Harry Potter was just trying to buy some milk.
In the middle of the night his bloody godfather complained that they were out of milk, so Harry had offered to get some from the local muggle market. Just a quick apparition to the store and back. Even as unlucky as he was, there was absolutely no way anything bad could happen on such a simple errand.
A quiet series of pops alerted him to the arrival of several wizards in his immediate vicinity, and with reflexes honed by years of constant practice he whipped his sword out and turned to face his attackers. Seeing almost three dozen Death Eaters, wands drawn and masks up, he made the most sensible decision of his life.
He ran like hell in the opposite direction.
Curses rained down on him as he zigged and zagged down deserted muggle streets, though he noticed almost immediately that none of the spells seemed to be fatal. Well, not immediately fatal. The distinct lack of green light from the normally Killing Curse-spewing murderers told Harry that his attackers wanted him alive, a strange departure from their normal behavior, but they weren't above throwing Rupturing Curses or the Cruciatus at him.
Which meant they wanted to capture him for their boss, the Dark Wanker Voldemort. Just great. A section of concrete in front of Harry nearly exploded as an overpowered Blasting Curse hit it after just barely missing blowing his leg off, and only Harry's momentum kept him from tumbling arse over elbows onto the unforgiving pavement while painful fragments of the road pelted his side. There were simply too many people throwing curses at him to dodge effectively, wide streets or not, and Harry knew that he'd be captured if he didn't do anything soon.
A Body-bind smacked into his back, but it was weak enough that his cold iron mail shirt absorbed it; he silently thanked old Moody for instilling the habit of always wearing armor no matter the circumstances. Still, the armor alone wasn't going to see him through this mess. Anti-apparition wards were in place before he had even started running, he didn't have anywhere near enough time to make a portkey, making a glowing shield for defense would only let them target him more effectively in the pitch-black night, and there were far too many of them to fight.
Oh, and Tom bloody Riddle just appeared at the end of the street.
Bugger. They hadn't even been trying to hit him in the first place- they had been herding him right towards their boss. Harry could see Death Eaters lining the whole street on either side of him, all the way up to Voldemort himself, looking as smug as they possibly could with their masks on. And the thirty or so original Death Eaters were still firing curses at him from behind.
Harry was almost touched that Voldemort brought out so many of his followers just to capture him, but then realized what an absurd thought that was. The best possible outcome Harry could expect from this would be to force Voldemort to kill him in a real fight, as opposed to being captured and tortured to death. Or tortured until the end of time. He had a bloody horcrux embedded in his skull, after all.
The Death Eaters stopped firing when he got within five meters of the Dark Wanker, and chose to form a closed ring around the two of them. They all kept their wands out, but lowered, ready to stop him if he tried to escape.
"Harry Potter... so nice of you to join us," Voldemort said, and his men all laughed at the pointless joke.
Harry chose to just glare defiantly at the man, only partly because he was out of breath from running so much.
"But you won't be here for very long, will you? Oh, how I'd love to take my time with you," he sneered, "but that fool Dumbledore will catch on to our little game before much longer. No, this will be unfortunately brief, I'm afraid."
"Don't worry, Tom, that happens to a lot of men your age." Harry couldn't help himself; he blamed Sirius for his penchant to annoy anyone in a position of power over him.
He was rewarded with a brief flicker of anger from the murdering bastard, but that was soon replaced by a cold, reptilian look. "You've earned yourself a bit of knowledge before I finish this. You are aware of the Prophecy, yes? Let me refresh your memory: either must die at the hand of the other."
Harry continued staring defiantly at the man who was about to kill him, determined to at least die with his sword in hand.
"Before, I must confess that I did not know why that would be true... but very recently, a little birdie told me an interesting bit of information. Your scar connects us, does it not? But it is not merely a mental connection. It is a link between our souls. It is a horcrux, though one made mistakenly. Do you know what that means, Harry Potter?"
Oh, Harry knew what that meant. For Voldemort to die, he had to go first. He was willing to see that happen, but he figured he could have gotten at least a couple more of the bastard's horcruxes burned before being offed himself. Getting killed now would just give Dumbledore and the Order more work to do.
"It means I cannot allow you to die."
Harry blinked, and for a second forgot about the cloaked figures standing all around him.
"Er... run that by me one more time?"
"You house a piece of my soul, and though it might survive your death, I would prefer not to take chances. So you will continue to live. For me."
That was Harry's cue- he would not let himself be taken prisoner. He tensed himself, ready to spring forward and make at least a pitiable attempt on Voldemort's life. His wand channeled as much magic as it could directly into his own body, strengthening his muscles even as it increased his resistance to physical and magical damage.
"Enjoy your time among the living, Harry Potter, knowing that I am immortal while you still draw breath."
Harry was a blur, streaking toward his opponent as fast as magically possible, bringing his sword around in a strike that would split the monster in half.
The incanted words smashed into Harry with an unstoppable force, staying his blade mere inches from the Dark Wanker's delighted face. What felt like a butcher's hook stabbed into his navel, and a sharp tug sent him flying backwards through the ranks of assembled Death Eaters, through the sleeping muggle neighborhood, through the spinning and spinning and spinning world. Harry couldn't make sense of the frenzied spinning, and though it felt vaguely similar to a portkey the speed at which he was traveling threatened to black even the quidditch star out.
He felt, more than heard, the great splintering sound that erupted when his body finally made contact with solid ground again. Really solid ground, it turned out. One piece of stone fell back down and conked him right on the head after being tossed skyward by his rough landing.
"Fuck," he said, and stayed on the ground. He couldn't feel most of his body at the moment, but he was sure that both his wand and sword were in hand, which was good. Wherever Voldemort had just sent him couldn't possibly be fun. He'd have to try and stab himself before he was disarmed, if nothing else than to get rid of another horcrux. Not being tortured for eternity sounded like a good idea as well.
"Are you quite alright, young man?" a voice asked. Old, wizened, filled with humor at the most inappropriate times...
Harry blearily opened his eyes, and sure enough, Albus Dumbledore was looking down at him.
"Fuck," he said again, trying to articulate his immense displeasure with the last ten minutes of his life.
"I believe you already covered that. How about we move on to another topic, namely, how you managed to somehow breach the wards of Hogwarts and appear in our pleasant great hall?"
"Fucking Voldemort," Harry said, as if that explained everything.
The old headmaster frowned, and continued in a slightly stern voice. "We do have children present, you know. I'd appreciate a little less colorful language and a little more description."
Harry was beginning to regain feeling in his body, which was unfortunately a lot worse than not feeling it at all. His whole body felt somewhat like a thousand gnomes were stabbing him with tiny knives.
"Death Eaters ambushed me. Voldemort gave me some spiel that we shouldn't get into here if there are children present and then tagged me with some sort of area-wide portkey, landing me here. I don't know how it got past the wards either, but it was bloody awful the whole way and I'd really appreciate some healing before I keel over dead."
Dumbledore smiled, and his eyes held their usual twinkle of good cheer. "Yes, it looks like you've been through the wringer, though it seems you came out better than my stone floor."
Harry shrugged, or at least tried to before pain made him stop the action abruptly. "I pumped myself full of as much magic as my body could take before getting portkeyed, which is a good thing because personally I like winning contests against the floor. Brains are harder to put back together than stone."
Harry couldn't move his neck to see who had interrupted, but Dumbledore plastered a fake smile on his face and turned to address the speaker.
"Headmaster, that boy is obviously dangerous and insane. I shall contact the Ministry to collect him at once."
"I believe the terms you were looking for are 'injured and disoriented', Professor. He has committed no crimes and as such will remain right here, so you may sit back down, Professor Umbridge." Dumbledore again turned to a figure that was outside Harry's rather limited field of vision and addressed them. "Miss Hopkins, I believe you are one of the nurse's assistants. Can I ask you to escort our guest here to the hospital wing?"
A figured approached Harry's side, which resolved itself into an attractive girl about his age when she stood over him, looking apprehensive.
"Don't worry, cutie, I don't bite," Harry said, though his attempt to grin roguishly was interrupted by fierce pain that twisted the expression into a grimace. Great. Sirius said you only got one chance to impress a babe before they evaluated you, and now Harry would have to work twice as hard to pick her up.
"Er, your shirt. Is that iron?"
Harry blinked at the non sequitor. "Yes?"
"I, er, can't really levitate you while you're wearing it."
With a great sigh that spoke of long suffering, Harry hauled himself up using his sword as leverage. In truth he could have done so before, but like he predicted a wave of pain washed through his body with every tiny movement, something he hadn't really wanted to deal with. But he had to be manly in front of a girl. It was rule number twelve on Sirius' list of picking up chicks.
After sheathing his wand and sword, Harry could finally look around the room he was currently in. Like Dumbledore said earlier it was the great hall at Hogwarts, a place he had been to a few times before, so he didn't really pay it much attention despite the students all looking at him and whispering to their neighbors. The girl next to him, though, was really cute, so he gave her his full attention.
Pale complexion, long black hair, surprisingly red lips...
"Are you okay? You're kind of bleeding all over the place."
Harry looked down and noticed the multitude of small cuts and abrasions he had suffered from the fall, but none of it seemed particularly bad. True, he had a number of bleeding injuries, including a long splash of blood obscuring the scarred side of his head, but they were mostly superficial. Nothing had pierced a major artery or his vital organs.
"I'm fine. Er," he began, not really sure how to proceed. He couldn't walk himself to the infirmary, he'd collapse before he took more than a few steps, but it wouldn't be manly to ask for help walking.
His dilemma was solved when the girl stepped up next to him herself, wrapping his arm across her shoulders to help bear his weight. Harry gratefully leaned into her, as much to enjoy being nestled up next to a cute girl as to actually steady himself for walking. The two teenagers made their way out of the great hall as whispers turned into full blown conversations behind them.
Harry took a few moments to bask in his apparent victory. Sure, Voldemort caught him in a trap and kicked his arse, but now here he was strolling through Hogwarts with a cute girl on his arm, heading towards the hospital wing to get patched back up. As far as encounters with the Dark Tosser went this was a pretty good one. Besides, the only girl Voldemort could boast about was Saggytits Lestrange, and in a few minutes Harry planned to use his heroic status as an excuse to snog this girl before they made it to the infirmary. Take that, Voldemort.
Speaking of which...
"I'd feel silly calling you 'Miss Hopkins,' so how about we get on a first name basis?"
"Harry. I'd shake your hand but we'd both fall over."
She laughed, causing Harry to wince slightly as the movement jostled his battered body. Luckily she was too preoccupied to notice his facial expressions.
"Are you normally this silly, or just when you're half-dead?"
"Nah, I've been half-dead before. This is, like, one-eighth dead at most."
Evangeline just stared straight ahead, a smile tugging the corners of her mouth. She never wavered in the purposeful pace she set for the two of them, and Harry was both relieved and concerned with the quick travel. On the one hand he hurt like hell and desperately wanted some pain relieving potions at the least. On the other hand he so rarely got to interact with girls...
An idea popped into his head.
"What year are you?" he asked.
"Fifth year. What about you?"
"I'd be a sixth year, if I went to school. I take it they haven't taught you silent or wandless casting yet?"
Evangeline shook her head, causing her hair to drag across Harry's cut face. He just barely bit back a yelp of pain when that happened, but since she was still facing forward Harry figured she hadn't caught on to that. Good. He didn't want to look like an idiot.
"In that case, I've got a little trick to show you," he said, borrowing Sirius' sure-fire way to impress the ladies. He concentrated, drawing on the magic that was still permeating his body, and conjured a black rose with a twirl of his fingers right in front of Evangeline.
She never even slowed down, but a look of shock crossed her face at the difficult conjuration. She seemed even more impressed when a second wandless silent spell had the flower gently float to her and entwine itself into her hair, perching on the side of her head like an ornament.
"That's some fancy magic, Harry."
"I had the best teacher," he replied.
The next corner they turned had the pair in front of the hospital wing, which unfortunately meant an end to their little stroll. It was far too soon to go for a real snog, but Harry, remembering rule eight (always kiss goodnight), gave the girl an embarrassingly chaste kiss on the cheek as he extricated his arm from around her shoulder. Seeing her surprise, he grinned and gave her a jaunty wave as he let himself into the infirmary.
"Thanks for the walk, Evangeline, I hope I see you again!" he called, and shut the door behind him. The last few steps Harry took became wobbly, though thankfully he reached a bed and sat down before his legs gave out. Sometimes rule twelve was a bitch.
The school nurse was already bustling toward him with an armful of potions, no doubt having already been told what had happened to him. After a few deft flicks of her wand she nodded in satisfaction and laid the potions out in order.
"First is a pain reliever, second is blood replenishing, third is bone strengthening, fourth is muscle repair. Take at least ten seconds between each potion to rest. Oh, and you should probably take off that terrible shirt if you want to lie down and take a nap."
Harry simply smiled at the woman's efficiency and started doing as she commanded, gratefully starting with the pain relief potion. As Harry started drinking the awful concoction the medi-witch vanished all the blood on the outside of his body and thoughtfully mended all his clothes in the process, other than the magic resistant iron, of course.
Dumbledore opened the door and walked in just as Harry was finishing the last of the potions, the old man waiting patiently as Harry swallowed the last of it.
"Loads. You've already let Sirius know I'm still alive, right? Is he on his way, or am I just going straight to him?"
Dumbledore paused, staring at Harry in a rather disconcerting way. "I assume you mean Sirius Black?"
"Obviously. The wanker told me to go get milk in the middle of the bleeding night when I ran into Voldemort. 'We need more milk to make tea' my arse. Honestly, he couldn't have waited till morning?"
Dumbledore pointed out the window, which showed a rather impressive view of the school's grounds, coated in snow, all illuminated by a bright mid-day sun.
Harry blinked, noticing the time of day.
"That... doesn't make a lot of sense. We're still in England, right? Can portkeys go through time?"
"Normal portkeys cannot. However, I am becoming increasingly convinced that Voldemort did not cast a portkey on you at all. Tell me, how long have you known Sirius Black?"
"Since I was born, obviously. He's kind of my Godfather."
Dumbledore smiled patiently, as if talking to an extremely thick child. Harry hated when he did that.
"I mean, you mentioned that Sirius is your current guardian. How long has he been so?"
"Since my parents died when I was one. You were there, remember? Sirius ran into a group of Death Eaters while he was trying to chase down Pettigrew, but after he got out of St. Mungo's you guys had a big row about who I'd be staying with," he said. Harry frowned when none of this seemed to register with the old headmaster.
"I see. Sirius Black never went to Azkaban?"
"No... Peter Pettigrew went to Azkaban. Sirius is the good guy, remember?" Harry was seriously starting to have doubts about the old man's sanity.
"Of course, of course. I find myself less in control of my wits then normal today. I would be correct in presuming that you are Harry Potter, born of James and Lily Potter?"
"Oh! I get it. Can't be too careful about polyjuice and stuff, right? It hasn't been an hour yet, so you're grilling me about my past while keeping an eye on me. I wouldn't trust a bloke who just popped into existence behind Hogwarts' wards either, so just fire all the questions you want at me. No problem."
Interrogating supposed friends in suspicious circumstances was pretty par for the course in a world where anyone could grab a hair off someone and impersonate them. Harry assumed that since he mentioned getting caught by Death Eaters the professor was trying to confirm his real identity, which was an understandable reaction.
"In that case I shall start from the very beginning. What is your name?"
"Harry James Potter."
"Who has raised you?"
"Have you been to Hogwarts before?"
"Three times, the last of which was for the Yule Ball."
"What year is it?"
The questioning dragged on and on, until Harry felt like he told his entire life's story to the headmaster. Really, Dumbledore didn't know anything specific enough about him to make this work effectively, especially since the Boy-Who-Lived's story was so famous and universally known. Raised mostly in seclusion by Sirius, he was tutored by some of the best witches and wizards of the age and trained for combat in case the Dark Tosser or his chums came back for revenge. There wasn't much that Dumbledore would know that nobody else would beyond that.
"Finally, have you heard of the Girl-Who-Lived?"
"What, is that a new thing? Did Voldemort splat himself on another baby?"
"No, this particular tale is more than a decade old now."
"Can't say I've heard of her. Is she cute?"
Dumbledore coughed into his hand, hastily turning away from Harry. "I do not believe that is what you should concern yourself with. Or rather, not in that particular manner."
"I'm working on a theory here, so stop me if I get something wrong. A little while ago you were ambushed by Death Eaters and then brought to Voldemort, who had you at his mercy. Instead of killing you, he made some sort of mention of the Prophecy that connects the two of you and cast a spell that you could not identify which forcibly deposited you here." After a nod from Harry he continued on. "The answer, improbable as it sounds, is fairly obvious. Voldemort found a way to send you across dimensions."
Harry, who like most wizard-raised knew nothing of the theory of parallel worlds, just nodded his head without any understanding.
"It means, Harry, that you are in a different world. In your own dimension you vanquished Voldemort as an infant and are fated to defeat him again, but here that burden falls on the shoulders of a Miss Harriet Lily Potter. I am not sure how he did so, but your Voldemort crossed the bridge between worlds and sent you here, most likely to keep you from ever killing him. He has always been terrified of the possibility of death."
The young man didn't quite know how to respond, so he settled for an unconcerned shrug. "Mind sending me back, then?"
"I'd be glad to, just as soon as I figure out how to accomplish such a feat. Parallel dimensions are not one of my specialties."
Harry pondered this for a while. "I take it the Sirius Black of this world doesn't know me?"
"No, I'm afraid not. I don't believe it would be wise to spread your identity around either."
"Huh. Well, alright. Should I just check in with you every week to see if you've got the spell ready yet, or is there someone else who would be faster?"
Dumbledore frowned. "You seem awfully unconcerned with being in an entirely new world, Harry."
"If Voldemort found a way to send me here, you can find a way to send me back. Freaking out isn't going to make that happen any sooner." Harry gave the old headmaster a sly grin. "Besides, no one here is trying to kill me and there's plenty of cute girls just waiting for a handsome stranger to sweep them off their feet. I think I'll manage staying here for a while."
Dumbledore stroked his long beard, looking at Harry with a thoughtful expression. "For the time being, why don't you enroll here at Hogwarts? It will give you a place to stay and make it easier for us to keep in contact."
"Sure. Sign me up, Headmaster."
Dumbledore stood up, adjusted his half moon spectacles, and smiled at his newest student with a twinkle in his eye. "We'll get you Sorted tomorrow morning at breakfast. I do not believe that we should advertise your real name and heritage, however. You've caused quite enough of a stir already."
"Oh. What do you suggest?"
"Why not go with what is familiar? Merely calling yourself Harry Black and hiding your scar should be more than enough to prevent inquisitive minds from identifying your real heritage. Not many are as well versed in parallel worlds as I am. In the meantime I suggest you get some rest here in the hospital wing. You've had a trying day, and I suspect tomorrow will be quite exhausting as well."
As the headmaster left, Harry realized just how tired he was. He quickly stripped off his mail shirt, scabbard and wand holster, and after setting them right next to his bed settled in to sleep. He would spend time worrying about things tomorrow.
The great hall was buzzing with conversation when Harry entered. Unlike the day before he now had plenty of time to study the room, so naturally he used the time to scope out which House had the most cute girls. That was the one he'd try to get into, after all.
After a few seconds Harry stopped in his tracks, staring at the great hall he thought he knew. The student body here was a little more... diverse than what he expected. He spotted a few centaurs in the crowd, as well as a few merpeople, some dwarves, goblins, what looked like a small troll, a girl with a snake tail instead of legs...
This really wasn't the world he grew up in.
Most of the students were human, though even a few of those had obvious traces of exotic ancestry, but even the relatively small number of nonhumans was shocking for Harry. The Ministry of Magic in his home world had forbidden any species other than humans from using a wand, so seeing this eclectic group of students wasn't something he expected.
Not that Harry was prejudiced against other magical beings. His Uncle Moony was a werewolf, not to mention one of the best tutors he had, so Harry wasn't instilled with the normal wizard notions of human superiority. Plus, rule eighteen of Sirius' list of picking up chicks: Don't judge a girl by her species. Sirius had brought home enough veela and nymphs to prove his dedication to that particular rule.
After reaching the stool with the Hat on it Harry glanced up to the staff table and flashed the headmaster a big grin and a thumbs up, letting the old man know that he was ready for the Sorting.
Dumbledore stood up, quieting the students, and began his speech. "We have a new arrival to our school, and despite his rather abrupt entrance I ask that you treat him the same as any other student. He will be Sorted directly into sixth year, so I ask the sixth year prefects of his House to show him around for the next few days. Harry Black, please place the Sorting Hat on your head."
Harry did as he was told and immediately felt another presence in his mind.
"Let's see here... plenty of courage, yes, and a strong sense of loyalty. Not a bad mind, either, and a fair bit of cunning."
"Thanks, I think you're pretty swell too."
"Hm... difficult, difficult. You'd do well in any of the Houses."
"In that case can I go to the one with the most cute girls?"
"You've got a one-track mind, don't you? Wait, don't answer that, I can see the answer for myself. Blech. I'm suddenly grateful that I usually only have to see the minds of kids."
"Sorry for being a teenager. Sirius says that I have a healthy interest."
"Yes, I see that he does. In that case why don't you follow in his footsteps and become a GRYFFINDOR!"
Cheers erupted from the scarlet and gold table, which Harry made his way to after dropping the Hat back on its stool. He took the first available seat and settled in right as food appeared on the table. Harry, having not eaten for quite a while, started piling his plate high with everything that looked even halfway recognizable.
"You don't want to eat that," said the boy to his left.
Harry looked at the green disk of some sort of vegetable matter that he had just plopped onto his plate. He assumed it was a veggie burger or something. "Why not?" he asked.
"It's for them," he said, pointing to the centaur that was seated across from them.
The centaur in question looked up and affixed a glare at the boy. She was probably in seventh year, with curly chestnut hair, freckles, cute brown eyes and a large pair of boobs that instantly drew Harry's attention. She couldn't wear robes because her lower body was that of a horse so she just had the uniform's button-up shirt on, which advertised her assets rather effectively, and some sort of heavy cloth draped over her hindquarters.
Harry absently took a bite of the vegetable disk while he was admiring the view. That proved to be a mistake.
"Gross, what is this stuff?"
The centaur laughed at him. "The little human just told you it was food for centaurs, why would you still eat it after that? It's not made for your taste buds."
Rule number twenty-seven: compliment your way out of stupid decisions. "Sorry, you're just so pretty that I wasn't paying any attention to the food."
The centaur stared at him. The boy next to him stared at him.
Harry mentally reviewed The List to see if he had done something wrong, but couldn't come up with anything. Did she have a boyfriend already? But even so this was Harry's first day at school, they couldn't expect him to know something like that. Why were they still staring at him?
"What, a bloke can't compliment a girl on her looks around here?"
The boy just gave him a disgusted look and turned back to his food, clearly done talking to him. The centaur leaned over the table and took the vegetable disk from him.
"This is called a grass biscuit. As the name implies it is primarily made out of different grasses and not fit for humans to eat. I take it you've never been around centaurs before?"
"No, you're the first I've met. Though if all centaurs are as cute as you I'll be sure to meet some more."
She leveled a flat look at him. "Charming. I'm Nephele."
"Well Harry, why don't you tell me something about yourself?"
Normally this would be the part where Harry regaled his female companion with tales of his daring and swordplay, or retelling the famous story of his defeat of Voldemort as an infant, or embellishing his role during the Battle of Voldemort's Return, but Harry couldn't do that here. Which left him at a loss as to what he was supposed to say.
"I... er... I'm not very interesting. Why don't you go first?"
Nephele raised an eyebrow. "You just appeared in the great hall during dinner last night claiming you were ambushed by You-Know-Who. Why don't you start with that?"
The conversations around Harry stopped as all the nearby students waited for his answer. He probably should have come up with a story or something to explain his situation, but like usual Harry hadn't even bothered to think about it. Bugger.
"Death Eaters attacked me while I was out shopping, I ran from them, then Voldemort showed up and tagged me with his super painful portkey. That's basically it," he said. It was essentially the truth.
One of the guys down the table spoke up. "Are you just making stuff up because you want to look cool or something? You-Know-Who is dead and Death Eaters wouldn't let you escape."
"Shut up Seamus, you weren't there, were you? And how do you explain him portkeying behind Hogwarts' wards? Nobody has the power to do that but Voldemort!" an angry girl with messy black hair shouted back.
The two students glared at each other, with the rest of the student body looking uncertainly between them. Harry was confused. He had assumed that the Voldemort of this world was alive as well, which the girl seemed to believe, but that other kid said he was dead and more than a few of the students agreed with him.
"So far only you and someone who showed up bleeding from his head have 'seen' You-Know-Who, so don't act like you're all high and mighty here," Seamus said.
"First you didn't believe it because only I saw him, and now you don't believe it because only two people saw him. How many witnesses is it going to take? A million?"
"Oh, excuse me if I don't automatically believe some barmy git nobody's ever seen before and the great bloody Harry Potter. It's not like the entire Ministry of Magic is contradicting you or anything," the boy said.
"Yeah, cause the Ministry never gets anything wrong, do they? Like how the arrested Hagrid for opening the Chamber of Secrets, that was spot on right there," Harriet snapped back.
"Funny thing about that," Seamus countered, "only you, Dumbledore, and a Weasley know what happened down in the Chamber. You all say the monster attacked again after Hagrid went to Azkaban, but did that really happen? Ginny wasn't petrified like everyone else and our Defense professor had his mind wiped. Pretty fishy if you ask me. You could have staged the whole thing just to get Hagrid out of prison for all anyone else knows."
Harriet looked like she was about to explode. There was a girl with bushy brown hair clamping a hand down on Harriet's shoulder, but that didn't seem to be helping much. As informative as the conversation was, it looked like this was the end of the rational part. Various students had their wands in hand, gripped under the table but pointed towards their opponents.
Harry turned to his new centaur companion. "Ten galleons say Harriet and her friend mop the floor with everyone else," he announced loudly.
Nephele looked at him in surprise. "I count at least six wands pointed at her. What makes you think she'll win?"
"Six? No. Have you seen the Slytherin table? There's a couple dozen wands pointed at her, not like it matters. The kids here have never been in a real fight. Harriet will destroy them."
Nephele took a moment to consider, then shook her head. "I don't have ten galleons to throw away," she answered.
Uneasy silence descended over the Gryffindor table. Many of them looked over to the Slytherin table and saw the students there overtly readying themselves for a fight, which caused quite a few Gryffindors to take out their own wands in preparation for an inter-House rumble. Both Harriet and Seamus were looking much less enthusiastic about flinging spells at each other in the volatile atmosphere.
All the students looked up to see a giant toad in a pink cardigan- scratch that, a woman who had some toad ancestry, boy was she ugly- standing between their two tables with a sickly sweet smile on her face.
"That will be detention for instigating a fight, Ms. Potter, and ten points from Gryffindor for encouraging it, Mr. Black. Now students, put your wands away. There is to be no magic between classes."
Everyone grumbled and put their wands away, even Harriet who looked like she was seething, so Harry just shrugged and continued with his meal. He remembered Sirius talking about how many House Points he used to lose on a weekly basis so he wasn't concerned about that. The old man might even be proud that Harry managed to lose ten on his first day.
Nephele leaned a bit over the table and started talking to Harry in a low voice. "That's Professor Umbridge, also known as the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts. She's from the Ministry, and a nasty piece of work at that. Hates everyone who isn't totally human. She'll target you as well since you're claiming You-Know-Who is back, so watch what you say around her or be prepared to get detentions every night."
Harry, who was staring down the cleavage the centaur was presenting, finally processed what she said.
"Wait, what? She hates you and she's allowed to teach here?"
"The Ministry is forcing Dumbledore to keep her, and it's not like she does anything that we can take to the Wizengamut. Mostly she just makes nasty comments and assigns unfair detentions, but if she can't be sacked what are we supposed to do about it?"
He thought that over for a minute.
"Wow, that sucks," he said.
"Tell me about it. Harry's got it the worst, of course, saying You-Know-Who is back every time Umbridge starts something, but the rest of us get our fair share of grief as well." Noticing the look on his face she explained herself. "Harriet Potter. Most people call her Harry, though I suppose you probably won't."
Harry shrugged. That would get a bit confusing.
Nephele, apparently satisfied that their whispered conversation was over, resumed her normal posture and began eating. Harry, who had forgotten his hunger because of the cute girl talking to him, immediately attacked his food with the enthusiasm of a teenage boy. It wasn't long before both of them had cleaned off their plates.
As Harry was contemplating whether or not he could stuff some desert in, an elderly lady in teacher's robes walked up to him without any preamble.
"Mr. Black, here is your class schedule. If you need any assistance in getting to your classes you can ask Mr. O'Conner or Ms. Tumbleworth, my sixth year prefects, for directions, though if you can't find them many other students know the way as well. Please make sure you come to class prepared."
With that she handed over some parchment and strode away, not even waiting for a response.
Harry opened his schedule and was surprised by how little classes he had, before remembering that he had never discussed his academics with the headmaster. They had no idea what he had studied before.
"Just Transfiguration, Defense, and Charms? You're not exactly exhausting yourself here," Nephele said. She was reading his schedule upside-down from across the table.
"Eh, I'm only going to be here for a little while. Not long enough for formal schooling to really teach me anything, just long enough to see what it's like to go to Hogwarts."
"Oh. Sorry, I assumed you were an idiot."
"Don't worry, lots of people make that mistake for some reason."
Nephele gave him a smile. "I can't imagine why. Come on, I'll show you where your first class is."
Author's Notes- Hopefully no one is confused at this point, but just as a reminder both the world Harry came from and the one he's currently in are AU.
As for the iron thing- in many folk tales around the world iron is considered capable of driving off the fae, undead and witches. I decided to use that here and imbue iron with magic resistance against spells as well as causing pain to supernatural creatures. "Cold iron" just means iron that has been reshaped in a forge.
I hope everyone enjoys reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Expect the story to be happy and fun for the most part, and if you see any angst you have my permission to punch me in the face.