Harry stood looking up at Hogwarts. It had been well repaired from the final battle and looked much like it had in his sixth year. He stood at the entrance with the rest of the eighth years. He, Ron and Hermione had decided to return to get their NEWTs. Harry and Ron still wanted to be Aurors and Hermione wanted to be a Mediwitch. There were five Gryffendors, four Raveclaws, two Hufflepuffs and three Slytherins so far.
As they stood chatting idly about the coming year, the low purr of an engine could be heard coming up the drive. Moments latter a black convertible came into view. Murmurs broke out amongst the students.
"Ah yes," McGonagall murmured, "just who we've been waiting for."
As the car parked up outside the doors, Harry felt his stomach drop. Goyle was driving, Crabbe riding shotgun. It seemed the Fyndfire hadn't killed him after all. He had stumbled out of the burnt out room of requirement hours later and straight into Goyle's arms. But it wasn't those two who were worrying him. Malfoy was sprawled languidly across the back seat, a cigarette held loosely between his fingers.
"What're they doing here?" Ron hissed. "They should be in fucking Azkaban."
"Really Ron," Hermione sniffed, "if that were true then they would be there. They've been proved innocent." Things had been chilly between those two since they had broken up and Harry was sick of mediating.
As the car came to a halt, Malfoy slid himself out and went round to the boot. Popping it open he pulled out two holdalls. He passed the first to Crabbe, who had followed him round, then grabbed the second himself. His cigarette was finished so he threw it on the ground and ground it out with his foot. His canvas shoes were scuffed and he was wearing a pair of shorts which only reached his mid-thigh, the hair on his legs must have been too pale to be seen. He had on a strap top which was low cut enough to reveal his sculpted pecks but almost reached the bottom of his shorts, the braid of his hair also reached to that length. The shorts were black and the top was pale grey with black writing that said:
The Pureblood Ideal:
Crabbe and Goyle had a similar colour scheme, but their shorts were longer and they wore t-shirts and trainers. Most noticeably, all three had a strip of black material wrapped around their left wrists. It was illegal to show the dark mark in public, but the tie made it obvious they all bore it.
"Thank you three for joining us." McGonagall said frostily.
Goyle had just finished putting the car hood up and locking it. He smiled over at her. "Sorry, traffic."
He took Crabbe's free hand and the three of them sauntered over to where Zabini, Parkinson and Nott stood. Their greetings were subdued. They just exchanged quick kisses and nods. Then McGonagall called them all together.
"As there are so few of you will share a common room and dormitories. You will not be with your houses." There were groans. "There is no room for you there. As you know, you will have much more freedom this year. Curfew does not apply, school uniform is not compulsory, and you may leave the grounds whenever you wish. I trust you will not abuse these privileges. Now please follow me to your dorms."
The Slytherins moved first, following her inside. Malfoy got out another cigarette with his free hand.
"No smoking in the castle, please Mr Malfoy." McGonagall admonished.
Malfoy merely nodded and tucked it behind his ear.
"Nicotine addict," Crabbe teased.
Malfoy pouted playfully. "I can quit any time I like."
There was a chorus of disbelieving rights and sures from the Slytherins. Harry couldn't quite believe it. People were teasing Malfoy, and Malfoy wasn't hexing them.
They were led to the third floor where their dorms and common room was. The common room was done in carefully neutral colours, but was otherwise pretty similar to the Gryffendor one. The boys were directed to a door on the left through which was their dorm.
Malfoy and Crabbe threw their bags onto a bed and the three of them climbed on another. Zabini and Nott also claimed beds. Besides from them, Harry was sharing with Ron, Neville, Justin Finch-Fletchly, Terry Boot and Russel Brint (a Revenclaw Harry had never even spoken to).
"There's one too few beds," Neville said with a frown.
Goyle looked up. "No worries, man. Vince and I share." He gave another easy grin.
Ron shook his head. "No way."
Crabbe's turn to smile. "Don't worry, we know some decent silencing charms."
"Now way," Ron reiterated, looking disgusted. "No way are you two having sex in here."
The Slytherins laughed. "Well, where else do you want us to do it? The common room?"
"Showers?" Crabbe suggested.
"Quiddich lockers?" From Goyle
"Shut up," Ron hissed.
"Just ignore them," Nott advised, "we do."
"Hey," Crabbe threw a pillow.
"Three little faggots," Zabini said, his affectionate tone belying his words, nodding over at their bed with a fond smile. "It's enough to put a straight guy off his food."
Malfoy stuck out his tongue.
There was something weird going on here and Harry didn't like it. It felt wrong. Malfoy wasn't acting like he usually would, he wasn't dressed like he usually was, didn't make the same sneering comments or show his usual distain. Harry knew first hand that people could change, but they didn't just get personality transplants. He resolved to watch closely to see what was really going on.
The rest of the room seemed to have quietened down. Ron was sulking about being teased by the Slytherins and there was quiet banter issuing from the green and silver side of the room. Malfoy was quiet, only responding when spoken to, although he seemed to do that good-naturedly enough. He had a soft smile for anyone who interacted with him, and the others looked on indulgently whenever he joined the discussion.
Harry looked at a still pouting Ron. "Gonna go see 'Mione." He told him. Ron just grunted vaguely, now absorbed in a Quiddich magazine.
Harry wandered through to the common room and found Hermione there, and also Pansy Parkinson, who was presumably waiting for the Slytherin boys. The girls were sitting on opposite sides of the room and ignoring one another.
"Hey 'Mione," he murmured.
"Hey Harry, how are the dorms?"
"Fine, I guess. It's gonna be weird sharing with the other houses."
Hermione nodded in understanding. "Yes, well," she smiled gently, "I suppose we're all just going to have to get over ourselves."
"Might be a bit of a problem for some of us. Ron nearly had a fit when he found out Crabbe and Goyle are sharing a bed."
Hermione frowned. "Well they are engaged."
Harry was surprised. "Really, how do you know?"
"Pansy said so." She inclined her head in the direction of the other girl.
"What? You just got chatting?"
" Yes, Harry, girls are quite sociable."
Harry frowned. "Did she mention anything about Malfoy?"
"I think there's something going on with him."
Hermione shook her head. "Harry, don't start this again."
"I dint think it's anything sinister, 'Mione, just odd. He doesn't seem himself. I'm actually..." Harry looked down. "I'm actually a bit worried."
"About what, Harry?"
Harry shook his head. "I couldn't say.