A/N – This is how the past 3 months have gone for me: Sick, work, sick, work, sick, travel, sick. Rather tiring, all in all. But in an effort to make up for my lateness, have a 7k chappie!

Chapter 19 – Bunnies and Slytherins

January 5th.-12th - term starts the 6th – weather turns wet, rainy and cold.

Evening of January 5th

Vincent was somewhat anxious to get back to school after being away for so long. He knew that Professor Snape had likely had everything in hand while he'd been gone, but he'd really rather see Harry for himself to verify that fact.

He paused briefly in the common room to say hello to a few people and then, with Blaise beside him, went onto their room. Opening the door, he took a few steps into room before stopping suddenly, causing Blaise to run into his back.

"Vince, what's—," Blaise started to say as Vincent stepped to the side to show his roommate why he stopped. "Holy Merlin," Blaise breathed, his brown eyes going wide.

Carefully walking back to the door, Vincent closed it to the cacophony of loud voices from the hallway.

"Hi guys!" Harry cheerfully greeted them from where he was feeding the unicorn a bottle of milk.

"Harry, that's a unicorn," Blaise pointed out, his voice still hushed.

"Is it a girl?" Vincent asked, eyeing the unicorn carefully.

"Yups!" Harry answered with a grin. A moment later, he sat the empty bottle down and patted her head. "Goldie, these are my friends, Blaise-y and Vince-y. This is my Goldie," He added after turning back to them.

Vincent was more than a little flabbergasted. "Does Professor Snape know that she's in here?"

"Yups! Me and my Hermes found her real early Christmas morning. He saids I can keeps her, but only if I take real good care of her. She's my friend," Harry said, puffing his small chest out proudly. "See looks," He added, pointing to the wall behind him.

Vincent looked and his eyes widened at the door that had not been there prior to the holiday break.

"My Hogwarts added it for me and my Goldie so we coulds go to my Papa Pa's whenever we needed to."

"How's she s'posed to go—uh, go to the loo?" Blaise countered.

"My Hadwyn put this spell on da floor that keeps it from gettin' yucky," Harry answered with a decisive nod.

"So you got a pony for Christmas, then?" Vincent said when it seemed they would just stare at one another indefinitely.

Harry clapped happily at his question before trotting over to hug him tightly. "I missed my Vince-y," the smaller boy whispered into his ear.

Vincent grinned. "I missed you too, little bat."

. . .

7 January, 1992 – First year classes (Tuesday)

HOM (History of Magic) – Hufflepuff/Slytherin
Potions – Slytherin/Gryffindor
Transfiguration – Hufflepuff
Charms – Gryffindor, Ravenclaw
Herbology – Slytherin/Ravenclaw

. . .

Date: 7 January, 1992
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Morag: How was your holiday?

Sprout: [With a broad grin]. I thought that was supposed to be my question!

Morag: [She smiles slyly]. Now don't be shy. I asked first; so you have to answer.

Sprout: Oh. Is that how it works, then? [Her tone is teasing].

Morag: Yes. Now quit stalling. Tell me about your mysterious mister.

Sprout: [Her eyebrows raise in surprise]. I'm sure I don't know what you are referring to.

Morag: Hannah saw a man in a dark cloak escorting you to the train the day we left for the hol's.

Sprout: How do you know that wasn't just Professor Snape? [The corner of her mouth is raised in amusement].

Morag: Please. [She answers with a flip of her hair]. Professor Snape could never be so gentlemanly. Besides, Hannah saw him kiss your cheek! [She sits back in her cheek with a pleased expression].

Sprout: [She laughs]. I hate to disappoint, but that was my nephew, Braoin.

Morag: [Looking much put out]. Are you certain you aren't just trying to throw me off?

Sprout: [With a smile]. Quite. He was here to pick me up. After we left the train, we flooed to my sister's place, his mother's home.

Morag: That's simply a shame.

Sprout: Not for me. She's a lovely cook.

Morag: Fine, then I guess we'll have to go back to our original plan.

Sprout: Which is?

Morag: [She smiles smugly]. Setting you up with a nice wizard.

End notes: Oh for the love of Merlin's dirty socks. And she completely managed to derail the entire conversation. I shall have to be extra vigilant next week when I ask her about her holiday at home. I hope nothing unpleasant happened.

. . .

Date: 7 January, 1992
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Hannah: It really is a shame, you know.

Sprout: I assume that you and Morag are in on this fiasco together, then? [She raises an eyebrow].

Hannah: Well, we're only looking out for our head of house. [She says with a wide eyed look of innocence].

Sprout: You needn't bother, I assure you. Rather, I'd like to know what happened while you were at home.

Hannah: [She huffs, but tempers it with a smile]. I'd rather talk about you . . . but if you insist.

Sprout: I do [She smiles].

Hannah: Mum showed me her scrapbook of her Quidditch days. She was so thin! It's funny really . . .

Sprout: What's that, dear?

Hannah: Well, before I came to Hogwarts, my mum never seemed to be interested in Quidditch or anything to do with flying. You remember, I told you how she didn't like to have me or my brother in the air even? Well, now it's almost the opposite! I mean, she still doesn't want me to try out, but over Christmas we got into a really long conversation over which were the best brooms. I didn't even know that she knew anything about brooms, but it turns out she's always been interested in them! Why would she have lied?

Sprout: [She hesitates briefly]. Perhaps she was worried about you getting hurt.

Hannah: That's just . . . silly. [She crosses her arms with a frown].

Sprout: [She smiles gently]. But now you are starting to grow up, and maybe she is recognizing that.

Hannah: Well, I'd hope so.

Sprout: Enjoy these years, child. I have often times missed my years at home.

Hannah: All the time?

Sprout: [She laughs]. No, no. I enjoy being an adult, but there are times when I've been sick or tired and have found myself missing my mother and father.

Hannah: That seems strange to hear you say that.

Sprout: Even if it's true!

End notes: I know I didn't properly appreciate my Ma and Da when I was in school.

. . .

Date: 7 January, 1992
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Sprout: Tell me, how was your time spent here at the castle?

Justin: Recently or in general? [He snorts in amusement].

Sprout: [She smiles]. Recently.

Justin: [He folds his hands in his lap]. I had an acceptable holiday.

Sprout: Would you care to elaborate?

Justin: I spent a great deal of time sleeping, eating and studying. [He smiles suddenly]. Did you know . . . [he leans in closer].

Sprout: What, child?

Justin: Despite my opinion of him, Potter seemed inclined to start several conversations with me. I rebuffed most of his attempts—not because I was trying to avoid him, mind. I simply had other places to be most of the time. However, one time he caught me outside and you'll never believe what came with him!

Sprout: Professor Snape?

Justin: [He waves a dismissive hand]. That is entirely beside the point, Professor. He had a bloody unicorn with him.

Sprout: [Her eyebrows are raised]. Are you quite certain?

Side note: I considered telling him off for his language, but under the circumstances, I believe it may be warranted.

Justin: A muggle I may be, but a fool I am not. [He sniffs imperiously].

Sprout: You are hardly a muggle anymore, child. [She smiles gently]. Wherever did it come from, I wonder?

Justin: It came with him somehow. We were nowhere near the forest, and I swear that the creature just followed right after him like some sort of magical puppy.

Sprout: [She laughs]. You make me want to go and confront Professor Snape about it.

Justin: [He smiles]. You should!

End notes: And for a moment, I caught a glimpse of Justin the child, as opposed to the "young gentleman."

. . .

8 January, 1992 – First year classes (Wednesday)

HOM – Ravenclaw/Gryffindor
DADA – Ravenclaw/Gryffindor
Transfiguration – Hufflepuff, Slytherin
Charms – Slytherin
Herbology – Gryffindor/Hufflepuff

. . .

Date: 8 January, 1992
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Flitwick: How was your break?

Lisa: Very relaxing.

Flitwick: And did you speak with your grandfather about where he attended school?

Side note: I confess a personal interest in what she has to say on the matter.

Lisa: [She frowns very briefly]. Grandfather did admit to knowing you, but he said that the first two years of anyone's schooling are hardly something to be remembered. He did say that you were one of the more intelligent ones.

Flitwick: Ah, well I do thank him for his rather astute observation!

Lisa: My grandmother also mentioned you. She asked if you were that small fellow with the high-pitched voice!

Flitwick: [He clears his throat]. There are infinitely worse ways to be remembered.

Lisa: Grandfather didn't have very nice things to say about Professor McGonagall.

Flitwick: Oh?

Side note: As I recall, you were one of the deciding factors in his transferring, Minerva. I doubt that ol' Grandfather Turpin is willing to recollect that you caught him cheating.

Lisa: I don't think I should repeat what he said about her.

Flitwick: [He purses his lips]. Hm, perhaps not. Let him remember her as he will, and hopefully you will make your own observations.

Lisa: I don't think I like her very much either.

Flitwick: Did you feel that way before you went on break?

Lisa: She isn't very nice.

Flitwick: Neither is Professor Snape.

Lisa: [She scowls]. Grandfather had a great deal to say about . . . about him.

Flitwick: He is very competent though, you must admit. Youngest Potions Master in a century, or so I heard!

Lisa: Hmph. I can't believe that Dumbledore was willing to hire him after all that he did in the war.

Flitwick: Headmaster Dumbledore. And I believe those circumstances are between them. Unless you'd care to ask Professor Snape about his terms of employment? [He raises an eyebrow].

Lisa: I'd rather kiss a hippogriff!

End notes: I'm sure one could be found, but would it rather kiss you?

. . .

Date: 8 January, 1992
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Flitwick: How was your time with your Gran?

Sabrina: [She gives a small smile]. It was fun. We made cookies. She let me pick the music and help her with cutting the shapes. You know what? [She leans in with a bigger grin].

Flitwick: What's that, child? [He leans forward].

Sabrina: I made some cookies for mum and dad, but didn't tell Gran.

Flitwick: [He claps his hands together]. Oh what fun! Did you keep them or eat them?

Sabrina: [She shrugs]. I ate a few, but I kept some too.

Flitwick: Good! Let me show you a spell that is good for turning food into permanent presentations. The spell is permanere. It's a bit of a mouthful, but given that it's not a basic charm, that makes sense. [He smiles]. If you're interested in learning, then I'd like you practice its pronunciation for a day or two and then I'll show you the wand movements.

Sabrina: [She smiles]. That would be amazing, professor!

Flitwick: Then see me after class on Friday, and we'll see what we can do. Do try and bring those cookies too.

Sabrina: I really appreciate this sir.

End notes: Honouring one's parents is not only a religious sentiment.

. . .

Date: 8 January, 1992
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Flitwick: Tell me, how was your time during the holidays?

Michael: It was brilliant, Professor!

Flitwick: How so, child?

Michael: We went to the states, remember?

Flitwick: I do. You mentioned that you were going to visit North Carolina. Did you?

Michael: My parents took me to Asheville and it was just like you said! I saw muggles and wizards all walking down the streets together. And the muggles didn't even notice! Some of our relatives met us there, and they said that sometimes they even get mixed up about who is who. [He grins widely].

Flitwick: Utterly intriguing. I haven't been there in some time, but it appears that the place hasn't particularly changed. Or rather, the people haven't. Tell me, did you sample any of the cuisine?

Michael: Some. There were a few places my parents wouldn't let me go into, but they said maybe on a later trip that I could. I'm going to hold them to it. Oh! And guess what?

Flitwick: What?

Michael: I think I saw some vampires!

Flitwick: [His eyes widen in concern]. I hope you were with your family when you saw them.

Michael: [He nods]. Don't worry; I was. I think I felt the allure though, because my dad grabbed me by the shoulder and started pulling me in the other direction.

Flitwick: [His eyebrows are raised].

Michael: But I'm all right. [He shrugs and grins widely at Flitwick's silence].

End notes: Ah youth. Ever convinced of their own superiority.

. . .

Date: 8 January, 1992
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Draco Malfoy

Flitwick: How did your father behave toward you during the break?

Draco: [He fidgets briefly]. My father spent most of the holiday in his office inside our manor.

Flitwick: Oh my. Did he come out for Christmas?

Draco: [He grimaces]. He gave me a book on the ancestral history of the Malfoy family. I think he was trying to make a point.

Flitwick: Have other Malfoys been sorted into Ravenclaw?

Draco: Of course. Have any ever been resorted? No. [He scowls and crosses his arms].

Flitwick: You are certainly not the first Slytherin ever to be resorted, did you know that?

Draco: [He shrugs].

Flitwick: Gifford Ollerton, the famous giant slayer of the 15th century was originally sorted into Slytherin.

Draco: And he was resorted? Where?

Flitwick: [He smiles]. Gryffindor.

Draco: [He scowls]. I'm not surprised. Any moron stupid enough to go chasing after giants should be in Gryffindor. [He huffs]. Who else?

Side note: For all of your non-interest, you certainly are curious.

Flitwick: Let's see here . . . Daisy Dodderidge was another—.

Draco: You can't be serious!? That muggle lover—er, I mean. [His cheeks pink under Flitwick's gaze].

Flitwick: As a successful innkeeper, Dodderidge had to have more than just an average person's amount of cunning and ambition. However, from what I've read, her personality did not fit in with the other members of the Slytherin house of her time.

Draco: Not a surprise. Where was she resorted? Wait—let me guess. [He rolls his eyes]. Hufflepuff.

Flitwick: Ravenclaw. [He smiles proudly].

Draco: Hm.

Flitwick: Also, Archibald Alderton was originally sorted into Slytherin—.

Draco: That idiot!?

Flitwick: Well, I didn't say that all of my examples were necessarily stand up versions of society, now did I? He was eventually resorted into Gryffindor as well. Although—[he holds up a hand]—according to his memoirs, the hat wanted to sort him into Ravenclaw, but he threatened to find a way to dismantle Its protection charms and destroy It if that happened.

Draco: He couldn't even magically charm a cake! How was he going to destroy the Sorting Hat? Beside, only a dunderhead would want to be sorted into Gryffindor.

Flitwick: His intelligence was not in question; it was his use thereof. [He leans forward with a raised eyebrow]. I should hope that you would remember that.

Draco: [He frowns]. Yes sir.

[Silence].

Draco: Sir? Was there anyone from my father's time who was resorted? Not just out of Slytherin I mean.

Flitwick: Hm. [He leans back and looks thoughtful]. There are only two that come to mind, though I suspect that there may be more. I'm also not entirely certain that your father would have crossed paths with either of these.

Draco: Well, who are you thinking of?

Flitwick: Gwenog Jones.

Draco: [His eyes widen]. Of the Holyhead Harpies? She has a wicked arm.

Flitwick: [He smiles]. Correct. She was resorted out of Ravenclaw into Slytherin. I believe that Slytherin began a winning streak in Quidditch shortly thereafter. She was one of the few females to ever play Quidditch within Slytherin, but she certainly wasn't the last.

Side note: I must admit a certain fondness for strong women with large bats.

Flitwick: As for the other, Devlin Whitehorn . . . [he pauses for Draco's gasp] . . . was originally sorted into Hufflepuff.

Draco: The founder of the Nimbus broom was sorted into Hufflepuff!? Why? [His eyes are wide and his mouth is slightly open].

Flitwick: He was a very hard worker. [He smiles]. However, he found a new home within Ravenclaw during the middle of his third year.

Draco: Why was he resorted?

Flitwick: It's a long story. Ask me next time and I'll elaborate, if you like. [His smile becomes broader]. Or you might ask Professor Sprout.

Draco: Or I might marry the Giant Squid!

Flitwick: Well, don't think he hasn't had offers!

End notes: And of course, that's an entirely different story altogether.

. . .

First year classes (Thursday)

DADA – Hufflepuff/Slytherin
Potions – Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff
Transfiguration – Gryffindor
Charms – Gryffindor
Herbology – Slytherin/Ravenclaw

. . .

Date: 9 January, 1992
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

McGonagall: Well Mr Weasley, how was your stay here during the holiday?

Ron: It was pretty cool. I mean, I missed my mum and dad, but we had a BRILLIANT snow fight on Christmas, and I'm glad I was here for that.

McGonagall: You got along well with your brothers, I presume? I did notice that you had no infirmary visits and Gryffindor does seem to be largely intact still.

Ron: [He scowls]. We're not completely horrible.

McGonagall: Hm, perhaps you and Percy are not.

Ron: [He grins]. The twins did a nice bit of charm work with some snowballs though.

McGonagall: [She clears her throat]. Yes, on Professor Quirrell? No, don't confirm it. I'd rather be able to deny all knowledge of the event in case someone questions me.

Ron: [He puts a hand over his mouth to cover his smile].

McGonagall: Did you receive anything good for Christmas?

Ron: Mum sent me my usual MAROON sweater. [He sighs gustily]. I hate maroon. Hey um, but I got a couple of pretty cool gifts from er, Granger and Harry.

McGonagall: And what did they send you? If I may ask?

Ron: Well uh, Granger sent me a book on some really cool defensive spells that are easy to pronounce, and uh kind of easy to learn how to do silently. And Harry sent me some muggle fiction books. He said they were his favourites.

McGonagall: What books?

Ron: Um, one was called, oh hel-heck I mean. [He pulls his bag forward and begins digging through it]. Oh. Here it is. "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler," is one of them.

McGonagall: [With a pleased smile]. I am familiar with that book. It's a good story.

Ron: It's pretty interesting so far. Another one he sent me was called, "Maniac Magee." I haven't started that one yet, but it looks interesting. And the last one he sent me is called, "Night of the Twisters." They're all set in America, but I kind of like that. [He grins].

McGonagall: Perhaps you would be willing to share your thoughts on those books once you finish them?

Ron: Sure. I guess. I probably won't have time to finish them all at once.

McGonagall: I wouldn't expect you to. Good books are meant to be savoured, after all.

Ron: [He grins again]. Yeah.

End notes: Perhaps the upcoming discussions on these books will provide a welcome distraction from the problematic subject of MS Granger.

. . .

Date: 9 January, 1992
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: Well Mr Longbottom, how was your time during the holiday?

Neville: It was pretty good. Gran and I had some quiet time together and that was rather nice. I had forgotten how relaxing it is to sit down to a cuppa tea with her after spending all day in a greenhouse.

McGonagall: That does sound pleasant.

Neville: Yeah. It was. I am glad to be back though. I missed my friends here.

McGonagall: Did you receive anything particularly nice for Christmas?

Neville: My Gran got me a few really rare wizarding plants from Africa. One of them only eats blood.

McGonagall: I hope you aren't going to tell me that you've been feeding it your own blood? [She grimaces].

Neville: [With a wide grin]. No, ma'am. We're feeding it blood from a few of the animals my Gran keeps around the estate. This plant isn't too particular. We could feed it doxie blood if we had any!

McGonagall: That, at least, would be a good use for those obnoxious pests. I remember that my mother found a horrible infestation in our attic once. It was months before she would voluntarily set foot in there again.

Neville: I don't blame her. Gran hates them too. She always sends me to take care of them.

McGonagall: My condolences.

Neville: Thanks. [He smiles]. Did you have a nice Christmas?

McGonagall: [Her eyebrows raise slightly]. It was pleasant. Primarily, it was quiet and I took the time off to get caught up on some of my paperwork.

Neville: You didn't visit anyone?

McGonagall: Most of my family is either passed on or lives very far away.

Neville: [He frowns]. That's my family too. We always go and visit my parents on Christmas, did I tell you that?

McGonagall: [With a gentle expression]. You did not.

Neville: Yeah. I don't think they really notice much, but—[he shrugs]—it still makes me feel better to try.

McGonagall: Perhaps someday someone will develop a cure for them. Perhaps you will help raise the plant that helps in that discovery.

Neville: Maybe.

End notes: The poor lad.

. . .

Date: 9 January, 1992
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

McGonagall: How was India?

Parvati: Overcrowded—as always! My cousins and I all slept in one room on floor pallets, even though my father offered to transfigure them into bunk beds. My Nana doesn't like anything to change though! She said that family gatherings were supposed to be crammed and slightly uncomfortable. [She huffs].

McGonagall: [She smiles]. I'm assuming that you enjoyed yourself despite the sleeping arrangements?

Parvati: [She grins]. Yeah. My family is big enough that we were able to get into three different Quidditch teams.

McGonagall: Arranged how?

Parvati: Oh by age of course.

McGonagall: And who ultimately triumphed?

Parvati: My father's team. Nana dropped her false teeth on the field halfway through their game and since she was playing Keeper, it sort of ended the game.

McGonagall: [She laughs]. Oh, I imagine that would have been a sight to see!

Parvati: That's not even the worst of it though. My littlest cousin—she's 2—was the one who found them and she got them stuck in her mouth!

McGonagall: [She turns green]. That is more than a little disturbing to hear.

Side note: In fact, I'm glad that I couldn't make dinner today.

Parvati: It was pretty hilarious once Nana found out who it was. Amala—my littlest cousin—saw Nana's face and started running away. That's how they got stuck in her mouth actually. She fell down and they got wedged in there.

McGonagall: That is still rather disgusting.

Parvati: Of course it was, but it's not often that something happens that Nana doesn't know about immediately! She's a bit like the Headmaster that way, I think, but she's a little sneakier. And she gets people back too.

McGonagall: [She purses her lips]. I hope that you are not so vindictive?

Parvati: Not yet. [She grins].

End notes: Not yet indeed. A Slytherin you are not.

. . .

After classes on Thursday, Slytherin Common Room

"Miss Mary! Miss Mary!"

Slytherins of all ages looked up from their studies as Harry's cheery voice hailed their 7th year prefect.

"Mr Harry! What kinds of trouble have you been up to!?" Mary asked, looking at his sopping hair and clothes in dismay.

"I hads class with Pr'fessor Sprout todays, I did I did!" Harry said, flinging his wet hair up and down with the force of his nod.

"Harry . . ." Mary groaned, pulling out her wand and casting a series of drying spells on the wet boy. "Don't you have a waterproof cloak?" She looked around the room. "Where's Vince? Surely you didn't walk here all by yourself?" She asked in a reproving tone.

"My Caddy walked me here, honest!" A now dry Harry said earnestly. "Can I sits with you?"

"Get up here," Mary told him with a smile.

Harry scrambled up on the sofa next to her and then pulled his backpack off. "I got something ta show you, Miss Mary!"

"Oh?" Mary answered before turning to glare at someone who was giggling about 'cute little Harry.'

"My 'fessor got it for me," Harry said, opening his bag and rifling through its innards. "It's called 'The Velveteen Rabbit,' and it's what I really really wanted!" He pulled out the book and presented it to Mary proudly.

"It's about a Rabbit and he's made outtas Velveteen, which my Hermes saids is like real soft cotton," Harry explained in a rush, opening the book to the first page. "His boy gets him for Christmas, see?"

"I do see, Mr Harry," Mary remarked, looking over the page carefully.

"He was in a stocking, and my Hermes and I got stockings for Christmas! Did you knows that?"

"I'm not surprised," Mary answered.

"And Father Christmas brought us candy and chocolate frogs and I gots a spinning top! And my Hermes got one too, but his is green and mine is silver and they're real shiny!"

"Do they go fast?"

"Uh-huh!" Harry nodded. "And look here," He turned the page. "He gets put in the nursery and all them other toys are real mean-like to him," He said with a sad pout. "They thinks that 'cause they got more bits inside, then that means they're better. But my 'fessor Snape says that some of the bestest potions are da ones that look real simple."

Mary glanced up at him with a strangely assessing gaze as he turned to the next page.

"And then look heres, Miss Mary! The Velveteen Bunny is talkin' to the horse—the one in the nursery. He's real wise, like my Papa Pa, only older, I thinks."

Some of the other girls and a few of the boys who were listening in from around the room giggled at his description. Miss Mary gave them another widespread glare and they quieted.

"He tells the Bunny that bein' real is somethin' that happens when someone loves you a whole lot. Bein' loved is how somethin' gets to be real. Then! One night the boy can't find his toy doggie and his nana gives him the Bunny!"

Mary smiled at his bright eyed excitement.

"I never had no bunnies or doggies to sleep with," Harry announced matter-of-factly. "Dudley dids, but my Aun—my Petunia saids that bad boys don't need no toys, 'cause they just break 'em."

"You're not bad, Harry!" Graham Montague called out from the other side of the room. He looked fit to burst; his face bright red with indignation that anyone would ever be so mean to their littlest snake.

Harry smiled shyly back at him as Mary wrapped her arm around his shoulders. "Of course he's not, Graham. Harry's one of our best."

Harry's smile morphed into a wide grin, even as his cheeks pinked.

"Go on Harry. Tell us what happens next," prompted a second year by the name of Arlene Unger.

"The Velveteen Bunny doesn't much like bein' in the bed with the boy at first, 'cause it's hot and sometimes he gets squished!" Harry said with a nod. "But then, his boy started talkin' to him and takin' him places and playin' games with him! And the Bunny has lots of fun and doesn't even notice when his fur starts gettin' thin and stuff. And then, you know what happened?" Harry looked at Miss Mary before glancing at the common room around him.

"What?" Mary asked.

"His nana saids that the Bunny was just a toy and his boy said no he wasn't! He said that he was REAL. He said it big and louds just like that!"

Mary smiled at Harry and he smiled back, hugging his ever-present snake plushy as he did.

"So then, after a bit, the Bunny stops lookin' like a bunny, and his whiskers fall out, and his fur turns kinda grey, but it doesn't matter! Not one bit! 'Cause his boy still knows him and still loves him and still sees him as a Bunny, so that's all that matters! Right, Miss Mary?" Harry's bright green eyes turned expectantly onto her face.

"Quite right, Mr Harry."

"Bunny stays with him real careful like when he gets sick, and he tells him stories at night when no one but his boy is listening. And then his boy gets better! But," Harry turned the page with a sad face. "But then, 'cause he was so sick, they can't keep his toys 'cause they're full of nasty germies."

"Is this a muggle book?" Someone whispered across the room.

"So mean ol' nana and the doctor—that's like Madame Pomfrey," Harry adds with a look in the direction of the whisperer. "They take all his toys when he's not noticin' and make a big pile to be burnt. Even Bunny!"

There were a couple of gasps across the room, but Harry didn't have eyes for them. His lower lip was trembling.

"Bunny gets put in da fowl house—my Hermes says that a place for chickens—with all da other old toys and stuff. And he gets cold and lonely." Harry sniffled. "And he misses his boy so much that he starts cryin'."

There were a few quiet sniffles among the other Slytherins and Harry nodded up at them.

"You know what he did? He cried real tears, real bunny tears," He added with a nod. "And the tears hit the ground and guess what?" He asked as he turned the page.

"What?"

"When his tears hit the ground, a flower came up. And outta the flower, there was a fairy. And she said, 'Little Rabbit. Don't you know who I am?'"

"Who was she, Harry?" An older fourth year boy asked from a nearby table.

"She was the nursery magic Fairy. She told Bunny dat she was gonna make him Real. Like really real! But he thought he already was. So she told him that he was real to his boy, but now she was gonna make him real to everyone. Then she took him to the forest to some other real bunnies, and she told 'em to be nice to him and teach him and stuff. And you know what, Miss Mary!?"

"What, Mr Harry?"

"He was real! He could jump and dance and wiggle and everything! And best of all, everyone knew it and could see it!"

The room gave a collective sigh of contentment, but Mary wasn't done yet.

"Why do you like this story, little one?" Mary asked him.

A pleased light shone in his eyes at her question, and he straightened before responding.

"I don't think I was Real 'fore I came here. I think my 'Fessor Snape and my Vincey and my Hermes and my Slytherins made me Real. I think I'm a real boy now," He said with a shy grin.

"Oh Harry, you are a real boy. You're our real boy!" Miss Mary exclaimed, pulling him into her lap to hug him tightly.

. . .

First year classes (Friday)

HOM – Hufflepuff/Slytherin, Ravenclaw/Gryffindor
Potions – Slytherin/Gryffindor
Transfiguration – Ravenclaw, Slytherin
Charms – Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw
Herbology – Gryffindor/Hufflepuff

. . .

Date: 12 January, 1992
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 7 January, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'Smarter than he appears. Vincent is standing at the cusp of maturity for all that he is only yet a boy.'

Vince: I can't believe that Harry has a unicorn. Or that you let him keep it!

Snape: [He raises an eyebrow]. I don't think that the decision was entirely up to me. The foal was orphaned and attached herself to Harry. To separate them would have been unnecessarily cruel.

Vince: Well, I know that they seem to get along well, but why isn't she staying outside?

Snape: Is her presence in your dorm bothering you or Blaise?

Vince: Not really, but it was a rather large shock to walk in and see her standing there with Harry.

Snape: I believe that she is providing him with a measure of mental peace. As you know, he often sleeps badly, and the few times he had nightmares after Christmas, she always managed to calm him down. Speaking of peace, will you tell me how your holiday went? Or should we continue to discuss my littlest snake ad nauseam?

Vince: [He blushes]. Sorry.

Snape: Sorry does not explain how your break from school was. Speak before I make you write an essay on it. [He crosses his arms imposingly].

Vince: Eh, it was all right. My sister is a bit older than me, so I don't really know her very well. And I didn't think I could tell mum about being friends with Harry, given that my da doesn't like to hear his name ever. It didn't even matter that he wasn't there. The rules still stand.

Snape: [He nods]. My father's rules were similar. One did not go against them lightly.

Vince: Yeah. So mum and Penny spent most of the time talking and I spent most of the time in my room reading. Greg came over a few times and we went out horseback riding, but other than that it was pretty dull.

Snape: Did you say you were reading?

Vince: Hey, I can read! You know I'm not stupid.

Snape: I'd have more proof of it if you would start turning in your homework to your other classes.

Vince: [He gives a gusty sigh]. I hate writing stuff.

Snape: Then buy a dicto-quill. But I want to see your grades improve this term, understand me?

Vince: Yes, sir. [He grumbles and rolls his eyes].

End notes: 'I know he's not stupid, but I fear that I am one of the few.'

. . .

Date: 12 January, 1992
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 24 December, 1991.

Ongoing impressions: 'Somewhere between a guardian angel and sly conniving devil of a child.'

Snape: May I ask what it was you received from your family?

Hermes: [He rolls his eyes]. Just another plea for me to reconsider my plans to stay at the school over the break. They said, 'But Hermione, your uncle Edward will be there! Don't you want to see him?'

Snape: I take it that you did not?

Hermes: [With a sneer]. No.

Snape: Were you pleased with how Christmas eventually went?

Hermes: [He grins]. You mean, after we were no longer in mortal danger?

Snape: [He scowls]. The next time you consider putting yourself in harm's way, I should hope you would notify me first.

Hermes: [He frowns]. Sometimes there isn't time for adults to help. Sometimes they don't want to help.

Snape: [Leaning forward]. I want to help you, regardless of what or who is involved. You are mine. You are my snake. You are one of my children. You will not put yourself in such danger again without bearing the consequences.

Side note: Provided you are still alive to experience them.

Hermes: [Slouching]. I'm not used to asking for anything.

Snape: I know that, child. [He leans back and crosses his legs at the knee]. I want you to be safe and happy if at all possible.

Hermes: Seems strange to hear you say things like that. [He fidgets].

Snape: I know that I have the reputation of being a dungeon bat. I know what they say about me in the halls. [He smiles slightly]. Why do you think they made me head of Slytherin and not Aurora Sinistra?

Hermes: Because you're scarier?

Snape: That and I know what the darker path in life can lead to. I have experience in that regard. [He grimaces].

Hermes: I just want to survive the year.

Snape: I'm glad to hear that. Hopefully you will do so by not taking unnecessary risks. [He sneers].

Hermes: I'll try, all right?

Snape: Slytherins don't try. If it didn't happen, then we rewrite the books. You will make it. I will make certain of it.

End notes: Or we'll die trying.

. . .

Date: 12 January, 1992
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws.
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.
Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from: Neville Longbottom on the 28th of December

Ongoing impressions: 'He is more subtle than I had realised. Mary Tower told me about an incident of interest that took place in the common room earlier this week and I was much impressed. I can only hope that I never begin to underestimate his abilities.'

Harry: Papa Pa! [He comes running into the room and clambers into Severus' lap. There is a unicorn foal settled on the floor at their feet].

Snape: Hello little one.

Harry: [He kisses Severus on the cheek]. I missed you this week.

Snape: You saw me in Potions barely two days ago. And might I remind you that we had tea yesterday?

Harry: But I like seein' you every day!

Snape: [The corner of his mouth lifts up slightly]. I enjoy our time spent together as well. Lest I forget, I have good news.

Harry: [He claps happily]. That's the bestest kind!

Snape: You no longer have to do full body soaks in the infirmary for your scars.

Harry: Yay! No more smelly stuffs. [He nods].

Snape: Instead, you will soak individual limbs with me two evenings per week.

Harry: [Peering up at Severus]. I gets to spend time with you, Daddy Sev?

Snape: Yes. [He gives a small smile].

Harry: And you'll still give me hugs and loves?

Snape: I will always do that.

Harry: Kay! [He hugs Severus around the middle tightly]. You know what, Papa Pa?

Snape: What's that, little bat?

Harry: [He grins wider]. Miss Mary saids that I'm one of the best little Slytherins ever!

Snape: [He gently begins running his hand over Harry's head]. And this comes as some surprise to you?

Harry: Well, kinda. Not been the bestest of much ever. It's kinda nice. I like her a whole lot, Papa Pa. Do y'think my mummy wouldas liked her?

Snape: I think your mum would have been pleased to see you two as friends.

Harry: [His head is now on Severus' chest]. I wish I'd known her, Papa Pa. [He frowns and wraps his arms around Severus' back]. I think she hugged me some, don't you think, Papa Pa? I think she hugged me and loved me, but I don't 'member and I wished I did. You know what, Papa Pa?

Snape: What's that, little one? [His voice is very soft].

Harry: Sometimes I pretend. Sometimes I pretend that my Miss Mary is my mummy. Is that okay?

Snape: It's quite all right, child. Miss Mary loves you; it is only right that you love her in return.

Harry: [He smiles against Severus' chest and relaxes]. I think she loves real Harry. I think she loves the me that's me inside, like I told you about Papa Pa. I think she does truly.

Snape: I think that you are correct little one.

Harry: Can I just sits here and be quiet and listen to your thump thump and you breathin' and bein'?

Snape: [He smiles]. If that is what you want, little bat, then please do so.

Harry: [His eyes drift shut after a few moments and about ten minutes later, his breathing evens out].

End notes: 'Oh little one. Yes, I can see Lily's spirit approving of Mary Tower as a surrogate mother. If only you didn't have need of one, but we do what we must do.'