The ride to the castle was smooth. The only interruptions were the trolley which both of them declined, Hermione because of her Dentist parents and Harry because the goblins had no sweet tooth and did not believe in wasting money on treats. Harry knew that Swift Strike and Fast Ax would be sending him letters to help continue his training and to check up on him and would ask how he had spent his pocket-money. The other interruption was a boy named Nevil who had lost a toad. Hermione went out of help search for it but quickly returned complaining about how rude the other children were being. Harry distracted her by asking if this was the first time she had been out of the country and they had a pleasant while wondering if all the other places had their own wizarding areas or not. Hermione left to get changed and Harry quickly pulled on his uniform, using a small wandless spell the goblins had taught him to vanish his ugly Dursley clothes with a grin. The goblins had provided him with several sets of clothes that actually fit him and he had no intention of wearing that pair ever again. He had kept one set of the oversized clothes just incase they needed to continue the charade at the Dursley’s next summer.
Once Hermione returned it was only a few minutes before the train slid to a stop and they were joining the masses of students exiting the train.
Hagrid towered over the rest of the student, calling for the first years. Harry was not sure how he should feel about Hagrid. Yes, he was part of the system Dumbledore had placed to keep him ignorant and seeing only one side of the complication that was his life, but he also was a simple man who stood by those he considered friends. Fast Ax had cautioned him to at least try and be friends with him and the others that Dumbledore placed in front of him but to be careful what he said. Shaking his head he let the matter fall from his mind as they rounded the bend and got their first look at Hogwarts, shining like a beacon in the dark. A small cynical part noted the symbolism but he hushed it, Dumbledore may want him to only know about the light, but that did not mean he had to limit himself. He remembered one tutoring session with Swift Strike on History (the full history, human, goblin, and any other race that was affected by the war or event that they were discussing), who had grinned a sharp toothed smile, “You must always try to see all sides of a situation. The face many show to the world is a mask designed to get them things that they have not yet earned. You must learn to see through this, youngling. Many will want to follow you because of your fame, they will want to hurt you because you are a symbol for the light. You must see through the smiles and shine to the dagger hidden in their eyes.”
“But how can you tell, Swift Strike? How will I know?”
“Do not worry, Harry, we will show you. You are too young for most people to consider you a threat or an advantage for now. For now, continue studying and learning, and watch the people around you. They will betray themselves in small ways, a grin for something they should not agree with, a smug look, no one can wear a mask constantly.”
They were shown through the massive doors by a stern-faced woman called Prof. McGonagall. She looked at them all in disapproval before telling them to smarten themselves up for the sorting. Hermione was all but hyperventilating while trying to name every spell she knew. He was about to try and calm her when a chorus of screams whipped him around. A trio of silver, translucent ghosts had passed through the wall above them and were arguing about someone named, Peeves.
One had just finished introducing himself as the Fat Friar, when the Prof. returned and forced them into a single line before leading them into the great hall.
The great hall was beautiful, floating candles hovered over the students lighting the room while the ceiling reflected the clear night sky outside.
Hermione whispered about how it was enchanted according to Hogwarts a history.
“Well, it is a Magic Castle.” he responded with a grin, making her thrust her tongue out at him before trying to smother her laughter.
As they set a torn hat on a stool in front of the staff table Hermione grabbed his arm.
“What house do you want to get in?” she whispered urgently as the sorting hat began to sing.
“I don’t know. Not slytherin, I think. Beyond that I do not think it matters. You?” He said quickly clapping with everyone else as the strange poem ended and they began calling students.
“Griffindor or Ravenclaw I think. I just don’t want to be known as the know-it-all again like at my last school.” She said sadly.
“Tell you what, no matter where we go, I will still be your friend I will make sure that you are not called that. Ok?”
With a brilliant grin she gave him a quick hug as her name was called before hurrying to don the hat. Several moments later the hat placed her in Ravenclaw. Removing the hat, she quickly went to the blue bannered table, giving him a wave once she was seated.
It seemed to take forever before he was called. As his name was called, he saw Hermione’s jaw drop, he was not looking forward to the interrogation he would get later. Pulling himself up onto the stool he let Prof. McGonagall drop the hat over his head, it dropped down over his eye, preventing him from seeing the hall.
A voice whispered in his head..Now what do we have here, curiosity yes, a sense of honor and a need to fix things that you see as broken, a good mind as well, you would do well in all the houses but where to place you…
Not Slytherin please…
Not Slytherin you say, but they could help you achieve the changes you would like to see in the Wizarding world. No…I guess your tutors are right, I would be too dangerous for you.
Harry gasped at this.
Do not worry, your secrets are safe with me, young Mister Potter. Dumbledore wants you in Griffindore, you know, he was most insistent I place you there, but I can tell that you will defy him simply for trying to force you somewhere you might not want to be. I think I know where you would do very well, they will push you hard but you will temper their drive with your curiosity and sense of fun. Yes, it will have to be…RAVENCLAW.
At this he pulled the hat from his head, he kept his head down but surveyed the hall and head table and he headed to the Ravenclaw table and took a seat next to Hermione who happily gave him another hug as soon as he was seated. The Ravenclaw table clapped for him happily but the rest of the tables did so half heartedly, sad that they have not gotten Harry Potter themselves, all but the Slytherin table who steadfastly ignored him. Harry took a page from the Slytherins and ignored the students himself, it was the Staff table that he wanted to see. Dumbledore looked slightly put out but quickly gestured Prof. McGonagall to continue the sorting. Most of the other staff simply gave him polite applause before turning away. The two that bothered him were a tall pale black-haired professor and a purple turbaned man sitting next to him. The black-haired professor glared at him with malice, only turning away as a student was placed in Slytherin. The purple turbaned man seemed to be politely watching the sorting with a small smile on his lips but his eyes had not left Harry since his name was called.
Applauding politely for the last student sorted Harry turned to smile at his tablemates only to have to turn back as Dumbledore made a short speech.
“Is he mad?” He asked the older student next to him.
“That is always up for debate.” the student said with a laugh. “Most of us think he does it so that everyone is more comfortable with him. After all he is a very accomplished and powerful wizard, if he acts a little strange then no one will be afraid of him will they?”
“Oh, that is silly.” another across from them interjected, “Look how old he is, he’s losing it.” And the debate was off with half the table eventually chiming in on Dumbledore’s sanity.
Hermione pulled him away from the discussion as they tucked into the deserts.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were Harry Potter. I’ve read so much about you!”
“Before you interrogate me, can I ask you something?” she huffed but nodded, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Would you rather be friends with me or the Harry Potter you know from all the books?”
Hermione’s face went blank at this. The older boy who had started the Dumbledore debate watched on in approval.
“But..the books..” she whispered.
“The books are wrong. I have never spoken to any publishers or said I would allow them to publish stories about me. And that is what they are, stories. They are full of lies and random things that I have never done or said. Would you rather believe them, or me, the actual person who lived through it?”
“He’s right, Hermione. Not everything books tell you is true. It is only what the writer wants you to believe or no. You have to dig deeper and compare multiple authors and sources to get the entire picture. And while I am sure the entire Ravenclaw house is honored to have Harry Potter in our house, we are also honored to know the real Harry, and not the artificial one the newspapers tell us about.”
“No problem. It’s nice to meet you, I’m Michael ___, this years Headboy. Sarah, this years Headgirl for Ravenclaw is sitting on the other end, you’ll meet her when we get to the common room.”
Turning back to Hermione he saw that she looked close to tears.
“I’m sorry, Harry. I didn’t mean to do that, my brain gets away with my mouth sometimes.” she said softly.
“It’s fine. Anyway, I want to get to know the real Hermione too, not the one that your old schoolmates knew, Ok? Friends?”
“Friends.” She confirmed more confidently, wiping her eyes.