Here it is, as promised! :) More info at the bottom. Enjoy!
Warning: None, this time.
Disclaimer: Not mine. *sigh*
Harry sat in Dumbledore's office, shifting occasionally and glancing at the clock mounted on the shelves near the Sorting Hat, the one that actually told time rather than the locations of various people. It wasn't like Dumbledore to keep him waiting like this, especially since he'd been very serious when he had told Harry to meet him.
Two weeks had passed since the Devil's Snare had been taken down by the professors. He and Draco later found out that the teachers had slaved away with endless spells and shield charms for nearly four and a half hours. The two of them had spent the sixteen hours following the plant's demise sleeping, and had woken feeling very sore and very embarrassed, but still very much a couple, to both of their reliefs. Harry sometimes caught himself tracing Draco's face with his gaze from across the Great Hall, or one of their classes, his mind reeling over the fact that Draco was his. Draco would certainly be miffed to hear Harry say this aloud, but Harry had caught him staring enough times to know that he felt the same. They had been meeting regularly in their secret meeting place, but had yet to go on their dates due to the overbearing reactions of Ron and Hermione.
Not to their relationship, of course- Harry was nowhere near ready to let them know that- but about the cover story that Dumbledore had told them, after a great deal of pleading on Harry's part. The explanation was that Harry and Draco had been cursed by an unknown person to compulsively hex one another whenever they were within a certain distance of each other, or whenever the caster was feeling especially bored. This lie meant that no one but Harry, Draco, Dumbledore, Dobby, and Professor Sprout knew the truth. Even the other professors didn't know who had been taken over by the plant.
Ron and Hermione had greeted this development with great relief, which made Harry feel terribly guilty. His friends were genuinely happy to hear that Harry was going to be okay, and had stopped sending each other worried glances when they thought he wasn't watching. Well, Ron did, at least. Sometimes when Harry was yawning after a late-night rendezvous with Draco, he would glimpse Hermione looking quickly at Ron, who did not reciprocate.
Sirius had apparently taken the lie well, but Harry had a sinking feeling that his Godfather knew more than he let on- especially after the mirror-call that Harry had instigated…
Harry sat bolt upright with a gasp. The mirror was still in the drawer in the Room of Requirement- he had never retrieved it! He stood and dashed over to the door, prepared to run the whole way back to the fifth floor, even if it killed him.
But as his hand closed on the knob, a low voice interrupted him.
"I wouldn't leave this office just yet, Potter. The Headmaster is not far away."
Harry whirled around in a circle, looking for the source of the words. But there was no one- even the paintings were not feigning sleep this time. There wasn't a soul in the office.
"Look up, you bamboozled buffoon. No, not the ceiling! The shelves."
Harry's eyes alighted on the Sorting Hat, his heart racing. "You…?"
"My, you are a clever one," the rip at the brim opened and closed to form the words, and the wrinkles and rips where its eyes would've been deepened, as though they were narrowing. "I don't know why I ever considered placing you in Ravenclaw. Or perhaps being tossed about by the Dark Lord has addled your brains."
Harry stared for a few long moments, trying not to be offended. One particular fact stood out to him. "You still remember what you said to me at the beginning of first year?"
"Of course. What else would I do with the infinite space and knowledge available to me?"
Harry was flabbergasted. "You remember everyone's mind that you ever sorted? That's impossible- you would have to have had hundreds of thousands of students!"
The hat looked haughty. "Certainly. I tend to reflect on the more interesting decisions when I've grown weary of thinking up a new sorting song."
Despite the hat's smug timbre, Harry found himself cautiously moving closer. "What makes someone interesting?"
"A balanced wizard or witch has a mind of Ravenclaw logic, Slytherin cunning, and Hufflepuff drive, along with a Gryffindor heart. Usually, one of these attributes stands out, and ties in to one's character, although no one ever has the same amount of one thing or another. In a rare instance, the witch or wizard will be consumed by one of these four aspects, as in the case of the Dark Lord, who was overtaken by his Slytherin nature. It infected his heart, strangling any nobility he once had. Any trace of it was gone by the time I sorted him. In other cases, which are not quite as rare, but hard to find nonetheless, a person's spirit has two primary drives. In the case of Albus Dumbledore, it worked to his advantage. His mind was one of the strongest that I've ever sensed, with a heart to match. Then," The hat snapped out of its misty, drifting voice, turning crafty and unconvincingly nonchalant: "We have those of rivaling Gryffindor and Slytherin nature. Only eight of notable magnitude have ever passed under my brim in the history of Hogwarts… and four of them have been in the last thirty years."
Harry felt his heart rate pick up. "Wh-who were…?"
"Lucius Malfoy was the first. He was unexpected, to say the least, because of his lineage. When I was sorting him, I could practically taste the pure blood in his veins, and smell the anxiety that came off him in waves as he prayed to be in Slytherin, to make his father proud. Even if he had not prayed, I'd have put him there. That day, his Slytherin mind was a hairsbreadth above his Gryffindor heart in the battle for control. But I do not believe it will always be true…
"The likes of his conflictions I have seen rarely- the heart and mind are usually more different in strength, if only slightly- but a few more of his kind have passed my inspections. There was his son, of course, driven by the same frantic desire to please his father. But I do wonder if I went wrong, let his surface thoughts dissuade me… Sirius Black, whose mind is understandable, considering his origin- I only wonder whose heart he stole, the clever boy- and, of course, you. Harry Potter. The Chosen One."
Ooh, intrigue! :D
Many thanks to all of you for supporting my writing throughout the past year, and for all of your kind reviews! I couldn't have done it without you guys!
Obviously, though, this story isn't quite finished yet. Not by a long shot, actually. :) I'm starting work on part 2, which will indeed be posted before too long. Those of you who are pleased with this happy-ish ending don't have to read it, but I do hope you will.
As I've said so many, many times before, reviews DO motivate me to write faster. I would love to hear any and all ideas you all have for the next however many chapters of the next stage. I have a basic plotline, but I can always use new ideas! :)
Thank you all for being so wonderful!