Disclaimer: I still do not own Harry Potter.

Wow, wow, wow, thank you so much for the amazing response to my first chapter of this story! I am so incredibly grateful. I hope the rest of the story lives up to your expectations.

In regards to how this story is going to unfold, I would like to say that Harry will not end up being evil. All I will say, without spoiling it for you, is that he is young and impressionable and has a lot of anger and resentment inside of him. He will make his mistakes and dabble in questionable things, but he does have a conscience, and deep down, he doesn't want to hurt anyone. He will have people to mentor him and encourage his good traits. So no, he is not going to be the next Dark Lord.

Also, there will be no Harry/Draco slash in this story. Draco will play a significant role, but the relationship will not be romantic. I have absolutely no objection to slash at all, but I just don't see it developing in this story. There might be some other romance much later on, but that's not the focus of this work.

One more thing: Right now, because of certain characters' prejudices and misconceptions, I might not portray them as being very nice. But for a fair amount of them, that will change as the story progresses. I hope you can bear with it for now.

I hope you enjoy this next installment!

Xxxxxxxxxx

As Harry took the hat off his head, the momentary feeling of recklessness and bravado that had seized him began to recede, and it vanished altogether as a deep, profound silence reverberated through the Great Hall. For all of the previous Sortings, applause had followed the hat's pronouncement, but now, you could have heard a pin drop. It was as though the world had spun off of its axis.

Oh, God, thought Harry, and all the blood seemed to drain from his face. What did I just do? What did I let the hat talk me into? Did I just completely ruin my time at Hogwarts?

He didn't know how he managed it, but somehow, as he stood up from the stool, he got the courage to look at the students and staff. What he saw made his heart plummet even further, if that was at all possible.

It was everything he had feared. Ron Weasley, who hadn't been Sorted yet, was staring at him from where he still stood waiting, a look of utter betrayal on his face. Harry tried to smile at him, but he knew it was an extremely poor effort. In response, Ron glowered at him, and his shoulders slumped. His first friendship, and it hadn't even lasted a day.

His heart clenched as he turned his eyes away from Ron and focused them on the head table, where the staff were sitting. Albus Dumbledore, who he recognized from his chocolate frog card that morning, wore an inscrutable expression on his face; Harry could not figure out what he thought, and this was disconcerting. Over the years, Harry had learned how to read people, but Dumbledore kept a shield behind his eyes which Harry could not discern. His gaze swivelled to Hagrid, who made a valiant effort to smile at him, but there was something in his eyes which made Harry's heart twist. Thinking back over the phrases Hagrid had muttered about Slytherin, Harry's stomach sank again.

"Mr. Potter," Professor McGonagall's sharp voice pulled him out of his thoughts. "Don't just stand there gawking. Hurry along to your table." She pointed at the table which housed the people Harry was to share many of his Hogwarts experiences with. "Your house will be something like your family," he remembered her saying, and the dread he felt mounted as he shakily began to walk towards his new table.

As his journey commenced, so did a thousand mutters and whispers. People were bending their heads together, trying to be discreet, but Harry heard little snatches of each conversation. It sounded like a thousand bees were buzzing around the hall, trying to analyze what had just occurred.

"How is he in Slytherin?"

"Maybe he's not our savior, maybe he's the next Dark Lord."

"Yeah, my mum told me to watch him very carefully."

"But he's a hero! Heroes aren't supposed to be in Slytherin!"

As the hisses and murmurs continued, Harry felt something swell up inside of him, and he recognized the feeling from a few minutes earlier when he had sat under the Sorting Hat. You said you wanted to defy expectations, a voice inside his head chimed. See how everyone expected you to be their golden Gryffindor child? So you didn't get applause. So what? Ron Weasley doesn't want to be your friend. So what? Hagrid may not like you anymore. So what? You've grown up all of your life not being liked. SO WHAT? You can show them. Show them that you're different.

With that realization, his steps quickened. The fear and doubt he felt melted away, only to be replaced by strength and purpose. I will do this, he told himself resolutely. I will do this.

As he reached the Slytherin table, a spot opened up. Unfortunately, the seat offered to him was next to none other than a smirking Draco Malfoy.

Xxx

Draco's reaction when Harry was first Sorted into Slytherin was one of shock and outrage. How could such a gormless, stupid, runty little thing end up in the most esteemed, honored house of Hogwarts? It wasn't possible. The Sorting Hat must have made an enormous mistake.

When Draco had first met the skinny, nervous boy at Madam Malkin's, he had not been at all impressed. When he'd tried to strike up a conversation, Harry seemed confused and shy. Draco's lips had curled in a sneer at the ignorance the boy was displaying, and when he brought up that oaf of a half-giant, Hagrid, Draco's disgust knew no bounds. Could the boy sink any lower than to be friends with such a monster?

And today, Draco couldn't believe his ears when he'd learned that the boy was, low and behold, Harry Potter. But as soon as he'd found out, a plan had formed in his young mind. He had no idea who had raised Potter, but whoever it had been, they had done a deplorable job. But, Draco decided, his head overflowing with ideas, he could teach Potter, train him and nurture him, show him how the wizarding world truly worked, and set him on the path towards greatness. He would let Potter know, in no uncertain terms, that befriending half-giants, paupers like the Weasel, and filthy little Mudbloods just would not do. After all, his father had always told him that being around those people corrupted you.

And, to Draco's intense fury, they had already gotten into Potter's mind. Potter had defended the Weasel, after only knowing him for several hours. Those stupid blood traitors had a house smaller than any single bathroom in Malfoy Manor, his father had told him, sneering maliciously. They kept reproducing like rabbits, and didn't have enough money to afford anything decent for their brood. Irresponsible, cowardly little scoundrels. They didn't deserve to go to Hogwarts, or to have any respect shown to them.

But now that Potter's ended up in Slytherin, thought Draco smugly as he beckoned an extremely reluctant boy to sit next to him, I can save him. The outrage and shock that had first filled him disintegrated, and a new drive replaced it. Maybe the hat saw how things should be. It saw his potential, and now he'll know the right way to behave.

In that moment, Draco swore to try and forget about the incident on the train today. What a stroke of luck this truly was, to have Harry Potter, of all people, the boy who was revered and idolized, the boy who had apparently destroyed the Dark Lord, and who had forever earned Lucius Malfoy's hatred, in Slytherin House. Draco was sure, though, that if he steered Potter down the right road, Lucius would agree that to make him his friend was the right course of action. How ironic would it be, he mused, his face stretching into a grin, if the fools that make up most of the wizarding world are entirely wrong about him? And it will be me, Draco Malfoy, who shows him the way.

"Hello, Potter," he said in a strong, confident voice as Potter slid into the seat with the air of someone who was being forced to do something very unpleasant. "Fancy seeing you here, in Slytherin."

He then looked directly into Potter's emerald eyes, and he resolved not to look away until the boy acknowledged him. On the other side of Draco sat Crabbe, with Goyle sitting beside him. Both were leering at Potter with predatory looks on their faces, searching for a sign of weakness.

Draco's intrigue increased as Potter held his gaze for an endless moment; it was not often that anyone resisted the stare of a Malfoy for this long. But Potter had a spirit that was all his own, and it enthralled Draco. But along with the intrigue, annoyance billowed inside of him. The longer it went on, the more the annoyance crystallized into anger.

Finally, Potter opened his mouth and muttered, "Malfoy."

"That's a start," Malfoy smirked, and put out his hand. "Let's try this again, shall we?" He said as he remembered the humiliating scene on the train, where Potter had rejected him for that blood traitor. For a brief instant, Draco's eyes flickered to where Weasley was still waiting to be Sorted, and he noticed the fierce glower he was sending Potter's way. Draco's smirk grew broader and more triumphant, and he continued to hold his hand out to the obstinate, rigid boy beside him.

At that moment, he saw Potter's eyes staring at Weasley too, and upon seeing his facial expression, his whole demeanor seemed to harden, something that Draco had observed several times before, and he knew he could use this to his advantage. He heard Lucius's voice in his head: "You will do very well, my son, if you watch the steps of the people around you. You are a bright, talented young man, and I demand to see you achieve your potential."

And it was then that Harry Potter turned his eyes away from the angry ones of Ronald Weasley, and stretched out his hand to meet Draco's. A surge of victory rippled through Draco's body as he shook the hand, firm and sure.

"Welcome to Slytherin, Potter."