Harry slipped through the crowd with practiced ease and settled into a compartment near the middle of the train. He kept a watch out for Luna and Neville because they had agreed to sit together. As soon as the others walked by he made himself visible and stuck his head out and called.
"You're invisibility works really well." Neville chuckled, "I didn't see any kind of disturbance."
"Sometimes it works too well." Harry chuckled, "The slightest thought of being invisible and I'm gone."
"Playing hide and seek with you will be really hard." Luna giggled, "Anything else new?"
"George is back to living at the shop." Harry shrugged, "Angelina and Lee are staying with him and promise to keep me up to date on how he's doing. Teddy is on the move. Andromeda says she thinks he'll be crawling any day and then onto running by the day after."
"Is Bill still taking him on full moon nights?" Neville asked.
"Yes, it works out well. Both of them get really hyper." Harry grinned, "Fleur says it's great because the two of them play all night and she gets to sleep."
Neville chuckled at the innuendo but Luna just kept her same dreamy expression and changed the subject, "Harry, did you do something to the compartment? No one can see it."
"Yes, I put a notice me not on the door and locked it." He replied, "I'm not really ready to face everyone on the train just yet. Most specifically a certain duo of traitors, they have passed at least four times."
"They have no excuse to be out wandering around. They aren't prefects any longer." Neville grinned.
"You may want to undo it." Luna sighed, "I think you're going to be needed in a moment."
Harry sighed and stood canceling the spells as he went. He opened the door, heard the yells and placed a shield in the middle of the hallway just in time to stop spells going each direction. He stuck his head out and saw Ron and Hermione at one end with Draco and Blaise at the other.
"Get to your compartments and stay there." he ordered.
Draco and Blaise nodded and left. Ron followed suit. But Hermione grabbed his arm, "Come on now's our chance to talk to Harry alone."
"No it's not." Harry said and pulled back into his compartment.
"Let's go." they heard Ron's voice, "Just leave him alone we'll catch him later."
"NO I WILL NOT..." Hermione started to shriek.
"Sorry I had to do that Hermione. I want to be on the quidditch team this year I can't afford to make him any madder." a closing door ended the noise.
"He'll be in trouble for that." Neville chuckled, "She always has hated quidditch."
"It's not quidditch so much it's flying." Luna sighed, "If she got up that high on a broom the Snapper Widgens would make a nest in all that hair. They love to tie knots."
Harry snickered, that was the closest thing to an insult Luna had ever said. The rest of the ride was quiet because Harry had put the spells back up after the fight. The trio laughed and got ready when it was time. It wasn't until they reached the carriages that anyone else approached him.
"Thanks for stopping the fight before it got out of hand." Blaise Zabini was standing near but not too close.
"No problem." Harry grinned, "Do I even want to know what it was about?"
"You don't know?" he asked.
"I heard a commotion, but not who or what." Harry shrugged.
"The two of them were telling us we'd never make the quidditch team because we're evil snakes." he shrugged, "We knew they didn't speak for you but then they tried to hex us."
"I'll take whoever does the best at tryouts regardless of their old house." Harry replied, "Anyone who thinks different is delusional. I want to win not play favorites. That's why I get my own dorm. She didn't want anyone to hex me in my sleep because they didn't make the team."
"That and to keep you from killing a few idiots." Neville added, "Luna has a carriage for us."
"Later Blaise." Harry followed Neville to the carriage where Luna was petting the thestral. He was going to join her but thought it might be weird since he technically was one too, "Ready Luna?"
"Sure." she stopped petting and turned to join the boys.
Harry helped her into the carriage before joining her, Neville followed. Before long Harry found himself at Hogwarts and in the Great Hall. He and the first few eighth year students were met by Professor McGonagall.
"The small table in the middle is meant for you all." she instructed them, "Mr. Potter wait." Harry turned back to her wondering what he had done now, "I hear we had a few altercations on the train."
"I only saw one." he said, "It was between Ron, Hermione, Draco and Blaise. Teamed just how you would think. Two per end of the car and they threw hexes. I didn't see what happened but I blocked the spells and sent them on their way. No further incidents occurred to my knowledge."
"Well done." she patted his shoulder pointed at the wall behind him, "Ten points."
He turned and found the list of names of the eighth years on a board and beside his name was the ten points. Everyone else had zero, "Thanks Professor."
"My office after dinner please." she sighed, "You can talk to the portraits after I see to the other four."
"Sorry I couldn't do it before school." he shrugged, "George needed me."
"I understand." She patted him on the shoulder one more time before they both left to find their seats.
Harry went to his table and sat between Neville and Susan. Hannah sat on Neville's other side while the rest seemed to settle around him. Draco was on his far left across from Blaise while Ron and Hermione were at the far right end. Harry talked with quite a few people before the first years came in. When the feast was over McGonagall came and collected the five of them. Harry walked with her to the office while the others trailed behind.
"Harry." Hermione tried to address him as soon as they were seated in the office.
"Miss Granger now is not the time for you to be speaking." Minerva glared at her, "I have heard what happened from several sources and I am going to be docking each of you five points and you will be serving detention with Mr. Filch three times each over the next few weeks. I'm very disappointed in you. You all acted more like third year students rather than the adults you are supposed to be."
"Harry didn't do anything wrong." Blaise spoke up when she took a breath, "He only blocked the spells."
"I'm well aware of that Mr. Zabini. Mr. Potter is here for another reason not connected to this. He was awarded ten points for acting responsibly and stopping the fight." she pulled the attention back to herself, "In addition to your current punishment you will all be confined to your dorms by nine each evening for two weeks. If you are caught out it will be more points deducted and an eight o'clock curfew. And before you ask yes I know that may conflict with any quidditch practice and library time so behave."
"Yes Professor." all four replied quietly.
"Good now down the stairs and we'll get you to your dorms. Mr. Potter please stay until I return." she instructed and he nodded as she ushered the four out the door.
At the bottom of the stairs they met up with Filius, "Mr. Weasley, Ms. Granger come with me and I'll show you to your rooms."
Minerva led Blaise and Draco off another direction. It was quiet until Blaise spoke, "Thank you Professor."
"What for?" she asked briskly.
"For treating us equally." he said, "I don't know anyone else who could with us being Slytherin and all."
"While I'll was sorted into Gryffindor and I've been their head of house now for thirty five years it no longer matters." she smiled, "I am the Headmistress of the whole school, every house is my house. You have always been my students even if you weren't in my house and that hasn't changed."
"Thank you Professor." Draco murmured.
"This is your dorm you will be sharing with Mr. Nott." she turned to the door, "Slytherin is your current password you three will need to set up a new one yourselves. I would suggest a new one at least once a week."
"I thought it was four to a room?" Draco asked as the door opened.
"I thought it best to let you be sorted by house." she offered, "Unless you want to room with Mr. Weasley."
"No, I'm fine I'm glad it's only the three of us." Draco assured her, "I had been wondering who the fourth would be."
"Have a pleasant evening." she turned and left the two boys at the open door.
Filius was having a very different conversation, "I really don't see why it's any of your business why Mr. Potter has an appointment with the Headmistress."
"But I need to know what he's up too." Hermione was exasperated, "It's my job to make sure he doesn't go dark."
"Miss Granger, I can assure you that Mr. Potter is not going dark." he sighed having said that for the third time, "Now here is your dorm the current password is Gryffindor you and the other two will establish a password you can work with please change it every week."
"But he pranked…"
"Mr. Weasley this way." he walked away leaving the annoying girl at the picture. Ron didn't speak at all as he followed the diminutive professor down the hall, "You've been very quiet this evening Mr. Weasley."
"I think Hermione already said enough for three people." he coughed as they stopped by the door.
"Yes quite. You may want to think about distancing yourself from her." he said, "If she doesn't lay off she'll find herself an outcast and you along with her."
"I'm afraid that is already inevitable." he said, "I was so sure Dumbledore knew what he was doing but…"
"No one is perfect." he stated, "Your password is Gryffindor you and your three roommates will need to change it tonight and once a week after."
"Thanks Professor." Ron slumped into his new common room and waited for the explosion.
He was rather surprised when it didn't come, "There's one bed left through there. Door to the bathroom is inside."
Neville had thumbed over his shoulder to indicate the door but he didn't look up from his game of chess with Seamus. Ron sighed and went through the door. Neville had taken the bed closest to the bathroom, Seamus and Dean were next to the window and the last one was the worst spot in the room, closest to the door. Ron sighed and sat on the bed.
Minerva returned to her office to find Harry pacing, "Any luck?"
"Severus talked to me. We called each other names for a bit and then I thanked him for all his help." Harry shrugged.
"Did he faint?" she asked trying to see his portrait.
"No he left." Harry chuckled.
"What about the other one?" she asked.
"Oh we talked." Harry grinned evilly, "I got to call him every name in the book."
"Did he tell you anything?" she asked.
"His excuse is that he thought, with Voldemort's soul piece in my head, that it was tainting my soul." Harry shrugged, "He said I was turning dark and enjoying other people's pain. But he was wrong. I did everything I could to keep other people alive. I messed up plenty but what does he expect from an inexperienced kid. I know how to take care of everyone but me. I know how to cook and clean the muggle way. I know how to take pain. I have no idea how to give or take love."
"Actually I think you know more about that than most people." she smiled at him, "Because you know how to take care of everyone but yourself. You know how to take pain even the pain that is meant for others. You gave up your life so that others may live. I know no other love greater than that. And that is why Poppy and I watch over you like old mother hens."
"Just mother hens." Harry grinned, "Not old at all."
"Charmer." she accused, "Let's get you to your room. I think you're going to like it."
The next morning at breakfast Ron was sitting in the same place as the night before. Harry was in the middle surrounded by everyone else. When Hermione finally made it in she made to march over to Harry. Ron stopped her as she tried to pass him.
"Let go Ronald." she hissed, "I'm going to give him a piece of my mind."
"You can hardly afford to." Lavender snickered from farther down.
"Just shut up and listen for a minute." Ron pulled her around and sat her across from himself, "You are the only person in the school who thinks he's going dark."
"But you…" she started.
"Shut up." he raised his voice and then lowered it to speak again, "I know Dumbledore convinced us that he was but he was wrong. He was manipulating us and we were wrong to listen. There isn't any way Harry is a dark wizard, you need to use the brain you've got and see that. Dumbledore lied and used us just the same as he did Harry, just as we did to Harry. Open your eyes and see it."
"But he said…" she tried.
"I know what Dumbledore said and I know what I see." Ron hissed, "He hasn't tried to take over anything. He has stayed to himself and has not gathered followers to do evil."
"What about the goo and feathers?" she smirked.
"That was all George with just a dab of Harry." Ron chuckled meanly, "Harry probably kept George reigned in. If it had just been George I'm sure public nudity would have been involved. If anyone is dark it's Percy."
"But he was only helping George…" she pointed out.
"Did he look like he wanted that kind of help?" Ron growled, "We never should have gone along with him on that. I think I was losing my mind or something. To want him out of the way to get his shop, what kind of brother does that make me? I finally feel like my head is clearing for the first time in years."
"You mean you think someone has been controlling you, like the imperious curse?" she asked.
"No we know what that feels like from fourth year and this is different." Ron shook his head, "This is like my brain has been in a fog and only able to concentrate on one thing and now I can think of all kinds of things. I think maybe a potion."
"I don't feel that way." she argued, "I just know what Dumbledore said and he has to be right, he was a genius."
"There is such a thing as evil genius." he argued, "We did just live through You Know Who. Dumbledore was wrong to promise us Harry's inheritance."
"But he said Harry didn't want it." she said, "He said Harry was willing to pay anything to have trustworthy friends."
"And just how trustworthy have we been." Ron asked working hard to keep the conversation soft enough that no one would hear them, "All I'm proposing is that we keep our eyes and ears open. If he is turning dark we can take evidence to McGonagall. And if not…"
"You think we can judge him better that Dumbledore?" she looked shocked, "But he's the Headmaster."
"Was, he isn't anymore. If you believe a Headmaster can do no wrong then we have to support Harry because McGonagall does." he knew he had her with that bit of logic, "We can't just follow blindly any longer. Look where that got us."
"I don't even know what dark magic looks like." she huffed, "How can I know if he's going dark?"
"You do know what it looks like. Just think of every curse a death eater threw and you'll know what dark looks like." Ron said, "Dark magic hurts people. When was the last time, outside of war, that Harry tried to hurt someone?"
"He used the imperious at the bank." she pointed out.
"To save our lives during the war, he even had the guy hide so he wouldn't get hurt." he stressed, "We used to be his best friends and now we rank right up there with Malfoy."
"I noticed that." she sighed, "Fine we'll start looking for ourselves and decide for ourselves."
"No more lies." Ron added, "We really looked like idiots with that lawsuit."
"I was surprised that didn't work." she said, "Dumbledore said if anyone died we would win that."
"More evidence that he was either wrong or lying." Ron stated, "I know I'm not smart enough to figure this out on my own. I need you and your logical brain to look at what I'm looking at and interpret it. Because if he's dark than I'm going to be really surprised."
"Ron if we've been wrong all this time…" she let the sentence hang.
"I know." he sighed and hung his head, "We need to quit making it worse."