[I don't generally bother with disclaimers, as, seriously, you guys know I'm not J. K. Rowling, but you also need to know I'm not Lucillia, who wrote the first part of this chapter. She posted this as a short story titled "Gryffindor?" and gave me permission to take it and run with it. Now go read the rest of her stories, or at least as many as fall into one of your fandoms. She's awesome. Look on her works ye mighty and despair!]
Jack approached the man who was probably his only shot at correcting something that had been eating away at his conscience for centuries. He would've corrected it himself, but the individual responsible, the individual who'd wanted to shape his world into his vision of what it should be, had had him by the short and curlies back then. Damn magical oaths, and that latent gene which had allowed them to work...
"How much do you know about Harry Potter?" he asked the small ill-kempt man who'd likely forget him in the centuries between now and what was supposed to be their first meeting considering the fact that he wasn't in a time or place his future self would mentally associate with him.
September 1st 1991:
The welcoming feast had just ended and Headmaster Dumbledore had been about to shoo his students off to bed when there was a wheezing grinding noise which had not been heard in Hogwarts Castle since the days of the founders when a man with an exceedingly long scarf had come to have words with Salazar Slytherin about the fact that the castle rather closely resembled a set of blueprints for a building that had been built centuries later and renovated in order to add several modern amenities such as indoor plumbing several centuries after that which had been nicked from his library. Rather than a tall man emerging and hissing in Slytherin's first language as had happened a thousand years prior, a small dark haired ill-kempt man in a black coat that was too long for him, baggy plaid trousers, and an untidy dress shirt whose collar on which a bowtie had been clipped had been loosened stepped out of the blue box that had appeared in the great hall when the noise had abated.
As everyone watched, wondering who the man was and exactly what he was doing there, the man set a device with several blinking lights which looked as if it had been cobbled together out of parts from a blender, a fog machine, and a disco ball on the floor. When he did so, everyone's attention then turned to the unusual object which then started spewing some sort of gas which rapidly filled the entirety of the Great Hall. As everyone started to panic, the gas that hadn't been breathed in by the students was rapidly sucked back into the device, returning visibility to normal.
"What was that?!" a Slytherin named Marcus Flint yelled above the noise that was being made by the students who were no longer sleepy and ready to head off to bed.
"The antidote to the Retcon the Headmaster slipped into your dinner immediately following the Sorting." the small man replied, giving the Headmaster a look of stern disapproval. "Now that your memories have returned to normal, I want everyone to head to the table of the house into which they were originally sorted."
In the general scrum which followed during which Professors Sprout and Flitwick looked at each-other and discreetly traded seats, nobody heard the muffled exclamation of "...the FUCK?! Gryffindor?!" which came from beneath Professor Quirrel's turban.
Nor did anyone pay much notice to the small dark man as he gathered up his equipment, got back into his odd blue box, and left. The Headmaster was far too busy having rapid-fire discussions with all of his staff at once, and the students were far too caught up in trying to sort themselves out. The Weasleys and Miss Hermione Granger departed en masse for the Slytherin table, as the bulk of the current Slytherins scattered to the four winds - Malfoy, Nott, Flint, and Davis to Gryffindor, Goyle to Hufflepuff, Bulstrode, Parkinson and Zabini to Ravenclaw, and on and on.
All the tables were equally scattered. Susan Bones and Ernie MacMillan joined Tracey Davis at the Gryffindor table. Zacharias Smith headed for Slytherin. Cedric Diggory sat nursing a headache as memories of sitting under the Sorting Hat for long minutes resurfaced, but stayed right where he was to welcome the new Hufflepuffs. And in all the chaos, Neville Longbottom sat still, staring in shock, as he realized that he was just where he belonged.
Harry Potter wound his way carefully through the chaos to Ravenclaw table. "Um, hi?"
"Hello Harry, I'm Robert Hilliard, fifth year prefect, and thank Merlin not changing houses. Welcome to Ravenclaw House, grab a seat and we'll get you lot sorted. Sorry you're not seeing us at our best at present." Robert, a short dark muscular boy, gestured to the benches where some other girls and boys were trying to get seated. "You're all firsties, right? Good, then, all of you sit tight and hopefully we will have all this straightened out soon." Harry looked at the others, and seeing that everyone looked as confused and nervous as he felt, relaxed on the bench and waited.
After a few minutes, things at the head table seemed to have calmed down, although there were distinctly fewer professors than they had started the evening with. Professor McGonagall stood to speak.
"Welcome new and returning students. I am Minerva McGonagall, acting Headmistress and professor of Transformation. Tonight's announcements will be held until breakfast. Prefects, please take your charges to their common rooms. Any student not knowing how to find their new common room, please join the prefects and first years. Your heads of houses will meet you there."
Robert stood up, along with a tall young woman who introduced herself as Penelope Clearwater. "Right then, ten first years, anyone else coming along? Good, good, right this way." Penelope taking the lead with Robert behind to chivvy along any stragglers, they made their way to Ravenclaw Tower. There were a lot of corridors, and stairs, and landings, and windows and paintings and balconies and suits of armor and tapestries and altogether too much to look at, in Harry's opinion. He was sure he would know his way about in time, but for now he would have to be contented to follow the older students like a baby duck.
Finally they reached a great round door with a huge eagle knocker in the center. Harry was surprised, although he felt he probably shouldn't have been, when it spoke.
"Alive without breath, cold as death,
Never thirsty, ever drinking, all in mail but never clinking."
The first years all looked at each other and the prefects. "Most houses have a password," Penelope explained, "But here in Ravenclaw we have a daily riddle. You get one chance to answer it, and if you can't, you need to wait for someone else to come along and answer it for you. Oh, and the answer to this one is 'fish'."
The door swung open, revealing a room that would be paradise to any comfort-loving biblioholic. The room was a flattened octagon. On one long wall was the door they had just entered. On the opposite long wall were two doors with a large cork board in between them, on the two short walls were two comfortable-looking window seats, on the four diagonal walls were fireplaces with cozy inglenooks, and everywhere that wasn't taken up by door, window, cork board or fireplaces were bookshelves, from floor to ceiling, with rolling ladders for reaching the high shelves. The seat cushions and rugs and floor pillows were in varying shades and patterns of blue, the curtains were a deep velvety midnight, the wall sconces and curtain rods and hooks and chandeliers were aged bronze. In the wide center of the room were a number of heavy oak tables piled with reference books.
The only art in the room was four paintings, one over each fireplace. They caught Harry's eye because, unlike the other paintings he passed in the halls, these weren't dressed like wizards. One was an older gentleman with a mischievous grin in what looked like academic robes. One, who was dozing at present, was a portly gentleman dressed in the style of the 1800s. One was a handsome gentleman with neatly-trimmed white hair and beard. (This portrait was still, like what Harry would consider a normal portrait.) And the fourth was quite recognizably Leonardo da Vinci.
"Ah, the students are back. Wake up, Franklin!"
Penelope curtsied to the paintings. "Mr. da Vinci, Dr. Franklin, Dr. Feinman, I present to you the newest crop of Ravenclaws!"
"That fourth portrait, why isn't it moving?" Robert said in a falsetto voice.
"Oh, that's Dr. Djerassi. He's still alive."
"Now, all of you find seats. Our head of house should be along soon to welcome you. While we're waiting, a few rules. The tables are for study groups, and can be signed out with permission from the head of house or either of the seventh year prefects, who also act as assistant librarians for the house library here. Do not touch any books or papers you see left out on them.
"The nooks are for quiet conversation, accent on quiet. None of them belong to any person or group, and they can not be signed out. Attempting to oust a group already in possession is rude, and will not be tolerated. If someone tries to oust you, report it to a prefect.
"The cushions are for sitting. Beyond that, we don't care. They also don't belong to anyone is particular. If you want to bring one from home, that's fine, but make sure to keep it in your dorm when you're not using it, and have your name marked on it somewhere.
"The window seats are for reading, napping, dreaming, whatever. They are first come, first served, with one exception: the boy and girl with the highest cumulative GPAs in the house can oust anyone else from them. Yes, that means after the first quiz, whichever of you firsties get 100% will be tied for that honor. That's fine, we've all had our turn, the test is how long you can keep it. One of the announcements on the cork board is a running tally of the top ten boys' and girls' cumulative GPAs. You will find that our house enjoys Quidditch, cares very little about house points, and is very interested in our individual places on the list. ... And here is our esteemed head of house now. They're all yours, Professor Flitwick."
"Gryffindor. Gryffindor! I was meant to be in bloody GRYFFINDOR!"
"I don't know what you want me to do, Master."
"Oh, just shut up and make appropriate listening noises. I need to think. "