found seats in the back of the classroom.

The class was even more subdued, starting with a less than enthusiastic chorus of, "Good morning, Professor Spinnet." The previous class seemed to have taught everyone the same lesson: don't get noticed.

If Hermione were there, Harry was sure she could suggest spells for that, maybe starting with a simple notice-me-not charm. The thought made him smile a little, until he thought some more and decided his friend might actually side with the young professor. Disturbingly, Harry found he wasn't as sure of her reaction as he should have been after so many years of friendship. Lupin, who was displaying a number of Hermione's most obvious traits when it came to classes, wasn't impressed with Alicia Spinnet's teaching, after all.

His thoughts turned his mood even gloomier.

"Are you all right?" Lupin asked, taking his narrowed eyes off Spinnet long enough to frown at Harry. "You look upset."

"I'm fine," Harry said quickly. Missing his friends was something he was just going to have to suffer through... until he could tell them everything.

If that time ever came.

"Incoming," Sirius hissed into Harry's other ear suddenly.

Professor Spinnet had flicked her wand, causing books to fly off the shelves and through the air over the students' heads. There were a few shrieks and squeals as they ducked for cover.

A book swooped down on Harry, making him think Olivia Titus, who had been sitting in front of him and was now cowering under her desk, might have had the right idea.. or at least better reflexes. The book, however, slowed just in time and fell to the desk in front of him with a bang.

Lupin caught a book out of the air as it came at his head.

"Ow!" A girl to the right of Harry had received her book as well, but hadn't been quick enough to get her fingers out of the way.

"Bugger," said a boy in a dismayed tone as a pot of ink was knocked off the edge of his desk.

"Ten points from Ravenclaw for foul language!" snapped Spinnet.

Harry, now that he felt the danger had more or less passed, peered closely at his former Quidditch teammate.

She was flushed and sweaty, her hand tight around her wand.

He didn't think the over-powered spell had been intentional. Just the same, he was suddenly reminded of Lockhart's showy style.

He shook his head to clear it. Maybe it was just the fact that she was wearing dark lavender robes that day. He didn't think she was trying to impress them with magic. Not after proving she could reduce most of the class to tears with cutting words.

Slowly, the students returned to their seats, eyeing the books warily. Everyone had at least one.

Harry glanced at Sirius, who was making a rather poor attempt at pretending he hadn't just been under his desk.

"Nice to know what we can expect from a seven year education at the world's finest school of magic," Sirius said in a low voice, rolling his eyes.

Harry's eyes darted toward Spinnet in case she had heard, but fortunately she hadn't.

"Shh," Lupin said for good measure, having done the same thing.

"Each of these books," Professor Spinnet said in an unnecessarily loud voice, "mentions the International Statute of Secrecy. You may take the next ten minutes to find the relevant text in your book and take notes."

Almost as one, the students opened their books.

Harry's vision started to blur a little after he had forced himself to read the same paragraph four times, but he could tell no one else had finished yet, so he kept his head down.

Actually, he reckoned everyone else was keeping their heads down for exactly the same reason.

"Time," Spinnet said, most likely precisely ten minutes later. "Bring your books and gather in a circle."

"You're kidding me," Sirius said flatly. Then he looked, worriedly, at Lupin.

Lupin's chair made a horrible screeching sound as he pushed away from his desk, which seemed like a good sign of how he might feel about a repeat of the previous day's disastrous lesson.

"Uh oh," Sirius said quietly to Harry as they watched Lupin head to the front of the room with his chair and book.

Harry sighed.

It didn't surprise him at all when Professor Spinnet called for volunteers to begin a two-person debate.

When he saw her eyes stop on Gemma Gunther, who visibly cowered, Harry couldn't stop himself.

"Me, please, professor!"

Spinnet turned to look at him.

Harry's raised hand wavered and slowly lowered back to his lap. He felt like kicking himself.

By the time he had dragged his chair to the center of the circle, Spinnet had her second volunteer.

Harry eyed Lupin cautiously for signs of an impending outburst. Lupin's fingernails were leaving gouges in his book's soft leather cover, but he somehow managed to keep his voice steady and calm as he thanked Spinnet for choosing him.

Harry dared a glance at Sirius.

Sirius' expression suggested he wished he could climb under his desk again, but he gave Harry a small smile of encouragement.

"You are both in Slytherin House," Spinnet said, more to the entire class than to Harry and Lupin. "Historically, Slytherin families have favored separation of the Magical world from the Muggle world, to the exclusion of Muggleborn witches and wizards."

Harry found himself grinding his teeth. With great effort, he unclenched them.

"Based on what you have read, what arguments would you use to support the exclusion of Muggleborn children from a wizarding institution such as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?"

"I wouldn't," Harry ground out, just about at the same time as Lupin snarled, "I'm half-blood."

There was a long moment of complete silence.

Spinnet looked undaunted. "How would a typical, pure-blood, Slytherin family..."


They avoided looking at the Slytherin hourglass as they passed through the Entrance Hall after Transfiguration class. Harry didn't particularly care if Slytherin won the House Cup that year, but he guessed seeing the thing completely empty would just make him angry all over again.

"Wanna skive off Potions?" Sirius suggested as Harry finished picking at his lunch and pushed his plate away.

Harry huffed irritably.

"Just a suggestion," Sirius said, shrugging innocently.

Lupin banged down his glass of pumpkin juice.

Harry and Sirius exchanged a look.

"We have time to put our things away before we go to class," Harry said, looking past Lupin at the other Slytherins at the table. None of them were looking their way. "We can talk for a bit." He paused. "Let off some steam?"

"Calming draught?" Sirius added in the same innocent, teasing tone as before, but also with the same apprehensive look in his eyes.

Lupin stood up and stepped over the bench. "Let's go."

Harry looked behind them as they walked out of the Great Hall.

He caught a first year Gryffindor looking at him. The girl ducked her head as soon as their eyes met.

A few minutes later they were in their dungeon bedroom, Lupin slamming the door behind them and immediately beginning to pace in front of it.

"Calm down," Harry said worriedly.

"She doesn't know what she's doing!" Lupin exploded. "Or she does, and that's even worse!"

Harry and Sirius exchanged another look and somehow agreed to stay silent.

"Did you take a good look around in Transfiguration? Did you see?"

"I saw," Harry said quietly.

"That's her doing," Lupin ranted. "One lesson was all it took! I can't imagine what she's doing with the upper years. History repeating, she said... the nerve!"

"Calming draught?" Sirius said to Harry, this time without any humor.

Lupin snorted and fell silent, stopping his pacing but keeping his arms crossed over his chest.

"I agree, it was really awful," Harry said placatingly. Sometimes, just having Ron and Hermione agree with him was enough to make a difference when they were helpless to help in any other way.

Lupin didn't look like he felt any better. He was silent for a few minutes, before finally muttering, "We're going to be late to class."

They made their way to the Potions classroom, not speaking.

They were the last to arrive, and Snape glanced at the clock as they walked in. Luckily, they had a minute or two to spare.

Snape, Harry saw, hadn't lost his ability to see what others might miss. Where McGonagall had taught a full hour without Harry getting the sense that she noticed anything amiss, aside from the class being a bit subdued, Snape's narrowed eyes took in the students with a slow, calculating glance before he fixed Harry with a piercing look.

Harry stared back, not caring what Snape might see beyond what he was looking for, though he reckoned that at the moment his thoughts were too jumbled up to be of any use.

Snape's gaze moved onto Lupin.

Harry knew that Lupin was decent at Occlumency, but anyone who looked at Lupin just then would know he wasn't practicing it.

Snape's expression soured.

"I do not tolerate tardiness," Snape said in a low voice that suggested his words were only for their intended targets, but Harry knew he meant for the whole class to hear. Snape never did anything without causing the greatest amount of humiliation possible. "Stay after class."

Sirius opened his mouth, but Harry elbowed him in time to cut him off.

They moved into their partner groups. Harry was glad he was with Lupin; Sirius looked a bit dismayed as Noah Perkins backed away from him, squeaking pitifully when he backed into a wall. With a frown, Sirius moved his things a little closer to Harry and Lupin, giving Noah more space.

Harry could have sworn Snape was about to tell them to put their books away and rely on their notes as they brewed their potion, but at the last minute he seemed to change his mind.

"You may use all available resources to guide you through today's task," Snape said. With a wave of his wand, instructions appeared on the board. "You will learn that potions-making, while requiring precision and care, is as much an art as the highest forms of Transfiguration. A skilled Potioneer may, over a lifetime, develop a personal formula for nearly every potion regularly brewed. Only the most astute of you -" Snape's lips curled into a familiar sneer, "- will notice any difference between what is on the board and what is in your book."

Harry, hoping it would give him time to calm himself, took up the challenge and started to compare Snape's instructions to those in the book.

"I don't see any difference," he muttered irritably a few minutes later.

"Stir twelve times instead of six and crush the thistles," Sirius said immediately, like he had just been waiting to show Harry up.

Harry stared at him, his irritation spiking. Sirius had said he was lousy at Potions. So had Lupin, though Harry would have at least expected Lupin to quickly solve the current puzzle, since it involved reading through instructions rather than actually brewing.

Examining the feeling, Harry decided he was definitely tired of being the worst at every subject.

Lupin looked up, a frown battling with curiosity on his face.

"I cheated," Sirius admitted with a grin. "It's in my book." He flipped his textbook around so it was facing Harry and Lupin. "Cheap git got us used books, remember?"

Harry, who hadn't been bothered by that fact when Snape had given them their textbooks, peered at the page.

Sirius' book was much more heavily annotated than Harry's was. There were notes in the margins, underlines, arrows, and whole sentences crossed out or inserted. Whomever had the book last must have been really into Potions.

"Oh," Harry said flatly.

Lupin gave the book a long, suspicious look, then turned and checked Snape's instructions on the board. He shook his head and went back to looking at his own notes without comment.

Something suddenly occurred to Harry. "Is that why you were making such a mess of your thistles yesterday?"

Sirius smirked at him. "We'll see who makes the better potion, won't we?"

"Don't listen to him, James," Lupin said irritably, pulling on Harry's sleeve. "He isn't in our group and he's welcome to risk his own grade if that's what he wants to do."

Harry, who didn't care either way, went to get their tray of ingredients.

Snape called for silence, so for the next half hour the only sound in the cavernous room was the bubbling of a dozen cauldrons.

Harry couldn't help noticing that most students took advantage of being able to use their books; hardly anyone bothered to use their notes from the previous class or to look up at the board. Unlike Sirius, of course, they didn't have Snape's special instructions written right in their textbook.

"Maybe we should do it the way Snape wrote it," Harry whispered to Lupin. He didn't want Sirius to catch Snape's ire all on his own.

Lupin gave him a withering look and propped up one of their textbooks in the center of the table, where both of them could see the instructions.

"It was just an idea," Harry said with another sigh. "Book it is."

Harry didn't see Sirius' potion until after Snape had them bottle their results. Standing in line behind Sirius, waiting his turn to set the flask on Snape's desk, Harry frowned at the dark blue liquid still bubbling a bit in the flask Sirius held. The potion Harry and Lupin had come up with was a lighter blue and didn't bubble. He was a little concerned about it, in fact, because it seemed to be congealing quickly.

Harry glanced around. The potions he could see in other students' hands were more or less just like his. He breathed a small sigh of relief. Being singled out by Snape in Potions class was still a bad memory, and he would rather avoid it... even for Sirius' sake.

"One point," Snape said to a pair of Hufflepuff girls who had partnered up for the assignment. "An average effort."

The girls seemed happy enough with that, and skipped off toward the door to wait for their Prefect to escort them to the next class.

"Half a point," Snape said to Edwin Cuthbert of Ravenclaw. "How did you come to forget to add the juice from the frog legs?"

Edwin, instead of answering, glanced over his shoulder at his partner, a Gryffindor boy, who had stayed behind to clean their table. He shrugged and stayed silent.

Snape waited.

After a few very uncomfortable minutes, Edwin's shoulders slumped. "I spilled it, sir. I didn't want my partner to get upset."

Snape fixed him with a sour look before motioning his dismissal. Edwin scurried away.

"Three points," Snape said, not losing his sour look as he held Sirius' potion up to the light.

Sirius gave Harry a triumphant grin before bounding away.

"One point," Snape said, barely sparing Harry's potion a glance before setting it with the other graded potions.

Harry, not sure if he was livid or relieved, walked away quickly.

He expected Sirius to be gloating, but by the time he reached their work area, Sirius was back to looking dejected. Harry looked around, and saw that Noah Perkins had hidden himself among the Hufflepuffs waiting in a huddle by the door, and was peeking at the three of them apprehensively, eyes wide.

The Prefects arrived to take the students to Charms. Harry, Lupin, and Sirius watched them go and waited for whatever Snape was going to do to them for their latest mishap.

The Potions door slammed behind the last student.

Harry swallowed and turned around to face Snape.

Snape glared down his nose at them, walking slowly down the isle with purposeful steps that echoed ominously in the otherwise silent room.

"She tried to turn everyone against Slytherins," Lupin said preemptively. Perhaps he realized how feeble the excuse sounded, because he looked down at his feet.

"Be that as it may," Snape said in a deadly tone, "I recall giving explicit instructions for you to keep your heads down. Yet I find you have single-handedly lost forty points for your House." Snape paused to look at them accusingly, perhaps suspecting they might have done so purposely. "Not to mention yet another detention."

Lupin drew a short breath. "I am sorry, really. But she shouldn't be allowed to do this."

"Of course not," Snape sneered. His glare pinned Harry, who knew the next words were meant for him. "No more than Dumbledore should have been allowed to strip Slytherin of an earned House Cup moments after it had been awarded."

Lupin and Sirius both frowned, not understanding.

"Now that you are in Slytherin," Snape continued, "you had best expect to be treated less than fairly and undermined in both subtle and blatant ways. Do you forget that as far as the other Houses are concerned, Slytherin was on the wrong side of the war?"

They all shook their heads, but Lupin made another effort to argue.

"The First Years were getting along until she started in on us. It was a move in the right direction. It was good for the school."

Snape glared at him until Lupin had ducked his head again. "The school is not your concern at the moment. You will desist from antagonizing Spinnet and drawing attention to yourselves, is that clear?"

"Yes, sir," Lupin mumbled, keeping his eyes down.

"I will not intervene this time," Snape said coldly. "You will all serve detention with Filch tonight at eight. Come. I will take you to your next class, as you cannot be trusted to do even that much on your own."

Harry, who had been looking forward to Charms, found his feet dragging as they fell in line behind Snape.

He had the terrible feeling Lupin wasn't going to let matters lie, and even worse, Harry was more or less sure he wasn't going to be able to keep himself from jumping into the fray as well. Harry didn't know what they could do, but the alternative was to sit around and do nothing while the other three Houses turned against them. Wouldn't that draw just as much attention to them?

He couldn't help feeling like everything was falling into the usual pattern again. Adults never helped, no matter how serious the problem was. It was either try to solve the problem yourself and suffer the consequences of breaking rules in the process, or do nothing and suffer anyway.

Snape gave them a push into the Charms classroom, motioned to Flitwick to indicate the students were late on his account, and left them with one final warning glare.

They found seats in the back. Those seats were next to Juliette Tate and Wilma Sallinger, the two Slytherin girls, who looked away quickly when Harry tried to smile at them.

Harry looked around while digging in his book bag for a quill and parchment.

The classroom was divided into fourths just as surely as if there were lines drawn across the floor. Ravenclaws sat in front, followed by Gryffindors on the right and Hufflepuffs on the left.

Harry slumped in his seat and forced himself to focus on Flitwick's introductory speech, but his heart just wasn't in it.