A/N: Heh. Yeah, I'm back. With a new fic. That happens to be a crossover. Yeah, shoot me. Just make sure it isn't fatal. Please.
I want to give a huge shoutout to hp1piececraziness, who graciously allowed me to use a similar idea to one of her own fics by the name of Guardian. (which, by the way, I suggest you take a look at. It's brilliant.)
Ichigo and our lovely Shirosaki (aka Shiro) will be appearing shortly in this chapter.
So, on with the show, shall we?
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Bleach in any way, shape, or form. However, I do like playing with the characters.
Anything you recognize is from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
There were a great many things that Harry Potter had learned in the last several days, and it all had to do with magic.
Learning that he was a wizard was one of them, of course, along with the realization that his parents hadn't actually died in a car crash like his aunt and uncle had led him to believe. Then everything blurred together in a single mass of wonderful magical places, people and things. He'd gone to Diagon Alley, of course, for his school books and robes and all sorts of other things that he'd never even considered, and even met a few other children who would be attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with him.
The train ride had, thankfully, been fairly uneventful, save another boy named Ron Weasley. He'd gotten himself worked up over his having a scar on his forehead (which he still didn't really grasp the concept of entirely) before settling in to regal Harry of all the things he could expect once they arrived at Hogwarts. And now, sitting in a worn old rowboat with several other students, here he was, looking up at the castle.
It was perched atop a high cliff among the many craggy mountains and overlooking the lake and forest, its windows sparkling like the stars in the sky, with many turrets and towers. It was an intimidating sight to see as the First Year students hesitantly settled themselves into the large wood framed boats that would be taking them across the lake to their destination.
"Everyone in?" shouted Hagrid, his shaggy beard and larger than was the norm appearance further intimidating the eleven year olds. "Right then- FORWARD!"
Immediately, the fleet of boats moved off all at once, gliding across the glassy surface of the black lake.
Harry, among others, was struck by the large, looming structure they were approaching. Each stone seemed to be carefully set in place and worn with age, retaining its elegance despite the thick layers of ivy that were slowly making their way up the old stones.
"Heads down!" Hagrid called out as the first lines of the boats reached the cliff.
On cue, they all bent down their heads, the boats carrying them through a curtain of ivy which hid a wide opening in the cliff face. They continued on down a dark tunnel- which seemed to be taking them right under the castle- until they reached a kind of underground harbour, where they clambered out onto the rocks and pebbles warily, a couple of people slipping as they did so.
''Oy, you there! Is this your toad?'' Hagrid asked, holding out a toad that was perched carefully in the palm of his hand.
"Trevor!'' a boy by the name of Neville cried blissfully, holding out his hands for his beloved pet. After carefully depositing the toad into the boy's hands, Hagrid led the way up a passageway in the rock after ensuring that no one was still in the boats, lamp held high.
Harry wasn't entirely sure what to make of all of this- it was crowded and dark unless you were walking right next to Hagrid, and he could hear some of the students behind him murmuring quietly to one another about how hard it was to see and that they hoped no one got lost.
At last, they emerged onto smooth, damp grass right in the shadows of the castle- Harry thought the view was absolutely spectacular when they were even closer.
The large group walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around the huge, oak front door.
''Everyone here? You there, still got your toad?'' Hagrid barked gruffly, pointing over to Neville. Said boy nodded, though it was one of nervousness rather than of confirmation.
That done, the giant of a man raised an equally gigantic fist and knocked three times on the front door. It swung open at once, revealing a tall, black haired witch in emerald green robes. She had a very stern face and Harry's first thought was that this person was not one to cross.
''The firs' years, Professor McGonagall.'' Hagrid said politely, turning and bobbing his bearded head in their direction.
''Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here.'' The Professor replied briskly before pulling the door wide to grant them entrance.
The entrance hall was so big you could have fit the whole of the Dursleys house in it. The stone walls were lit with flaming torches like the ones at Gringotts, the ceiling was too high to make out, and a magnificent marble staircase facing them led to the upper floors.
They followed Professor McGonagall across the flagged stone floor. Harry could hear the drone of hundreds of voices from a doorway to the right- the rest of the school must already be here- but Professor McGonagall showed the first years into a small empty chamber off the hall instead. They crowded in, standing rather closer together than they would have usually done, peering about nervously.
"Welcome to Hogwarts." Professor McGonagall started briskly. "The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory and spend free time in your house common-room.
"The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding young witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn you house points, while any rule-breaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honour. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.
"The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting.''
Her eyes lingered for a moment on Neville's cloak, which was fastened under his left ear, and on Ron's smudged nose. Harry nervously tried to flatten his hair, to no avail. Not for the first time, he wished that it wasn't so hard to manage it.
''Someone shall return when we are ready for you.'' Professor McGonagall stated. ''Please wait quietly.''
She left the chamber, footsteps nearly silent on the solid rock floor. Harry swallowed nervously.
"How exactly do they sort us into houses?" he asked Ron, eyes still lingering on the doorway.
"Some sort of test, I think. Fred said it hurts a lot, but I think he was joking." The other boy replied with a shrug.
Harry's heart gave a terrible jolt. A test? In front of the whole school? But he didn't know any magic yet- what on earth would he have to do? He hadn't expected something like this the moment they arrived. He looked around anxiously and saw that everyone else looked terrified too. No one was talking much except Hermione Granger, who was whispering something very fast about all the spells she'd learnt and wondering which one she'd need. Harry tried very hard not to listen to her. He'd never been more nervous, never, not even when he'd had to take a school report home to the Dursleys saying that he'd somehow turned his teacher's wig blue. He kept his eyes fixed on the door. Any second now, Professor McGonagall- or someone else- would come back and lead him to his doom.
Then something happened which made him jump about a foot in the air- several people behind him screamed.
He gasped. So did the people around him. About twenty ghosts had just streamed through the back wall. Pearly-white and slightly transparent, they glided across the room talking to each other and hardly glancing at the first years. They seemed to be arguing. What looked like a fat little monk was saying, "Forgive and forget, I say, we ought to give them a second chance-"
"My dear Friar, haven't we given them all the chances they deserve? Peeves gives us all a bad name and you know, Shirosaki isn't even really a ghost; not only that, but he's had about enough as the rest of us- I say, what are you all doing here?"
A ghost wearing a ruff and tights had suddenly noticed the first years.
Nobody answered. Harry thought that it must be because they were still all so shocked to see that there were, indeed, such things as ghosts. Right in front of them, too.
''New students!" said the Fat Friar, smiling brightly around at them. ''About to be sorted, I suppose?''
A few people nodded mutely.
''Hope to see you in Hufflepuff!" said the Friar. ''My old house, you know.''
"Alright you lot, time to get going." A new voice said sharply. "The Sorting Ceremony's about to start. You'll be able to talk to them later if they're in your house."
Harry had never before seen anyone with the hair the shade of orange that this man was sporting. It stuck out in all directions around his tanned face, and his eyes were an odd honey-brown color that he didn't think he'd seen anywhere but in pictures. The oddest thing about this man, however, was that he didn't look like he could be any older than twenty.
"If you say so, Ichigo." A silvery woman replied with a small smirk on her features.
"I suppose you're right." The Friar agreed jovially. "Hufflepuff, remember!"
One by one, the ghosts floated away through the opposite wall, several continuing their previous conversation in low murmurs.
"Now that that's done, form a line and follow me. I'll be your guide for this evening. And I can promise you right now that there are not going to be any trolls fought this year. Fred and George Weasley have been notified that terrorising the new students is to be kept to a minimum for the first week of school. After that, however, you lot are on your own and retaliation is acceptable- within reason." The orange haired- Ichigo- rattled off dryly.
Feeling oddly as though his legs had turned to lead and then back again, Harry got into line behind a boy with sandy hair, with Ron behind him, and they walked out of the chamber, back across the hall and through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall.
The Great Hall, of course, was a pinnacle of Hogwarts. It was well known by many as an iconic work of magic that had been around for as long as any former students could remember- some even said that the Founders may have been behind the sky-like ceiling. Currently, however, thousands of candles were floating over four long tables, where the remainder of the student populace was seated. All of the tables were set with golden plates and goblets, and at the top of the hall was another long table where the teachers were sitting.
Professor McGonagall gestured the first years up to the front, so that they came to a halt in a line facing the other students with the teachers behind them. The hundreds of faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the flickering candlelight. Dotted here and there among the students, the ghosts shone misty silver. Mainly to avoid all the staring eyes, Harry looked upwards and saw the velvety black ceiling dotted with stars for himself. He heard Hermione whisper, "It's bewitched to look like the sky outside. I read about it in Hogwarts, a History."
It was hard to believe there was a ceiling there at all, and that the Great Hall didn't simply open on to the heavens.
Harry looked down again as Professor McGonagall silently placed a four-legged stool in front of the first years. On top of the stool she put a pointed wizard's hat. This hat was patched and frayed and extremely dirty. Aunt Petunia wouldn't have let it in the house, he thought to himself.
Maybe they had to try and get a rabbit out of it, Harry thought wildly, that seemed the sort of thing- but then again, this Ichigo seemed confident enough- before he noticed that everyone in the hall was now staring at the hat.
Admittedly, he stared at it too, feeling a little foolish.
For a few seconds there was complete silence. Then the hat twitched. A rip near the brim opened wide like a mouth- and the hat began to sing:
'Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might be in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry
Set Gryffindor apart;
You might be in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuff's are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!'
The whole hall burst into applause as the hat finished its song. It bowed to each of the four tables and then became quite still again.
''So we've just got to try on the hat!'' Ron whispered to Harry. ''I'll kill Fred, he was going on about wrestling trolls!''
Harry smiled weakly. Yes, trying on the hat was a lot better than having to do a spell, but he did wish they could have tried it on without everyone watching. The hat seemed to be asking rather a lot; Harry didn't feel brave or quick-witted or any of it at the moment. If only the hat had mentioned a house for people who felt a bit queasy- that would have been the one for him.
Professor McGonagall now stepped forward holding a long roll of parchment.
"Now, normally I would be the one sorting the students to their respective houses." She said briskly. "However, this year we have decided to pass the honor onto Mr Ichigo Kurosaki. If you would."
The orange haired male grinned easily at the older witch before just slightly dramatically taking the roll of parchment from her hands while down on one knee.
"It is an honor, Madam." He said airily before straightening and turning his gaze to the first years. "Now, when I call your name, just put on the hat and sit on the stool. I can promise you right now that nothing is going to happen. Well, nothing bad, anyway."
But, before the man could call out the first name, a rather loud screech of, "YEEEEEE-HHAAAHHHHHH!" echoed around the Great Hall.
All of the first years froze at the blood-chilling howl of glee. Some of the older students started laughing, while others simply shook their heads. They didn't have to wait long to see who the voice belonged to, however.
Through the double doors flew a little man, dressed in loud, outlandish clothes, a hat with what appeared to be a bell attached to the end, and a vulgar orange bow tie. His black hair was just visible as he barrelled past the terrified first years, closely followed by a far more interesting figure.
He was entirely white. From his skin to his hair to his clothing, he was the representative of the color- or was it shade?- other than his eyes. Dark yellow, surrounded by seas of black. A manic grin upon his face, he tore after the tiny man, with what appeared to be a sword of some kind strapped across his back. Harry didn't know what kind of sword would look like a giant meat cleaver, but he supposed that this was the way of the world he was now submersed in.
After doing three loops of the Great Hall, the odd pair barrelled back out the double doors, which slammed shut after their departure.
Professor McGonagall had closed her eyes in annoyance during the short disturbance, as had Ichigo, who looked a little more than irritated with the events that had just occurred. Professor McGonagall then reopened them as the shrieks and howls slowly faded into the distance while Ichigo checked the list in a no-nonsense way.
A pink-faced girl with blond pigtails stumbled out of line, put on the hat- which fell right down over her eyes, and sat down. A moment's pause-
"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat.
The table on the right cheered and clapped as Hannah went to sit down at the Hufflepuff table. Harry saw the ghost of the Fat Friar waving merrily at her. It looked as though the Friar was going to have at least one new student to talk to.
"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat again, and Susan scuttled off to sit next to Hannah.
The table second from the left clapped this time; several Ravenclaws stood up to shake hands with Terry as he joined them.
'Brocklehurst, Mandy' went to Ravenclaw too, but 'Brown, Lavender' became the first new Gryffindor and the table on the far left exploded with cheers; Harry could see Ron's twin brothers catcalling at the girl as she nervously went to join them.
'Bulstrode, Millicent' then became a Slytherin. Perhaps it was Harry's imagination, after all he'd heard about Slytherin, but he thought they looked an unpleasant lot.
He was starting to feel definitely sick now. He remembered being picked for school teams during sports lessons at his old school. He had always been last to be chosen, not because he was no good, but because no one wanted Dudley to think they liked him. Would that be the same case here?
The hat, Harry noticed, shouted out the house at once for some, but at others it took a little while to decide. 'Finnigan, Seamus', the sandy-haired boy next to Harry in the line, sat on the stool for almost a whole minute before the hat declared him a Gryffindor.
Hermione almost ran to the stool and jammed the hat eagerly on her head. Harry couldn't help but wonder why she was suddenly so eager when just a minute prior to entering the hall she had looked rather jittery herself.
''GRYFFINDOR!'' shouted the hat. Ron groaned.
A horrible thought struck Harry, as horrible thoughts always do when you're very nervous. What if he wasn't chosen at all? What if he just sat there with the hat over his eyes for ages, until Professor McGonagall jerked it off his head and said there had obviously been a mistake and he'd better get back on the train?
When Neville Longbottom, the boy who kept losing his toad, was called, he fell over on his way to the stool. The hat took a long time to decide with Neville. When it finally shouted 'GRYFFINDOR', Neville ran off still wearing it, and had to jog back amid gales of laughter to give it to 'MacDougal, Morag'.
Malfoy swaggered forward when his name was called and got his wish at once: the hat had barely touched his head when it screamed "SLYTHERIN!"
Malfoy went to join his friends Crabbe and Goyle, looking pleased with himself.
There weren't many people left now.
'Moon' ..., 'Nott' ..., 'Parkinson' ..., then a pair of twin girls, 'Patil' and 'Patil' ..., then 'Perks, Sally-Anne' ..., and then, at last-
As Harry stepped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like little hissing fires all over the hall.
"Potter, did she say?"
"The Harry Potter?"
The last thing Harry saw before the hat dropped over his eyes was the hall full of people craning to get a good look at him. Next second he was looking at the black inside of the hat. He waited.
'Hmm,' said a small voice in his ear. 'Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There's talent, oh my goodness, yes- and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that's interesting...So where shall I put you?"
Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, 'Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.'
'Not Slytherin, eh?' said the small voice. 'Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it's all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness no doubt about that- no? Well, if you're sure- better be GRYFFINDOR!'
Harry heard the hat shout the last word to the whole hall. He took off the hat and walked shakily towards the Gryffindor table. He was so relieved to have been chosen and not put in Slytherin, he hardly noticed that he was getting the loudest cheer yet. Percy the Prefect got up and shook his hand vigorously, while the Weasley twins crowed ''We got Potter! We got Potter!''
Harry sat down opposite the ghost in the ruff he'd seen earlier. The ghost patted his arm, giving Harry the sudden, horrible feeling he'd just plunged it into a bucket of ice-cold water.
He could see the High Table properly now. At the end nearest him sat Hagrid, who caught his eye and gave him the thumbs up. Harry grinned back. And there, in the centre of the High Table, in a large gold chair, sat Albus Dumbledore. Harry recognised him at once from the card he'd got out of the Chocolate Frog on the train. Dumbledore's silver hair was the only thing in the whole hall that shone as brightly as the ghosts. Harry spotted Professor Quirrell too, the nervous young man from the Leaky Cauldron. He was looking very peculiar in a large purple turban.
And now there were only three people left to be sorted. 'Turpin, Lisa' became a Ravenclaw and then it was Ron's turn. He was pale green by now. Harry crossed his fingers under the table and a second later the hat had shouted "GRYFFINDOR!"
Harry clapped loudly with the rest as Ron collapsed into the chair next to him.
"Well done Ron, excellent," said Percy Weasley pompously across Harry as 'Zabini, Blaise' was made a Slytherin. Ichigo rolled up the scroll before handing it over to Professor McGonagal, who took it and the Sorting Hat away.
Harry looked down at his empty gold plate. He had only just realized how hungry he was. The pumpkin pasties seemed ages ago, and after everything that had happened since being on the train, he couldn't really blame himself for not noticing his hunger sooner.
Albus Dumbledore got to his feet. He was beaming at the students, his arms opened wide, as if nothing could have pleased him more than to see them all there.
"Welcome!" he said. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!
He sat back down. Everybody clapped and cheered. Harry didn't know whether to laugh or not.
"Is he- a bit mad?" he asked Percy uncertainly.
"Mad?" said Percy airily. "He's a genius! Best wizard in the world! But, he is a bit mad, yes. Potatoes, Harry?"
Harry's mouth fell open. The dishes in front of him were now piled with food. He had never seen so many things on one table- it ranged from roast beef to chicken to pork to sausages and potatoes and back to pudding and vegetables.
The Dursleys had never exactly starved Harry, but he'd never been allowed to eat as much as he liked. Dudley had always taken anything that Harry really wanted, even if it made him sick. Harry piled his plate with a bit of everything except the humbugs and began to eat. It was all delicious.
"That does look good." said the ghost in the ruff sadly, watching Harry cut up his steak.
"Can't you-?" Harry inquired curiously, looking at the ghost for a moment and pausing in his movement. Were ghosts able to eat like they could?
"I haven't eaten in nearly four hundred years." said the ghost. "I don't need to, of course, but one does miss it. I don't think I've introduced myself? Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington at your service. Resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower."
"I know who you are!" said Ron suddenly. "My brothers told me about you- you're Nearly Headless Nick!"
"I would prefer you called me Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-" the ghost began stiffly, but sandy-haired Seamus Finnigan interrupted.
"Nearly Headless? How can you be nearly headless?"
Sir Nicholas looked extremely miffed, as if their little chat wasn't going the way he wanted.
"Like this." he said irritably. He seized his left ear and pulled. His whole head swung off his neck and fell onto his shoulder as if it was on a hinge. Someone had obviously tried to behead him, but not done it properly. Looking pleased at the stunned looks on their faces, Nearly Headless Nick flipped his head back onto his neck, coughed, and said, "So- new Gryffindors! I hope you're going to help win the house championship this year? Gryffindor have never gone so long without winning. Slytherin have got the cup six years in a row! The Bloody Baron's becoming almost unbearable- he's the Slytherin ghost."
Harry looked over at the Slytherin table and saw a horrible ghost sitting there, with blank eyes, a gaunt face and robes stained with silver blood. He was right next to Malfoy, who, Harry was pleased to see, didn't look too pleased with the seating arrangements.
"How did he get covered in blood?" asked Seamus with great interest.
"I've never asked." said Nearly Headless Nick delicately.
When everyone had eaten as much as they could, the remains of the food faded from the plates, leaving them sparkling clean as before. A moment later the puddings appeared. Blocks of ice cream in every flavour you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate eclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, jelly, rice pudding...
As Harry helped himself to a treacle tart, the talk turned to their families.
"I'm half and half." said Seamus. "Me dad's a Muggle. Mam didn't tell him she was a witch 'til after they were married. Bit of a nasty shock for him."
The others laughed.
"What about you, Neville?" asked Ron.
"Well, my gran brought me up and she's a witch." said Neville, almost hesitant about his choice of words. "But the family thought I was all Muggle for ages. My Great Uncle Algie kept trying to catch me off my guard and force some magic out of me- he pushed me off the end of Blackpool Pier once, I nearly drowned- but nothing happened until I was eight. Great Uncle Algie came round for tea and he was hanging me out of an upstairs window by the ankles when my Great Auntie Enid offered him a meringue and he accidentally let go. But I bounced- all the way down the garden and into the road. They were all really pleased, Gran was crying, she was so happy. And you should have seen their faces when I got in here- they thought I might not be magic enough to come, you see. Great Uncle Algie was so pleased he bought me my toad."
Harry immediately felt sympathy for Neville; they may not have gotten the same upbringing, but they both knew what it was like to live with abusive relatives. And if Neville didn't see it as abuse, then Harry would pull him aside later and talk to the other boy about it.
On Harry's other side, Percy Weasley and Hermione were talking about lessons- something that he was sure he didn't want to be thinking about until the next morning at the very least, considering he still had to digest everything else that was being thrown his way.
Now that he had eaten, Harry was beginning to feel warm and sleepy. But at the same time, he was curious to see what kind of people would be teaching him magic- and looked up at the High Table again. Hagrid was drinking deeply from his goblet. Professor McGonagall was talking to Professor Dumbledore. Professor Quirrell, in his absurd turban, was talking to a teacher with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin.
It happened very suddenly- so suddenly, in fact, that he couldn't quite control the sharp flinch that accompanied what happened next. The hook-nosed teacher looked past Quirrell's turban straight into Harry's eyes- and a sharp, hot pain shot across the scar on Harry's forehead.
"Ouch!" Harry clapped a hand to his head.
"What is it?" asked Percy.
The pain had gone as fast as it had come. Harder to shake off was the feeling Harry had got from the teacher's look- a feeling that he didn't like Harry at all.
"Who's that teacher talking to Professor Quirrell?" he asked Percy.
"Oh, you know Quirrell already, do you? No wonder he's looking so nervous, that's Professor Snape. He teaches Potions, but he doesn't want to- everyone knows he's after Quirrell's job. Knows an awful lot about the Dark Arts, Snape."
Harry watched Snape for a while but Snape didn't look at him again.
At last, the puddings too disappeared and Professor Dumbledore got to his feet again. The hall fell silent.
"Ahem- just a few more words now we are all fed and watered. I have a few start of term notices to give you.
"First years should note that the forest in the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well."
Dumbledore's twinkling eyes flashed in the direction of the Weasley twins, who cheerfully saluted towards their headmaster before going back to their own conversation with a dark skinned boy.
"I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you that no magic should be performed between classes in the corridors.
"Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of term. Anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact either Madam Hooch or Kurosaki-san."
Here he gestured towards the orange haired male, who was seated next to a witch with spiky silvery hair cut short and piercing amber eyes. She wore a witch hat angled to one side and robes the same colour as the hat. They shared a look as they were mentioned before Madam Hooch smiled and Kurosaki-san reclined in his chair, crossing his arms and chuckling.
"And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third floor corridor on the right hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death."
Harry laughed, but he was one of the few who did. Wide eyed, he turned to Percy.
"He's not serious?" he muttered to Percy.
"Must be." Percy frowned, though it was directed towards Dumbledore. "It's odd, because he usually gives us a reason why we're not allowed to go somewhere- the forest's full of dangerous beasts, everyone knows that. I do think he might have told us prefects, at least."
"And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!" cried Dumbledore. Harry noticed that the other teachers' smiles had become rather fixed.
Dumbledore gave his wand a little flick, as if he was trying to get a fly off the end and a long golden ribbon flew out of it, which rose high above the tables and twisted itself into snake-like words.
"Everyone pick their favourite tune." said Dumbledore. "And off we go!"
And the school bellowed:
'Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we've forgot,
Just do your best, we'll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot.'
Everybody finished the song at different times. At last, only the Weasley twins were left singing along to a very slow funeral march. Dumbledore conducted their last lines with his wand and when they had finished, he was one of those who clapped loudest.
"Ah, music." he said, wiping his eyes. "A magic beyond all we do here! And now, bedtime. Off you trot!"
The Gryffindor first years followed Percy through the chattering crowds, out of the Great Hall and up the marble staircase.
Harry's legs were like lead again, but only because he was so tired and full of food. He was too sleepy even to be surprised that the people in the portraits along the corridors whispered and pointed as they passed, or that twice Percy led them through doorways hidden behind sliding panels and hanging tapestries. They climbed more staircases, yawning and dragging their feet, and Harry was just wondering how much further they had to go when they came to a sudden halt.
A bundle of walking sticks was floating in mid-air ahead of them and as Percy took a step towards them, they started throwing themselves at him. Before they could make contact, however, a blur of white flashed by them, and in a split second every walking stick was cut in half and laying on the floor pitifully.
"Goddamn it, ya stupid ghost, I'll kill ya!" the white haired male from earlier snapped, his voice sounding as though he might have been either gargling water or speaking through the substance.
A loud, rude sound, like the air being let out of a balloon, answered.
"The Baron and I've been looking for something ta hunt lately." the white haired male said again, this time with a manic grin on his face. Harry caught a glimpse of something blue. "Maybe we'll finally be allowed ta hunt you!"
There was a pop and the little man from earlier appeared, floating cross-legged in the air, clutching the remaining walking sticks.
"Oooooh!" he cackled, completely ignoring the albino male. "Ickle Firsties! What fun!"
He swooped suddenly at them, bypassing everyone. They all ducked.
"Come back here, ya little bugger!" the white haired male roared, turning and pursuing the shrieking man down the corridor. "Ignore me, will ya!? I'll show you why I should kill ya!"
"That was Peeves the Poltergeist and Shirosaki, Kurosaki-san's twin." Percy finally said, standing and navigating around the carnage that was the walking sticks. "You'll want to watch out for Peeves. The Bloody Baron and Shirosaki are the only ones who can control him. He won't even listen to us prefects. Ah. Here we are."
At the very end of the corridor hung a portrait of a very fat woman in a pink silk dress.
"Password?" she asked regally.
"Caput Draconis." replied Percy, and the portrait swung forward to reveal a round hole in the wall. They all scrambled through it- Neville needed a leg up, he was so short- and found themselves in the Gryffindor common-room, a cosy, round room full of squishy armchairs.
Percy directed the girls through one door to their dormitory and the boys through another. At the top of a spiral staircase- they were obviously in one of the towers- they found their beds at last: five four-posters with deep-red velvet curtains. Their trunks had already been brought up. Too tired to talk much, they pulled on their pyjamas and fell into bed. Harry couldn't help but sigh in relief and burrow below his blankets, pulling them up to his ears. This was his.
"Great food, isn't it?" Ron muttered to Harry through the hangings. "Get off, Scabbers! He's chewing my sheets."
Harry was going to ask Ron if he'd had any of the treacle tart, but he fell asleep almost at once.
Perhaps Harry had eaten a bit too much, because he had a very strange dream. He was wearing Professor Quirrell's turban, which kept talking to him, telling him he must transfer to Slytherin at once, because it was his destiny. Harry told the turban he didn't want to be in Slytherin; it got heavier and heavier; he tried to pull it off but it tightened painfully- and there was Malfoy, laughing at him as he struggled with it- then Malfoy turned into the hook-nosed teacher, Snape, whose laugh became high and cold- there was a burst of green light and Harry woke, sweating and shaking.
He rolled over and fell asleep again.
Ichigo Kurosaki, on the other hand, was wide awake at this hour, and his empty room was lit by the faint glow of the stars.
Said male was currently wandering the halls, a light tan cloak thrown around his shoulders, concealing most of his face and lithe frame with its light weight. Beneath a slight bulge along his spine lay a large cleaver-like weapon, sheathed in white bandages.
Upon seeing a familiar tabby in his path, he smiled slightly, bending and offering a hand out in a welcoming gesture. Daintily, the tabby came closer, sniffing at his fingers before rubbing against them in an affectionate manner.
He smiled before stroking the cat for a couple moments and standing, almost tempted to quirk a brow but resisting the urge quite well.
"Shiro, I know you're there." he sighed, rolling his eyes towards the nearby shadows.
"Aww...King, yer no fun...Ya always know where I am." Shirosaki frowned, his ghostly appearance suddenly visible.
"Of course. Your reiatsu isn't exactly subtle. Come on, we have work to do."
Shirosaki rolled his oddly coloured eyes before grinning. "Let's get to work then, eh partner?"
"You know the drill." Ichigo shook his head with a faint grin before disappearing in a flash of shunpo.
Shiro snickered before turning to the tabby cat, said cat now sitting and grooming its paw. "Enjoy yer evenin', Kitty." he grinned before disappearing into thin air.
Minerva McGonagall paused in the grooming of her paw to glare at the place Shirosaki had stood not a moment before.
He's almost as bad as those Marauders... she thought in amusement before continuing on her way down the corridor. Then again, they were the ones who taught those four almost everything they knew.