On the day of departure Harry made his way down to the train station with the other Slytherins. Malfoy was telling anybody who wanted to listen, and anybody else, how amazing the food at home was and how his personal house elf Dobby would provide anything he desired.
Harry thought: “Having a house elf must be amazing, I wonder if I will be able to afford one, once I am grown up.”
On the train, Harry strolled along the compartments looking for an empty one.
After walking down the entire train he sighed and knocked on the next best door.
A couple of girls were sitting in there.
Harry briefly thought if he should take another compartment, but dismissed it.
“Hey, can I sit down here?”
“Ok” One of them said without paying attention to him. They got right back into the latest school gossip.
Harry took out a book about the art of transfiguration and stowed the rest of his trunk safely.
Harry was quickly able to tune out the annoying chatter and giggling of the girls. Harry knew only the name of one of the girls, Cho Chang. “I think they are all Ravenclaws, or is the one with the dark brown hair a Hufflepuff?” he thought.
Deciding is really didn`t matter he turned back to the book and started performing some simple transfigurations that were described in the book.
As the train rode into London Harry started shifting in his seat and packing his belongings. This gave him some bemused glances from the girls. “Oh my, some ones really been homesick,“ one said.
Harry just shrugged and made his way towards the train exit. Nobody else seemed to be up yet. Harry smiled thinking about how amazing Christmas was going to be.
Not long after, he was joined by Daniel and the rest of the Weasley clan.
The twins greeted with their usual enthusiasm. Percy came up and shock Harry’s hand and said: “Hello Harry, I am Percy the Gryffindor prefect. Pleased to meet you.”
Harry smiled and said: “Hello Percy, I am pleased to meet you, too and thankful to spend Christmas with your family.”
Percy said to Ron, who snorted at the pleasantries between Harry and Percy: “Brother, unlike you, Harry did not lose any points or got into detentions in his first months at Hogwarts. I think you and Daniel should try to act more reasonable. Neither your marks nor your behaviour are placing Gryffindor in a good light.”
Ron opened and closed his mouth multiple times while Daniel responded: “It`s not our fault that Snape put us in detention, he just hates Gryffindors. No wonder Harry has good marks in potions” Fred and George gave affirmative nods.
Harry asked Daniel: “Daniel from what I´ve heard, the only subject you are particularly good at is Defence against the Dark Arts. And to be quite honest, I don’t think the teacher is very able.”
“Now, now, he is a teacher of Hogwarts and deserves respect” Percy interrupted before Daniel could speak, but added as an afterthought: “But his lessons do lack proper structure.”
Further conversations were stopped with the halting of the train.
The black and red haired mass scrambled out of the train looking for Mrs. Weasley. She was waving frantically and upon arrival she gave each a bone crushing hug.
Daniel and Harry were both momentarily surprised, as they have never felt this sensation before. Both smiled at each other, all of their differences forgotten, and enjoyed the moment.
“Oh hello my boys, I am so happy to see you again! Come on, a friend of your father managed to get us a portkey from the ministry. It will leave soon.”
Harry saw how Percy scowled about how the portkeys were acquired, but he dismissed it shortly and asked: “What exactly is a portkey?”
Percy then launched into a text book description about the creation and the use of portkeys. He put an emphasis on how and why they were regulated by the ministry.
The other boys looked annoyed at his explanation and started making fun of Percy until Mrs. Weasley interrupted: “Hold on tight!” She took out a toothbrush and held it in the middle of the group.
An uncomfortable feeling, as if been pulled by the navel, filled Harry and he suddenly found himself standing in front of a warped house that seemed to defy the laws of physics.
Harry looked around smiling with big eyes. “That’s how wizards and witches live! The fairy tales are true after all, this has to be most beautiful house in existence.”
Ron eyed Daniel suspiciously who had a similar expression on his face. He then said: “Hey mate, I know it`s not much but you can live in it fairly decent. I too wish we had a better house.”
Harry and Daniel looked surprised “What do you mean a better house?” “It’s perfect.” “I always dreamed of living in a real magic house.” “I wish I would live here!” “Do you have ghosts?” “And talking paintings?” “Can I see the ghoul?” “You have ghoul? Awesome!” They fired in quick succession.
The redheads family looked like the black haired twins had gone mad, but their smiles soon turned into outright laughter.
Mrs. Weasley said with a warm voice: “Come on, we will give you a tour through our house after dinner.”
As they made their way towards the house the door flew open and a red lightning shot out and tackled Harry, who stumbled backwards and fell.
“Harry!” Ginny shouted.
“Ouch, hey Ginny. How are you?” Harry said as he stood up laughing.
“Oh, my dear brother I think we have been downgraded.” Fred said.
“I dare to agree my ever so perceptive brother, we never got the joys of being tackled by our baby sister.” George said.
“One could think she is more eager to see him than us.” With a fake dramatic cry he added: “Our own flesh and blood valuing us so lowly, the pain!”
Mrs. Weasley stopped their antics and said: “If you had bothered to write to Ginny she might not be so upset with you. We saw Harry`s owl almost every day and he even taught Ginny about potions and some other subjects, just so Ginny will have an easier time in school. Have any of you ever considered doing so?”
Harry blushed at the praise.
Ginny grabbed Harrys arm and dragged him to toward the door: “Hurry, I will show you the house!”
“I am so happy to see you. The last days were so utterly boring here. My dad has to work overtime lately, so I am all alone here with my mother.” Ginny said.
“No worries, I bet the next two weeks will be amazing, and in a couple of months we will be together at Hogwarts!”
“You are right. Anyway, this is the dining room and kitchen. If you are looking for mum, your best chances are finding her here. This is the living room with our floo network chimney.”
“Wow, it looks so cosy. The living room of my aunt and uncle didn’t look so comfortable, despite spending so much money on it.”
“My dad made many of those furniture himself with magic, he usually starts doing them the muggle way, but gives up after mum yells at him for bleeding on the carpet. His tinkering can be downright dangerous at times, luckily only for himself.”
Harry chuckled and said: “I might be able help him building some furniture, I had to do it at home all the time. It was one of the tasks were you didn’t have to get dirty or felt like a slave, so I always took those duties. I bet my brother would have failed building them anyway.”
Ginny smiled and pushed him up the stairs.
“This is my room, none of my brothers are allowed inside. Ron tried once, I assure you, he will never do it again.”
“Uhh, that’s a story I`d like to hear.”
Ginny gave a mischievous smile and said: “Some other time. I might show you if Ron acts like a prat again, I still need to punish him for the comment about me on King’s Cross.”
“Huh, yes that was not nice. And my brother played along, I think we shall teach our brothers a lesson. Do you have any ideas? I’ve never pranked someone, but got plenty of exercise in avoiding my cousin’s attempts. He learned quickly that pranking me is much more difficult than my brother, so he started going for him rather than for me.”
“Mhm, your brother doesn’t sound very smart, does he?”
“He is not stupid, just a little… too nice for his own good I`d say. He tries to help and please everybody. He never thinks about himself, always about others. That’s what surprised me so much when your brother insulted you. Normally Daniel would jump at the chance to defend someone.”
“I think he really was desperate for a friend. But we will still prank them, right?”
“Of course, nobody gets away with insulting my best friend!”
“You will sleep in a room with Percy and Daniel will sleep with Ron. I hope that’s all right with you, Percy can be a bit annoying but he is by far the most reasonable of my brothers.”
“Yes, I talked with him on the train. He is alright, he actually he defended me against Ron.”
“Oh wow, what did he say?”
“He said that Daniel and Ron are bad pupils for breaking the rules and having bad marks.”
Ginny giggled. “Ah yes, he really loves rules. He wants to work in the ministry later, so he works very hard. I think he is ashamed that we are such a poor family. But unlike Ron, who just complains about it, he works hard.”
“But you are a rich family! Money doesn’t matter, I would give all the money in our vault to have a family like yours. And Daniel would too.”
“Thanks Harry, you saying this means a lot to me.”
Pointing at another door she said: “This is Fred and George’s room, they don’t have a problem with people going in there, but doing so is quite dangerous, I can’t recommend it.”
“I guess I just take your word for it. Seeing the pranks they pull at school, I can imagine what their room looks like.”
“Have you been one of their victims already?”
“No, but they do try to prank us Slytherins quite often though. Luckily, we are not called the house of cunning for nothing. Well at least most are able to dodge the pranks. Malfoy and his followers always walk right into it. Sometimes I really wonder how they became Slytherins.”
“Would you have put them into another house?”
“Tough question, Malfoy can be cunning and resourceful. But he is used to flaunting his families name and getting anything he desires, so he is not using any of it. Some others are just plain dumb, but they were able to become lackeys of someone in a position of power, if a first year can have power that is. So they did something right, I guess.”
“Aren’t they all really into the whole blood superiority thing? That’s at least what I’ve been told, Slytherin only takes pure bloods and all.”
“Surprisingly it’s a very vocal minority that cares about your blood status. I admit, most have a general dislike for muggles, but most are fine with muggle borns. Only the children of very old and influential pureblood families dislike them, I guess they are scared of losing said influence.”
“I bet you are not particularly happy with muggles either, right? After what they put you through, shunning you for accidental magic and other unexplainable situations.”
“It’s not that I dislike muggles, but I don’t think they can live with magical people together. We are just too different, I dread to think how many muggle borns have to deal with being treated like freaks until they get their Hogwarts letter.”
Further conversation were stopped when a voice from downstairs called: “Children, dinner is ready!”
Sitting at the table were Percy, Ron, Fred and George, Daniel, Mrs Weasley and a man who Harry figured would be Mr. Weasley.
He sat down next to Ginny. “Hello Mr. Weasley, thank you for having us over the holidays.” He said.
“Not a problem son, I am glad to have a full house on Christmas. Besides, not inviting you would have upset both Ron and Ginny.”
During the meal Harry and Daniel got their plates constantly refilled by Mrs. Weasley, until Ginny said: “Mum, I think Harry is about to burst.”
“Oh, ok dear, but you will still eat desert, right?”
Harry gave Ginny a thankful smile.
“Of course, Mrs Weasley. The food tasted incredible!”
After dinner, they made their way towads the living room. Harry sat down on a cozy couch, Ginny plopped down next to him.
“So, you both live with muggles right? Please tell me about it, I find muggles do incredibly fascinating things.” Mr. Weasley said.
Daniel and Harry shot glances at each other, both not comfortable with where the conversation was heading.
Harry thought: “What harm could be done by telling them how we were treated by the Dursleys and our teachers. Maybe they will let us stay over the summer holidays too if they learn how horrible they are.”
Daniel said: “There is not much to tell really, we lived there and tried to not bother anyone.”
Harry sighted and said: “Muggles don’t like what they can’t explain, around Daniel and me there were a lot of things happening that could not be explained. Our time with them is not nice, we were treated like slaves and punished for no reason rather often.”
Daniel said whispering: “It wasn’t that bad.”
Harry thought: “Why is he too proud to admit that we were treated horribly, these people could help us!” But Harry chose to not start an argument with Daniel now.
Mr. Weasley broke the awkward silence that followed by saying: “Ah yes, well. How is school, Percy?”
Percy looked surprised but sprang into action: “Very good, father. As I am a prefect, I have many duties but I still find time to do my school work. I am among the top student in all my classes.”
“Very good Percy, always a delight to hear. Fred and George there is no point in asking you as we get regular letters from school. Just be glad I didn’t show them your mother!”
The twins looked scared and said: “Thanks dad.”
“Ron, Daniel and Harry, how has your first school year been? Have you all settled down fine in Gryffindor?”
Harry shot a questioning glance at Ginny, who had a slightly scared expression on her face.
Ron said: “Yes Daniel and I think Gryffindor is awesome. We made many friends already, one of them is muggleborn and probably the smartest witch I have ever seen.” Daniel nodded.
“Glad to hear, what about you Harry? Do you not like your Gryffindor mates?”
“I don’t have much to do with them, sir. I am in Slytherin.”
Arthur had a variety of unrecognisable expressions on his face before saying: “Ah.”
Ginny said in a begging voice: “Dad please, don’t treat him differently just because he is in Slytherin. Mum knew it and she doesn’t mind.”
“Mhm, yes. I think it is late already. Time for bed. Good night.” He said as he made his way towards the kitchen.
On their way upstairs Harry saw Ron smirking at him. “What a git,” he thought.
“I am sorry for my father’s behaviour, I hope he will have calmed down by tomorrow. At least there will be presents!” Ginny said.
The next morning they were woken by Ron storming into the room shouting: “Come on, get down into the living room. Presents!”
P ercy and Harry groaned but dressed swiftly and went down.
Ginny looked just as Harry felt, tired and in no mood for celebrating the presents after the rude awakening.
Harry walked over to Daniel and said: “Merry Christmas”
“Merry Christmas!” They exchanged their presents.
“Oh wow Harry, thank you so much! Those seeker gloves are amazing,” Daniel said.
“No problem, thanks for the potions book. I wanted to lend it from the library but it was always taken.”
“Haha, yes Hermione, a friend of ours, loves the book. She saw you requesting it multiple times.”
Smiling, Harry turned to Ginny: “Hey, Merry Christmas! I hope you like your present.”
He nervously handed over a small case, as Ginny opened it she squealed happily and flung her arms around Harry.
“Wow Harry, I told you just once that I like to draw and you bought an entire drawing set!”
Harry just smiled and hugged her.
Releasing each other, Ginny took out two presents. “Two? Wow you are spoiling me!”
He carefully opened the first, it was a painting of his parents. Harry didn’t say enough, he just stared at it.
Ginny said: “If you don’t like it, no problem. I am sure I will do better next time.”
A tear crept into Harry’s eye as he whispered: “Thank you Ginny, it is the most beautiful present I can imagine.”
Interested in Harry’s reaction the rest came over to look at it.
Daniel said: “Wow, it looks even better than the picture Hagrid showed us.”
Harry hugged Ginny tightly and didn’t let go until he heard a cough behind him.
Ginny smiled and handed him the second gift.
Another drawing, a portrait of Hedwig. “Now, I know why she likes coming to you. Your drawings are wonderful!”
“Thank you Harry! I will be able to paint a lot better now with you present.”
Ron suddenly shouted: “Wow a present from Dumbledore? How cool! Oh it’s says you should open it in private. Let’s move to my room.”
Daniel shrugged and followed.
The moment of happiness between Harry and Ginny was interrupted as Arthur entered the room.
“Hello children, I hope you liked your presents”
Everybody gave affirmative nods and grunts with the occasional thank you splattered in.
“Harry would you please come to the kitchen for a moment, Molly and me would like a word.”
“Why? Is it because he is a Slytherin? Dad you have to get over your prejudices! He is a good person, unlike my brothers he actually cares about me!” Ginny exclaimed.
Arthur looked sternly at her: “All Slytherins I have ever met were always out for their personal gain. All Slytherins in the Ministry are like that. Molly might have thought he is just nice for writing to you. But I know better!”
Ginny tried to respond but was cut off: “Don’t start young lady, we will talk with Harry and if we like his answers we will allow him to stay.”
Ginny shot Harry an apologetic glance. Harry felt suddenly very sad, it was the first time he had the opportunity to be with a loving family and now he would possibly be thrown out, just because he belonged into a different Hogwarts house? “How pathetic,” he thought.