The next month witnessed a flurry of classes, homework, and stressful encounters. The day after the feast, saw several Slytherin students sizing him up like a choice steak, as a couple older years in the house attempted to sway him into friendship. Their methods and motives were suspect, as many saw fit to mention his parents, or you-know-who, in relation to offers to 'help him cope' with being a lion in the serpent's den. They acted as if he were a keep-away object, and the politics grated even before breakfast was over.
To the opposite, some within his own house seemed hostile, glaring at him as if he had committed some slight against humanity. These were the children of death eaters, he assumed. He found such antics distressing, but kindly deflecting their offers kept things from becoming ugly a time or two. The males in his own year remained oddly quiet on the topic, save private barbing from the Malfoy heir. The girls thought his silence was a show of arrogance, like Zabini's.
By contrast, among the other houses, it was only Gryffindor which seemed mortally offended at his new house. Though the overheard talk made him wish to shrink in on himself, he set his jaw and bore the suspicion. Incited largely by Ronald Weasley, half of the house seemed inclined to believe him to be the Anti-Christ. One overheard conversation, while waiting outside of the first potions class of the year, nearly brought the dark boy to tears.
"I mean, I bet his parents must be proud. The son they died for is just as bad as a death eater, now."
"I heard he murdered his caretakers, and that's why he was on the platform alone."
"Terrified, is more like it. Look at him, I bet they took one look at his freakish scar and had to put a bag over his head."
"I wouldn't blame them. He killed his own parents, you-know-who, and then has the gall to put his lot in with the supremacists."
The bone-deep sorrow inspired by those words had quickly turned to cold anger, squaring his shoulders and making his eyes darken. Before he could do anything about the gossipers, Draco and Co. beat him to it. The action of defense shocked Harry to stillness, as he watched Crabb and Goyal threaten the Gryffindors with violence. Draco spared him an inscrutable look, only calling his bodyguards off when the door opened.
The deliberately raised voices had cut him to the bone, hitting some wounds which had never healed from the Dursleys. Never the less, while tentatively grateful for Draco's interference, the show of support only served to put the blonde in the line of fire, as well. Of the Gryffindors, Fred and George were seen expressing their opinion, often in the form of humiliating pranks on key students. Ron seemed to take the brunt of them. He got a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach, any time the twins pranked their own house. It was like being feather-light, mixed with warmth. He hesitated to call it anything but indigestion, but he suspected it to be the elation of having someone defend him, at long last.
To the opposite of the student body, many of the instructors seemed neutral on the topic. Snape was indeed strict, and harsh, in his classroom, however it was not often directed on Harry. The only issue presented itself when a raised voice was needed. Despite all progress, he still flinched, if he was not expecting it. That he knew of, none had witnessed the strange reaction, or if they did, they attributed it to the fact that- Snape is bloody scary when he's mad.
McGonagall was likewise strict, but ran an organized classroom, with no room for fooling off. She was biased towards her own house, but it was not often it presented itself while class was in session. The looks she sometimes shot Harry, were unsettling -but not threatening. She had yet to speak to him outside of academic requirements. Flitwick had fallen off his pile of books, upon calling Harry's name off the roster, but beyond that, seemed to hold truly neutral opinions of him.
Of the other teachers at the school, some seemed oblivious (such as the ghostly Professor Binns). Others seemed intent on ignoring his existence (Quirrel had squeaked interestingly upon spotting Harry). This was all fine by him, as he attempted to keep his head down and focus on his studies. The only deviation occurred every other day, after dinner. Stealing away from his classmates, it was not unusual to see him in the owlry, attempting to get to know his raven.
The large bird had been rather irritated with Harry, not that he could blame him. Guilt ate away at him for forgetting about the only pet he had ever been allowed to own. After the second visitation, with bribes of cooked meat, he was forgiven. Such did not stop him from self-deprecating thoughts on the topic. His one, and only, pet, whom he had loved almost at first sight, and the carrion bird had yet to even garner a name, much less his attentions over summer. He personally thought that he did not deserve, or have the right, to own it. He was just freakish, good-for-nothing, Harry. In this case, he really was as ungrateful a freak as his relatives claimed. Such thoughts provoked further guilt, in the knowledge that Sir Integra had rescued him, for nothing, as he knew the progress made over the summer was slipping.
The cyclical thoughts remained hidden beneath the surface during the day, and came to the fore at night, in the form of horrific night terrors. They left him shivering like a leaf in a hurricane, sweat-soaked sheets prompting a deep mortification. The scent of urine was difficult to mask, without Walter's unflappable bearing to assure him it was 'quite alright', and normal, for a child experiencing night terrors. Harry was certain the butler had simply been trying to make him feel better about it. If his dorm-mates noticed anything, they kept it to themselves.
Shame had stayed his hand, in writing to Walter, or Sir Integra. However the logical side of his mind won out eventually. He was being childish about the entire school affair, and he knew it. There was no call to insult his guardian on top of it. Actually composing the letters had posed the issue. He had no wish to whine, but eventually, in Walter's letter, he included a brief note regarding the bullying; as well as asking for advice on overcoming the night terrors. It hurt on a near physical level, to send them with the newly dubbed Omi. Trusting adults had never been big on his list of priorities, but he was trying.
The name of his raven had posed some issue, as the bird had seemed disinterested in his efforts. It was not until reading through one of his books of history, that the perfect name presented. Omi had been a wizard from Scandinavia, who held a fondness for tricking muggle royalty, in addition to creating the Sonorus charm, which acted as a megaphone. The raven was certainly loud when it wished to voice displeasure.
All in all, the first month was an extremely trying time for Harry, as he struggled to acclimate. Thankfully for him, a new wave of interest spread through the castle like a wild fire in October, derailing a large chunk of the drama associated with his sorting. Quidditch was a sport which held little interest to him, beyond that Madam Hooch had commented on his natural flying ability, and he enjoyed the free feeling of flight. Never the less, the intrigue was contagious, as friendly rivalry broke out between the houses.
Through out the trying times, he had managed avoidance of real conversation with classmates quite well. He was not the only anti-social student in Slytherin, so his antics went largely unnoticed. Or so he thought. It came as a surprise, when midway through the month, Snape called for him to stay behind after class. Fearing some mistake with his homework, it nearly toppled him when the topic was revealed.
"Not that I overly care, Mr. Potter, but why are you secluding yourself from your own house?"
Gaping at the dark professor for a moment, he scrambled as the black eyes narrowed at him. "Er... I don't want to get involved in politics, sir."
"Hogwash." The simple response made his insides squirm, as internally he cursed himself for such a flimsy excuse. Disliking being on the spot, he fought not to fidget, or let his expression slip. The professor paused to take in Harry's appearance, frown turning into a slight scowl. "You are acting like a frightened rat. Quite shocking to think you capable of poisoning your own relations. - Yes, I, and Dumbledore, are aware of that incident." The last provoked a flinch.
"You may continue to allow people the luxury of treading all over you, like a floor mat... Or you can show them that you are more than a child who's celebrity status has gone to his head."
The words echoed Harry's own internal thoughts from months ago, and shocked him into letting the masks slip. His expression was crestfallen, and uncertain, but Snape merely glanced away. What happened to his ambitions, and the resolute assurance that he would blaze his own path? Why was he floundering, and hiding away, as the professor said? He may as well have tossed himself into one of the castle broom cupboards, for all the efforts he had made since arriving at the school.
As if sensing his thoughts, the professor slid a book across his desk, indicating for Harry to take it. "Report to the quidditch pitch tomorrow after class." Not waiting for a response, the man got to his feet, and disappeared into his office. With some dread, Harry picked up the book, and blinked.
'Seeking, For Trolls'
The next day, found Harry's stomach a pit of nerves as he followed Snape's instructions. The pitch seemed unaccountably huge, in its nearly deserted state. Only a large group of older Slytherins assured him that it had not been a joke of sorts. They seemed to not notice his wary approach, too engrossed in conversation. He picked up the vein of topic, as the seeming leader of the group let out an annoyed bellow.
"Damn Higgs for breaking an arm! What in the bleedin' hell was he doing?"
"Showing off for his girlfriend, I heard."
A pretty blonde girl, who looked to be in seventh year, commented idly, "I heard he refused to let Madam Pomfrey heal it because he wanted more free time for NEWTs."
That sent the boy into a flurry of vulgarity, kicking at the ground to vent frustration over the loss of an obviously favored team mate. Harry shuffled, fighting not to flinch at the display. The movement caught the attention of some of them, prompting the same blonde girl to smack the leader upside the head with her broom.
"Oi! Shaddup, we got virgin ears listening!"
Ignoring the furious glare that received, she sauntered over to smile fakely at Harry. "You lost, Potter?" The attention made him wish to cringe, as the others turned to stare. Drawing in a deep breath, he pushed aside the quivering of his heart, to look her resolutely in the eye.
"No. Professor Snape told me to come here. I'm assuming, to try out for seeker." His voice was quiet, but carried easily enough. Observing their body language, some of the tension eased from his frame, as a realization dawned. They were like snakes, in their own right. Some of them were genuinely cold, but the way they bore themselves spoke plainer than words. A couple of them crossed their arms over their chests, defensive postures. Others in the group looked outright curious, leaning forward slightly to better hear the goings on. The remainder held themselves aloof, and without opinion.
The boy, Marcus, if he remembered correctly, looked him over a touch harshly, shoulders tense. After a long moment, he slowly began to relax, frown turning into a thoughtful smirk. "You ever played before, Potter?" A hesitant shake of the head earned him a crooked-toothed grin.
"No time like the present."
Before he quite knew what was going on, he found a broomstick shoved into his hands, and he was in the air. The sensation of flying filled him with a calming joy, previously foreign to him. It was dizzying, but thankfully the flying lessons from Madam Hooch had gotten him used to it enough to manage. Wind ruffling his unruly hair to new levels of disarray, he could not stop a small smile. A sharp whistle from below signaled the beginning of the impromptu match.
It was six against six, the Slytherin team having no reserve seeker. Flint remained on the ground to observe performance, while one of the reserve chasers served as the opposing seeker. Nerves steady in the euphoria of flying, he dodged a bludger that was immediately sent his way. He had no time to flinch, as the opposing beaters pelted him with bludgers, giving no quarter even as Harry sped across the pitch.
Eyes searching out the fleck of gold against the sky, he swerved abruptly, nearly unseating himself, as one of the chasers attempted to ram him. Panting for breath, he held on for dear life as no breaks were afforded. Movement caught his eye, prompting him to grit his teeth as the other seeker went into a dive. He moved to chase after her, before pulling up short, squinting at her supposed target, there was nothing there. One of the beaters gave him a thumb's up for not falling for the feign, even as they pitched a bludger at his face.
The game wore on for what felt like hours, dodging, and weaving his way between players and balls alike. A bludger clipped his side half way through, but he resolutely ignored the dull pain, determined to see it through to the end. A flash of gold out of the corner of his eye made him wheel around, bolting off at top speed, almost reckless, as his gaze focused solely on the tiny snitch. Dodging around the hoops, he barrel rolled to avoid the hapless keeper, hand whipping out to snag the struggling ball from beneath the boy's ear.
Cheers erupted from the team, as Flint called for them to land. The beaming grin on his face looked strange, but was mirrored by the others, as they gazed at the bedraggled first year as if they had just won the lottery. Once feet were firmly planted on the ground, his aching side made itself more apparent, but he ignored it without indication. The approval of his housemates filled him with an odd sensation, as if he was about to burst with happiness. Shuffling his feet, he focused on what Flint was saying, rather than attempting to dissect the strange new feeling.
"-Don't tell anyone, you're our secret weapon. I can't wait to see the Gryffindor's die of embarrassment at being bested by a first year!" The older boy's glee was ruptured by one of the keepers.
"He'll have to use a school broom though, won't he?" He shrank back under the glare the reality check received. Harry wavered a moment, still coming off the high of flying, before accepting an offered practice schedule.
"There's no way in hell I'm letting anyone ride on anything less than the best! I'll talk to Snape and see about getting the first year restriction lifted. Technically there aren't any rules against first years playing, just bringing personal broomsticks."
The only female on the team shook her head, scoffing at Flint. "Really, so impractical, men are. He can use the reserve team brooms. We all have Nimbus 2000's. Those snot-nosed brats in Gryffindor would throw a bloody fit if they saw Harry with one. Especially Wood." She sneered unmercifully at Marcus, "Besides, he's supposed to be our secret weapon. What's so secret about him getting a broom-shaped package at breakfast?"
A couple of the reservists looked mulish, but they were ignored in favor of the logical conclusion. Harry remained silent as they fine-tuned the 'plan'. Honestly he held no opinion, since he technically was given no choice on joining the team, beyond try-outs. He felt slightly annoyed at Snape, but in all honesty, he could have thrown the game if he really had issue enough about it. The chatter tapered off, redirecting his focus once more.
The team was splitting ways, signaling the end of try-out practice. Flint walked alongside Harry for a moment, atmosphere uncomfortable, as neither knew quite what to say. Finally, the older boy motioned vaguely towards his side.
"Get that checked out. If you get hospitalized from it, I'll smother you in your sleep."
The words were said almost cheerfully, making Harry wonder if it was meant to be a joke. Judging by his explosion over the last seeker, he decided it was best not to test it. That did not mean he would be going to the hospital wing, though. There was no sharp pain when he bended, or pressed his ribs, so it was safe to say it was merely a nasty looking bruise.
The older boy broadened his steps, distancing himself from Harry, and leaving the young brunette to his own thoughts. It was strange, that after so many years, he would finally be accepted by a group of wizards, and vampire hunters. It made his head reel just considering. Pausing to press his side once more, he finally allowed a grimace, as the pain registered as a dull ache. It was more annoying than the outright stab of broken bones.
Moving to continue back to the castle, he was brought up short as a black shape winged towards him from a rampart. Omi squawked a greeting, prompting a smile, as the large bird landed on his shoulder. Petting the silky feathers, he detached the letters he carried, before blinking.
"I don't have any food on me."
The raven cocked its head to the side, and peered at him ominously, beak clicking with ire, before letting out an ear-splitting screech, rudely throwing himself from Harry's shoulder. Bemused, the young wizard dodged a 'missile', and watched the moody avian head towards the forest. Glancing back towards the notes, he frowned. Walter and Sir Integra were only now responding to his correspondence. It made him worry, for the butler's comments of 'something going on', and wonder what exactly that could be, that they could not even write. Gripping the letters firmly, he jogged the remaining distance to the main doors.
Dinner was in full swing, by the near deafening clamor from the great hall. Ignoring his grumbling stomach at the wafted scents, he turned to make his way down into the dungeons. Once again, he found his move interrupted. A sneering voice from behind made him tense sharply, and set his teeth on edge.
"What are you doing sneaking around, Potter? I'd have thought you'd want your adoring fans on your arm at dinner."
Ron smirked, as if he had just said something clever. The lackluster barb made Harry frown. Even Dudley had been able to come up with more creative words than that. Regarding the red-head silently for a long moment, he shook his head, before making to continue on his way. The lack of reaction prompted a growl, and Harry was almost expecting it when his arm was suddenly grabbed from behind. Wheeling around, he crinkled his nose as his nostrils were assaulted by the scent of stale roast, as Ron shoved his face close.
"You think you're better than everyone else. If you ask me, your parents should have drowned you. It would have saved them from dying for an ungrateful snake."
Eyebrow slowly inching up, Harry could only stare in amusement for a long moment. He had no clue who this boy was, but he did know that Ron Weasley had nothing on Vernon. The insults only served to amuse, and cause a simmering anger to ignite in his belly. Schooling his expression, he regarded the weasel silently for a long moment. The action seemed to unnerve and enrage the red-head at the same time. His hand around Harry's upper arm clenched painfully tight, and the brunette knew there would be a bruise.
"What do you know of me, or my family, to have a right to say anything on the topic? Please let go of my arm."
The quiet, polite, request, made Ron's face turn a strange shade of purple. Before the other boy could even twitch, Harry was certain what was running through his mind. Movements clumsy and obvious, the Gryffindor reared back, as if to strike the smaller Slytherin. Harry took the opportunity. Before the blow could land, he threw all of his weight into falling backward, taking advantage of Ron's shock as they were both unbalanced, to kick out forcefully at the other boy's knee. A loud yelp and cry of agony accompanied a sickly pop, as they both went down. Harry did not flinch as the rough stone tore at his palms, as he caught himself before he could land more painfully.
The taller boy's howls attracted attention from the great hall, but for once, Harry failed to mind. Students peered out in shock, some shouting for the professors, some cheering as they realized what had transpired. Three red-heads detached from the crowd, though none looked terribly sympathetic. The older of the Weasley boys frowned disapprovingly at both his brother, and Harry, while the twins winked at the Slytherin.
"Really, fighting in the corridors?"
"Wait 'til mum hears about this!"
"Stop it, you two, this is a serious violation of school rules!"
The twins made light of their younger brother's misfortune, sparking an argument with the busy-body. For the most part, Harry chose to stay where he was, resting on the floor, while keeping a sharp eye on Ron. Not that he would mind, if the idiot attacked him while there were witnesses. The dislocated knee-cap seemed to keep him under control however. Despite not having intended to seriously injure him, Harry felt satisfaction course through him, as well as embarrassment, and worry. Could he get expelled for hurting a fellow student, even in self-defense?
The professors arrived in short order, McGonagall and Snape heading the adults, as they took stock of the situation. Making a beeline for their respective students, Harry's victory suddenly dulled under the impressive glare of his head of house. Dread coursed through him, as he glimpsed the Headmaster, as well. The other instructors herded the curious onlookers away, ordering them to their dormitories. From the Slytherins, Draco, Theodore, and Blaise observed Harry with some fascination, making him all the more uncomfortable, until they were sharply reprimanded for falling behind the others.
"What happened, Potter?"
Before he could answer the hissed question, a quiet voice piped up from near the house hourglass cases. With some shock, Harry realized the encounter had not been as unobserved as he had thought. Glancing over in surprise, the buck-toothed Gryffindor from the train wavered uncertainly, glancing back and forth between Harry and Ron. She gnawed her lip uncertainly as she drew attention from the adults.
"Harry was attacked, sir."
The Gryffindor house head glanced up sharply from quieting Ron down. "Please explain, Ms. Granger." She darted a nervous glance towards the Headmaster, who seemed just as content to hum whimsically, as if not paying an ounce of attention to the goings on. Harry wondered if he was entirely right in the head.
"I was coming to dinner from the library, when I heard people talking, professor. Ron was taunting Harry about his parents. When Harry ignored him, Ron physically grabbed him by the arm, and refused to let go when Harry asked him to."
She hesitated a long moment, before Snape made an impatient noise. The quiet girl startled a bit, before hurrying on, "Ron tried hitting him, and Harry defended himself."
The adults took a moment to process the information, before the strict transfiguration instructor turned to Harry. Her lips pursed as she took in his appearance, eyes lingering on his bloodied palms. "Mr. Potter, may we see your arm, where he grabbed you?"
The attention from so many adults rankled his nerves, but under Snape's harsh stare, he nodded slowly. Drawing the sleeve of his robe up his right arm, he felt keenly aware of the scars the act left bare for everyone to see. McGonagall's lips pursed into a thin, white, line, but she did not comment, until a rapidly blackening bruise was revealed on his upper arm. It clearly outlined the vague shape of a hand. Her lips turned into an ugly frown. Before Snape could even move to mete out punishment, she beat him to it.
"One-hundred points from Gryffindor, and two weeks detention, for Mr. Weasley. Thirty points from Slytherin, for causing undue harm to a fellow student, Mr. Potter."
Not even Snape could argue with that assessment, though he looked as if he would dearly like to, at the deducted points from Slytherin. The deputy headmistress commented further, "Letters will be sent to both of your families, informing them of this incident."
The Weasley's face and ears turned a stark red at the last, and he obviously bit through his lip so as not to argue. For his part, Harry was only worried about the letters, in how Sir Integra would react. As if sensing the thought, Dumbledore finally stepped in, motioning for Harry to get to his feet.
"Minerva, Severus, why don't you see after your students? I have something to discuss with Harry."
Harry hesitated to follow the order, but a narrowing of Snape's gaze had him on his feet. The headmaster smiled serenely, motioning for the small boy to follow. To his surprise, Snape also moved to join them. Dumbledore paused, "Severus?"
"As Potter is a member of my house, it is my duty to ensure he arrives back to the dormitories safely. I wouldn't put it past certain students to retaliate."
Unable to find fault with the logic, Dumbledore simply nodded, as if the idea was his all along. The twinkling blue eyes set Harry on guard, but Snape's presence eased the sharper edge to the unease. Leaving McGonagall to see after Ron, and the bushy-haired girl, Harry followed reluctantly as he was led to the first floor. A rather imposing gargoyal blocked the way, as they halted in front of it. Harry gazed at it curiously, not the least surprised when it jumped aside at Dumbledore's cheerful proclamation of, 'Sourheads'.
Rather used to the oddities of the wizard world by now, Harry only paused to marvel at the sheer amount of strange items littering the Headmaster's office, as he was waved into a chair. Snape chose to remain standing, taking up a position behind Harry's seat. The display seemed to cause Dumbledore to twinkle all the more, though it dimmed, as the boy refused to look him directly in the eye, as he turned down an offer of sweets.
"Straight to business. Now, Harry, I understand that you were removed from your muggle relatives during the summer." The lack of subtlety put the boy on edge. He nodded slowly, uncertain if he should actually respond.
"I am afraid that there are some discrepancies with your paperwork, and am wondering if you could clear up some confusion, my good lad." The old man shuffled through some parchments on his desk, glasses slipping to the end of his nose, as he peered at one. Behind him, Harry heard his professor adjust his weight.
"Headmaster, I don't believe this to be entirely appropriate." Dumbledore turned twinkling eyes on Snape, expression one of indulgence.
"How so, Severus?"
"I find it unlikely that Hellsing would allow such blatant disregard for legal policy."
The headmaster waved him off, smile not diminishing in the least, as he turned his full attention back to Harry. "This is simply an unofficial inquiry, from a concerned professor. The school records still indicate that Petunia Dursley is your legal guardian. But according to our resources, you arrived at the train station with Mr. Walter Dorneaz. Could you please explain, Harry?"
Abruptly recalling the conversations of summer, Harry very slowly straightened up from his uncertain slouch, staring blankly at some point on Dumbledore's forehead. Snape's seeming defense eased some of his nerves, while intensifying others. The display served to remind him of his current status, however. As Sir Integra had told him, he was now a Hellsing, legally, if not in name. The goblins had seen to that. It had not escaped his noticed, too, that Dumbledore had been the one to contest his parents will. The notion caused a cold feeling to course through him.
Striving to keep his voice quiet, with innocent tones, he countered the question, "I was told by the goblins that my legal guardian is Sir Integra Hellsing. Is there a problem?"
Folding his hands on the desk, the old wizard leaned forward, trying to get Harry to look him in the eye. The attempt failed, as Harry's gaze twitched down to his beard. The twinkling set him on edge worse than anything of the man's demeanor. The sparkle seemed fake, and deliberate, and in reality, did hide the true reflection to his words. The fact ensured that the boy had no reason to observe him beyond body language. There was no way of telling his true intent, otherwise.
"Well, my boy, it is rather distressing. You see, with such conflicting accounts, I have no choice but to adhere to school policy in regards to your holiday, and summer, arrangements."
Dread weighed like an anvil in the pit of his stomach, suspicion making his expression turn stoney. Snape made as if to protest, but Dumbledore cut him off. "You see, if I were to allow you to leave with anyone but the guardians listed on school record, I could lose my job."
Harry glanced down at his lap, hands clenching into fists. Some pieces of the puzzle fell into place, but the true intent and meaning failed to reveal itself. Some emotion reflected in his voice, but it was ambiguous, lending no interpretation.
"I see... I wouldn't want you to lose your job, sir."
The beaming grin summoned the urge to slap the old coot in the face, but he held it back firmly. Thoughts scrambling, he chose to keep his silence, as the headmaster seemed to think the conversation over.
"Very good, lad. I shall send the Dursleys a letter. They have been quite worried, with the oddity of the situation."
Repressing an audible snort, Harry got to his feet. Bitter, but unwilling to show it, he bowed his head slightly. "I'm sure..."
With that, Snape urged him out the door, without a backward glance. Silence reined between them, until they were safely ensconced in the dungeons. The frigid air was actually a relief, as it doused Harry's desire to lash out, though depressed him, as the urge slipped away. His professor shot him a knowing look, though it held no sympathy.
"I suggest you inform Sir Hellsing of your new arrangements..." The firm tone implied much, and the boy knew that he would have to, if he did not wish to be pitched straight back into the hell of Privet Drive. There was no force on earth that would make him go back, after the lengths he had gone to, to escape. Snape nodded slightly, as if to confirm, as they stopped outside the expanse of wall that housed the Slytherin common room. Without so much as a parting, the professor stalked off.
The common room held stragglers, but was empty for the most part, as Harry slunk in quietly. A couple of them acknowledged him with nods, but seemed content to leave him be. It struck him as extremely strange. Normally his entrance was greeted with disinterested glances, or outright glares. Shrugging it off, he made his way over to a deserted fireplace, pulling the nearly forgotten letters from his pocket. Walter's was opened first, read with a faint blush, as the man exchanged idle pleasantries, before primly stating a list of advices for his issues.
Hurriedly tucking that letter away, lest someone spot it over his shoulder, he moved on to one with less familiar handwriting. To his shock, it was from Sir Integra. Hers contained formal inquiries regarding his grades, and class performance. Less formal, was a note to look after himself, and report any suspicious activity. In a post script to her rather formal letter, 'Remember that you are now a Hellsing. We take orders from no one, with heads held high. Do not disgrace our name, by laying down like a dog'. The words stung a bit, but after several moments consideration, he realized they did lend some comfort.
Retiring to the dorm, he was relieved to note that the drapes were closed on all but his bed. He had no wish to discuss the fight with Ronald with them. Not quite ready to sleep, with emotions in turmoil, he took the time to compose replies. Walter's contained thanks for the tips, as well as assurances that he was keeping up with his physical wellbeing. Integra's contained notes regarding his grades, his new position on the quidditch team, and the solemn note regarding Dumbledore's interference. It hurt to admit his need of aid, but her stern reminder bolstered the realization that he was now her family. It was foreign, but he chose to focus on not making her regret granting him asylum.
Note: There you have it. Out in record time, too. One of the medications they have me on is making me feel like I'm having an acid trip, so, yay~Insomnia!