The train ride wasn't terribly eventful. They had quite a few people come into their compartment to say 'hi' to Harry and several stayed briefly to visit, but none took up permanent residence with them, which they preferred.
Harry was able to introduce Tom to Terry Boot and Padma Patil, who had dropped by at the same time to greet Harry, and he had given them a quick run-down of how he knew 'Dominick' and how he was coming to Hogwarts as a second year student.
Draco and Theo had also shown up along with Greg Goyle and Vincent Crabbe en tow. The two thicker, larger, boys had stayed back in the hallway flanking the door to the compartment as if they were guards while Draco and Theo went inside and the four shared a brief discussion over sweets purchased from the trolly. Harry found it exceedingly amusing to watch Tom unwrapping his chocolate frog and eying it dubiously. Tom had looked up at Harry's quiet snickering, narrowed his eyes, and then defiantly bit the head off the struggling frog with a snap of his teeth.
Harry had burst into laughter and Theo and Draco had both stared on with somewhat stunned expressions.
Eventually the Slytherins had vacated the compartment to return to whatever compartment their trunks were stowed in, leaving Harry and Tom alone, once again. It was getting late and the sun was getting lower in the sky turning the clouds bright orange and purple. Harry yawned, stretched, and dug into his trunk to pull on his and Tom's school robes that they'd stowed together at the top of Harry's main compartment for easy access. He tossed Tom his robes and the two put them on and then got situated quickly enough. They'd just sat back down when another knock came from their compartment door.
Tom heaved an annoyed sigh. "More of your adoring admirers?" he asked with a tinge of exasperated sarcasm.
Harry snorted. "Oh how the tables have turned," he mused quietly with am amused smirk.
Tom rolled his eyes and flicked his wrist, wandlessly releasing the latch on the door and allowing it to slide open.
Harry almost groaned at who he saw there. It was Granger.
"Hello, Granger," Harry said, trying not to let his annoyance at her appearance show in his voice. "What brings you to this end of the train?"
"Hello, Potter. I was talking with Padma and she told me that we've got a new student coming in this year to our class," Granger turned her focus on Tom who was watching her warily, having picked up on Harry's chilly reaction to the girl. "My name is Hermione Granger," she said, sticking her hand out in offering to Tom.
He grimaced slightly at the hand, but masked it quickly enough as he looked up at her and gave her his charming smile, that worked just as well on this face as it did on the youthful face of his previous body. "Dominicus Prewett," he replied as he accepted her hand and shook it.
"Padma told me that you grew up in the muggle world, right?"
"That's correct," Tom replied simply.
"Well, I grew up in the muggle world as well and I wanted to offer up any assistance you might need with making the transition. Hogwarts can be really overwhelming when you're used to the muggle world. Several of the older muggleborn students took me and the other muggleborn Ravenclaws aside at the start of our first year and gave us all sorts of advice, and over the course of the year, they taught us lots of really useful little charms that most magical children pick up just from growing up in magical houses. It was a tremendous help in adjusting. I thought I'd extend the offer to you as well."
"I think I'll be quite fine, thank you. I've got Harry here, after all," Tom replied politely and inclined his head towards Harry, sitting on the opposite bench observing them with disinterest. "Besides, I'm not actually muggleborn. My father was a wizard."
"Well, yes, of course, but Padma made it sound as if you hadn't known that –"
"My muggle mother died when I was nine years old, I've been on my own since then, and I've spent a fair enough amount of that time in the magical world to have picked up on things. Thank you for the offer, but I think I'll be fine."
Hermione looked as if she wanted to argue, but wasn't sure what to argue about so instead she snapped her mouth shut into a thin line and nodded her head jerkily. "Alright. Good luck with the sorting."
"Bye Granger," Harry said absently as he turned his attention to a book resting in his lap, ignoring her departure from their compartment.
"I take it you're not fond of her?" Tom mused, obviously amused, a few moments after she'd left and the door was re-latched.
Harry snorted. "She's very very... annoying. Bothersome and persistent. Plus she's a know-it-all who doesn't actually know anything at all."
"Ah, one of those."
"Yup," Harry said, popping the 'p'. He heaved a small sigh and closed his book. "We're almost there."
Tom nodded his head absently.
"Did McGonagall say if you'd be sorted with the first years, or separately?"
"She didn't say."
"I suppose it doesn't really matter." Harry mused.
"No, it doesn't."
"Just remember, before it's even on your head, just start thinking a chant in your head 'Ravenclaw, Ravenclaw, Ravenclaw'."
Tom rolled his eyes. "I know Harry. We've gone over this plenty of times."
Harry sighed again and sunk into his seat bench a bit. "I know, I just hate the idea of you ending up in another house and us being separated."
"That would be bothersome. But whatever happens, we'll manage. It's not like you haven't managed to establish friendships with members of Slytherin house anyway. And since we have an established history of friendship, our continued association wouldn't be looked upon oddly at all."
Harry sighed, again, and when Tom looked up at him from the book he was now reading, he couldn't help but snort at the pout on Harry's face.
"I'll do my best to get sorted into Ravenclaw," Tom said, trying to reassure the other. "Now stop pouting."
Harry stuck out his tongue in an entirely juvenile gesture that caused Tom to chuckle and roll his eyes.
Tom rode up to the castle with Harry in one of the Thestral-drawn carriages, but as they were going through the entry hall towards the doors to the Great Hall, McGonagall called him aside to and told him to wait in the antechamber and that the first years would be arriving in about ten minutes.
Harry went inside the Great Hall and sat down between Terry Boot and Su Li at the Ravenclaw table, but managed to gain enough room around him that he could squeeze Tom in easily enough.
The Great Hall filled with the upper years slowly as the carriages continued to come up from Hogsmeade. Finally they were all there and Harry figured enough time had passed that the first years had probably made it across the Black Lake and and were in the antechamber with Tom.
McGonagall came out of the side door, spoke with Dumbledore for a minute and looked around the hall to make sure everyone was there and in their seats before retreating back through the door. A moment later she reappeared with a string of tiny first years trailing behind her, and Tom, at the very end of the line, taller than the most by several inches even though they were only a single grade behind him. McGonagall had them line up down the center aisle and wait while she set the three-legged stool just before the head table and placed the Sorting Hat on it.
The Sorting Hat startled the little first years by suddenly breaking into song that resulted in applause from all the upper years as soon as it was done. After that, McGonagall began to call out names and the Sorting was officially underway.
Harry tuned out the first bunch of kids until it got closer to the 'P's'. Lovegood went to Ravenclaw, Marsh went to Hufflepuff, Midgen went to Gryffindor, Nutcombe went to Slytherin and O'Hare went to Ravenclaw. When she went from there straight to 'Radford, Timothy!' without having called for 'Dominicus Prewett', Harry assumed that meant that they'd be sorting Tom after all of the first years were done.
The last first year called up was the youngest Weasley girl – "Weasley, Ginevra!" and her sorting took a frustratingly long time, considering how anxious Harry was for Tom's sorting. Harry huffed impatiently as he checked the time again with a discreet tempus charm, and noted that she'd been under that hat for nearly five solid minutes, officially making her a 'Hatstall'. Finally, the damn thing opened it's 'mouth' and called out 'Slytherin!'
Harry sat up a little straighter, looking wide-eyed at the red-head as she shakily removed the hat from her head and he saw tear streaks running down her cheeks. Was the girl crying because she'd been sorted into Slytherin?
Well, he couldn't exactly blame her. She came from a family of blood-traitors and wouldn't exactly receive a warm welcome into the house of snakes. Not quite as cold a welcome as a muggleborn would get, but she'd have a hard time finding allies, that was for sure. The only thing she had going for her was the fact that she was pure-blood. She could probably get by if she pointed out to some that her grandmum was a Black. Of course she was a disowned Black who ran off and married a blood-traitor...
A quick glance across the hall to the Gryffindor table and Harry saw four pairs of rather shell-shocked freckled faces watching their youngest sister scurry across the hall towards the table of green and silver. Harry couldn't help but snicker at the utterly horrified expression on Ron Weasley's face.
His attention was drawn back to the front of the hall as McGonagall cleared her throat.
"This year we have a transfer student who is coming in to Hogwarts to join the second years. He will be sorted now. Prewett, Dominicus!"
There were a few whispers at the name, and probably among some of the people who had already heard a bit of the story during the train ride, but it was nothing in comparison to the whispers Harry had experienced during his sorting.
Tom, who had been standing with a mild air of impatience for quite some time strode quickly forward, sat down on the stool and accepted the hat onto his head. Harry felt his heart beating away crazily in his chest. The very second the hat touched his head, the rip was opening and it looked as if it were about ready to just scream out it's choice right off, but it paused and the rip closed.
The oversized hat sunk down over most of Tom's face, but his mouth was still visible and Harry watched as his mouth pursed, then frowned, then looked annoyed, and then finally smirked. The rip in the hat opened up at just that moment and called out "Ravenclaw!"
Harry released a huge relieved breath and beamed with jubilation. He quickly began to clap along with his housemates and smiled happily at Tom as McGonagall removed the hat and he walked over to join the Ravenclaw table. Harry scooted over slightly so that there was room for Tom to sit and Su Li seemed to get the idea because she scooted closer to the girl on her other side to make more room. Tom came over and sat down with ease, only barely minimizing the smug grin on his face.
Dumbledore stood up and said a few quick words while McGonagall removed the hat and stool, and a moment later the tables were filled with platters of food, and the hall was filled with excited, chatty voices.
Everyone in the second-year class was instantly curious about their new classmate and 'Dominick' was quickly bombarded with questions that he handled with his patented charm and ease. Once it became clear that he and Harry not only knew each other before this, but considered each other their 'best of friends' it seemed to instantly raise many of the student's opinions of the new boy.
Later on in the feast when the puddings had finally arrived and the focus of the discussions had finally turned away from Tom, he leaned over to Harry and quietly spoke so no one else could hear.
"You've really managed to get their respect and admiration," he noted, quietly.
Harry snorted. "Not really that hard. I mean, quite a few of them already worshiped the 'idea' of me from all the boy-who-lived rubbish."
"These are Ravenclaws, Harry – even if they are young Ravenclaws. I can tell that their respect goes deeper than just your legend."
Harry shrugged. "I told you, I've already been wooing their affections for a year. What did you expect?"
Tom have a bit of a shrug. "I suppose I really didn't know. But you were rather reclusive during our first time at Hogwarts. You basically let me do all the political maneuvering while you just sat in the background and road my coat tails."
"Git," Harry said, rolling his eyes.
"What? It's true," Tom said without the slightest inclination to take back what he'd said. Harry just grinned and shook his head.
"Yeah, well like you said – they're Ravenclaws. Earning their respect is a lot different than earning the respect of Slytherins. It's all about what you know and if you're willing to share that knowledge. Most of them like me so much because I've been helping them with their homework."
"But you've clearly gained the respect of several Slytherins as well. Especially young Nott and Malfoy. Those birthday gifts..."
"Yeah... that's actually rather odd. I still don't know quite what to make of those... but they're the exceptions. Most of the Slytherins have anything but high respect for me. To keep suspicions low I've allowed Draco and the others to allow their housemates to think that they're just using me and my fame. It was really the only way that they could get away with being seen associating with the Boy-Who-Lived so much."
Tom didn't look impressed with this and twisted his mouth up slightly before sighing. "Yes, I can see how that would be necessary. We will eventually have to show them that we are worthy of their respect, however."
"But we have to be careful of Dumbledore. We'd best not move too early. We can wait another year or two before we try to prove ourselves to the snakes."
"I suppose so. We'll play it by ear."
Harry nodded. At that moment all of the platters of cakes and puddings vanished and the din of the Great Hall quickly began to die down as all eyes were drawn up to the head table. Dumbledore stood and set right into a very standard (for him) welcome speech. There were no noteworthy announcements and no changes in staff. No corridors were off limits this year and the only real warnings focused on the forbidden forest being forbidden, and Mr. Filch's ever-growing list of banned items.
When the school song began Tom looked horrified. He glanced over at Harry and asked through tightly clenched teeth, "What the bloody hell is this?"
Harry shuddered and lowered his head. "It's atrocious, isn't it? Dippet never made us do anything so ridiculous as this."
"It's not just ridiculous, it should be illegal. I'm a bloody Dark Lord and I wouldn't subject anyone to horror like this."
Harry snorted and dissolved into snickers before regaining control of himself.
The twins didn't take nearly as long this year and for that, Harry was grateful. Finally they were all dismissed to their dorm rooms and the first years were instructed to follow the prefects. There was no attempt to make it look like Tom was following with them since he had Harry and the other second-years to guide him instead.
When they got to the stop of the small spiral staircase with the door at the top with nothing more than a eagle's head for a knocker, Terry Boot and Kevin Entwhistle took it upon themselves to explain to their new room mate how the knocker would ask a question and require a correct answer before it would open the door. It wouldn't skip questions though, so if you couldn't guess the right answer, you had to just wait there until someone who could get it right came by.
They decided to let Tom take a shot at the question so he took a step up to the silver knocker and waited.
A moment later the eagle head came to life and spoke. "I know a word of letters three, add two more and fewer there will be."
Tom rolled his eyes. "Few."
"Correct," the eagle spoke and the door swung open.
The group of second-year boys made their way through the common room, giving 'Dominick' a quick run-down as they passed through and headed towards the door and up the curved staircase towards the second-year dorm room, which was the second door on the left as they ascended the stairs.
Since it was a new year, and they now had one more bed in their room than they had the previous year, Harry was able to convince the other boys to scoot their trunks around so that he and 'Dominick's' beds were next to each other, nearest the door.
As the other boys began to unpack some of the bare essentials and get into their pajamas or dig out their bathroom supplies and fight over who got the shower first, Harry and Tom set to charming the immediate area around their beds.
The charms included security protections for their possessions that were more sensitive in nature as well as a weak notice-me-not type field around their beds. It wasn't a full-on version of the spell, but a much more subtle version that would cause their roommates to feel disinclined to pay them much attention when they were there.
Once they were done, they each took their turns in the bathroom and then they turned in for bed.