* * *
Harry's Journal - August 30, 1996
I'm not sure where exactly the time is going; it just seems to be going by so fast right now. Of course, I'm certainly not complaining, because I'll be glad to get out of Grimmauld Place, and back to Hogwarts. Even though it isn't nearly as fancy, I've always felt much more at home in the common room, sleeping in the boy's dormitory of Gryffindor tower then I think I ever will in the opulence of Grimmauld Place.
When I first saw it this summer, I was to find that it was quite different from what I remembered, but then again, I suppose it would have been stupid to think that Mrs. Weasley was just going to sit on her hands and not clean the place. I guess I just didn't really expect her to restore it to its former old money glory. I asked Bill about it, and he said that his mom was sort of hoping that if the mansion was restored to its former glory, than maybe, it would placate Mrs. Black, but the old hag still screams obscenities whenever the curtains over her portrait are disturbed. Bill said his mom knew when she started, that it was a long shot, but she figured it was worth a try anyway.
I haven't seen Remus in the last few days, so I hope he's feeling better now. This hasn't been an easy summer for him, he had to deal with the full moon two nights ago, on the 28th of August, but he also had to deal with two full moons in July, one on the 1st and then again on the 30th. Snape brews Wolfsbane Potion for him, but that doesn't prevent the transformation; it just makes him less violent.
One bright spot about the last few days has been Ryan and Nicolas visiting. It turns out that Ryan's uncle Charles is a member of the Order, and Dumbledore recently inducted Nicolas' grandmother, since she's taking Hagrid's old job as Hogwarts gamekeeper and Magical Creatures professor. Two other new members are Ryan's cousin, Matt, and his boyfriend, whom I must admit I was rather shocked to find out, was my old Quidditch Captain, Oliver Wood. I certainly never had Oliver pegged as being gay, but then again, I shouldn't be all that surprised, because I certainly had never suspected that Bill was gay until he told me. Even after he told me, there was a part of me that thought maybe he was joking.
Of course, I now know from experience, that Bill most certainly was not joking. To use an old Muggle saying, it certainly doesn't take a rocket scientist for a guy to figure out that another guy isn't joking about being gay, when he's having sex with them. I know that Hermione has occasionally thought me to be a little slow on the uptake, but I'm not that slow. Even Ron, who is arguably even slower on the uptake, wouldn't be that slow.
In terms of the sex, I don't really have anything else to compare it to, since Bill was my first, but I must admit, he does make my body feel really good. We both agree though, that our relationship is more friendly then romantic. True, we do kiss and have sex, but there's nothing really romantic about it. Bill has certainly never brought me flowers or candy or any of the other romantic gestures that loving couples do, but then again neither have I, and the simple reason for that is, because Bill and I are not a couple.
Another thing that couples usually do, is tell their loved ones about their relationship. That is definitely not something that Bill and I have done, because if Mrs. Weasley ever found out that I was having sex with Bill, she'd probably want to kill him for taking advantage of me, or something. I may not be in love with him, but I really do like him as a friend, and the last thing I want, is to have someone else's death on my head.
I realize I've gotten slightly off track here, but I've found this journal to be very therapeutic. So, even if I sit down intending to write about one subject, I've found that it's best to just lose myself in writing, and write whatever comes to mind. In terms of Ryan and Nicolas visiting, I've gotten to know them both a bit better over the last few days, since we met in Diagon Alley. They're both really nice guys, even Ron seems to like them, and isn't holding the fact that Nicolas was sorted into Slytherin against him. Of course, considering that Nicolas loves Quidditch and chess about as much as Ron does, it was really only a matter of time before they struck up a friendship, regardless of his house.
* * *
Twenty-year-old Matthew Cromwell stood in the middle of his bedroom at Cromwell Hall, naked from the waist up as the talented hands of his intended roamed over his back, and their equally talented lips kissed and sucked at the nape of his neck. Even after seven long and very happy years together, Matt had been very nervous when he finally asked the big question. He had gone to Diagon Alley, bought the ring, and then carried it around with him for months before he finally worked up enough courage to ask. Looking back on it, Matt would be the first to admit that his nervousness was stupid, because no sooner had he opened the box, than his boyfriend said yes, before Matt even got the chance to say a word.
"Oh, Olli," Matt moaned as his fiancÚ, twenty-year-old Oliver Wood, continued to plant kiss after succulent kiss on the nape of his neck. Oliver was a very talented Quidditch player, but he did possess other talents, several of which Matt was the only one to have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Matt and Oliver met on a stormy Saturday afternoon in the library, during their fourth year. They quickly struck up a friendship, and it wasn't long after that they'd started dating. The rest was, as they say, history.
As Oliver continued to kiss his neck, Matt slowly guided him over to the bed, and then without warning, pushed him down onto it. Oliver looked up at Matt with a grin on his face that was a mix of mischievousness, and lust. Performing a quick strip show for Oliver, Matt shed his clothes and then looked down at his lover, shook his head and said, "You know, you are entirely overdressed."
"Well, we'll just have to fix that, now won't we?" Oliver asked with a grin, Matt simply nodded, and began to unbutton Oliver's red silk shirt. Once Matt had divested Oliver of his shirt, he threw it onto his own clothes, before turning his attention to unbuckling the belt and undoing the button and zipper of Oliver's tight, black jeans. Oliver lifted himself up from the bed as Matt pulled the jeans down his legs, leaving him clad only in a white t-shirt, white boxers, and white socks.
Kneeling between Oliver's legs, Matt smiled at him for a moment, before he leaned down and began to kiss Oliver's ever-hardening member through the material that was covering it. As Matt did this, Oliver stifled a groan, pointed his wand at the bedroom doors, mumbling a locking charm, followed by a silencing charm. He certainly didn't want to give Ryan any more ammunition to embarrass them with, not to mention the fact that he did not relish the thought of Professor Snape overhearing them.
Matt took a moment to smile up at Oliver as he set his wand on the nightstand and mouthed the words, "I love you." Matt grinned at Oliver, before returning to his chosen task. Grabbing the waistband of Oliver's boxers in his teeth, Matt began to slowly pull them down. Freed from the confining material, Oliver's manhood sprang up and hit his abdomen. The underwear, followed shortly there after by Oliver's t-shirt, soon joined the growing pile of discarded clothes on the floor near the bed.
Lying down on top of his fiancÚ, Matt began to kiss him passionately on the lips as he ground his hips against him. Both young men let out muffled moans as their hardened members rubbed against each other. As they continued to kiss, Matt placed a hand behind Oliver's back, rubbing it gently, while Oliver encircled him in his arms, placing one hand on Matt's back, and ran the other through his silky black hair.
The kiss lasted for several minutes, before Matt broke away and began kissing his way down Oliver's sleek, toned body. Starting at the tip of his right shoulder blade, Matt kissed his way across to the left, before moving lower and planting a kiss on Oliver's left nipple, taking a moment to swirl his tongue around on it.
"Oh, Matt," Oliver moaned as Matt teased his nipples with his skillful tongue. "Please, don't stop, that feels so good."
Kissing his way back across Oliver's chest, Matt placed a second kiss on the right nipple, again swirling his tongue around on it, as Oliver let out a moan to indicate that he was thoroughly enjoying himself. After a few more minutes of going back and forth between Oliver's nipples, Matt continued to kiss his way down, pausing to kiss and lick the muscles of Oliver's six-pack abs. Oliver continued to moan as Matt moved further down, kissing and licking his way over Oliver's right thigh, deciding to ignore his raging cock for the moment.
Continuing to kiss and lick his way down Oliver's right leg, Matt soon reached Oliver's sock-covered feet. Sitting up, Matt took the right foot in his hand and began to massage it, before planting a kiss on each cotton-covered toe, eliciting a giggle from Oliver. Being careful not to bite Oliver's toes, Matt took the sock in his teeth and pulled it off. Laying Oliver's right foot back on the bed, he picked up the left, and repeated his actions, massaging it and kissing the covered toes, before once again pulling the sock off with his teeth. Placing his foot back on the bed, Matt leaned down and began to kiss his way back up Oliver's left leg, all the way to his lips.
This kiss lasted for several minutes as well, Matt and Oliver's tongues danced in each other's mouths, eagerly exploring and competing in a mini-battle of supremacy. When he finally pulled away, eliciting a groan from his fiancÚ, Matt looked deeply into his eyes, and could tell from the look of lust and longing in them, that Oliver wanted things to continue past the foreplay they'd been engaging in until now. More then happy to oblige, Matt placed a quick kiss on the tip of Oliver's nose, before once again kissing his way back down Oliver's body. Matt paused and gently bit each of Oliver's nipples, eliciting a moan of pleasure from him once more.
Matt continued to kiss and lick his way down, until finally he reached Oliver's throbbing cock. Pausing for a brief moment to smile up at his lover, Matt leaned down and placed a kiss on the head, causing Oliver to moan. Encouraged by Oliver's obvious pleasure, Matt slowly began to run his tongue up and down Oliver's shaft. After a few more minutes of teasing Oliver with his tongue, Matt decided to put him out of his misery, so to speak, and took Oliver's length into his mouth. Oliver let out another loud moan, and buried his hands in Matt's hair, encouraging him to continue going down on him.
As Matt continued his up and down motions, and Oliver continued his moaning, Matt found himself thanking all of the Gods for the existence of the silencing charm that Oliver had put up earlier. The thought of Ryan overhearing them again was bad enough, but the thought of his father, Draco, or Professor Snape overhearing them was even worse. Matt had been rather peeved when he found out that his father had invited Professor Snape to stay at the house. He knew it was because he was Draco's godfather and he wanted to be close to him during his period of mourning, but it was nonetheless, very unpleasant news to find out that his least favorite teacher was going to be living with them. Potions had always been one of Matt's father's best subjects, and seeing Professor Snape only reminded him of the fact that he was not very good at it, which he knew was a disappointment to his father.
"Oh, Matt," Oliver moaned, as Matt speeded up his motions, which soon sent Oliver crashing over the edge, shooting load after load of white gold into Matt's eager mouth. Matt greedily drank all of it before removing his mouth from Oliver's member and moving up to kiss his lover. Oliver darted his tongue all over Matt's mouth, devouring him hungrily, tasting his own cum in the process. It was several minutes before Oliver broke away, and returned the favor that Matt had just given him.
A half-hour later, both exhausted from the activity, Matt reached over to the nightstand, grabbed his wand, mumbled, "Nox," and then returned it to the nightstand as all the lights went out. "I love you, Olli," Matt whispered softly as they cuddled up together under the covers.
"I love you too, Matt," Oliver whispered, before they fell asleep.
* * *
September the First dawned, and Harry found himself on the Hogwarts Express, much to his delight. It was such a relief to be out of Grimmauld Place that he couldn't even put it into words. He knew that the Wizarding World was at war with Voldemort, and that the times ahead were not going to be easy, especially for him because of Trelawney's damn prophecy. But for the moment, he was determined to put it all out of his mind, and simply enjoy the trip back to Hogwarts, which he had long ago, begun thinking of as his true home. Harry found an empty compartment in the last car of the train and sat down.
Ron and Hermione had told him they would join him as soon as the Prefect's meeting was over. Of course, as much as Harry enjoyed spending time with them, he hoped that a few other people might join them in the compartment; more and more, he was feeling like a third wheel whenever they were around. He was happy that they'd finally gotten together, but watching them made it all the more obvious how much his heart longed for that same affection and love that they shared. Harry had tried to feel it with Bill, but it just never worked. He did love Bill; he never would have been able to have sex with him if he didn't, but Harry knew that the love he felt for him was not the kind that a lifetime commitment should be based on. He had discussed this at length with him and he totally agreed.
'The meeting can't possibly be over yet,' Harry thought as the sound of the compartment door opening interrupted his thoughts. 'We haven't even left the station yet.'
Looking up, Harry smiled. It wasn't Ron or Hermione, but his new friends, Ryan Cromwell and Nicolas Delaney, who were standing in the doorway.
"Mind if we join you, Harry?" Ryan asked.
"Have a seat," Harry replied with a smile as he motioned the two young men to come in.
Ryan and Nicolas just smiled as they stepped into the compartment and Nicolas closed the door, before sitting down.
"So, what is Hogwarts like?" Nicolas asked.
"Oh it's great," Harry answered. "I think of it as my home away from home."
"I know I'm certainly looking forward to it," Ryan said. "From everything Matt and Oliver have told me, I'm sure that I'm going to enjoy it."
"You know, I still can't believe it," Harry said. "I knew Oliver for three years. I swear, the thought that he was gay never crossed my mind. Of course, I was only thirteen when he graduated from school. It wasn't until I was fifteen that I fully realized and accepted that I was gay, so I guess I wasn't very good at spotting it in others."
"Trust me, Harry," Ryan said, "you're not alone in that. I may only have been ten when I moved to Asheville, and I admit I haven't seen much of Matt while I was in the States, but we had always been very close. We owled each other almost every day, and I never picked up the slightest clue that he was gay, let alone in a serious relationship that had started before I had even moved away."
"So you're gay, Harry?" Nicolas asked, as the train began to pull out of the station.
"Yeah, I am," said Harry. "I started to suspect it when I was about fourteen, but I never really paid any attention to it. I didn't want to be, so I convinced myself that I liked this one girl at school, Cho Chang. We kissed once and it was a total disaster. After that I started to realize it more and then... well, I'm not sure I should say."
"Say what?" Ryan asked.
"Well, I was about to tell you something that not even Ron and Hermione know. They've been my best friends since first year, and I haven't even told them yet," Harry trailed off, deep in thought. 'Of course, how could I be so stupid? I was about to tell Ryan and Nicolas about Bill. Ron and Hermione don't even know I'm gay yet, let alone anything about Bill. Speaking of things they don't know about yet, I also haven't told them about the prophecy either. I think I'll hold off on telling them about that for now.'
"Well, then you should probably tell them first," Nicolas said, as Ryan nodded.
"Maybe when they get back from the Prefect's meeting," Harry said, "I'll tell all of you at once."
Ryan and Nicolas simply nodded to Harry again before the three of them started talking about various topics. Harry and Nicolas learned more about Ryan's time in Asheville, his late grandmother Lucinda, and the fact that he, too, was gay. Ryan and Harry learned more about Nicolas' time at Beauxbatons, his grandmother Angelique, and the fact that he was bisexual. Harry also filled them in on some of his various adventures over the years, such as the ordeal with Voldemort and Professor Quirrell, the Chamber of Secrets and the basilisk, and the rebirth of Voldemort and the Priori Incantatem effect.
Ron and Hermione soon entered the compartment and after sitting down, Harry cleared his throat and said, "Ron, Hermione, there's something I've been meaning to tell you. Ryan and Nicolas already know part of it, but I figured I should tell you two what I told them, before elaborating any further."
"What is it, Harry?" Hermione asked.
"Yeah, mate, you can tell us anything," said Ron.
"Okay, well," Harry said and cleared his throat nervously. "I'm gay."
"Well, mate," said Ron after a moment of silence. "If being with blokes makes you happy, then that's fine."
"Hermione?" Harry asked; his voice tinged with fear at her quietness.
"Hmm?" Hermione said as she was brought out of her thoughts. "Oh, I'm sorry, Harry. I'm fine with it. You're one of my very best friends, and all I want is for you to be happy. I was just wondering how you'd arrived at that conclusion, since you said you wanted to tell us before elaborating further. I assume there's more to it. Do you have a boyfriend or something?"
"Well, no, I don't have a boyfriend," Harry hedged in reply. "At least not in the sense that Ron is your boyfriend, Hermione."
"What do you mean?" Ron asked.
"Well, I do have a friend," Harry said, "that I've, well that I've, um, slept with on numerous occasions. We've talked about it though, and we both agree that we're better off as very good friends then we would be as a couple."
"Do we know this person?" Hermione asked, curiosity written all over her face.
"Oh, you definitely know him," Harry answered. "Ron especially."
"Huh?" Ron asked, the look on his face one of total confusion.
"Well, um, you see," Harry stammered, "Ron, you've known the person I'm talking about all of your life."
"I have?" Ron asked.
"I'm going to go out on a limb here," Hermione said, "and venture a guess that you mean that you've slept with one of Ron's brothers, am I right Harry?"
A look of sudden comprehension crossed Ron's face as he looked to his best friend for confirmation.
"Yes, Hermione, you're right."
"Well, it can't be Fred or George," Ron said. "They've been dating the Patil twins since the beginning of summer. Percy, well, I don't know if he's still with Penelope or not, but I can't imagine Percy would really be your type, mate."
"Your right, Ron," Harry interjected. "It isn't Fred, George or Percy."
"Well, that just leaves Bill or Charlie," Hermione said.
"Well, it can't be Bill," Ron muttered. "He seemed so taken with Fleur. Charlie, well, I don't know. I thought he'd mentioned a boyfriend in one of his letters, but he said it was one of his co-workers in Romania."
"Well, Harry said it was one of your brothers Ron," Hermione said, "and he clearly said it wasn't Fred, George, or Percy, so it has to be either Bill or Charlie."
"It isn't Charlie either," Harry finally spoke up.
"You mean that you and Bill?" Ron asked. "But what about Fleur? Why are you even still alive, Harry?"
"Gee thanks, Ron," Harry muttered.
"Don't get me wrong, mate," Ron said. "I'm glad that you're still alive, but Fleur is part Veela. I would have thought that she would have killed you by now, for sleeping with her mate."
"Ron is right, Harry," said Hermione. "Veelas, even part Veelas, are extremely protective of their mates. If you've been sleeping with Bill, then Fleur should have killed you by now. Unless..."
"Unless what?" Ron asked.
"Unless Bill isn't Fleur's mate," Ryan said.
"Exactly," Hermione said and smiled at Ryan.
"Are we perhaps talking about Fleur Delacour?" Nicolas asked. "Has a little sister named Gabrielle?"
"Yes, that's her," Hermione said. "Do you know her?"
"Yes, I do," said Nicolas. "In fact, Gabrielle had a crush on me at school last year, and was trying to get me to date her."
"How did you resist her charms?" Ron asked.
"Isn't she a little young for you?" Harry asked before Nicolas could say anything. "I met her during the Triwizard Tournament, and thought she couldn't be much older than eight."
"Well, she's always appeared a bit young for her age," Nicolas said. "Gabrielle is starting her fifth year this year. As for how I could resist her charms, she hasn't come into her powers yet. It would seem that Veelas don't come into their powers until sometime after their sixteenth birthday. Anyway, as for Fleur, I happen to know that this Bill can't be her mate."
"How do you know?"
"Well, Ron," Nicolas said. "Gabrielle and I are still friends, despite not working out as a couple. We still owl each other, and about two months ago, she said that Fleur had found her mate and was getting engaged. Said it was one of our old classmates named Phillipe Fortier. He was a couple of years ahead of Fleur in school, she didn't come into her powers until after he graduated, so she didn't realize that he was her mate right away. Come to think of it, Gabrielle did mention a William from Britain in her letters that Fleur had thought was her mate, but after all of the tests were done, it was determined that he wasn't."
"That's right," Harry said. "Bill told me all about that. Fleur was convinced that he was her mate, so she was using her powers on him all the time, because he wasn't being as receptive as she would have liked. She finally gave up the idea that he was her mate after all of the tests were done, because they determined that he was most definitely not her mate; a fact which he would have made perfectly clear if he had been in his right mind at the time, since he is gay. You can trust me when I say that, considering how many times we've, um, had sex."
"So you and Bill?" Ron asked after several moments.
"Yeah, Ron, me and Bill," Harry said.
Hermione suddenly got a strange look on her face and asked, "How was he?"
After the shock of Hermione asking such a thing wore off, Harry replied, "Suffice it to say that whoever does finally capture his heart, they will be a very lucky man."
After that, the conversation soon turned away from Harry's love life as the five friends started talking about a myriad of subjects ranging from school and the upcoming year at Hogwarts, to when the first Hogsmeade weekend would be, and even a little bit about the war with Voldemort, although the latter topic was avoided as much as possible.
Arriving at the station in Hogsmeade, everyone disembarked from the train and everything was as Harry had always remembered it, with one distinct difference. Instead of Hagrid holding up a lantern and yelling "Firs' Years!" a tall witch who appeared to be in her late sixties or early seventies, wearing an emerald green cloak over a black dress, was the one holding the lantern and calling out for the first years.
"Hello grandmother," Nicolas said after he led them over to the woman.
"Nicolas, my darling," Professor Angelique Byrne replied. "Good to see you and your friends."
"Well, I'll see you later, grandmother," Nicolas said. "I suppose we should be getting to the carriages and up to the school. I just wanted to say hi."
"Yes, you should," Professor Byrne admonished, "and I have to get the first years into the boats. I'll see you later though. I love you, Nicolas."
"Love you too, grandmother," Nicolas returned as he gave her a quick hug, before following Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ryan towards the carriages.
* * *
Later that evening, Harry sat with his fellow Gryffindors in the Great Hall, waiting for the Sorting to begin. Several of his classmates had already noticed that there were several empty seats at the head table, and were wondering what was going on. All of their normal teachers were present, but there were nonetheless, several empty chairs on either side of Professor Dumbledore. Harry knew that one of them was of course, Professor McGonagall's seat, and he assumed that one was also for Nicolas' grandmother, Professor Byrne. Harry also figured that one of the empty seats would probably be for their new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher, whoever that may be, but he didn't know why they wouldn't be sitting at the head table already. Of course, the few times he'd seen Dumbledore over the summer, he'd sort of hinted that there would be many surprises this year, so perhaps the empty seats were part of that, and Dumbledore wanted to keep the people who would be filling those seats a surprise for the moment.
Harry was brought out of his thoughts when the massive doors of the Great Hall opened, and Professor McGonagall began to walk down the center of the room, with two lines of young witches and wizards following her. Some of them looked scared, while others looked up at the enchanted ceiling in total awe, and still others looked rather unimpressed by everything around them. Arriving at the front of the Hall, McGonagall had the students line up in front of the Head Table, and Harry then saw the Sorting Hat start moving on its stool as it prepared to sing.
* * *
Hello once again, my dear students,
Some of you are returning, and some are new,
Listen closely to my song
And I will tell you a story true.
Of the four greatest witches and wizards,
Who shared the same dream and desire
To create the best school in which to train,
And pass on to the young, skills they didn't have prior.
Thus, the Hogwarts School came to be.
Each of the Founders had traits that they admired,
So, they each formed their own House,
For which students who had them, could be acquired.
Gallant Godric Gryffindor was known for his bravery,
So, he took those truly brave at heart.
Wise Rowena Ravenclaw was known for her intelligence,
And she took those who were especially smart.
Fair Helga Hufflepuff was known for her loyalty,
So, she took those who were loyal to their friends.
Sly Salazar Slytherin was known from his ambition,
And he took those who did anything to achieve their ends.
The school ran well for several years,
The Founders were good friends, and didn't foresee any change.
Nobody saw the trouble brewing until it was too late,
And Salazar Slytherin had already started to estrange.
He thought they should only teach purebloods,
And tried in vain to convince the others of this belief.
Life in the castle was unpleasant when they did not agree,
So, finally Salazar left, much to the other Founders' relief.
Now, over a thousand years has passed,
And the Four Founders are long gone.
We are at war and it is a very dark time,
But a new hope is about to dawn.
This new hope shall stand against the evil,
And it is with a joyous heart that I declare,
The Founders have returned to Hogwarts,
In the form of the students, who are their Heirs.
Which of the Founders' Heirs have returned you ask?
Well, wonder not for long, as I intend to tell.
Somewhere in this Hall, listening to my song,
The Heirs of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw all dwell.
Of course, they are not alone in this Hall.
The last may cause some to be concerned.
For the evil we now face, was thought to be the last,
But it wasn't, for the Heir of Slytherin has also returned.
I implore all of you not to worry though,
For the evil we face is not in this school.
This new Heir of Slytherin is not like the last,
For he will help the side of Light to rule.
As I said this time last year, know the perils,
Read the signs, the warning history shows,
For our dear Hogwarts is in danger,
>From external deadly foes.
The Heirs must help us unite inside her,
Or we will crumble from within.
I have told you, I have warned you...
And now, let the Sorting begin.
* * *
When the hat finished its song, the entire hall broke out in whispers and looking up at the head table; Harry noticed that some of the teachers were whispering among themselves. Even Dumbledore looked a little strange, as if he had no idea beforehand what the hat had intended to reveal. After a few moments, Dumbledore stood up and raised his hands. Yellow sparks emerged from them and a bang emanated throughout the room, causing all the students to turn towards the Headmaster as silence fell over the hall.
"We will discuss what the Sorting Hat has said," Dumbledore said. "However, first let us take care of the Sorting and the feast to follow. I shall share my comments on this turn of events after we've all eaten, and I make my customary start of term announcements. Now, Professor McGonagall, please start the Sorting Ceremony."
Professor McGonagall nodded, unrolled the long scroll and called out, "Addison, Jonathan," as a young black haired boy came up and put on the hat. After a few moments the hat shouted, "RAVENCLAW!" as cheers erupted from the Ravenclaw table and the boy went over to join his housemates. Professor McGonagall continued calling out names, and the group of new students near the front of the room began to get smaller, Ravenclaw got six more students, Hufflepuff got five, Slytherin got five, and Gryffindor got seven. As the new students were narrowed down to only four, Harry did a double take when he noticed that only four boys were left, and looking at the back of their heads, he couldn't help but notice that it appeared as though Hogwarts was about to take it's first group of quadruplets.
Harry was indeed correct on the assumption as McGonagall soon called out the name, "Waters, Kyle," followed by, "Waters, Lane," "Waters, Mark," and "Waters, Noah." They all looked identical to one another, but as if to prove that despite their appearances they were in possession of very different personalities, Kyle was sorted into Gryffindor, Lane into Slytherin, Mark into Hufflepuff, and Noah into Ravenclaw. Harry watched the four of them as they were sorted, and thought that they looked a little sad that they'd all been sorted into different houses, but at the same time, they all looked proud to be in the houses that they were sorted into.
Harry knew, that being first years, there probably wouldn't be much the four boys could do to influence the older students; yet, he couldn't help thinking that there was a good chance that they might be able to help their fellow first year housemates overcome the longstanding house rivalries. So, that in the years to come, the four houses may start working together, rather than fighting.
As the Sorting Ceremony ended, Professor McGonagall put away the scroll listing the new students, and the Sorting Hat, before returning to her seat. Professor Dumbledore stood up and said, "I'm sure all you are hungry, so while there is a time for speeches and announcements, now is not it, so tuck in!" All of the empty serving platters on the tables magically filled with food, and the students and teachers begin to fill their plates.
After about half an hour, Dumbledore stood up and called for everyone's attention. Once silence had fallen over the great hall, Dumbledore said, "For those of you who are new to Hogwarts, I say welcome, and I hope that you will be a credit to the houses which you have been placed in. For those of you who are returning, I say welcome back. Now, at this time, I usually would make some start of term notices, however, in light of the information revealed before the Sorting, I feel I must address that first.
"I was unaware of what the Hat had intended to reveal. While it is true that I am the Headmaster, I never interfere with the Sorting Hat's song, and I do not ask it to tell me what it will sing before it does. I rather enjoy being surprised and hearing it as all of you hear it. The fact that sitting among you now, are the heirs of all four of our school's founders, is indeed news that I hadn't expected. Over the years, students descended from them have indeed come and gone, but it has been a very long time since all four of them had an heir at the school at the same time. To be perfectly honest, I myself was under the impression that we would never again see each of our founders represented in student form, so I'm just as shocked at this turn of events as I'm sure many of you are."
Dumbledore paused to take a sip from his goblet before continuing. "Some of you who have attended Hogwarts for awhile, specifically those of you have, were here to witness the events of the 1992-93 school year, were probably quite shaken up to hear the hat say that the Heir of Slytherin had returned to the school. As the Hat said though, the student it had referred to, be not the cause of the evil we currently face. And, I offer you my guarantee, that Voldemort has not stepped foot in this castle in over two decades. Since I know many of you fear his name, and I've always believed that we should call things by their correct name, I shall give all of you another alternative for a name to use in conjunction with Voldemort, rather than the names born of fear."
Raising his wand, Dumbledore wrote three words in the air.
TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE
"That is the name that Voldemort used during his school years," Dumbledore said. "He now calls himself Lord Voldemort, because of a very little known fact that I am about to reveal to you. Voldemort's creed has always been that he wants to purge the Wizarding World of all who are not of the purest blood. The biggest problem with that is, that he himself is a contradiction to his own creed. Tom Marvolo Riddle is indeed the name of the wizard who is now known as Lord Voldemort, and he is indeed descended from Salazar Slytherin. His Slytherin blood, however, comes from his mother, Merope, the daughter of Marvolo Gaunt. His first and surname are the only things he inherited from his father's side, because his father, Tom Riddle, was a Muggle. Not wanting to use his Muggle father's name, he crafted himself a new name, which is the name that the Wizarding World now fears to speak."
With a wave of his wand, the letters of the name, still floating in mid-air, rearranged themselves.
I AM LORD VOLDEMORT
A murmur went through the student body as everyone broke out in whispers as they digested this new information. Harry noticed that a few of the Slytherins were shooting glares at Dumbledore, and he was sure that if looks could kill, Dumbledore would be a smoldering pile of ashes right now.
Raising his hands again and calling for silence, Dumbledore continued, "I know some of you may be confused, or even angered by this information. I have however, always believed that the truth is generally preferable to lies, and as your Headmaster, I felt that it was time that this particular lie was brought to light. Now in terms of the founder's heirs, I'm sure that many of you are going to be spending lots of time trying to figure that out, and I fully expect that many of you are thinking about going to the library and checking out the genealogical texts, which are housed there. I would warn you however, not to waste your time, because I know for a fact, that the texts stored in our library do not go back far enough to reveal who in this room may or may not be, descended from Godric, Helga, Rowena, and Salazar.
"Now, on to the start of term announcements," Dumbledore said, as he once again paused to take a sip from his goblet before continuing. "As always, the forest on the grounds of this school is forbidden to all students. Mr. Filch, our caretaker, has asked me to remind you, that magic is not allowed in the hallways between classes, and that all products sold by Zonko's and Weasley's Wizard Wheezes are on the banned items list. To read the list in it's entirety, please see the list posted outside of Mr. Filch's office, although I warn you that it now numbers close to a thousand items, and will take quite awhile to read. Tryouts for the House Quidditch teams will begin in about two weeks, as soon as we are satisfied that the added protection wards around the pitch are at their strongest.
"Many of you have probably noticed the empty seats at the staff table this evening. There are in fact, several staffing related announcements, which I have to share with you. First off, Professor Trelawny, our Divination teacher, has decided to take early retirement, due to an ailing family member in London, who she must care for. Due to this change in our staffing, I have decided to remove Divination from the class offerings at this school, which is something that I have wanted to do for quite awhile. Due to this fact, I have decided to cancel all classes tomorrow, to give the students currently enrolled in Divination time to look over the other offerings, and pick a new class. There are also some new offerings this year for our sixth and seventh year students, so tomorrow, they will be allowed to make any changes to their schedules that they wish.
"Now, many of you who were here last year, probably remember that a second teacher was brought in to teach Divination. That teacher, the centaur known as Firenze, is still on staff here at Hogwarts, but his talents will now be dedicated to teaching a new elective class for sixth and seventh year students: Archery. Now, in other staffing news, filling the position of Defense against the Dark Arts teacher this year is a person who has taught at Hogwarts for many years: formerly our Potions teacher, Professor Snape!"
Murmurs went through the hall as Professor Snape stood up, nodded, and sat back down. Harry was, of course, completely horrified at the idea that his favorite subject would now be taught by his least favorite teacher. He also couldn't help wondering who would be filling the Potions job, now that Snape had finally been given the position that he'd coveted for years.
As if Dumbledore had read Harry's mind, he said, "Now, I'm sure many of you are wondering who will be teaching Potions, now that Professor Snape is no longer filling that position. Potions will now be taught by a person who is on loan to us from Gringott's Wizarding Bank, where he works as one of their curse-breakers: Professor Weasley!"
As Dumbledore said this, the door to the small antechamber off the hall, where all of the Triwizard champions were sent after their names were drawn from the Goblet of Fire opened, and Bill emerged. He waved to the students and then took his place in one of the empty chairs at the head table. This was certainly news to Harry, Bill had never mentioned anything about being on staff at Hogwarts. Harry knew that Bill had an Outstanding Potions N.E.W.T, but he never expected him to teach the subject. 'Perhaps Dumbledore asked him not to tell anyone so it could be a surprise,' Harry thought. 'I'm surprised he didn't tell me at least. Of course, I suppose now at least the Gryffindors will be treated fairly in Potions class, but unfairly in Defense class.'
"Filling the positions recently vacated by our dear Hagrid, who moved to France following his wedding to the Headmistress of Beauxbatons Academy, I present Professor Byrne, our new Care of Magical Creatures teacher, as well as game and groundskeeper."
Once again, the door to the side chamber opened, and Professor Byrne came out and took a seat at the head table.
"Another new offering this year, also an elective for sixth and seventh years only, is a Fencing class, which shall be taught by Professor Lasinius."
The door opened, and a man wearing ocean blue robes walked out, and as he looked at this new teacher, Harry unknowingly thought the same thing that several other students in the hall were thinking, 'Damn, he's hot.' Professor Lasinius stood about six feet, two inches tall, with a lean, muscular build. Harry couldn't tell what color his eyes were from this distance, but he noted that he had shoulder-length black hair tied back in a ponytail. Looking at him, Harry thought that he was probably around Bill's age. Professor Lasinius smiled and waved at the students before walking up to the head table, and sitting down next to Bill.
"Now, those of you who attended last year may have heard rumors about a group called Dumbledore's Army," Dumbledore said as he gazed over in Harry's direction. "The group did indeed exist, and its purpose was to give its members the chance to practice Defense against the Dark Arts, since the teacher filling the position did not, regrettably, include any practical instruction in her lessons. I have decided to allow the group to continue, however, I will personally be taking over as teacher for the group, which shall now be called Defense Arts. It will be an extra-curricular activity open to all fifth year and above students, wishing extra Defense training in addition to what Professor Snape will be offering in his classes."
Harry was quite relieved to be honest, when Dumbledore said that he'd be taking over the group. While he had learned to deal with the position of teacher for the group, he had always felt that he really wasn't adequately qualified to be teaching his fellow classmates. The fact that Dumbledore, who was the most powerful wizard in the world, would be taking over as teacher, was a relief to Harry, and he looked forward to the group's meetings because he was sure that Dumbledore would probably teach them some very potent defensive spells, which would come in handy in the war.
A smile came to Harry's face as he thought, `Maybe with lots of extra practice and instruction from Dumbledore, I can even do well enough in Snape's class that he can't find any fault with my performance. Note to self: Put Snape in his place by being one of the best students in class.'
"Another new offering this year, is a class which shall be taught by our own Madame Hooch, who our second year and above students know as our Flying Instructor and Quidditch Referee. Madame Hooch will be teaching an Unarmed Self Defense class, which is also an extra-curricular activity, open to fifth year and above students. The class will strive to teach students how to defend themselves should they ever find themselves in a position of being separated from their wands. No witch or wizard likes to think of that possibility, but Madame Hooch and I agree that it is high time that we offered a class to teach you how to defend yourselves, if that situation should occur. Those of you with knowledge of Muggle defense techniques may recognize parts of the classes' curriculum as being very similar to Muggle martial arts.
"Also, in addition to her normal Medical Magic class for those of you who desire to become Healers after graduation, Madame Pomfrey has agreed to teach a class
on the Basics of Battlefield Medicine. It will be a pared down, less demanding version of the normal Medical Magic class, which will not teach you enough
to become a Healer, but will give you enough basic knowledge to deal with some minor to moderate injuries by yourselves. The class will be extra-curricular; open to all sixth year and above students who received at
least an Exceeds Expectations on their Charms, Potions, and Herbology O.W.L.s.
"Now, I'm sure all of you are probably getting tired, and want to be getting back to your dormitories for the evening. Before you all go, however, I have two more staffing additions to announce. Hogwarts did at one time offer these two classes, but they have not been offered in many years. It is with great pleasure that I announce the return of Art and Music classes, which will be extra-curricular activities, open to students in all years. These classes shall be taught by two recent Hogwarts graduates, who some of you will very likely remember, since they just graduated two years ago. Teaching the Art classes is a former Gryffindor, who is on loan to us from Puddlemere United's reserve team, Professor Wood, and filling the position of Music teacher, is a former Ravenclaw, Professor Cromwell."
Harry was again shocked to say the least, and venturing a look over to where Ryan was sitting at the Ravenclaw table, he knew that his new friend was also shocked. Once again, the door to the side chamber opened, and Oliver Wood walked out, followed by Matthew Cromwell. Pausing to smile and wave at the students, they then took their places in the last two empty seats at the head table.
"The sign-up sheets for the five new extra-curricular activities will be posted on the bulletin boards in your house common rooms in the morning. Your Heads of House shall instruct all sixth and seventh-year students, and those currently enrolled in Divination, on what to do about amending their schedules. Prefects, if you would please lead your houses back to their dormitories; I wish all of you a good night."
* * *
To be continued...