Author's Note – AU….seriously AU! Disclaimer – JKR owns Harry Potter…lock, stock & barrel – not me!

As the students arrived at Hogwarts, a strident voice rang across the entrance.

"Gryffindors! This way!"

Exchanging confused looks, the Gryffindors gathered around Professor McGonagall outside of the Great Hall. Her pinched lips and snapping eyes served notice that she was very unhappy about something. Once they had all joined her, she took a deep breath and met their gazes.

"The Board of Governors has decided that the competition between the Houses has gotten out of control. They have come up with a…rather unique solution for the…situation."

Before she went any further, they could hear Dumbledore speaking inside.

"Welcome, students, to a new year at Hogwarts! You will notice that the Gryffindors are not yet with us. Allow me to introduce Mr. Guthrie Leach from the Board of Governors."

After a few moments, a rough, nasally voice echoed out of the Hall.

"Thank you, Headmaster. The Board has agreed that the differences between the four houses of Hogwarts have gotten out of hand and passed from simple, friendly competition to a more dangerous form of rivalry."

Hermione's eyebrows rose and she leaned towards Harry.

"They just figured that out?"

He shrugged, but did not speak when McGonagall gave them a sharp glance. They listened as Mr. Leach continued.

"In an effort to counteract this disturbing trend, it has been decided that for two monts, one of the houses will be divided amongst the other three."

As loud chatter broke out in the Great Hall, the Gryffindors gave each other stunned and concerned looks. They could already see where this was going.

A sharp rapping from inside the Hall brought the noise level down, and the voice was even rougher with irritation.

"While we understand this will take some getting used to, the Board certainly hopes that the student of Hogwarts will enter into this with a spirit of reconciliation. As they come first in the alphabet, Gryffindor has been chosen to lead the way in this new effort. A spell has been placed on the entrance. As they enter, the stones will flash with the color of their new, temporary House – yellow for Hufflepuff, blue for Ravenclaw, and green for Slytherin. For the months of September and October, they are to be considered as full members of the new House. This ceremony will be repeated on the first of November, and it will be Hufflepuff's turn. Hufflepuff will be members of their new House for November and January. December has been chosen as an 'off' month due to midterms and the holidays. February will bring Ravenclaw's turn and April will bring Slytherin's."

The muttering continued, and it was obvious that no one was happy with this idea. Dumbledore's voice drifted through the doorway.

"Thank you, Mr. Leach. I'm sure we all appreciate the Board's concern for our students' welfare. Students, I encourage you to welcome the temporary members of your House. Remember, you shall be in the same situation in upcoming months."

Professor McGonagall began lining up her Lions, so they could enter one by one. By some quirk of the universe, Harry, Hermione, and Ron ended up at the end of the line. They would be the last to be sorted. Harry looked over his shoulder at the other two.

"Whatever happens, stick as close as possible to the Gryffindors that end up in the same House."

They nodded. While they fully expected Slytherin to be the most difficult to deal with, there was no guarantee that there would not be problems with the other two. Students from all of the houses had problems with the three of them, but the Gryffindors would put differences on hold for the time being.

The line began moving. As they were entering one at a time, and no voice called out the Houses, the three friends had no idea where anyone had been sorted. The muttering in the Hall grew louder as the line grew shorter. Much like first year, people were watching for Harry's temporary Sorting. As his turn approached, he could feel Hermione's hand on one shoulder and Ron's on the other. Just before stepping through, Hermione's soft whisper reached his ears.

"All for one…"

He glanced back.

"One for all"

He had to grin as Ron snorted and spoke.

"Now what are you two on about?"

Striding through the door, chin high, he blinked in amazement as the doorway flashed blue.

Ravenclaw!

In a slight daze, he joined Katie Bell and Dean Thomas (among others of his House) already seated at the blue and bronze table. He certainly had not expected this. Hermione, sure, but not him – books and cleverness were more her thing. Before he could look around to see who had gone where, it was Hermione's turn.

Despite her jitters, Hermione stepped through the door with a sure step, but her jaw dropped slightly as it flashed yellow.

Hufflepuff!

Giving Harry a startled look, she moved to join Alicia Spinnet and Neville Longbottom at the yellow and black table. She had expected the door to flash blue. Everyone had always wondered why she had not been sorted into the House most famous for studying. Suddenly, she had a very uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. As she met Harry's gaze, she saw that he, too, looked disturbed. Both of them turned quickly to the door.

His hands sweating and heart racing, Ron walked through the door and grimaced as it flashed green.

Slytherin!

"Bloody Hell!"