"Harry James Potter." Lily yelled up the stairs, "If you aren't down here in two minutes we're leaving without you."
"If you leave without me why are you leaving?" He called back as he started down the stairs, "You're only going to take me to the Hogwarts express. You have no other reason to leave the house."
"I have plenty of reasons to get out of this house." Lily huffed, "You, Sirius and your father are the top three."
"You wound me Mother." Harry sighed dramatically as he jumped off the last step, "I guess you won't miss me at all while I'm off to Hogwarts."
"I'll miss you enough." she ruffled his hair, "It's your pranks that I won't be missing any."
"I don't prank." he looked offended, "I only go for revenge."
"Yes but you make a mess doing it." she pointed out.
"I clean up my messes, unless the mess is Dad and Sirius." he grinned, "What are we waiting on we're going to be late for my first ride on the express, let's go already."
"We were waiting on you." James said from the door, "Let's go."
The family piled into the car making sure all the seatbelts were fastened, "Mummy when do I get to go to Hogwarts?"
"Rose Marie you know you get to go in four years." Lily huffed, "Why are you so anxious to leave your Mummy alone with just Daddy for company."
"Because you make me eat broccoli." she stated firmly, "Stop making me eat it and I'll quit talking about leaving."
"Looks like it going to be a long four years because we're having broccoli tonight and every night until you go." Lily smirked at her daughter before turning back to Harry, "Did you get everything?"
"I have all my school books, my wand, Hedwig and all my clothes." Harry repeated remembering not to tell his mother about the cloak hidden beneath it all. He couldn't believe his father had given it to him. The pranks he would be able to pull with that would be amazing.
"Don't forget Ron asked you to save him a seat." James interrupted not sure if Harry remembered to keep the secret.
"Last year they almost missed the train." Harry snickered, "Ron said they got to run through the barrier just in time to see Charlie throwing the trunks on before throwing the twins on. I wish I could have seen that."
"You'll probably get to see the same thing this year." James snickered.
"No, Charlie isn't going to be here." Harry huffed, "He couldn't get time off. I'm actually surprise you got time off to come too Dad."
"Well as Supreme champion, high lord and Minister of Magic I think I can give myself a few hours off to see my son off on his first trip to Hogwarts." James huffed as they pulled into the station.
Rose giggled as his dramatics until Lily hushed her, "Don't encourage him. It's truly a wonder he was re-elected after some of the stuff he's pulled."
"Love don't be like that." James smiled, "It's not like I was the first one to rent out the Department of Mysteries to give my wife a mystery date."
"A picnic in the Hall of Prophecy isn't my idea of a romantic date." she huffed then mumbled only loud enough for James to hear, "Especially after finding the prophecy with Harry's name on it."
"We weren't supposed to be in that hall." James grumbled as he pushed the trolley with Harry's luggage on it, "It wasn't my fault they got the reservation wrong. I asked for the love room."
"Look Dad there's Neville and Lucy." Harry was waving madly at the family farther down the terminal. The group waved back before disappearing onto the platform, "Hurry Dad."
"We can't hurry too much, we'll draw attention." James admonished a few moments later and the family was on the platform.
James shook several people's hands as they made their way through the crowd. People left and right were saddling up to him and saying, "Good day Minister Potter, how are you and your family." or "Minister Potter, that legislation was a winner we're so glad you're there for us." There were several other platitudes being bantered about as they found the car for the boys.
"I'm so glad Minerva agreed to this." Lily said as she peered into the car, "All the first years in one open car will surely help with house unity."
"Or cause a lot of fights." James mumbled just under his breath.
"Look there's Narcissa and Draco." Lily pointed. Harry joined her in waving towards their friends, "Write us tomorrow, we can't wait to find out which house you'll be in."
"I will." Harry grinned.
In no time at all they were all on the train and waving their goodbyes to their parents. Harry and his group were smack dab in the center of the car. As the train moved out of the station they settled into their seats and began to talk and laugh like the old friends they were.
"I wonder if I'll be in Gryffindor for my bravery." Harry wondered aloud.
"Maybe Hufflepuff because you're so loyal to your friends." Neville suggested.
"Or Slytherin because your sneaky pranks." Draco added.
"Ravenclaw for your brains." Ron added the paused before going on, "No wait you have no brains. Ravenclaw is out."
Harry threw a piece of candy at his red headed friend and asked, "And where do you think you'll be you big chicken?"
"That was a canary." Ron huffed, "The twins did that to me."
"Looked like a chicken to me." Draco laughed.
"If you could have made a bill like Dora Tonks does you would have looked like a duck." Neville added causing roar of laughter from the other two."
"I'm going to remember this the next time the twins do something to you guys." Ron pointed at each one of his friends.
"Sorry to interrupt." A girl said from the next seat, "But you seem to know a lot about Hogwarts. Can I ask a question?"
"Sure." Harry looked over his shoulder at the girl.
"I've read Hogwarts a history forward and back and can't find any mention of what the sorting consists of." she said, "Do you know what happens?"
"No it's a stupid big secret they all keep." Neville said.
"It's a conspiracy." Draco added.
"I've heard it's painful." Ron scratched his head.
"Quit listening to the twins." Harry smacked the back of his head, "Mum said it's not a big deal. They just like the surprise it brings to everyone the first time they experience it."
"After experiencing a few of Fred and George's surprises I'd say my yen for surprises has waned." Ron huffed slightly.
"Thank you." the girl said, "I'm Hermione Granger by the way."
"Ron Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter at your service." Harry pointed to each boy as he said their names.
"I could have introduced myself thank you." Draco drawled.
"Nice to meet you." Hermione giggled at them and turned back around.
The train ride was anything but quiet for the first year's car. There were no fights and the prefects checked the car regularly. Every older sibling made their way in to check on the group too. It seemed like a constant flow of older students kept the groups questions answered or scared them with the answer depending on who was talking. Before they knew it they were taking turns to change into their robes in the bathrooms. The last one had just finished when the train began to slow down.
"First years this way." Hagrid called from the end of the train near the door to their car.
"Hi Hagrid." Harry called as the group of first years timidly approached him, "Kidnap anyone new lately?"
"Hush you." Hagrid laughed with Harry's group of friends then turned to the others, "Follow me to the boats. You'll be getting your first view of Hogwarts here in just a moment."
They rounded the corner and saw the castle on the hill. Every window was lit, Harry was sure Aunt Minnie had used at least two candles per window, maybe even three. Soon they were in the boats and floating their way to the castle. At the door Professor Flitwick met them and showed them to the anteroom where they were to tidy themselves up before the sorting began. A few minutes in and the girl named Hermione squeaked and pointed up."
"Nick." Harry yelled up, "How are you?"
"Harry my boy so good to see you again." Nick floated down, "I didn't realize you were old enough to come yet."
"Sure you didn't." Harry smiled, "Can you slip up and tell us about the sorting?"
"No, I'd be banned from the school if I did." he refused.
"Awww, come on and give us a hint." Harry wheedled, "Just one small hint."
"Very well." Nick floated back up to the group, "My hint is this, you'll find out in just a minute."
"No fair Nick." Harry called as the laughing ghost floated through the walls.
"So you've been here before?" Hermione deduced.
"Plenty of times." Harry grinned, "But never on the night of the sorting."
"Alright everyone lets go." Filius called from the door, "Step lively now, we'll be starting the sorting in just a moment. Follow me to the front of the hall and line up in front of the Professors table."
They walked through the other tables to reach the front. Then the small Professor sat a small stool on the floor and placed a hat on it. After the Hat's song Harry had to hold in a snort as he heard Ron swear at the twins under his breath. The first name was called and the sorting began. Neville was the first of Harry's four friends to be called up.
"Hufflepuff." it called after a few moments.
"Dora will be so proud." Draco whispered to Harry who only nodded in reply.
Draco was shortly after Neville and was placed in Ravenclaw. When Harry's name came up the hat took several minutes before it yelled out Slytherin. Draco shouted with glee and held a hand out to Neville who dug in his pocket and slapped a few knuts into his friends hand.
"You bet on me." Harry whispered furiously as he walked by, "You two are so going down."
"Ron did too." Neville hissed.
"All three of you then." he finally reached his seat and shook a few hands before sitting.
Last of his group was Ron who was sent to Gryffindor to his great relief until he saw Harry. The half glare Harry was shooting him told him that the bet was known about and he would suffer. Ron just shrugged and grinned as he turned to listen to Professor McGonagall's beginning of the term speech.
"Welcome one and all." she talked for several moments about rules and Filches door before Harry really started paying attention, "Just as in years past one fourth year from each house has been selected to attend International Magic Academy as an exchange student. For those of you who do not know about IMA is there is a brochure in each dorm talking about this school and the International Confederation of Wizards that run it. Remember you must be fluent in at least one foreign language in order to qualify for the exchange student program. Tonight the four students picked will be swapped with four new students from the other school. We will be introducing them tomorrow morning at breakfast."
Harry's stomach took that moment to growl and he lost the thread of her speech. She ended not long after that and the food popped into existence on the platters in front of them. When the feast ended Harry followed the prefects down to their common room. Professor Slughorn showed up for a few moments and game them a little speech before sending them off to bed. The first year boys talked for a little while before settling down to either sleep or write letters.
Harry chose to write a letter and sat down to start it:
Mum, Dad and Rose
Miss you guys a lot already. But I'm settled in the Slytherin dorm. Can you believe that Ron, Draco and Neville placed bets on where I'd end up. Draco says it's because of all the sneaky pranks I play. I think he's just jealous because he ended up in Ravenclaw, first of his family in generations not in Slytherin. Ron got Gryffindor of course and Neville got Hufflepuff. Draco thinks Dora will be really proud of him.
I think Aunt Minnie tried to arrange it this way so we couldn't spend all our evenings planning pranks. But I think she'll be surprised. I've already gotten Blaise Zabini and Theo Nott to agree to help me pull pranks on the other three for the bet. So now instead of the four of us setting up pranks we'll each get a few from our houses and we'll be able to pull off some grand things.
Mum I promise nothing will interfere with classes, we won't pick on just a few people and we won't be mean. I remember my promise not to hurt or humiliate anyone with my pranks. Although when it comes to Fred and George I'll forget the no humiliation part. After their last prank they need to learn a bit of humility.
Anyway it's getting late. I'll send Hedwig with the letter in the morning.
"He's in Slytherin." James chuckled, "I can't believe my son is in Slytherin."
"I'm just glad it's not the same house it was just fifteen years ago." Lily smiled, "Severus will be so proud when he hears."
"Sirius is going to lose it for a while." James sighed, "I'll have to tie him to the sofa so he won't go off halfcocked."
"Well at least Minerva won't have the disputes between houses with the first years. Maybe they can wake the older children up some." Lily shrugged.
"I think Harry's going to be very dangerous at school." James grinned.
"Dangerous?" Lily questioned.
"He's going to turn the place on its ear." James chuckled, "Hogwarts won't know what hit her."
"Minerva is going to hate me isn't she?" Lily sighed sitting thoughtful, "I'm a bit curious."
"What about Love?" James turned from the letter to look at her.
"Why aren't you angry about him being in Slytherin." She asked curiously.
"Three reasons really." He scratched the back of his head, "There was a point ten years ago when I didn't think he'd even get to go to Hogwarts. Second, Peter wasn't in Slytherin and Severus was. Third I can't help but think of that soul piece we found in the garden that night. Luckily we were too far away for it to reach us and by the time we found it the thing had been on its own too long to have the strength to attack. If Albus would have fought him in the house and defeated him there, with us nearby, that soul piece could have attached to anyone of us."
"But Moody said several of the pieces in the artifacts attacked him." She wondered, "So why weren't they too weak?"
"The artifacts were imbibed with magic. The soul pieces lived off that magic." He explained, "The one on the ground didn't have anyone's magic to latch onto. They won't last long on their own."
"That is simply horrifying." Lily shuddered.
"What is simply horrifying?" Sirius
"Horcruxes." Lily shuddered, "He was telling me how close we came to one of us being hit with his soul piece that night."
"Ok, I agree it was horrifying." Sirius sighed, "Have you heard from Harry yet?"
"Yes." James turned back to the letter but didn't expand on his answer.
"Well?" he pushed.
"He thinks Minerva bribed the hat into putting each of them in a different house so they couldn't play pranks as well." James replied, "However he already has his dorm mates talked into helping him play a prank on the other three for betting on his house."
"So which house is he in already?" Sirius demanded.
"Slytherin, Draco said it's because his sneaky pranks." James answered and tensed for the explosion. He got one just not exactly what he thought.
"Yes! I knew it! Give them heck Harry." Sirius was jumping up and down but stopped to glare at Lily, "Will you please take off that spell now."
"Not until Rose is older, then again maybe not." Lily laughed as she left the room to find their daughter and let her know which house Harry had made it to.
"Dang it Prongs." Sirius grumbled, "I'm never going to get to talk normal again am I?"