Year 1 ... Chapter 1
Year 2 ... Chapter 14
Year 3 ... Chapter 39
Year 4 ... Chapter 61

Chapter One - The Sorting Hat

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 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?

Neville Longbottom, the boy who kept losing his toad, was called next. He fell over on his way to the stool. The hat took a long time to decide where it thought Neville belonged. 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...

"Potter, Harry!"

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 with a touch of malicious glee. "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?"

Please, thought Harry again, desperately, Anything but Slytherin!

"Well, if you're sure. Better be… SLYTHERIN!"

The hat's declaration echoed across the hall, but there was no eruption of cheers like those that had followed the other students. Harry remained seated on the stool, not entirely believing what had just happened. He almost expected the Sorting Hat to whisper, "Just kidding," but instead it was removed from his head.

"Wait!" he said to Professor McGonagall as she started to push him along. "I think there's been some mistake."

Professor McGonagall looked just as astonished as he did by the circumstances, but still she shook her head.

"Don't be ridiculous, Mr. Potter," she said quietly, but sternly. "The Sorting Hat is not to be questioned. Now go join your new housemates."

Shaking from nerves and nearly delirious with confusion, Harry stumbled numbly toward the Slytherin table. He was in such a state of shock, he hadn't noticed that he received the most indifferent applause yet. In fact, many Slytherins looked like they would have preferred it if Harry had been sucked into the black depths of the Sorting Hat, never to show his face again.

This was not the case with Draco Malfoy, who looked absolutely thrilled to see Harry making his unsteady way toward the Slytherin table. Harry felt his stomach twist at the sight of Malfoy's decidedly evil grin. His horror escalated when Malfoy ordered his friend Goyle to switch seats with him, placing him directly on Harry's right.

"Well, well, well..." Malfoy said sneeringly in an undertone meant only for Harry to hear, "Looks like you'll be reconsidering my offer, eh Potter? I told you I could help you sort out the riff-raff."

Harry clenched his teeth and kept silent. He fixed his gaze on the rest of the students sill waiting to be sorted, determined to ignore Mafloy's taunts. He spied Ron's bright red hair and flinched in surprise. Ron was looking back at Harry with an expression of complete dismay, but he looked away again quickly on meeting Harry's eyes.

"You're going to want my help, you know. My family has been in Slytherin house for generations. We have a lot of sway around here. My father is even on the school's governing board..."

Malfoy droned on and on. Harry wanted to tell him exactly were he could shove his "sway," but was painfully aware of the hulking forms of Goyle and Crabbe on Malfoy's other side. He swallowed his words and continued to stare resolutely forward.

"Weasley, Ronald!" called out Professor McGonagall, and Harry's heart leapt as he watched his friend approach the stool. He knew Ron didn't want to be in Slytherin any more than he did, but rather selfishly, he thought that it wouldn't be so bad so long as they were together. Remembering the injustice of his own sorting moments before, Harry crossed his fingers under the table, hoping that Ron would be given the same treatment.

"GRYFFINDOR!" the hat cried an instant later.

Crushing disappointment filled Harry while Ron walked gratefully toward the gold and scarlet table, where he joined the red-haired members of his family. Malfoy must have seen Harry's expression change, because he began hissing a new stream of unwanted commentary.

"Exactly what I would expect from a Weasley. It's what I was trying to tell you before. They're all pure-blood, but not a one of them has been sorted into Slytherin. That'll be because his father's a muggle-lover. My father says..."

"Don't you ever shut up?" said a large, rectangular shaped girl sitting across from them. Harry recognized her as Millicent Bulstrode, the first student to be sorted into Slytherin that year.

Malfoy turned pink at the insult, but recovered quickly from his surprise.

"I hope you're not talking to me," he said scornfully.

"I don't see anyone else yammering like an imp," Bulstrode sneered, taking Harry aback by the venom in her voice.

Malfoy had regained his composure. "It's Bulstrode, isn't it?" he asked, "I'm sorry, I can't seem to recall your father's name."

He turned to Harry, his expression turning one to mock pity, "You see, Potter, even in the noble house of Slytherin, you find a few pure-blood families who just aren't quite what they should be. You're really lucky you have me here to show to the ropes."

"Budge up, Malfoy, and quit crowding the famous friend!"

Harry and Malfoy both looked up into the face of a tall, attractive black boy. With a cheerful grin, he settled himself directly between Harry and Malfoy, forcing Malfoy into Goyle's side while Harry hurriedly slid over to make room.

"Hi, Blaise Zabini," said the newcomer, his smile impossibly brilliant. He grabbed onto Harry's hand and shook it with enthusiasm, "Can't tell you how pleased I am you're in Slytherin."

Harry managed to stammer his thanks, hardly knowing if he meant them. Malfoy was glowering at him over Blaise's shoulder.

Whatever biting comment he intended to make next was cut off as Albus Dumbledore got to his feet. He beamed at the students, his arms opened wide, as if nothing could have pleased him more than to see them all there. Harry thought he saw the headmaster's eyes flicker in his direction, but quickly dismissed the notion. No doubt he was only paranoid because the rest of the great hall was still gawking at him. At least most of the Slytherins had the decency to pretend he wasn't there. Maybe they wouldn't be so bad after all.

"Welcome!" said Dumbledore, "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Elucidate! Babadook! Gibbous! Pox! Thank you!"

He sat back down. Everybody clapped and cheered. Everybody except Harry's fellow Slytherins.

"Flaming Istari! He is as mad as they say, isn't he?" Blaise commented, laughing boisterously.

"It's amazing they let him in charge of a school," Bulstrode agreed. Blaise grinned at her approvingly.

"Well, you aren't wrong. Aren't you eating, Harry?"

Harry looked down at the golden plates that had been empty a few seconds ago, and his mouth fell open. The dishes before him were now piled with food. He had never seen so many things on one table: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, and for some strange reason, peppermint humbugs.

And yet no amount of appetizing food could have tempted Harry at that moment. He was still too confused, and his disappointment at being sorted into what was certainly the worst Hogwarts house had completely killed his appetite. He closed his still-gaping mouth and sat silently.

"Harry?" Blaise asked as he piled his plate high with every kind of food on the table, "What's the matter? Aren't you hungry?"

Both Blaise and Millicent Bulstrode were looking at Harry with very interested expressions. Harry opened his mouth but found no words. He was painfully aware that Malfoy was eavesdropping on their conversation. He couldn't very well tell these people that he had begged not to be in Slytherin, could he?

Feeling desperate, Harry tried looking everywhere but at the Slytherins surrounding him. He could see all of the other first years happily making new friends at their tables. Ron seemed to be having a lively conversation with one of the school ghosts. And absolutely everywhere he looked, he caught furtive glances directed at him. Even from the high table, seated in his gold chair, Albus Dumbledore was looking at Harry with a curious expression.

Finally, Harry looked back to Blaise and Millicent. They were still waiting for him to speak. Harry took a deep breath and said, "I… I think that something has gone terribly wrong."

"You mean your sorting?" Blaise asked conversationally, his attention now directed toward the treacle tart he was eating.

Harry flinched in surprise. "Er... Well... Yeah, but how did you know?"

"Simple, the hat is joke. I mean, look at where it put Granger." He nodded toward a bushy-haired girl at the Gryffindor table. "I met her on the train. Seemed like a dead ringer for Ravenclaw to me, but there you have it. As for me, I wanted to be in Hufflepuff."

Millicent snorted with derision. Blaise glanced in her direction with a raised eyebrow.

"Problem, Bulstrode?"

"Hugglesnuff? You must be joking."

Blaise gave her another dazzlingly white smile, "You're right, I am joking. The truth is that I wanted to go to Beauxbatons like my mum, but she didn't think that was the best idea, seeing as I don't speak a word of French."

"What's Beaux-Batons?" Harry asked.

Blaise looked at him with eyebrows raised, "It's the French wizarding school, of course! Blimey, Harry. You've never heard of Beaux-Batons?"

Harry wasn't sure how to tell him that until very recently, he hadn't even heard of Hogwarts.

"So what did the hat say to you?" Harry asked instead.

"Oh, it's just what you'd expect. I'm so exceptional that they ought to make a new house and name it after me. No, really! Those were its exact words! Had to talk it out of that plan, though. Far too much trouble on the first day."

Harry laughed in spite of himself, and suddenly realized that actually, he was quite hungry. It was then Harry learned that good food can make any situation a little brighter. As he stuffed his face with every kind of roasted meat imaginable, he began to think maybe things would be just fine in Slytherin House. Millicent and Blaise didn't seem like terrible people, the Bloody Baron wasn't quite as terrifying up close, and after all, Harry was still a wizard. Even if he was stuck in the most hated house in Hogwarts, life here had to be better than it had been with the Dursleys.

Harry's mood improved considerably with this thought in mind, at least until he glanced up at the high table of professors again. He spotted Professor Quirrell talking nervously with another teacher. It was hard to miss Professor Quirrell due to the garish turban atop his head, but as Harry took a closer look at his conversation partner, he decided there were worse things in the world than ugly head scarves. Greasy hair, for example. Just as Harry decided that the black haired professor might benefit from Professor Quirrell's fashion tips, the man in question broke off his discussion to stare directly at Harry.

Searing pain tore through Harry's scar.

"Ow!" he shouted, grabbing his forehead. His cry was mostly drowned out by the loud chattering in the great hall, but Millicent and Blaise had noticed.

"What's wrong, Harry?"

"It's my scar…" Harry started to say, but he was cut off by another wave of pain. The black-haired professor was still glaring at him. "Ouch! Ow!"

"Your scar?" asked Blaise. "Are your Dark Lord senses tingling?"

"What are you talking about?" asked Millicent.

Blaise pointed in Harry's direction with a fork. "Well, that's where he got the scar from isn't it? Now for some reason it's hurting him."

"Has it ever done that before?"

"No… I mean, I don't remember it ever hurting me." Harry hesitantly glanced at the professor again, but the man had resumed speaking to Professor Quirrell. "Who is that man?"

Blaise and Millie followed his gaze. Both of them shrugged.

"Haven't the foggiest," Blaise said without the slightest concern, "But I suppose we'll have a chance to find out tomorrow during classes, eh?"

At that moment, the food and desserts vanished from the table as suddenly as they had appeared. Headmaster Dumbledore rose to his feet and with the slightest of gestures brought silence to the hall.

"I have a few start-of-term notices to give you," he began, "First years should note that the forest on the grounds is full of horribly dangerous beasts that want to kill and devour you. Also Hagrid, our gamekeeper, likes to keep pets there. So stay out.

"I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, our caretaker, to remind you that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors. It's like the rule forbidding underage wizards and witches from using magic during holidays. But you know… I wonder when you are supposed to practice your magic if you can neither use it here or at home? Food for thought!

"Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in hurtling through the air high above the ground with very little safety equipment and absolutely no adult supervision should contact Madam Hooch.

"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."

A few of the students laughed, but it was quickly silenced by the deadpan look on Dumbledore's face.

"I'm serious," he continued. "Stay the hell out of there. It's not safe."

"Okay!" Professor McGonagall cried as she abruptly jumped to her feet, "Thank you for your words, Professor Dumbledore. Now I think it's time we bid you students a pleasant evening."

"Oh yes!" said Dumbledore, the twinkle in his eye returning, "Sleep well! Classes begin tomorrow! Prefects, see that the first years reach their common rooms, and to everyone a good night!"

The students rose en masse and began to shuffle sleepily out of the great hall. A short, bossy looking girl jumped right up on the Slytherin table and bellowed in a voice surprisingly loud for her stature, "Alright, first years! Follow me!"

Harry struggled to keep up with the others. The Slytherin prefect was walking quickly down the length of the table, her head bobbing above the crowd. For everyone else, especially the tiny first years, it was difficult weaving through the dense throng of moving bodies.

Millicent tugged on Harry's sleeve and pointed to the long table.

"Path of least resistance?" she suggested.

"What?" Harry said, but Millicent just rolled her eyes and pulled him onto the table with her. She, Harry, and Blaise raced down the table toward their prefect, laughing a little at the looks they were getting from other students.

Their prefect nodded proudly once they'd joined her side. "Very good, very good. You guys learn fast. And look! Here's Harry Potter!"

She gripped Harry's hand in her own, shaking it enthusiastically without breaking stride. "Gemma Farley. Delighted to meet 'cha. Now don't you worry about your reception into Slytherin. We're so glad to have you! Just forget everything you might have heard about us, you got me? Don't worry about any of that you-know-who business. We won't mention it if you don't. Most of us are too young to remember any of the dark times anyway! Amiright? Of course I am. You're gonna fit in just fine, Harry, I can tell."

"Um… Thanks." Harry said. He was just beginning to wonder if Gemma was ever going to give him his hand back when they reached the end of the table. Gemma released him from her grasp and jumped nimbly to the floor. Harry and the others scrambled after her, wondering how someone so short could take such long strides.

"The Slytherin common room is located in the dungeons," she explained loudly for the other first years to hear, "I know that might not sound so appealing to some of you, but it's very cool. Just you wait."

After descending numerous hidden stairways and traveling various twisting hallways, Harry was starting to wonder if they'd gotten lost, and he had no idea how they were supposed to find their way back to the great hall the next morning. Finally, Gemma revealed a hidden passage and ushered them all through.

The Slytherin common room was an incredibly gloomy place. The chairs and tables were all hewn from black wood and upholstered in dark green material. The stone floor was covered in overlapping faded rugs that seemed damp in places. There was very little light to see any of these furnishings by, as the whole room seemed submerged in an eerie green haze. Harry noted that the windows were absolutely black, and was starting to wonder what prevented them from seeing the school grounds, when he realized with a sudden shock that he was staring into the waters of the lake, its depths barely illuminated by the light of the moon.

"Lovely, isn't it?" Gemma said adoringly, "Now off to beds! Girls that way, boys the other. Sleep tight and don't disappoint us in class tomorrow!"

Too tired to argue with Gemma about just how depressing their common room really was, Harry followed Blaise to the boy's dormitories. Their trunks had already been placed near the hulking four-posters, also made of black wood and draped in heavy green curtains. Harry couldn't imagine why the curtains were necessary, since no sunlight would reach them in the underwater dungeons.

"Some school, right?" Blaise asked as he tumbled into bed.

Harry was poised to make a cutting remark about the dankness of their chambers, but was interrupted by the appearance of Malfoy and his two cronies. Harry was about to ask them what they were doing in his room, but then he realized that there were three other beds in their dormitory.

"Potter," Malfoy said curtly.

"Malfoy," Harry retorted.

"And I'm Zabini," Blaise said lazily. "And that's Crabbe and Goyle. Lovely. So glad we've been introduced again."

Malfoy shot Blaise a dirty look, then turned resolutely to Harry, "What do you say Potter? We're going to be dorm-mates. It wouldn't hurt to form an alliance. Friends?"

He offered his hand to Harry, just as he had done on the train. Harry stared at him, astonished that Malfoy still wanted to befriend him after insulting Harry's parents, ridiculing the first friend he made, and harassing him throughout the start-of-term banquet.

"Malfoy, I wouldn't be your friend if we were the only two people in Slytherin."

Blaise gave a loud whoop and tossed his pillow into the air, grinning at Harry with obvious approval. Malfoy looked outraged and quickly lowered his outstretched hand.

"Have it your way, Potter. But you will regret you decision."

"Oh, stuff it, Malloy." Blaise said with a dramatic yawn, "It's late, and we have class tomorrow. You can save a bit of your pomposity for another day."

"It's Malfoy," Malfoy hissed before turning his back on them both and motioning to dismiss Crabbe and Goyle. Harry was amazed that the much larger boys waited for this signal before getting ready for bed.

He might have pointed this little detail out to Blaise, but it looked like he was already fast asleep, still dressed in his robes. Harry quickly changed into his pajamas and tumbled into bed. Almost instantly he fell into a deep sleep. Perhaps it was the unusual atmosphere of the Slytherin dorms, but he had bizarre dreams. He dreamt he was wearing the sorting hat again, and it was laughing at him.