Chapter Four – The House of Badgers

The students at the Hufflepuff table exploded into cheers and loud applause. As far back as anyone could remember, Hufflepuff had been looked upon as a joke. Now, the great and famous Harry Potter was one of their own. The rest of the tables applauded politely, though it was obvious that they were a little disappointed that they didn't get Harry in their house, while a few of the Slytherins began whispering to each other that if Potter was a Badger, then maybe his legend was just a trumped up lie, because obviously someone as powerful as he was supposed to be would be in Slytherin.

Up at the head table, Dumbledore sat with a pleased smile on his face, knowing that Hufflepuff was exactly where Harry needed to be if he was to truly get over the life he had once lived. Further down the table, Pomona Sprout, Herbology teacher and head of Hufflepuff house was bursting with happiness. Three of the four heads of house had placed bets on who would get Harry. The only one who didn't participate had been Severus Snape, who said that if Potter was sorted into his house, he would get up and leave the moment it happened.

Said head of Slytherin and potions master was sitting near the end of the head table, watching Harry with a distrustful eye. The boy looked exactly like his former nemesis, right down to that cocky looking smile on his face as he sat down next to the foolish child that had run off with the sorting hat on his head and the young witch with the bushy hair. Seeing Harry sitting there was a reminder of the past that he had tried to forget.

The rest of the sorting went on, and when it was finished, McGonagall took the stool and hat into a side room before she took her seat next to Dumbledore.

Dumbledore stood up and smiled as he looked around the Great Hall at all of the students, noticing that some of the returning students already had knives and forks in hand, only waiting for the Headmaster's word.

"Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts," Dumbledore said. "Before we begin our excellent feast, I only have a few words to say. Nitwit. Blubber. Oddment. Tweak… Thank you."

"Is he mad?" asked Hermione.

"A little," someone sitting nearby said. "Could you pass the potatoes?"

Harry, Hermione, and Neville, who had been looking at Dumbledore, gasped in surprise when they noticed that the table was now loaded with plates of all kinds of food.

In a little bit of a daze, Hermione passed the potatoes over while Harry started loading up his plate with thick slices of turkey and Neville grabbed himself a few chicken legs.

The three of them enjoyed their dinner while introducing themselves to those around them.

"I still can't believe it," someone said. "Harry Potter in Hufflepuff."

"Look," Harry said. "I'm not all that special. I'm just like everyone else. I know the same amount of magic as all the other first years."

"Still," a girl with red hair said. Harry, who had only sort of been paying attention during the sorting thought that her name was Susan. "You're THE Harry Potter."

Harry sighed as he realized that even in his own house, it would take time before everyone got over the fact that he was who he was.

"Harry," an older boy said as he walked over and squeezed onto the bench next to him. "I'm Alexander Portman. Seventh year prefect and captain of our house Quidditch team."

"Hi," said Harry as he poured himself some pumpkin juice.

"Tell me Harry, do you have any interest in Quidditch?" asked Alexander.

"A little," said Harry. "Why?"

"Well, as I am sure you are aware, your father was brilliant at the game," said Alexander. "The school trophy room has six Quidditch championship trophies with his name on it. Two of which while he was captain. I'm sure if it weren't for You-Know-Who, he probably would've gone professional. Anyways, if you're interested, I was wondering if you would want to try out for the team."

"Me?" asked Harry. "But I'm only a first year."

"I know," said Alexander. "And honestly, we normally don't ask first years to join the team. But the truth is… Well, we're desperate for a win. Hufflepuff hasn't won a game in over seventy years. However, if you have even half the talent that your father had, I'd be willing to ignore the fact that you're a first year."

Harry stared at Alexander for a moment.

"Tell me," Harry said. "Is this because I'm famous?"

Alexander seemed a little uncomfortable when Harry asked his question.

"Kind of," Alexander said. "But it's more to do with who your father was. Believe me, if I didn't know about how good he was, I don't think I would be asking."

Harry thought about it for a moment. He knew it was a possibility that people would treat him differently because he was famous. Still, it actually happening made him feel a little uncomfortable.

"I don't know," Harry finally said. "I really don't know a lot about the game and I've only been flying for less than a month."

Alexander and a few other students looked at Harry in surprise upon hearing that.

"I grew up with muggles in a muggle neighborhood," Harry said. "I only recently… Moved somewhere where I could use a broom without getting into trouble for it."

"Oh," said Alexander. "Are you any good?" he asked hopefully.

"Well, I can stay on without falling," Harry said.

"I see," said Alexander, picturing Harry flying like most first years in his head, not really knowing what they're doing. "Well… I guess then we'll have to find someone else during tryouts. Sorry to bother you."

"It's okay," Harry said, feeling a little bad as Alexander got up and returned back to where he had been sitting. During the summer when he was learning to fly and finding out how good he was, he would have done anything to play for a house team. But, for him to be on the team because of who he was wasn't something that he could feel good about. It wouldn't be fair to someone else in his house that was better.

Soon, dinner had vanished from the table, only to be replaced by an endless amount of desserts.

Harry helped himself to some treacle tart, while Neville scooped some ice cream into a bowl. Hermione, keeping to her parents rules of no sweets, picked some grapes from a bowl full of fruit.

Once everyone had eaten their full, the desserts vanished as well, and Dumbledore stood once again.

"Now that we are all fed and watered, I have a few announcements to make before we all go to bed," said Dumbledore. "To all first years, please take note that the Forbidden Forest, is in fact, forbidden, hence the name. Some of our older students would do well to remember this as well. Mr. Filch has asked me to remind you that no magic is to be used in the corridors and that he has also added to his list of banned items, which I believe is now over three thousand pages long and is hanging from his office door. This year, the third floor corridor on the right side is off limits to those who do not wish to die a most painful death. Now, off to bed with everyone. Classes start tomorrow and I am sure you all wish to be well rested in order to fill your heads with the wonders of magic."

Harry and the rest of the first year Hufflepuff's got up and followed the fifth year prefects as they led them out of the Great Hall and down a set of stairs and through a few winding corridors before they came to a dead end were there were a stack of barrels piled against the wall.

"This is the entrance to Hufflepuff house," said the female prefect. "Two from the bottom on the second row. All you need to do is tap it with your wand to the name of our founder Helga Hufflepuff, like so."

The witch pulled out her wand and tap-tap, tap-tap-tap.

As she finished, the lid of the barrel swung open, revealing the hidden entrance.

"Follow me," she said, leading the first years in to the Hufflepuff common room.

The basement common room was round with a low ceiling and smelled of earth. There were lots of yellow hangings on the wall as well as burnished copper and overstuffed sofas and armchairs upholstered in yellow and black, and circular windows that provided a view of the grounds of Hogwarts.

Professor Sprout, who was head of Hufflepuff, had placed various plants around the common room, some of which sung soft melodies that left those that heard it feeling quite peaceful.

Their was also a honey colored wooden mantelpiece that had badgers carved into it just below a large painting of Helga Hufflepuff herself, who smiled at the arriving students.

"This is the common room," the prefect said. "The plants have been provided by Professor Sprout in order to add her own personal touch to the room, including the cactus you see here, named Bob. You should also take note that the plants you see here are not in any of the greenhouses. Sort of like a special treat for just us. Your dorm rooms are two students per room, since we are down in the basement, we have more space than the Gryffindors and Ravenclaws that are in the towers and forced to be cramped together. Boys are on the left side and girls on the right. Boys, take note that the door to the girls' side is warded to prevent you from entering unless given permission from our head of house.

"Now, if you will wait here, Professor Sprout will be here shortly to have a few words with you before you are assigned to your rooms."

The prefect then turned and left through the door to the girls side, leaving the first years standing there while more and more of the older students started to arrive.

The first year 'Puffs only had to wait a few minutes before a dumpy sort of witch with flyaway hair came through the entrance.

"Ah, my new first years," she said happily. "Come, come. Let's sit down and get comfortable."

She led them over to a corner of the common room where they all sat down.

"I'm Professor Sprout," she said. "Your head of house, which basically means that I fill in as a sort of parental figure while you are here. I know for a lot of you, this will be your first time staying away from your families for extended periods of times, which can be a little scary for some. So, if you need to talk about anything, I am here for all my little badgers. For those of you that don't know, I am also the Herbology teacher here at Hogwarts, and as such, I expect you all to do very well in my class. If you look around, you'll notice that I've planted some special plants around the common room. This one here for example."

Sprout indicated a purple and teal colored flower behind her.

"These are Nightbird flowers," said Sprout. "When the sun sets, they let out a near subsonic melody that brain subliminally detects, and as the night goes on, it becomes stronger. I planted these here to help you all sleep at night when you go to bed. Ask any of the older students and they will tell you that they never had a bad night sleep here."

Hermione raised her hand.

"Yes, miss…" Sprout said.

"Hermione Granger," Hermione said.

"Miss Granger, you have a question?" asked Professor Sprout.

"How do they work?" asked Hermione. "I mean, I can kind of hear the music right now, but I do not feel sleepy."

"That's because you are not ready for bed," said Professor Sprout. "As I said, the flowers work on a subconscious level. However, it does not affect your regular consciousness. Since right now, you wish to remain awake, you will do so. However, if one of you were to want to go to sleep right now, the power of the song will increase that feeling, allowing you to fall asleep much faster than normal."

"So, it has no power over us unless we allow it?" asked Hermione and Professor Sprout smiled and nodded.

"Very good, Miss Granger," said Professor Sprout. "If this were class, I would award you points. Yes, the flower has no power over anyone unless they allow it, much like magic. Magic only has as much power as you give it. However, that is a lesson for class itself. Now, it is getting late and you all need sleep. So, if there are no more questions, I will assign you your rooms."

Professor Sprout reached into her robes and pulled out a crumpled and slightly dirty sheet of parchment.

"Miss Abbot and Miss Bones, you two will share a room," said Professor Sprout. "Miss Granger and Miss Jones, you two will be in the room across from them. Unfortunately, we have an uneven number of boys, so one of you will be having your own room. Mr. Finch-Fletchley, you will be with Mr. Macmillan. Mr. Longbottom, you will be with Mr. Potter. And Mr. Hopkins, you will have a room all to yourself."

Harry was a little surprised by this. When Professor Sprout has said that one of the boys would be getting their own room, he had expected her to try and give him special treatment because of who he was. Instead, she gave it to someone else and treated him just like a normal student. His respect for her had gone up with that one decision.

"Alright," Professor Sprout said. "Off to bed with all of you. Tomorrow when you get up, you will find that your school robes have been altered with the yellow trim associated with our house, as well as find a nice wool scarf of yellow and black, which will come in handy during the winter as it does get quite cold outside."

They all said good night to each other and their head of house before heading off to their new bedrooms.

When Harry and Neville arrived in their room, they looked around and noticed how cozy it was. There were two four poster beds in the room, one along each wall, and in between the beds was a heater to keep the chill away. Each of the beds were covered with patchwork quilts and at the foot of each bed were their trunks.

"Our stuff is already here?" Neville said, surprised.

"Now that's what I call service," said Harry.

The two of them quickly changed for bed, feeling the effects of the Nightbird flower as they did, and within moments of their heads resting on their pillows, they were asleep.

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"Shoot," Harry said the following morning as he and Neville were putting their robes on.

"What?" asked Neville.

"I forgot to write my family last night," said Harry. "I was supposed to send them a letter to tell them which house I was sorted in and everything."

"Why don't you write it at breakfast," suggested Neville. "Then, if we have time before class starts, we can send it. And if not, we'll make a quick trip to the owlery right before we have lunch."

"I guess that's all I can do," said Harry, feeling bad that he had forgotten to send the letter the night before.

Since neither of them knew which classes they had that day, they both decided it would be best to just take all of their books with them to breakfast and headed off towards the Great Hall.

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"I think I'm going to be sick," Harry heard someone up ahead say as they neared the Great Hall.

It was Hermione.

"What is it?" asked Harry.

"That," said Hermione, pointing at the Gryffindor table.

Harry and Neville followed her finger and saw the red headed boy from the train sitting alone as he shoveled food into his mouth in a way that would make Harry's uncle and cousin envious that they could not do the same.

"How can someone eat like that?" asked Neville.

"How is he not choking?" asked Harry as he watched the boy swallow three whole sausages without chewing.

"He eats like a duck," said Hermione, earning her a questioning look from both Harry and Neville. "Ducks don't chew," she said.

"Weird," said Harry.

"You don't have to call me names," Hermione suddenly snapped at him, causing Harry to take a step back.

"What?" Harry asked, confused. "I didn't call you any names."

"Yes you did," said Hermione. "You just did."

"No, I didn't," said Harry.

"You called me weird," said Hermione.

"I didn't call you weird," said Harry. "I meant that that bit of information was weird. I never knew ducks didn't chew."

"Oh," Hermione said, looking down as she blushed in embarrassment. "I'm… I'm sorry. I just… Kids at school used to make fun of me all the time because I like to learn and know things, and because of it I never really had any friends. When you said that, I… I thought you were doing the same."

Harry felt bad for the bushy haired witch. He knew what it was like to be picked on and to not have any friends from his time with the Dursley's.

"Hermione," Harry said softly. "I truly am sorry. I didn't mean for you to take what I said as a way to make fun of you. As for those kids you used to go to school with and didn't want to be your friend… That's their loss. I've only known you since yesterday and I can already tell you'll be a great friend."

Hermione looked up at Harry in surprise.

"You want to be my friend?" she asked, a slight quiver in her voice.

"Only if you want to be mine," said Harry.

Hermione smiled at Harry and gave him a huge hug. Harry froze up for a moment, still not completely used to things like hugs, which Hermione noticed but decided not to mention it for fear of jeopardizing her first friendship.

"W-w-what about me?" Neville asked quietly.

Harry and Hermione both looked at Neville.

"Of course we'll be friends," Hermione said.

"I already told you on the train yesterday that we would be," said Harry.

"Oh yeah," said Neville, who had forgotten that part of the conversation, as he had still been in a bit of shock that he was sitting with Harry Potter.

"Now that our being friends is official," Harry said. "Let's go eat."

"Facing away from… That," Hermione said, indicating the red headed Gryffindor, who was still stuffing his face.

Up at the head table, Dumbledore smiled as he watched Harry, Neville, and Hermione walk over to their house table and start breakfast, humming a cheery tune.

"Knut for your thoughts?" McGonagall asked, hearing the Headmaster begin to hum.

"Oh, nothing," Dumbledore said with a twinkle in his eye. "I just find that today is looking to be the beginning of a very good school year."

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As Harry ate breakfast, he was also writing a letter to the Tonks' to let them know how things had been so far. He told them about his trip on the train and how he had made two new friends and how they had been lucky to be sorted into the same house as him. He knew Tonks would be thrilled to find out that he had been sorted into her old house. He could picture her jumping for joy and ending up falling down in the process.

When Harry got to the part about the speech that Professor Dumbledore had given after dinner, he wondered if he should tell them about the third floor being off limits. It took him a few minutes as he thought about it. It did seem strange to him. Especially the part about a painful death to those that went there. He began to wonder if it was normal for part of the castle to contain something dangerous to the students. The Forbidden Forest was one thing. Harry had read about it in Hogwarts, A History and learned that the forest, while technically a part of Hogwarts, was considered by some to be centaur territory, and that they did not take kindly to people walking through their land like they owned the place. But the corridor inside the castle seemed off to him for some reason.

Eventually, Harry decided that they should know about it. When they took him in to live with them and to be a part of their family, they also chose to look out for him. If whatever was in the castle was dangerous enough to warn students that they might die if they face it, then they needed to know and maybe find out what was going on.

"What time is it?" Harry asked as he finished his letter and signed it.

"Ten to eight," Hermione said as she checked her watch.

"Guess I'll have to wait till lunch to send this to my family," Harry said, holding up the now sealed letter.

Just then, a snowy white owl came swooping down from seemingly out of nowhere and landed gracefully in front of Harry.

"Hedwig?" Harry asked, a little surprised at seeing his owl.

Hoot.

"Smart owl you got there Potter," an older Hufflepuff said as they passed by. "Very few owls are in tune enough with their owners to know when they are needed."

"Y-yeah," Harry said, a little stunned. "Um… Can you take this for me?"

Hedwig looked at Harry like he had just asked a very stupid question, which in fact, to the owl, it had been.

Hoot.

She held out her leg to him.

"I, uh… I'll take that as a yes," said Harry as he gently tied his letter to Hedwig's leg. "Thanks."

Hoot.

Hedwig spread her wings and took off into the air, flying up and out through the windows high above that were always open for the owls.

"We should probably get going to class, otherwise we'll be late," Hermione said.

Harry and Neville both agreed as they got up and started to leave.

During breakfast, Professor Sprout had given each of them their class schedules for the year. After checking to see what they had first, the three of them headed for their very first lesson. History of Magic.

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Hermione looked slightly annoyed as she, Harry, and Neville left their first History of Magic class with both boys letting out deep, loud yawns.

"I cannot believe you two," Hermione said. "Falling asleep in class."

"I didn't want to," said Harry, yawning again. "It's just that Professor Binns voice kept droning on and on. It was hypnotic. Anyways, we're not the only ones that fell asleep."

Harry pointed at a few of the other Hufflepuffs and a couple Ravenclaws that had been in class and fallen asleep as well.

"That's no excuse," said Hermione. "We're here to learn. How do you expect to do that if you're asleep?"

"Re-read the section of the book we covered in class while doing homework?" asked Neville, who only managed to stay awake for about ten seconds before Binns' voice sent him off to dreamland.

Hermione thought it over for a moment. "Fine," she finally said. "But from now on, try and stay awake in the class, because if you keep doing it and fall behind, I might not be nice and help you catch up. Now come on. We have less than ten minutes to Charms."

As the three friends made their way through the castle hallways and up the Grand Staircase towards the charms classroom, Hermione briefly went over what they had learned in History of Magic. Well, Hermione's version of brief, which was an almost fully detailed account of the entire lesson.

However, as they walked and she talked, Harry's attention kept slipping as he noticed that a lot of the students were trying to be subtle about staring at him as he walked by and having hushed conversations while pointing at him. Once or twice, he even spotted the same person walk by them, as though they had doubled back to take a second look at him.

Harry sighed and shook his head as he wondered if he would ever get over the strangeness of being famous.

Their charms class was more interesting than History of Magic, which meant that everyone stayed awake during the class. As the class started, Harry blushed and tried to sink down in his seat when the small Professor Flitwick squeaked when he reached Harry's name on the role sheet.

"Alright," Professor Flitwick said when he had finished taking role and climbed atop a pile of books so he could see the entire class. "Welcome to charms. This will be one of your more important classes as charms covers everything from simple everyday spells to wards to bringing objects to life. That last one if very fun, and believe me when I say that it can be quite useful when casting a spell on the dishes to wash and dry themselves. And unlike transfiguration, where perfection is the key to getting it right, with charms, you have much more leeway with creativity."

Harry smiled as he heard that. During his years with the Dursley's, they never allowed him to be creative. Doing so would be doing something different, and that was against their rules. He didn't even really do it once he started living with the Tonks' since he spent most of his time either getting over what happened to him at his relatives, learning about the magical world, and learning to fly his broom. However, now that he knew that creativity was a key to magic, he would be sure to do so. Maybe even get a small notebook to fill with ideas he would want to try.

After Professor Flitwick explained all of the wonders that charms could do, he then instructed the class to read the first chapter of Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling.

Most of the class was disappointed that by the time class ended, they didn't get to cast a single spell. Harry and Hermione didn't care though, as they started discussing all the different ideas of what they could use magic to do while Neville just listened quietly.

As they talked, Hermione was glad that she not only had a friend for the first time in her life, but that Harry was actually reciprocating in their conversation. It was a breath of fresh air to the bushy haired girl to have a discussion with someone that was her own age instead of her parents or a teacher.

The three friends came to a stop when they reached the end of the hallway and found their path blocked by a locked door.

"That's odd," Hermione said. "I could have sworn that this way led to the stairs."

Just as Harry started to reach for the handle of the locked door, a voice startled them from behind.

"WHAT DO YOU LOT THINK YOU ARE DOING!"

The three first years nearly jumped out of their skin as they turned around and spotted the caretaker, Mr. Filch, heading towards them with his cat, Mrs. Norris right beside him.

"What are you doing here?" Filch demanded, giving the three students the stink eye.

"We're trying to find the stairs," Harry said.

"Yeah, right," said Filch. "Troublemakers if I ever saw one. Trying to get into the third floor corridor that's been locked off, aren't yeh?"

"What?" Hermione said in surprise. "No, of course not. We must have taken a wrong turn is all. We would never…"

"A likely story," said Filch, waving off her excuse. "Well, we'll just see what your head of house thinks about you breaking the rules. Follow me."

Filch turned around and started walking while Harry, Neville, and Hermione stood there in shock. Mrs. Norris, moved behind the three of them before she hissed and swiped her claw at Neville, causing him to cry out in surprise before running to catch up to Filch with Harry and Hermione close behind him as neither wanted to end up being used as a scratching post for the caretakers mangy looking cat.

Filch found Professor Sprout in the Great Hall, eating her lunch while having a conversation with Professor McGonagall.

"Professors," Filch said before looking right at Sprout. "I found this lot trying to break into the third floor corridor that's been closed off."

"Is this true?" she asked, looking at the three students.

"No," said Harry.

"Honestly, we didn't," said Hermione. "We just got lost after leaving charms and ended up there."

Down the table, Snape scoffed and quickly hid it when McGonagall looked in his direction.

"I believe you," Professor Sprout said, who then turned look at Filch who was about to protest. "Mr. Filch, they are first years on their first full day in the castle. And while you have many years under your belt in being here and know this castle forwards and backwards, they do not. It is quite believable that they took a wrong turn and got lost.

Professor Sprout then turned back to look at the three first years from her house. "However," she said. "If I hear that either of you is caught there again, I will assign you detention. Is that understood?"

"Yes," Hermione said while Harry and Neville only nodded.

"Very good," Professor Sprout said with a smile. "Now go ahead and enjoy your lunch. I believe your class right after is a double period with me."

The three of them quickly headed for the Hufflepuff table and sat down to eat, however Harry wasn't much interested in his food. His mind was now focused on that locked door.

After lunch, the three of them left the Great Hall and made their way towards Greenhouse One for their first Herbology lesson. However, Professor Sprout wasn't there yet, and so they had to wait outside with the rest of the class.

"You're Harry Potter," someone said.

Harry turned around and saw the blond boy he had seen on the train standing there, his two ape like friends standing behind him like hulking bodyguards.

"I'm Malfoy," the blond said. "Draco Malfoy. I'm sure you've heard of my family."

"Can't say that I have," said Harry. He already held a bit of dislike for the boy after the way he had treated Neville on the train.

"You haven't?" asked Draco, truly sounding surprised. "What sort of riff raff have you been associating yourself with?" He then looked at Neville. "Oh… Of course. You should learn Potter that some wizarding families are greater than others. I can help you there."

Draco then extended his hand towards Harry, who just looked at it for a moment.

"That's alright," said Harry. "I can figure out my own friends for myself."

Draco lowered his hand and sneered.

"You dare to insult the Malfoy name?" asked Draco. "Just wait until I tell my father about this. He's a very important man. Has the ear of the Minister for Magic and everything."

Harry was instantly reminded of his cousin and how he would brag to his friends about how important Uncle Vernon was. It didn't help to endear the blond to him one bit. However, before he could say anything, Professor Sprout arrived and ushered the students into the greenhouse.

"Welcome to Greenhouse One," Professor Sprout said. "As first year students, you won't be handling many plants, and the ones that you do are mostly harmless and you will spend your time learning how to prune them properly as they are plants used as potion ingredients. However, before we begin any of that, we shall be discussing the differences in magical properties of dragon dung from different breeds of dragons. I hope you all remembered your gloves, because this is going to be a very hands on lesson."

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"I need a shower," Hermione said as she, Harry, and Neville entered the Hufflepuff common room shortly after their Herbology lesson had ended. It wasn't just the smell of the dragon dung that needed to be washed away, but also the smell of vomit, which many students had produced after Professor Sprout told them to take a good whiff of the different fragrances each dragon produced.

"Same here," Harry said.

"Me too," said Neville.

After showering and changing into clean smelling robes, the three friends decided to sit in the common room and start on their assignments since they still had nearly an hour before dinner.

Hermione instantly went to work on her History of Magic essay while both Harry and Neville still had to read what had been discussed in class.

"I don't get it," Harry said after reading a few pages.

"What don't you get?" asked Hermione, as she continued to write her essay.

"I don't get how someone can make a goblin war so boring that I fell asleep," said Harry. "This is so much better than the Battle of the Five Armies at the Lonely Mountain."

Hermione looked up at Harry in surprise.

"You've read The Hobbit?" she asked, a little surprise. When she went to a muggle school, very few kids read anything beyond what had been assigned by the teacher, and even then, a few didn't even bother with that.

"Yes," said Harry. "It was the only… It's my favorite book."

"What's a Hobbit?" asked Neville.

"They're a fictional race of little people that live in the ground," said Hermione. "The Hobbit is a book about one of them that goes on an adventure with a wizard and a group of dwarves to defeat a dragon and get its treasure."

"I have a copy of it in my trunk," said Harry. "Remind me later and I'll let you borrow it."

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Later, as the three Hufflepuff's joined the rest of the school for dinner, Hedwig was arriving at her destination.

"Hey girl," Tonks said when she spotted the snowy white owl glide in through the open kitchen window and land on the table. "Is that from Harry?"

Hoot.

Hedwig held out her leg, allowing Tonks to remove the letter before the metamorphmagus gave her a few owl treats.

"Alright," Tonks said to herself. "Let's see how things are going… Doing well… Train ride… Friends… Ah, here we are. Sorting hat."

Tonks read silently as a huge smile spread across her face.

In the sitting room, Ted and Andromeda were listening to The Adventures of Young Merlin, a very popular radio play on the WWN, when they heard their daughter start shouting and whooping from the kitchen.

"What in the name of Morgana is going on in here?" Andromeda asked as she walked into the kitchen, a slight scowl on her face.

"Hufflepuff," Tonks said as she handed her mother the letter from Harry before continuing to dance around the kitchen and singing, "Harry got into Hufflepuff. Harry got into Hufflepuff."

"While that is all well and good, that is no reason to nearly give me a heart attack," Andromeda chastised her daughter, who suddenly tripped on the rug in front of the sink.

"Ow," Tonks said from the floor.

Andromeda shook her head as she walked back into the sitting room, wondering just how her daughter would be able to be an auror being as clumsy as she was.

"Everything alright?" Ted asked.

"Fine," Andromeda said. "Harry's letter arrived and Nymphadora was just excited that he had been sorted into her old house."

"Good for him," Ted said with a smile. "Being in Hufflepuff will help him find some good friends."

"Seems he already has," Andromeda said as she looked at the letter. "During the train ride, and… Well, that's interesting."

"What is?" asked Ted.

"One of them is Neville Longbottom," said Andromeda.

"Really?" asked Ted and his wife nodded. "The Longbottom's and the Potter's have been friends and allies for hundreds of years. Even after both children lose their parents in some fashion and have no contact with each other, the two of them still form a friendship on the day they meet."

Even though Ted was muggleborn, Andromeda was a pureblood, and had taught him a few things about the alliances between some of the older pureblood families. She had done it when they had first started dating in the hopes that her family would be more accepting of her dating a muggleborn if he had shown some competence in how pureblood society worked. Instead, they told her to end her relationship with him or be banished from the family for life. Ten minutes later, her bags were packed and she moved in with Ted, only to marry him a few months later.

"What else does his letter say?" asked Ted.

"He was sorted into Hufflepuff, which we already know," Andromeda said. "Huh…"

"What is it?" he asked, seeing the concerned look on his wife's face.

"When Albus gave his speech after dinner, he warned the students to stay away from a certain part of the castle unless they wished to die a most horrible death," Andromeda said.

"What?" asked Ted, the surprise evident in his voice. "Why?"

"It doesn't say," Andromeda said as she lowered the letter. "But I am going to find out."

Andromeda stood up and walked over to the desk in the corner of the room, where she sat down and pulled out a clean sheet of parchment.

"What are you doing?" asked Ted.

"Sending Albus a letter to inform him that I will be by tomorrow afternoon to find out what is going on," said Andromeda as she wrote the letter.

"But why?" asked Ted as he stood up and walked over to his wife. "I'm sure he has a good reason for whatever is going on."

"And I will find out what it is," said Andromeda as she looked up at her husband. "I swore to myself that when we took Harry in, I would do everything I could to keep him safe. Now, I know things may happen. He is a young boy after all. But if there is something dangerous in the castle, I at least want to be kept notified about it. Not only for Harry's safety, but my peace of mind as well."

Ted knew that his wife was right. He also felt the same way. Now that he had heard what Harry said in his letter, he wouldn't rest comfortably until he knew what was going on.

OoOoOoOoOoO

A/N: Sorry for the lateness of this chapter. I meant to have it up a while ago, however I found myself sucked into Pottermore after it launched and spent countless days playing around with the site. I have to say, I love the artwork that goes with each scene they depict in each chapter.

Though, some good news has come from my spending so much time there. It's helped me with my story. When I was sorted, I was sorted into Hufflepuff (YAY!), and I was able to use the new information I learned about my house in this story. Those of you sorted into the house of the badger will notice some of the information I used. For those that weren't, yes, we do have a cactus in our common room named Bob.

Also, to head off some of the backlash I am sure to get from this chapter about Harry passing over the chance to play Quidditch for his house team, please just wait. He will be playing this year, but he will be trying out like everyone else. The Harry in my story not only doesn't like being treated different because of who he is, he also tries his best to make sure other people treat him like everyone else. As for what position he will play… He may be a Seeker, or he might be a Beater. You'll just have to wait and see.

And lastly, back to Pottermore. If you want to add me as a friend on that site, just go to my profile here on FF and you can get my user name and send me a friend invite over there. It doesn't matter what house you're in. I accept them all.