The end of the welcoming feast was always an exercise in controlled chaos, and this year was no exception. Students of all years were discussing the sorting, and the unprecedented three transfers who took part. Much of that discussion, of course, focused on the lost Potter twin, mostly due to the Prophet's coverage of his family. Trevor's name was mentioned as well, though not as often.

In any other year, the granddaughter of a Wizengamot member transferring into Hogwarts would have been the talk of the school. This year, Dani Diggle barely rated a mention.

The empty chair at the head table was also the focus of theories and speculation, which the Headmaster fueled when he did not introduce this year's new professors. Lily Potter had been known as one of the best Potions students in her year, and so was the consensus pick for Potions Professor. The Defense post being vacant was nothing new, especially with some of the wild rumors about the reason for Professor Umbridge's resignation - which only fueled the equally wild rumors about Professor Snape's departure. The students could agree on only one point - it was a shock to see the post unfilled at the Welcoming Feast.

The newly minted first years seemed to pick up on the confusion of their fellow students. This made the task of gathering them for the traditional tour of the school that much trickier. Ron and Hermione, aided by Ginny and Colin Creevey, moved the group out of the way of the other students, which helped.

Older students were allowed to leave the hall before the first years were led out, mainly so that they would be in the common room when the firsties arrived. In Gryffindor, this allowed them to properly greet their new housemates - other houses, of course, had traditions of their own. It helped that the prefects took the first years by a longer path, avoiding the shortcuts frequented by the more experienced lions.

As the students dispersed, Harry looked over at the Hufflepuff table, and saw Susan helping with the new badgers. Their eyes met briefly, and she blew him a kiss. Then she was back on task, preparing the firsties for their trip to the den of the Hufflepuffs.

Neville saw the gesture, and jabbed Harry with his elbow. Harry merely shrugged, not a bit embarrassed at being caught out.

When Hermione began leading the first years out, Harry and Neville fell in at the rear of the group. It was not out of any sense that their presence was needed, exactly. Rather, they simply didn't feel like getting to the common room first.

The fact that this also cut down on the opportunity for their housemates to ask questions about Voldemort, or the war, or the blood feud, or what have you? That was just a bonus.

Lagging behind the first years were the three transfers, Gryffindors all. Jamie and Trevor looked at the castle with awe, having never seen anything like it before. All they had had were the stories of their parents, and they were quickly learning that those stories paled in comparison to the real thing.

Dani Diggle, meanwhile, had seen the castle before - her grandfather had sat on the Board of Governors, years ago, and had brought her along. This had been before she decided to take up homeschooling, to take care of her mum, but she still had fond memories of the castle. At the moment, she was enjoying seeing the looks on her new friends' faces.

As they walked through the castle, Harry found himself thankful that Gryffindor's dormitories were the furthest from the Great Hall, compared to the other houses. The long walk gave him time to think back on the welcoming feast.

The one moment that stuck with Harry was the moment when Professor McGonagall had summoned his brother.

"POTTER, JAMES!"

It almost felt like deja vu. Jamie Potter walked up the center aisle, projecting confidence he didn't feel. His hands flexed as he walked, as if he were fighting the urge to grasp his wand. It was a very distinct gesture - one that Harry recognized quite well, having been caught doing it in the past.

The whispers were familiar as well, or at least they felt familiar.

"Did she say Potter?"

"Why didn't he come before?"

"They left his brother with muggles, did you see? The Prophet said…"

"We could barely handle one Potter, now there's two?"

"His mum can't let him out of her sight, see? Up at the head table, with the red hair."

Harry could tell that Jamie was relieved to be sorted into Gryffindor, just as he had been after his own sorting five years earlier. He had noticed the relief on Lily Potter's face as well, and wondered just how poorly the Potters would have reacted to some other result.

His eyes went to his brother, whispering to Trevor and Dani Diggle as they walked behind the first years. Then, he shared a glance with Neville, who seemed to have come to the same realization.

Jamie Potter really had no idea what he was walking into.

oOoOoOoOo

Professor Sprout was both the most approachable Head of House, and also the most remote. Her time was spent in the greenhouses, and thus she was rarely found in the castle apart from evenings and meals. The notices and schedules posted on her office door saw more use than the office itself - her office hours were held in Greenhouse Seven, where Herbology tools and supplies were stored.

For all that, her welcoming speech did more to set the tone in Hufflepuff House than any amount of time she could spend in the castle. By the time she was done, the first years were convinced beyond all doubt that this witch would be there if - when - they needed her. They were left with a feeling of belonging they had never expected to feel. They felt like they were part of something more.

The Herbology Mistress finished her speech with the same line she always used, getting appreciative nods from the older badgers. It was the same speech she had received when she was sorted, decades ago, and the same speech old Professor Mormont had listened to before that.

There was a reason that Hufflepuff had only had seven Heads of House in the past two centuries. Professors took that post out of true loyalty to their house - and, in so doing, demonstrated that ideal for their badgers to see. To many, the loyalty between Hufflepuffs was tighter than any coven, firmer than any ritual circle.

Once Susan had tried to explain Hufflepuff House to her betrothed, and it had been harder than she had expected. The reason threatened to break her heart - Harry Potter had not known loyalty like that very often in his life.

Susan was a Hufflepuff, through and through. She was the daughter of Hufflepuffs, and had been raised by another. Such was the feeling of family among her housemates that it felt like coming home whenever she stepped into the common room.

So it was that Susan Bones was in a good mood when she made it to her room after showing the first year girls to their dorm. Even after the attack on the train, and the uncertainty that followed, she was not worried.

She trusted Harry. It did not surprise her that she had grown loyal to the wizard she would someday marry. It felt right, in a way she couldn't easily express.

Her mood vanished, however, when she entered the room she shared with Hannah Abbott. Her longtime best friend and roommate was pacing back and forth. When she saw Susan enter, she started talking, such was her anxiety.

"What the hell does she mean, 'never go anywhere alone', Sue?" Hannah demanded.

Susan set her bag down on her bed. "Nice to see you too, Hannah," she replied, trying to lighten the mood, but her friend would have none of it.

"Professor Sprout warned us not to be alone, Sue, she never does that. Even last year, with inquisitors and the toad running about, she never said anything like that." Hannah's eyes narrowed, as she looked at her friend. "What do you know that I don't?"

Letting out a sigh, Susan sat down. "It's bad, Hannah."

Hannah paled. "Ron?"

Susan blinked. "Nooooo…. Why, Miss Abbott, do you have something to tell me?"

Hannah shook her head. "Of course not," she denied. Then she saw her friend's look, and her raised eyebrow. "I mean, not yet, anyway."

"I knew it!" Susan exclaimed, with a chuckle. "Who won your last match?"

Hannah actually blushed, and looked away. "We didn't finish."

"A marathon, again?" Susan said, nodding. "I'm shocked you found an opponent who could match you in chess."

Her friend looked sheepish.

"I hope you rise to the challenge, Hannah," Susan continued. Her eyes met her friend's, and she let a smirk cross her features. "But if he tries to cheat you out of your queen, he'll answer to me."

"Susan!" Hannah exclaimed, laughing. "It's not like that!"

"It better not be."

"I mean, it was just snogging…." Hannah paled again, as she realized what she had said.

"Oh, now this I have to hear," Susan replied, unable to contain her grin.

The girls talked and laughed about boyfriends and betrothals until well after curfew, all thoughts of the threats facing the school forgotten.

oOoOoOoOo

A bell sounded in the common room of Ravenclaw Tower, signaling the start of a house meeting. The Ravenclaw crest over the hearth glowed blue, to show that everyone was present. Conversations ended as Filius Flitwick walked to the front of the room, near a wall of plaques and trophies.

The Charms Professor was smaller in stature than every other person in the room. His voice was higher and lighter than anyone would expect for a man of his age. He wore a suit, just as he had for the past two years - a far cry from the ornate robes he had worn previously. No one knew exactly how much of Filius Flitwick was owed to his Goblin heritage, or simply to being a small person in general.

Everyone agreed on one fact, however. Filius Flitwick could command the attention of any audience he addressed. Tonight was no exception.

"Welcome to Ravenclaw," he began. As he began his usual welcoming speech, several of the older students shared glances. The Professor seemed distracted, his usual jovial air strangely absent. Only a few of the Ravenclaws had any idea why that might be.

The Professor gave what seemed to be a standard welcome speech, discussing the rules for the house's library, the schedule for tutoring, and so on. He mentioned Quidditch tryouts, and congratulated Cho Chang on being named Head Girl for the year - the third year in a row that a Ravenclaw had held that honour.

Then Flitwick paused. He looked around the room, and saw that he still held the attention of his students. With a nod, he waved his wand.

No one had noticed the Professor's wand in his hand, until that moment.

A large trophy floated to the front of the room, and settled next to the Professor. It was a silver cup set into a base of polished oak, with a wand and sword crossed over an ornate shield worked into the metal. The trophy towered over the Professor by a good half meter. The nameplate read ICW Dueling Circuit - Grand Champion, followed by seven dates.

"You will notice two of our number are missing," Flitwick continued. "Two seventh year boys were killed over the summer holiday."

Gasps were heard from the Ravenclaws. Some may have noticed the missing pair, but no one had come close to guessing the reason for their absence.

"When you join this house, you join for life," Flitwick said. He gestured at a plaque mounted beside the fireplace. "Any other year, we would honour those of our number who, tragically, leave us before graduation." Again he waved his wand, and the last two names on the plaque were burned beyond recognition.

It was an angry Filius Flitwick who continued his speech.

"Instead, I strike their names from their place of honour. For you see, these two did not die as victims of circumstance, or folly, or crime." Flitwick's voice rose as he spoke, the anger becoming clearer by the second. "No, these two died attacking the innocent, each wearing the dark mark on their arms."

Then, Filius Flitwick did the most Goblin thing anyone had seen him do, in all his years at Hogwarts. He angrily spat on the ground.

"My job as your head of house is to protect you." He pointed at the wall, and the scorched names. "I failed those two. I will not fail again."

From the back of the room, someone spoke up. It was a young voice, perhaps a second year.

"What if we find someone who took the mark, sir?" the boy asked.

"Curfew is in twenty minutes, Mister Stafford," Flitwick replied. "If there is anyone in this room with the mark, they would do well to gather their belongings and make their way to Hogsmeade before the castle doors are closed for the night." The Professor inclined his head at the trophy, having ignored it to this point. "They don't give out trophies like this one to just anyone. Rest assured, if anyone in this house is a threat, they will be taken care of."

It was a very quiet Ravenclaw House that made its way to the dorms that night.

Luna Lovegood sat in her place at the back of the room, the latest Quibbler in her lap, watching her housemates shuffle up the stairs. Her eyes lingered on Thomas Stafford as the second year passed her by.

oOoOoOoOo

Pansy Parkinson felt her boyfriend tense when the doors to the Slytherin common room closed behind Professor Vector.

"Well, shite," Ambrose Rookwood muttered to himself.

The pair were sitting near the hearth, alongside Daphne and Astoria Greengrass. They had been among the first Slytherins to reach the common room, but not by much. The house had walked down to the dungeons as a group, unlike previous years, meaning that the older years and the first years arrived together.

The Slytherin table in the Great Hall had had a large number of empty seats, something that had been the subject of whispers during the meal. But it wasn't obvious just how many Slytherins were missing until the entire house gathered in the common room.

Professor Vector looked around, and sighed. "Is this everyone?"

Blaise Zabini raised his wand, and cast a charm on the Slytherin Crest on the wall. A bell sounded, and the crest glowed green. Frowning, he turned back to the Professor.

"Everyone is present, Professor," he said.

"Very well," she replied. Then she walked to the center of the room, and addressed the students.

With Professor Snape's absence from the welcoming feast, no one was surprised that they had a new head of house. Professor Vector getting the job was not a shock, either, for she was the only remaining Slytherin among the teaching staff.

For all that, it was still jarring to hear the usual welcoming speech from anyone other than Snape.

"You'll notice that quite a few of our snakes are missing," Vector continued. "Could I have the seventh years stand up, for a moment?"

Ambrose Rookwood rose to his feet, and looked around. He was the only one standing.

Professor Vector gestured to him. "Mister Rookwood is the only student in his year who returned to the castle. A few of his yearmates withdrew, having left the country entirely, but the rest chose to become terrorists." She sighed, shaking her head.

The younger students looked at each other. Vector had been their head of house for half an hour, and already they felt her disappointment. It was not how they had hoped to begin the year.

"Ambition and Cunning, they tell me, are what our house values. Yet it seems that some of Mister Rookwood's yearmates did not heed that lesson." Vector gestured toward Rookwood, and he sat back down. "If you listen only to your ambition, without an equal measure of cunning, then you end up doing stupid things like becoming an international terrorist."

"If you have a problem, you come to me. Your success is our success, after all." Vector gestured at the Slytherin crest, still glowing green. "That is how we improve the standing of our house. Not by hexing Gryffindors in the hallways, or calling them mudbloods under our breath. No, we simply have to be better."

Vector turned as she spoke, catching as many eyes as she could. She wanted to hammer the point home, hoping that she could make some of these snakes - her snakes, now - think twice before they caused a problem.

"Now, some of you may think that your name, or your wealth, or your connections give you power here. That they make you better than your fellows." Again, she gestured, as if indicating the missing students. "Some of your housemates had thoughts along those lines. Turns out, they were wrong."

"There is no free lunch, Slytherin," Vector intoned. "You get what you earn, though your work, your cunning, your effort. If you think you will be able to simply take what you think you are owed, then you will find that you are sadly mistaken. That's not how things work here."

Only a few heard her muttered afterthought.

"Not anymore."

Once the snakes were dismissed, Daphne leaned over to Rookwood. "Congratulations," she said.

Rookwood raised an eyebrow. "Daphne?"

Pansy stifled a laugh. "She's welcoming you to the prefect team, Rookwood," She teased.

His mouth opened, and then closed. I really should have seen this coming, he thought.

Before he could reply, he noticed the Professor approaching.

"Mister Rookwood, may I have a word?" Vector asked.

Sighing, Rookwood rose again. "Of course, Professor."

oOoOoOoOo

There is something to be said for the comforts of ritual, Harry thought, as he listened to Professor McGonagall's speech.

The words were almost exactly the same as previous years, of course. It was something of a tradition, at least among Gryffindor. The first years listened closely to every word, while the rest of the house stood nearby, waiting to welcome their newest housemates.

Harry hadn't really thought about it on the night of his sorting, but he saw the point now. Every member of Gryffindor, whether they came before or after him, listened to the same speech, and received the same welcome. It was deliberate, of course, intended to make the new lions feel like they were part of something bigger. For most of them, it seemed to work.

It was not until McGonagall left, to put on her Deputy Headmistress hat, that the trouble started.

The seventh year prefects led the first years to their dorms, leaving the rest of the house in the common room. In any other year, the lions would break into their friend groups, chatting about the feast or the latest gossip, or sharing news of their holiday adventures.

This year, all eyes turned to one sixth year.

Harry could see the nervous expression on his brother's face, and realized once again how utterly unprepared Jamie had been for Hogwarts. A year ago, Seamus Finnegan and Harry had an angry confrontation, with Seamus calling Harry a liar due to the Prophet's coverage.

Now, it was a rather more thoughtful Seamus who started the questioning.

"Where were you?" was both the most obvious question, and the worst one he could have chosen.

Jamie winced. "I'm sorry, I can't say."

"Why not?" asked a fourth year girl.

"I can't say that either," Jamie replied.

"Well then, let's see. Ah, I know," Seamus leaned back against a stone pillar, folding his arms across his chest. "You lived with your parents, right?"

Jamie nodded.

"Why?"

"Where else would I live, Mister Finnegan?" Jamie asked, sharply.

"Oh, I don't know," said the Irish boy. "Your brother managed just fine, didn't he?"

Oh, hell.

More than a dozen sets of eyes darted over to Harry, who shook his head.

"Seamus," Harry began. "We were fifteen months old. Jamie had about as much choice in the matter as I did."

A few others chimed in, even as Seamus nodded to concede the point.

One girl, a third year, stepped away from her group of friends, even as they tried to get her to quiet down.

"Why'd you tell the Prophet that the Headmaster knew about this, Harry?" She asked, pointing an accusing finger at him.

"He told me as much, Miss Greene," Harry said, evenly.

"So he knew," she retorted. "So what? He's Dumbledore." She said that as if that explained everything. And perhaps it did.

"He is Dumbledore," Harry agreed. His voice grew quieter, as he saw the whole room hanging on his words. "And as Chief Warlock, Headmaster, and family friend, Albus Dumbledore - despite knowing the arrangements my parents made - presided over their funeral." Harry stood up as he spoke, and the eyes of his housemates followed him as he moved.

"Over four hundred witches and wizards watched Albus Dumbledore lower two caskets into two graves marked for James and Lily Potter. Those few who knew about him mourned for Jamie, here, even as they celebrated me for some reason." He inclined his head toward his brother, and ignored the look of shock on Jamie's face. "Judge Jamie on what he does, not what Albus Dumbledore - or anyone else - tells you."

As Harry reached the staircase to the boy's dorms, he turned and looked back at his housemates.

"Because, chances are, it's bollocks."

Harry was only partially successful at stifling his chuckle when Hermione broke the stunned silence with a muttered "Language!"

oOoOoOoOo

Thomas Stafford quietly nodded to his year mates as he walked down the hall.

One of the benefits of being in Ravenclaw was that there were only two students per room for all seven years - not just prefects or older students. The idea was to allow studying in the dorms themselves, something that invariably came in useful during exams. The whole house could not fit into the library, after all.

With an odd number of students in his year, and with his name being at the end of that list, Thomas was lucky enough to have a room to himself. He had enjoyed the privilege last year, and called himself fortunate to have lucked into a single room.

Alas, that luck was most of the reason he had been targeted.

With the door secured, Thomas Stafford placed his own charms on the entryway. No one would get in without him knowing it. As he finished casting, he felt the dull aches in his bones, and knew that the potion was wearing off.

His bright blue eyes went to the mirror, where they saw his reflection ripple and change. He grew in size, and his hair returned to its usual color. His eyes shifted to their distinctive grey. His arms stretched, to the point that his mark peeked out of his sleeve.

Draco Malfoy removed the now too small Ravenclaw robes, and tossed them on the bed. Thomas Stafford's trunk sat at the foot of the only bed in the room, unopened. Draco hadn't even bothered to bring the key.

Professor Snape isn't here, he thought, as he began to pace. I'm supposed to go to Snape and ask for help, but he's not here. He's not HERE!

With a supply of potions from Snape, and his assistance in moving about the castle, Draco knew that he could accomplish his tasks. Repairing a vanishing cabinet would be trivial, once he got a look at it. Then, finding a crown of some sort - one that could be found in the same room as the cabinet - and sending it through? That would be even easier.

Then, all he would have to do is simply play the part of a second year. He was to be his Lord's eyes and ears in the castle, reporting to Snape anything he heard.

But Snape isn't here!

Draco slid bonelessly down the wall, wrapping his shaking hands around his knees.

What do I do now?

oOoOoOoOo

Ron and Neville found Harry sitting at his desk, studying the Marauder's Map. They paused only a moment to take in the enlarged dorm, with seven beds instead of the usual five. It did not escape their notice that Jamie and Trevor had been placed on either side of the door. Harry's bed remained in the middle, but now it had three on either side. Both of them knew that it would take quite a bit of getting used to.

"I should've carried the map with me," Harry said, even as he searched through the Slytherin dorms.

"When would you have checked it, though?" asked Ron, as he stepped up to the desk. "It's not like you were going to get it out during the feast, yeah?"

Harry shook his head. "It's not an advantage if they know we have it."

Neville chuckled as he chimed in. "And if the six of us went off to the loo, all at the same time? It'd cause talk."

Harry smirked at the comment. "Not wrong, Nev." He shifted the map to the Hufflepuff dorms, the closest ones to Slytherin.

"Oi, don't be peeking at the girls' dorms, mate," Ron snapped, his grin taking any heat out of his words.

"Oh really?" Harry asked, raising an eyebrow.

"I mean, that is... " Ron stammered.

"Relax, Hannah's good people," Neville said, clapping a hand on Ron's shoulder.

"She is," agreed Harry. "And she's friends with this one redhead in our year." He proceeded to whistle, badly, getting laughs from his friends.

Before he could reply, Neville frowned. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a galleon. The message he saw was enough to sour his mood in an instant.

"Ravenclaw, Second Year, boys' dorm," Neville read. "From Luna."

"What's happening in Ravenclaw?"

Ron and Neville whipped their heads around, to see Jamie and Trevor standing in the doorway.

Jamie hooked his thumb at the hallway. "They said this was our room?"

Ron stepped forward. "Yeah, welcome boys, here you are…"

As Ron walked over to the two transfers, to show them where their beds were, Neville leaned over Harry's desk. Harry was shifting the map to Ravenclaw Tower. He didn't know which dorms were which year, except that he could quickly tell which side of the tower was set aside for the boys.

"She couldn't give us a name, could she?" Mused Neville, as Harry continued to search.

"Of course not," Harry replied. "It's… oh shit." His voice trailed off as he saw the last room on the end of a particular floor.

The room with only DRACO MALFOY inside.

oOoOoOoOo

Trevor had not expected a warm welcome from Ron Weasley, all things considered, but the prefect had surprised him. He and Jamie were now chatting amicably about quidditch, as Trevor unpacked some of his books and parchment. The desk he was assigned was smaller than he was used to, but he'd make it work.

He looked up when Ron's voice trailed off in mid sentence. He and Jamie followed the redhead's eyes to the other end of the room, where Neville and Harry were looking at each other with barely controlled anger.

Jamie broke the silence.

"Oh, is that a map of the school?" he asked.

"Sort of," Neville said. He watched as Harry stood up and pulled off his outer robes.

"Mate?" asked Ron, as he walked over. Without speaking, Neville simply pointed at the map. Ron saw the name, and saw the location, and let out a whispered "Fuck…"

Harry tossed his outer robes onto his bed, and went to his trunk. Jamie and Trevor shared a look, wondering what had changed. Their eyes grew wide when Harry produced a basilisk skin longcoat from his trunk.

"What are you doing?" asked Jamie.

"Going to kill a death eater," Harry said. With his matter-of-fact tone, he might as well have said he was going to the loo. He looked up, and paused. "Why, do you want to come?"

"I'll pass," Jamie replied, automatically.

Harry shrugged, clearly not caring one way or the other. Then he walked out of the room, followed closely by Neville and Ron. Almost as an afterthought, Neville summoned the map, which folded itself as it flew to his hand.

Trevor and Jamie could do little else but join them.

The common room was mostly empty by this point. Ginny, Hermione, and Colin Creevey were speaking quietly by the entrance, probably discussing their prefect duties. All three looked up as Harry came down the staircase.

Colin barely noticed the look Ginny and Hermione shared as Harry and the others approached. His attention was on Harry, and the determined look in his eye. The last time Colin had seen a look like that, it had been in the chaos of the Diagon Alley attack.

He felt sorry for the poor soul who had angered Harry this time.

Harry paused next to the prefects, intending to tell Ginny and Hermione what was happening, when the entrance to the common room opened.

Professor McGonagall paused as she caught sight of the gathered students.

"Mister Potter?" she asked, arching an eyebrow.

"Draco Malfoy is in the Ravenclaw dorms, Professor," Harry replied. He was in no mood to beat around the bush, not tonight.

"I see," she said, frowning. "And what does that have to do with you leaving the tower after curfew?"

"Let me rephrase, then, Professor. A suspected death eater is in the dorm room of a younger student, and that student is nowhere to be found."

"Be that as it may, Mister Potter…" McGonagall began, but Harry did not let her continue.

"A suspected death eater, I might add, who withdrew from Hogwarts before this year, Professor." Harry was struggling to keep himself calm, by this point. Every moment risked allowing Malfoy to escape.

She gestured to his coat. "And you intend to… do what, exactly?" she asked.

"I intend to protect the school, Professor," Harry nearly growled out. His patience was gone. "We have to do something!" he snapped.

"Mister Potter!" McGonagall exclaimed. "No one said anything about doing nothing, did they?"

Harry nodded. "Good, thank you."

"Of course." She looked at the students, and nodded toward the dorms. "Now, all of you, off to bed."

No one moved.

"Professor," Harry began again, but McGonagall silenced him with a glare.

"The Headmaster shall be informed immediately, of course," she stated, as if he had not spoken. "The security of the school is his job, after all. Not yours."

From his place at the back of the group, Jamie saw his brother's wand hand flex. He recognized the gesture, for he was guilty of it often, these days. He just hoped Harry didn't hex their Head of House.

After a tense moment, Harry looked at the ceiling. "I need a Hogwarts elf, please!" he called.

A pop heralded the arrival of an unfamiliar elf, clad in a tea cozy covered by an apron with the Hogwarts crest.

"What can Jeffy do for the students, Mister Potters?" asked the elf.

Harry spoke politely to the elf, all trace of his anger gone - for it was not Jeffy's fault, after all. His eyes, however, remained fixed on Professor McGonagall, as if challenging her to stop him.

"Jeffy, please tell Professor Flitwick that there is a non-student in the second year boy's dorms, in the room on the end of the hall," Harry said. "Heads of House are in charge of their dorms, after all."

"Yes, that be true," Jeffy agreed. "I's be telling Professor Charms." And with a pop, Jeffy was gone.

It was a full minute before Professor McGonagall spoke again.

"You may have just killed that boy," she said, quietly.

"That is possible," Harry said, with a nod. He knew exactly how Professor Flitwick would react to such a threat.

McGonagall looked at him one more time. She shook her head, almost in disappointment, before turning and leaving the room without a further word.

Ginny and Hermione practically dragged Harry, Neville, and Ron into a corner, to discuss the evening's events with them. The hushed conversation faded to nothingness as Hermione cast a privacy charm.

Jamie and Trevor just stared at the group, wondering just what they had gotten themselves into.

Trevor looked over at Colin Creevey, who seemed as shocked as they were. Not knowing the fifth year's name, he simply said what he was thinking.

"So," he began. "Is it always like this?"

Colin chuckled, shaking his head. "Not at all."

"Oh, well that's good," replied Trevor.

"I mean," Colin continued, his eyes on Harry and the others. "Usually, it's much crazier."


A/N: Hey, how are y'all? Good, that's good. Me? Oh, nothing much, just a plague, a busy work schedule, and a broken hand, you know. The usual. Apologies for the absence, and thanks for the well wishes and kind reviews.

I don't think Professor McGonagall is necessarily opposed to having a potential threat taken care of, so to speak, but she can't really get away with allowing one of her lions to go on a literal murder spree. In his haste, Harry gave her absolutely no room for any sort of plausible deniability. So, he did what he should have done in the first place - told Flitwick. That also assumes that Luna didn't get his attention on her own, of course. There is no trace of Seer!Luna in this story, but our Luna is still observant as hell.

Suffice it to say, the first day of classes will be interesting. Stay tuned.

Feedback, as always, is welcome.