A couple notes:

The title is actually an American legal Latin term that means, "Let it speak for itself," and is related to the right to defend oneself in a court of law. In this story, Draco is constantly going to be tested and have to defend himself, so I thought the title was very fitting.

Second, very special thanks to my sister and cousin who were my betas! They really helped me improve my writing and gave me so many wonderful ideas to explore in the course of this story! I spent a lot of time of time and put a lot of love into this, so I hope you all enjoy it!

*I do not own Harry Potter nor do I claim any rights to the story or characters*

Note as of 4/17/2021: Hi, If your review is anything along the lines of "Draco would be dead. Draco would never be sorted into Gryffindor, etc... then don't leave one. It's just fanfiction. If you can't use your imagination then don't read the story. No need to be a troll. Thanks!

Note as of 1/29/2022: I cross post this story onto A03. The other site has moodboards and other pictures embeded if you would like to read and see the aesthetics that go along with it. This chapter has also been slightly edited for grammar. Thank you for those who continue to support my story :)

The Hogwarts Express was bursting with energy as the returning and first year students found their niches amongst the compartments. Hermione Granger was sitting with Neville Longbottom, Hannah Abbot, and Padma and Parvati Patil when Neville loudly exclaimed he had lost his toad, Trevor. The friends broke from the cart as they went knocking on each section looking for the amphibian in question when she came upon a cart of first years. Three boys were sitting on one side of the cart while a boy and two girls were sitting across from them.

"Has anyone seen a toad?" Hermione addressed the students.

Before she could continue the question, one of the boys spoke up, "Try looking in a mirror!" The entire compartment laughed at her except for the boy with the platinum blond hair. Trying not to think too much of it, Hermione rolled her eyes and turned away from the rude people. As she was moving on, she felt someone grab her wrist, causing her to turn around.

"Hey, sorry about that. I grew up with Theo. He's… got an acquired sense of humor. I'm Draco by the way. Draco Malfoy." Draco let go of her wrist and held out his hand for her to shake.

"Hermione Granger. Pleasure to meet you," she responded, shaking his hand, grateful that someone had come to apologize for the rude comment. "You don't need to apologize for someone else's actions. Besides, I'm no stranger when it comes to bullies."

"I'm so sorry," Draco said sincerely.

"It's fine," Hermione sighed, attempting to shake off the cruel remarks. "Anyway, I really do need to get back to looking for Trevor. Neville was really worried."

"Longbottom lost a toad? Do you need any help?" Draco offered flashing Hermione a small smile.

"Yes. And only if you're willing," Hermione smiled back as she pointed to a different compartment on the left side of the aisle. "I was just about to knock on that one."

Draco gestured for her to continue. She walked up to the open door and knocked on the frame as she leaned in. "Sorry, has anyone seen a toad? A boy named Neville lost one."

The two boys in the cart shook their heads when Hermione's eyes widened. "Are you doing magic? Let's see then!"

Draco peered behind Hermione to see a redheaded boy with a rat in his lap and his wand out. He had a sneaky suspicion of whose family the boy belonged to, but didn't want to make assumptions as the redhead cleared his throat and waved his wand over the mammal. "Sunshine, daises, butter mellow. Turn this stupid fat rat yellow."

Draco laughed hysterically at the clearly made-up spell. It had obviously failed by the sound of the rat squeaking after being shocked with magic. The redhead shrugged his shoulders while the boy with glasses and dark messy hair shook his head.

"Are you sure that's a real spell?" Hermione asked. "Well, it's not very good, is it?" She was about to turn away when she suddenly recognized the boy with glasses. "Holy Cricket! You're Harry Potter!"

Hermione walked further into the compartment and sat down across from Harry while Draco leaned against the door frame. "Blimey, if it isn't the boy-who-lived. Not to be rude but what happened to your um…" Draco questioned as he pointed to the bridge of his nose.

"Oh, sorry, cousin broke them before I got on the train," Harry explained.

"I've been practicing a few simple spells myself. Allow me," Hermione said as she pointed her wand directly at the bridge of Harry's nose. "Oculus Repairo."

The piece of tape vanished from the wire frame causing the redhead and Harry to stare in amazement at the spell. "Nice one, Granger," Draco complimented, causing Hermione to smile wider at her successful casting.

"I'm Hermione Granger. And you are?" Hermione turned to address the redheaded boy.

"Um… Ron Weasley," the boy said with his mouth full of sweets. Ah, yes, so his hypothesis was correct and the redhead was part of the Weasley family. Draco didn't know much about them, other than his father despised them and often commented on their lack of wealth. But, Draco tried to take his father's opinions with a grain of salt and not judge another based on the perceptions and expectations of ones family. Merlin knows how many times he wished to escape the own pressures of being a Malfoy.

"Pleasure," Hermione replied, unapproving of Ron's lack of manners. "You two better change into your robes. I suspect we should be arriving soon."

As Hermione got up, Draco moved back so she could get by and continue the hunt for the toad. He leaned back into the compartment and introduced himself by holding his hand out to Harry first. "I'm Draco Malfoy by the way. It's nice to meet you both."

As Harry was shaking Draco's hand, Ron spoke up. "Malfoy? As in Lucius Malfoy's son?"

Draco winced at the accusatory tone Ron had used. "Yeah, the same one."

"I'm not going to shake your hand. You're the son of a Death Eater!" Ron spat with hate filling his eyes. Harry stared at Ron, shocked by the amount of loathing echoed in the boy's tone while Hermione looked between Ron and Draco in confusion by the accusation.

Draco's smile fell from his face as he fixed Ron with a hard stare. So that's how it was going to be? Fine. Draco could match that energy easily. "Whatever you say, weasel. In the future, I would prefer you judge me by my actions alone and not the mistakes of my family."

Without looking back to see the stunned looks on the boys' faces, Draco stormed out of the compartment and down the hallway, Hermione trailing after him she called out, "What did Ron mean about your father, Draco?"

He stopped, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. Draco did a quarter turn to face Hermione as he spoke softly. "My father supported You-Know-Who. He's… a dangerous man with these crazy radical ideas about wizard blood purity and thinks that Mudbloods shouldn't be allowed to learn. I don't know the extent of his support in the first wizard war, but there were some… not very flattering rumors."

"You really shouldn't say that term," Hermione scolded with a stern look on her face.

"Why?" Draco asked confused.

"It's derogatory and hurtful. Plus, it's not politically correct," Hermione explained, her face softening only slightly at Draco's genuine confusion.

"What's the correct way then? That's the way I learned growing up to refer to someone who was not from a magical family."

"You could just say muggleborn. That's not offensive. To be honest, I don't really know the politically correct term, but that's what Neville told me is often used," Hermione stated. "I didn't even know blood prejudice existed in the Wizarding World until I went shopping in Diagon Alley and some old wizard hissed it at me and my parents under his breath. It wasn't until I asked Neville about it this morning that he told me what it meant."

"You're a mud-muggleborn?" Draco asked, even more intrigued by the witch. Hermione nodded.

Draco playfully smirked at Hermione and said, "I had no idea. You're spell work back there was actually quite brilliant for someone who didn't grow up in the magical world. I dare say you and I are going to be competing for the top spot in our year."

"I assure you, Draco Malfoy, I do not yield when it comes to my grades," Hermione smiled back. She mimicked the playful tone Draco adopted.

"I suspect not," Draco laughed before uncrossing his arms and looked directly in Hermione's eyes, "Hermione… Thank you for listening to my story and…not judging me."

She nodded and placed a hand on his forearm reassuringly. As the two locked eyes, Draco smiled as he began to feel something that he simply could not describe. Security? Acceptance? Friendship? It was the first time someone in his life truly heard and listened to him. Unfortunately, the moment between the pair did not last long as they were interrupted by Neville Longbottom calling out that he had found his toad and that the train would be arriving at the station soon.

The boat ride across the lake was an experience that neither Hermione, Draco, Harry, nor Ron would forget as they glided across the rippling loch towards the enchanted castle. It was almost overstimulating to watch the castle come into view and march though the ancient staircase. Before long, all the first years were standing outside the Great Hall and were greeted by a powerful witch gracefully dressed in elegant green robes.

"Welcome to Hogwarts. I am Professor McGonagall. In just a moment, you will pass through these doors and join your classmates, but before you can take your seats you must be sorted into your houses. They are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Now while you're here, your house will be like your family. Your triumphs will earn you points. Any rule breaking and you will lose points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points will be awarded the house cup."

"Trevor!" Neville Longbottom suddenly shouted as he lunged forward to grab his toad that had, once again, escaped. Some of the class giggled by the interruption while Neville quickly collected his pet. He looked up sheepishly at McGonagall's stern face before apologizing and turning back to his spot in the crowd.

"The sorting ceremony will begin momentarily," McGonagall said.

She turned and left to see if the hall was ready for the first years, when Theodore Nott spoke up. "So, it's true, then. What they were saying on the train. Harry Potter has come to Hogwarts." Everyone started to collectively whisper Harry's name when Theo approached Harry. "I'm Theodore Nott. This is Zabini, Crabbe, and Goyle."

Ron snorted at the names when Zabini turned to him. "Think our names are funny do you?"

Nott looked Ron up and down with disgust on his face. "No need to ask yours. Let's see… red hair and a hand me down robe. You're obviously a Weasley."

"Blood traitors," Goyle fake coughed into his hand causing Crabbe, Zabini, and Nott to laugh along with Pansy Parkinson and Millicent Bulstrode.

"Knock it off, Nott! Didn't realize you were so starved for attention you needed to bully a Weasley," Draco snarked as he shot a pointed look at Theo. He had grown up with Theo and loved him like a brother, but the one thing he could not stand about his childhood friend was how he would tease and degrade those whom he thought were below his stature. It was a sore point that often colored their friendship, yet the boys were able to forgive and move on from the tension. However, this time felt different.

"Sod off, Malfoy. What you doing defending him anyway?" Theo asked, his light-brown eyes boring into Draco with hurt and confusion that the blond was not backing him up. The look made Draco straighten his stance even more as he squared off with his childhood friend.

"Because your voice is as annoying as a Cornish pixie!" Draco said curtly. Some students started to laugh at the insult, the embarrassment evident on Nott's face. Ron looked over at Draco, surprised that the wizard would willingly stand up for him after how he treated Draco on the train.

Blaise Zabini was ready to step up and punch Draco in the face when Theo, surprisingly, held him back. Shaking his head and ready to let the bizarre interaction go, Theo turned back to Harry. "You'll soon find out that some wizarding families are better than others, Potter. You don't want to be going and making friends with the wrong sort. If you like, we can help you out with that."

"I think I can tell the wrong sort for myself, thanks," Harry said just as McGonagall returned. Her stern face demanded respect and order amongst the group as she escorted them into the Great Hall.

The students' eyes roamed everywhere taking in the long tables and floating candles in the iridescent night sky when Hermione looked up and spoke to Susan Bones. "It's not really the ceiling. It's just bewitched to look like the night sky."

"And where do you get all your fun facts, Granger?" Draco asked behind her with a friendly smirk on his face.

Hermione smiled back and proudly said, "I read about it in, Hogwarts A history."

As the students filed in front of the head table, McGonagall indicated where the students were to stand. She unrolled a piece of parchment and looked out to the small crowd of children clearing her voice. "Now, before we begin. Professor Dumbledore would like to say a few words."

A very old wizard rose from the Headmaster's seat at the center of the head table. He was dressed in royal purple robes and had a traditional pointy wizard hat that was overshadowed by his long white beard. "I have a few start-of-term notices I wish to announce. The first years, please note, that the dark forest is strictly forbidden to all students. Also, our caretaker, Mr. Filch, has asked me to remind you that the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a most painful death. Thank you."

The students had little time to react to the alarming words the Headmaster had spoken before McGonagall spoke up. "Now, when I call your name, you will come forth. I shall place the sorting hat on your head, and you shall be sorted into your houses."

McGonagall grabbed the ratty hat by the point as she held it high above for everyone to see the worn cloth that would decide the rest of their school experience. One by one, she called each student forward, going through the list in her hand, presumably in alphabetical order.

"Susan Bones."

The girl with long auburn hair that Hermione had been talking to earlier walked up and sat on the stool where the hat once rested. McGonagall carefully placed the hat on her head as the material contorted to form a face. The students gasped in shock as the object begin speaking. "Ah, I know! HUFFLEPUFF!"

Suddenly, one of the tables cheered very loudly as Susan hopped down to take her place among her fellow Hufflepuffs. Hermione started to hyperventilate a little bit at the daunting decision in which she had no control over. Oh no, not now she thought as she began to dread the dizziness that was about to settle in. A few seconds passed, but to her relief, the inevitable panic attack never came. Confused, she looked down to find Draco gently holding and squeezing her wrist reassuringly. His touch was a source of comfort, easing her tremors and calming the rapid beating of her heart, effectively stopping the attack before it had started.

"It's going to be fine. Deep breaths," he whispered in her ear.

"Hermione Granger," McGonagall loudly called her name. Hermione inhaled deeply once more as she muttered to herself to relax all the way up to the stool.

Draco heard Ron mutter to Harry, "Mental that one," which caused him to shoot the redhead a warning look as the hat was placed on Hermione's head. The cloth did not immediately speak like it did with Susan. It had an almost contemplative look on its face as Draco watched Hermione continue to steady her breathing while the Sorting Hat took her measure. After a few minutes, the hat finally sorted her.

"Ah, right there. Hmm… right. Okay, better be, GRYFFINDOR!"

One of the middle tables cheered for her as she, too, hopped off the stool and followed the sounds to her new home. Draco clapped for her as she walked by, briefly catching her eye and saw that her face had relaxed significantly. She did a small wave to Draco before taking her seat next to Percy Weasley.

"What do you know, Draco already has a Mudblood girlfriend," Crabbe said taunting Draco.

"Shut it!" Draco snapped back just as the clapping died down. More students cautiously came forward as they heard their names, each flinching when the Hat was placed above their head. Draco couldn't help but look over his shoulder, making eye contact with Hermione who gave him kind and encouraging smiles each time until McGonagall called his name.

Draco stepped up to the stool and eagerly sat down. The hat on his head started to laugh. Draco stared straight ahead, attempting to keep his expression neutral as he felt the hat poke and prod through his mind to determine his character. "The Black Family line always surprises me. Even when history repeats itself. Better be… GRYFFINDOR!"

Barely anyone cheered or clapped for Draco as he slowly slid down the stool to go sit next to Hermione. Everyone in the room appeared to be in shock that a Malfoy had been sorted into Gryffindor, even McGonagall. Several at the Slytherin table started to whisper loudly that there had to have been a mistake, for surly a pureblood such as Draco Malfoy could not be in any other house but Slytherin. Others at the Slytherin table started spewing curses at Draco, causing him to hasten his steps to take his seat. Hermione gently placed her hand upon Draco's wrist and gave it a light squeeze, just like he had done for her, and smiled at him. She told him to ignore the jeers.

Watching the entire interaction from the crowd of first year students, Harry was confused when he asked, "Ron, why is it bad to be in Slytherin?"

"There's not a witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin," Ron said. It was an overly broad stereotype, but one that scared Harry nonetheless. He did not want to end up in House of Snakes.

"There will be order from the Slytherin table!" Dumbledore sternly rebuked from the head table, causing the rowdy students to immediately cease.

McGonagall regained her composure as she continued to call name after name. No surprise that Blaise Zabini and Theodore Nott were sorted into Slytherin. Padma Patil and Michael Corner were sorted into Ravenclaw and then Seamus Finnigan was sorted into Hufflepuff with Susan Bones. Ron was caught completely off guard when McGonagall shouted his name.

He gulped loudly as he took a seat on the stool and then gasped as the hat exclaimed, he was another Weasley. "I know just what to do with you. Better be… GRYFFINDOR!"

Ron visibly sighed in relief as he saw his family, all Gryffindors, stand up and loudly cheer for him. He took the seat across from Hermione, who was clapping for him. Draco wasn't as enthusiastic about having to share a dorm room with Ron, but Hermione gently elbowed him to clap a little harder. Draco complied and even put his hand out, which Ron actually shook this time.

"Thank you, for earlier," Ron said.

Draco nodded in acknowledgment as the sorting ceremony continued.

"Harry Potter," McGonagall called, causing everyone in the room to still and focus their attention on Harry's sorting. Even Dumbledore leaned forward paying more attention to the dark-haired wizard with wired glasses. Harry walked forward looking back at Hermione, Ron, and Draco at the Gryffindor table.

The hat was placed on his head as it hummed and searched Harry's mind. "Difficult, very difficult. Plenty of courage I see. Not a bad mind either. There's talent. Oh yes. And a thirst to prove yourself. But where to put you…"

Not Slytherin, Not Slytherin Harry whispered over and over.

"Not Slytherin, eh? 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. There is no doubt about that."

Harry continued to chant over and over that he did not want to be placed in Slytherin. After several moments of contemplation, the sorting hat finally shouted, "GRYFFINDOR!"

He smiled as the hat was taken off his head and happily walked over to the overly enthusiastic table as he sat down and took his place next to Ron and across from Draco. Harry was delighted and relieved as he looked at each of his new friends. Several other students reached over to shake Harry's hand while the applause continued to roar through the hall. He looked up at the head table to see Hagrid and the Headmaster clapping for him. Dumbledore raised a goblet to him and winked at Harry, approving his house choice.

Once everyone was sorted, Dumbledore raised his hands and announced for the feast to begin, which caused the food to magically appear in front of the students' eyes. Everyone gasped in amazement. Simultaneously, the students helped themselves to the various dishes and piled their plates full. Ron was reaching for another drumstick when he screamed.

"Hello! Welcome to Gryffindor," the ghost said as he popped his head out from the center of the plate of chicken wings. Suddenly the Great Hall began to fill with all the ghosts of Hogwarts as they introduced themselves to the new students and greeted returning ones as well.

"Good evening, Sir Nicholas. How was your summer?" Percy Weasley asked.

"Abysmal. Once again, my request to join the headless hunt has been denied," Sir Nicholas replied.

"I know you! You're Nearly Headless Nick!" Ron said in awe as he pointed at the apparition.

"I prefer Sir Nicholas, if you don't mind," the ghost replied, a bit perturbed by the young boys brashness.

"Nearly headless? How can you be Nearly headless?" Hermione asked, her eyes wide with confusion an curiosity.

Sir Nicolas raised an eyebrow at her and said, "Like this!" Many people gasped in disgust as Sir Nicholas pulled his head partially off his shoulders to reveal the transparent blood and guts residing inside the ghost. Ron gasped in fear. Harry winced, but didn't advert his eyes while Draco laughed at the manner in which the ghost answered the question before turning to Hermione who had her eyes closed.

"Bet you regret asking him that now," he said to her with a little chuckle.

"Only a little bit. I've suddenly lost my appetite," Hermione replied.

Once the feast was complete, Percy Weasley was tasked with the responsibility for escorting the first years through the Grand Staircase since it was part of his job being one of the Gryffindor house Prefects. The Ravenclaws broke off to a different stairwell towards their Common Room while the Gryffindors momentarily stopped to crowd around one of the railings. Several of the first years were leaning far over the rail to look far down toward the ground level while others were looking up towards the ceiling and the pictures that lined the stone walls of the castle.

"This is the most direct path to the dormitories. Keep an eye on the staircases. They like to change," Percy warned the students loudly as he began walking them to the Gryffindor Tower entrance, constantly reminding them to keep up.

Many students whispered and commented on the portraits as they walked by. The painted figures were talking amongst themselves when they stopped and greeting as many new faces as possible. The trek up the seven flights felt entirely too long, until they finally came across a portrait that was of a rather plump, old woman requesting a password.

"Caput Draconus," Percy crisply recited, causing the painting to open and reveal a small porthole in the wall.

The students quickly filed in as Percy begin his well rehearsed speech. "Welcome to the Gryffindor common room. Boys' dormitories are upstairs and down to your left. Girls, the same on your right. You will find all of your belongings have already been brought up."

After Percy continued to reiterate the house point system and rules regarding curfew, the young witches and wizards scurried apart to inspect their rooms.

Before heading up, Hermione turned to Draco and asked if he was alright.

Draco smiled at her and said, "It's just so different from the manor. It… actually looks like a home."

Hermione smiled at him and told him she would see him tomorrow. Draco returned her smile and walked up to the boy's dormitory, ignoring the raised eyebrow Percy was giving him.

It was just as the Prefect said, all their trunks were individually placed by a four-poster bed just waiting to be unpacked. The dorm itself was laid out to follow the circular shape of the tower so all the furniture was arranged around a wood-burning stove at the center of the room. Each bed was already made and hung with velvet privacy curtains colored in the infamous Gryffindor red. Draco's trunk was placed in front of a bed right next to the dormitory entrance. Harry was in the bed to his right. Ron's was next to the bed on Harry's other side, followed by Dean Thomas and then Neville Longbottom to occupy the other bed that was on the opposite side of the entrance.

As he was beginning to unpack, Draco found a toad hopping up onto his trunk. "Oi, Neville, I think Trevor wandered off again."

"Don't hurt my toad, Malfoy!" Neville shouted as he quickly grabbed Trevor off of Draco's trunk and hurried back to his bed.

"What was that all about?" Ron asked. Draco turned around to see Harry and Ron standing by his bed.

"It's a long story," Draco simply said.

"What? Don't want to tell your new friends all about your homicidal family? You don't belong here, Malfoy. The hat clearly made a mistake," Neville angrily shouted before turning back to unpacking his trunk.

Before anyone could react to what Neville had blurted out, a house elf walked into the dorm room and approached Draco handing him a red envelope that contained a black wax seal of a Gabon Viper. His father's seal.

Harry noted the change in the room when he quietly asked, "Who was that? What kind of letter is that?"

Draco was too shocked to say anything, so Ron spoke up. "It's a howler."

Before Harry could ask his follow up questions, Draco had opened the envelope, causing the message to come to life and take the form of a mouth.

"Draco Lucius Malfoy. If this is your idea of a practical joke, I am NOT AMUSED!" the voice of Draco's father echoed through the dormitory. It wasn't as terribly loud as Ron and Nevil expected.

"With your blood lineage, it is impossible for you to be sorted into such a degrading house. I will be speaking to the Ministry immediately to get YOUR FAILURE sorted. Your mother and I are extremely disappointed in your behavior. We have lectured you time and time again to not speak to Mudbloods and blood traitors. Learn your place before I remove you from the school."

Draco was in shock as he stared at the terrifying message. Each word dripped with the same malevolent tone that chilled the atmosphere of the once inviting dorm room into a space of dread. Before long, the letter had ended and ripped itself apart, leaving the discarded paper all over Draco's bed.

Ron gently patted Draco on the shoulder and quietly asked him if he was alright. Draco simply nodded and turned around to see the other boys all staring at him.

"Well, you might get your wish after all, Longbottom," Draco said curtly before walking out of the room.

None of the boys stopped him as he left the dormitory. They all were kind of shocked and none of them knew what to do or say. It wasn't until Neville finally cleared his shaking throat that the boys started to react again. "Okay, I feel a little guilty now for what I said."

Ron looked at Harry, before turning to Neville. "I was a little hard on him myself when we met on the train."

"Maybe we can all give him a chance," Harry suggested. Growing up with the Dursleys, he knew what it was like to be ostracized for something that you couldn't control.

"I mean, he can't really be that bad if he got sorted into Gryffindor, right?" Dean asked.

The boys nodded in agreement and decided that Draco was going to face enough trouble from his family, and most likely, the entire Slytherin house as well if their reaction was anything to go by. That's if he was allowed to stay enrolled in school based on his father's threat.

"Maybe we can make it up to him by cleaning off his bed," Harry suggested.

"Yeah, good idea, Mate," Ron said as he and Harry carefully picked up the pieces of shredded parchment off the duvet cover.

As they were just about finished, Draco returned.

"How are you feeling, Draco?" Harry asked.

"I'll be okay," Draco said noticing the remains of the howler in Harry and Ron's hands, "You… cleaned my bed?"

"Yeah, it… seemed like the right thing to do after…" Ron said.

"You don't have to pity me, Weasley," Draco said as he looked between the two boys. "But… thanks, anyway."

To his surprise, Ron smiled back as he went to go discard the paper in the rubbish bin. Harry stopped in front of Draco and said, "For what it's worth, this feels like home to me, too."