Black Heir: First Year

First Year Chapter 2

*World of Harry Potter Belongs to JK Rowling. Storyline and made up characters R my own (i think)*

Pls comment/review if you have any suggestions or advice. Thx!

He walked through Kings Cross station. Flitwick had told him to platform 9 and 3/4, which meant he had to run between a wall. A bloody rock solid wall. His raven which he had named Sgail (shadow), was still in his cage as he walked through hoards of people. But should he run through a wall? It was a bit stupid. And if it didn't work he was sure he'd be back in the orphanage. In between Platforms 9 and 10, he had stopped when he curiously noticed a young boy with hunched shoulders and brown hair, and an eccentric older woman wearing a hat with a pheasant on the top, strangely stopping in front of one of the pillars.

"Now, Neville," Leo heard the old woman say in a gentle, but no-nonsense tone, "don't be frightened of the barrier, never once in all of my experience has it ever failed. Just run at it quickly and remember to open your eyes so that you don't run into anyone. Go on, dear, I'll be right behind you."

With a gentle shove on the small of his back, the woman propelled the boy into movement, and he went jogging towards the wall, head-on. Leo, to his shock, saw the boy slide effortlessly into the wall and out of sight.

The woman turned back and took notice of his attire, with a raven in a large cage and a giant trunk in the other. As she saw him, she called, "Where are your parents? Do you need help getting across the barrier, dearie?"

The woman's voice jarred him from his frozen state and he answered, "I was hoping to cross into the barrier? I'm quite unsure of what to do Madame."

"Well, of course, you are!" The vulture hatted woman walked towards him, and she wore a bright ruby gemstone on her left hand, with a crest of a large bear. She looked at him curiously, as if she recognised who he was but wanted to make sure. "What is your name?"

The young boy answered shyly, "Leo McKinnon-Black, ma'am. My parents aren't…" He trailed off not knowing how to answer and looked down at his feet. If he had looked up at the woman, he would have seen her face soften, eyes misting softly.

"It certainly is wonderful to finally meet you, Mr Black. I knew your father and your mother from a young age, you look much like them, though you do carry more from Sirius. My name is Augusta Longbottom." Mrs Longbottom placed her hand out for Leo. "I did request for him to receive a trial, although my voice was ignored by the ministry."

"Thank you, ma'am," Leo said after lightly kissing her knuckles.

"Oh, there was nothing to it. Your godfather would have been very disappointed if I did not help Sirius. We must be getting you on the train, my boy."

"Now, all you have to do is run straight at the wall, Mr McKinnon. It is not a real wall, only enchanted to look that way, to not raise suspicion of non-magicals. Once you go through, quickly move out of the way and do your best not to hit anyone."

As he ran through the pillar, he was met with a wondrous, breath-taking sight. A new platform materialized in front of him, people in robes milling about, and a huge, red, gleaming train in front of him. At the last second, he remembered Dowager Longbottom's voice telling him to move out of the barrier's path. Just as he had moved towards the boy Mrs Longbottom was directing earlier, out came the lady in question.

The boy next to Leo exclaimed, "Gran! What took you so long?"

Mrs Longbottom walked gracefully towards the pair and gestured towards Leo, "I had to help young Mr McKinnon here across the barrier." Mrs Longbottom looked at Leo and put a hand on the other boy's shoulder. "Heir McKinnon-Black, meet my grandson, Neville Longbottom. Neville, this is Leo."

Neville's eyes widened, and he put his hand out, shy at meeting the boy whose family was full of murderers and the dark. "P-pleasure Heir M-McKinnon."

Leo sighed and nodded, "Awfully nice to meet you, Heir Longbottom." shaking hands.

Neville started pushing his trolley towards the train, looking nervously at Leo.

"Would you like to sit together, Neville? It might be nice to sit with a friend!"

"You want to be my friend? I have never had a real friend before!"

Neville blushed furiously as he seemed to realize what he said and lowered his gaze.

Leo nodded slowly then smiled reassuringly, "Of course I want to be your friend! It wouldn't be any fun to ride to Hogwarts alone! And you can meet the others."

"Well, you two go on ahead and get a good seat on the train." Mrs Longbottom hugged Neville tightly, "Now, be a good boy, Neville, and don't forget to write! I want at least one letter a week." As they parted, she swept her fingers across her cheek and softly smiled at him. "I'm so proud of you, Neville, and I know your parents would be, too. I love you."

Neville's eyes widened and watered slightly, and he whispered, "Thanks, Gran. I love you, too." He hugged her tightly again before walking towards the train.

The young Black stood awkwardly to the side during this exchange, not sure what to do. He started walking toward the train when he was pulled softly into a warm embrace by Mrs Longbottom. He tensed slightly, arms stiff at his side.

"It was lovely to meet you, dear. Your family would be so proud to see you off to Hogwarts. If you ever want to hear more about them, don't hesitate to write. And if you ever meet your great Aunt Cassiopeia, tell her she still owes me ten galleons. Now, be safe!" Mrs Longbottom released him from her arms and gently pushed him towards the train entrance.

McKinnon looked back, smiling brightly. He bowed deeply and said "Thank you, Mrs Longbottom. It was nice to meet you." Leo turned back and walked towards Neville, who was currently pulling his trunk into the train cars.

"Come on! We need to get a good seat!" Neville called to him.

Leo stood up straighter and climbed onto the steps of the train, "I'm coming!" He took a stark look around the area and noticed a lady watching him, giving a cold look with a smirk, he entered.

Mrs Longbottom smiled at the two boys and went to sit on a bench, to wait for the train to depart before leaving. She began to think over the rumours and misgivings of the young McKinnon heir over the years.

Madame Black, more commonly known as Lady Malfoy, was not one bit happy with how her life had turned out. Aside from the fact she had riches, a manor and tea parties, her marriage and general life was in shambles. A trophy wife. A pureblood supremacist. An evil Black. Mother of Draco Malfoy. Lucius had done what he was meant to regarding the marriage, he gave her wealth and home, while Narcissa gave him a child that he raised. That child was a ferret. No other words could be used to describe the bigoted pale-haired child that was a Lucius Clone. And they dared to think he would be heir to not only the Malfoy fortune but the legacy of the Blacks. She scoffed at the thought and laughed even harder as she saw the real heir interact with Augusta. A miniature Black, if she had ever seen, with a mask that could trick and manipulate everyone around them; every Black had one, even Sirius with all his Gryffindor tendencies. In all truth, Sirius and Andromeda had ended up the best of all of them, in a way. Their generation of Blacks was still going; Regulus had successfully faked his death and had a family, Andromeda had run off from the Black's but still had a vault in her name and a child who was second in line and while Sirius resided in Azkaban, he had still married a McKinnon, and birthed the heir to two lines. She, on the other hand, had accomplished nothing through her small life. Always listening to her family, never up to doing something exciting like any of her cousins; no torturing, no faked deaths, no running away and no being Sirius. The family flair for dramatic arts hardly ran with her. What a shame. But Narcissa Malfoy was a Black and her dramatics were subtle. She preferred to scheme in the dark and uncover scandals. Good for tea parties. As most Black's knew, it was a demand to be three steps forward and two steps to the right. And right now, scheming on the emergent McKinnon-Black would be thoroughly beneficial.

Andromeda Tonks nee Black wasn't an idiot. As soon as she saw her nephew enter with a Longbottom, and Narcissa smile menacingly, it was doomed to be a wild year. She would make sure of it. Although Andy didn't travel in the same circles as Narcissa, she knew the gossip. She was still a pureblood Black, and her daughter was known as the secondary heir, no matter she was half-blood. Along with the fact that little Nymphadora was now dating the Rosier heir, Corbus, Dromeda could be held in high regard. While she made sure to keep her grateful Black Mask on, she never asked, she caught more than she spoke, and noticed more than she saw. For a Black was nothing if not observant and paranoid. It was a well-known fact that every Black in the past was a bit neurotic, and it was part of their cunning and wits that they were never caught with their dangerous wards and spells. It was most definitely the case with her daughter, who could be as troubling as Peeves, but never actually got caught at school. After all, holding to the legacy that every Slytherin and Ravenclaw Black had been Head Boy or Girl was no easy feat to achieve. At least for a Hufflepuff. Andromeda kissed the top of her daughter's head and gave a signal to Narcissa. A meeting was needed for the new revelation. After all, an heir doesn't come into your life randomly without making a scene. And right now, the last thing they wanted was an ignorant Black, especially the son of Sirius.

Bellatrix Black-Lestrange was an idiot. She sometimes wondered where the genes of her smarts came from. Honestly, torturing a Longbottom? They were family, albeit a bit distant, so torture went a bit far. But she did end up sending a formal apology to Madame Longbottom nee Selwyn. Being from a dark family the woman did know about expectations. But Lady Lestrange's thoughts kept running back to the new year, with heirs from most old families beginning their journeys. The House of Nott, Zabini, Greengrass, Potter, Abbot, Bones, Longbottom, Patil and Moon. That included the Heir of Black. It was well known that the Black heir was taken into hiding after the war. With the McKinnon's dead and the Blacks being the Blacks, his safety was a concern. There would be a meeting on the topic; no Black heir in Hogwarts has come in without drama, part of the family traits. There were eleven news articles on her cousin when he graced Hogwarts, seven for Uncle Orion and nine for Great Uncle Arcturus. She privately started scheming on how to create bonds between Greengrass and Leo. Maybe she'd ask Cissy for help. "Sirius! Cousin!" her voice echoed down the damp walls of Azkaban. Bella and Sirius had nice talks. Aside from her homicidal tendencies and Sirius' snarky attitude, the two got along well for a murderer and an innocent man with dementors. One of the perks of being a Black was the natural affinity for Animagus and occlumency shields, so the dementors weren't too bad for them. The Black's knew they had to walk in the dark without crossing the light. And right now, the last thing they needed was a Black who walked in the light and resisted the dark.

In a dark corner of a cell, where dim light shone through barred windows, a grim howled. As Black as his name and as fearsome as the Grim, he transformed. His little Prongslet would be starting today, and he regretting the deep choices he had made about the Potters. He should have been the one Harry grew up with, who he came to for advice and who he helped with pranks. Hardly anyone knew how to go back in time. Sirius Black was a gigantic messed up jerk, and he knew it. All Noble and Most Ancient Families knew that he had attempted to give the Potter Heir the title of his son, the Black heir, and subsequently failed. Lily and James both wanted the title, but Sirius was blocked by his family. So he did what he needed to. He gave Leo the title of Heir McKinnon-Black, formally recognised him and Marlene, and afterwards, he just ignored the child. A child wasn't the plan, but he did his duties. Because for a Black, the walls had ears. Sirius knew what he was doing in every step, from the time that he was seven he knew which house he wanted to be in and which families to make connections with. He retained the best parts of the family traits; the scheming, cunning, charm and dramatics. With this, he was sure that there would be a family meeting on his heir. Whether Leo Alphard was ignorant of his heritage or knew what he was doing. His house, reputation, friends, alliances and prejudice would play a key role in what Cissa and Dromeda would talk about. Finally, Sirius sat up and paid heed to Bellatrix's calls.

"What do you want?" a croak rang through the walls, passing through the listener's cells. Sirius was aware that they would have similar thoughts. And right now, they could not afford a mistake through the Heir Black.

Cassiopeia Black's hands ran sharply through the afternoon's papers. Italy had been experiencing polite weather, not too hot but not very cold; just pleasant. The Black Book had been going well, all the blackmail that was stored was entirely pleasant and useful for her blood. The Black elder was the last of her generation left, or at least was officially alive. She had done her time in the ICW, against Grindelwald's army and remained with her neutrality at the time of Moldywarts. She didn't care who had been disowned, rejected or abandoned by the Black family. She regularly interacted with the squib side of the family and was currently in the process of coaching Nymphadora Tonks on the Rosier family. Not that Dromeda knew. This morning's papers were appeasing, to say the least. International papers published at a quicker pace, meaning they could see all the heirs of the year. Young Zabini was caught in surprise as his mother pinched his cheeks, which was unusual because he was meant to go to Durmstrang or Beauxbatons, the elder thought. The Malfoy looked like a ferret, which Narcissa had complained to her via a flurry of letters. The Longbottom had a large smile on his face as he ploughed his trolley onto the station; like a young Frank. Madame Black was quite delighted to see that the good looks of the Black family caught onto Leo, whose piercing eyes looked as if they caught the cameraman, challenging him with a little smirk and a wink. There had already been numerous tabloids posted about his cute appearance and the heartbreaker he would be in the future. But much of his life would be planned out as soon as he was sorted. It was nearly an unofficial rule to be sorted into Slytherin. Cassiopeia remembered that both Sirius and Bellatrix had to threaten the hat with Fiendfire to get sorted, and Regulus and Andromeda threatened to paint the hat for sorting into Slytherin. That was a big problem. All members of the Black realised how to fit into different places, with personalities so different that they could go anywhere. But Slytherin cultivated things they needed, and it was the safest place to go. And right now, young Leo Black, couldn't afford to take after his name.

Leo and Neville walked along the corridor of the enormous Hogwarts express, trying to find the compartment with Leo's counterparts.

"Why don't we just sit in one of the empty compartments?" Neville questioned.

"I'm going to introduce you to my friends!" Leo insisted and persisted in his pursuit of finding the soon-to-be housemates. They walked through the train, checking through each slot. As they neared the back of the train, there were fewer and fewer down here, with the train being coloured more silver and blue and a calm yellow than red. It had been running for a good ten minutes and Leo had only just found where the compartment was. A light black veil was draped across the window and the mahogany doors of this compartment set it apart.

"Finally!" Zabini drawled, looking up as Leo hauled Neville into the compartment. "We were wondering if you made it onto the station at all."

Leo had taken a cushioned seat next to Theo while Neville sat on the edge.

"Well sitting in the back of the train certainly helped our plight," Leo responded. "But did end up in a compartment full of girls who thought we were cute."

Zabini and Theo grinned while Daphne made her snotty face.

"Care to introduce us?" the girl who sat beside Daphne briefly gave a questioning look to the occupants. She had light blue eyes and brown-blonde wavy hair.

"Of course, my lady," Heir Black bowed his head low, brushing his lips along her knuckles as he introduced himself. "I am the exceptional Leo Alphard McKinnon-Black. May I have the name of the beautiful witch who even succeeds my elegance?"

The blue-eyed brunette blushed at the introduction.

"Tracey Davis, Heir McKinnon-Black," she replied, ignoring the snickering of Daphne and Neville next to her. "Of the Noble House of Sykes."

"Please, call me Leo."

"If only you call me Tracey," she said in an equally rewarding manner, holding her head up high.

An awkward silence reigned. Theo was immersed in his book and Zabini was flipping a coin. Tracey and Leo had taken an unofficial staring contest between themselves. Daphne sighed.

"How are you, Heir Longbottom? Still interested in herbology?" Daphne turned to the boy sitting on her side, as Neville took her hand and placed an unsure kiss.

"Y-Yes I'm still interested," Neville answered slowly, easing into his seat a bit more. "R-Really l-looking forward to it at Hogwarts."

"Say isn't Abbot starting this year?"

Neville's eye's had widened as he ran out of the place just narrowly missing hitting the table.

"What was that Princess? Did you just scare him out of the compartment?" Leo remarked cheekily, while Daphne glared at him. Theo and Blaise were snickering quietly, but they both looked a bit scared for him.

"Don't call me that!" Daphne raged, throwing a book at Leo, who dodged at the last second, much to Daphne's chagrin.

"Haha! You missed," Leo teased Daphne before she turned away from him.

The first two hours of the train ride trickled by easily. They played games, discussed quidditch and told stories. By now, Tracey was in a rapid conversation with Daphne on the Witch Weekly, Theo was reading a tomb on curses, and Zabini had successfully taught Leo Exploding Snap and Wizards Chess. Leo, in his opinion, was very good at chess and had beat both Zabini and Nott as they worked together.

"How long does this ride go for?" Blaise asked while Leo took out his rook and put him in another checkmate. They had rearranged the compartment so Tracey and Daphne were sitting next to Leo, and Theo and Blaise were sitting on the other side. The plush leather seats of the Hogwarts express were very comfortable, and Black could almost fall asleep against the cushioned back.

"Around 8 hours," Daphne replied to Black's question while reaching over the table and grabbing a book that Nott had just finished reading. "It's quite a dull journey that we take. In the past, there used to be a choice of Portkeys, apparition or a Floo to Hogsmeade."

"Until Dumbledore," Nott's dark eyes narrowed.

The scenery passing by through the window showed farms, small towns and the general countryside. Valleys and hills, mountains and rivers; Leo had never seen such views; he'd hardly ever been out of the orphanage. As far as he could discern, most of his mates would have seen views such as this, so they weren't too surprised. But their thoughts on Dumbledore were quite confusing. Heir Black knew from his father's and grandfather's journal that Dumbledore was not the most trustworthy; manipulating others, getting rid of wizarding culture, and giving too many second chances. Still, he was interested in their opinion on their Headmaster.

"Why?" Leo drew confused looks from the others.

"Did you not grow up in the wizarding world?" Tracey asked bluntly, wincing at the look Daphne threw her.

"Not exactly," Leo looked away from the window on his left and turned to Tracey, though he knew the others were listening. "The McKinnon family, as you know, was all wiped out at the end of the last war. I had to stay away from the wizarding world in case there was a threat to myself, that could result in the extinction of House McKinnon, and the primary line of Black."

"And seeing that Lucius Malfoy had married into the Black family, and you're the secondary heir and would have a higher status, he may have wanted wardship of you," Daphne's sharp blue eyes glinted. "And Dumbledore would have great access to you."

Theo and Blaise were both nodding at this; both were now listening intently.

"What's wrong with Dumbledore?" Leo's ignorance had been ignored so far, but now the wizard raised were a tiny bit worried. "Why are you looking at me like that?"

In a silent exchange between the four, Theo finally spoke up to answer Leo's question.

"What do you know about your family history?" Theo asked after taking a sip of his pumpkin juice.

Leo was surprised by the question, not that he showed it.

"Not much aside from the magic and brief history," he answered honestly. He had learnt a few things over the summer, but it was nowhere near as much as he wanted to know. "I know that the McKinnon's were an old Pureblood family that were mainly neutral in conflicts, and were close allies with the Longbottom, Potter, Greengrass and Black Houses. They didn't hold prejudice for muggle-born and were mainly sorted into Gryffindor and Hufflepuff with an occasional Slytherin. They had already married into the Black Family with my great-grandmother as Melania Black nee MacMillan, whose father was of House McKinnon. The heir apparent at the time married a Malfoy, just before Abraxas Malfoy retreated out of the public eye and giving control to Lucius Malfoy, who then disowned my maternal grandmother. Their incal is a boar and Lucius Malfoy killed their family because they refused to join the Dark Lord and didn't create a marriage contract with the Malfoys."

His companions nodded and signalled for him to go on. Theo and Daphne had been giving each other looks through his explanation and were quite shocked by his lack of knowledge. What he was saying was a brief history, not the origins of his family or their beginning.

"The Black Family are the most pureblood family of all; they have ties to all other Ancient Houses. They were mainly neutral, though tended to see to the darker side of politics and were steeped in tradition," he continued as the others listened intently. Blaise had smartly decided to lock and soundproof the compartment and cover the glass with a veil. Although there weren't any occupied compartments around them, you could never be sure who was listening. "They're good at the Dark Arts and have the most protection on properties and themselves. They've been in many famous positions over the years, and all the Blacks were either against or neutral against Grindelwald. The majority of House Black is dead or imprisoned during the war."

Leo's grey eyes caught Daphne's, to show he was finished and she provided him with a grave look.

"So you don't know anything else?" Theo slumped back in his chair. It wasn't that Leo was doing bad, but he only had one summer to prepare for the onslaught of Hogwarts and it was quite obvious he had mainly researched his family magic.

Daphne nodded. "That's what I thought. I was surprised by our introduction; it was obvious that you weren't raised here. Although I admit I am happy you taught yourself that much over the summer." She paused for a moment and took a thoughtful sip of Theo's drink. "What do you know of the Ancient and Most Noble Houses?"

McKinnon-Black sat bewildered for a long moment, these questions catching him unaware and he had to really think about it, he hadn't researched this properly, he had only learnt traditions, read his family diaries and learnt some magic. "Not too much, Princess. Someone entrusted them to help magical people? They were the old families who came together and created to Ministry of magic to bring order to Britain, weren't they? "

"That is but one of their accomplishments over centuries," Tracey said sinisterly. The group closed together and became comfortable in their seats, knowing this would take a while. "You should have been taught this as a child. Even Blaise was taught this and he's Italian! Right I will start with the basics. Do you know the story of Camelot?"

"Of course," Leo said. He had read the history of Camelot in the muggle library, but it was a very large book. "But I don't know a great deal."

"Roughly Eleven hundred years ago, the citadel of Camelot was built. Camelot has a long and dark history. But eventually, Arthur came to the throne and under his rule, the magical persecution abated thanks to the work of the young King and his advisor, Merlin. Arthur ruled over both the magical and non-magical peoples of Britain, and he created the Knights of Camelot to protect the muggles, but the question remained, how could he govern and control users of magic?"

Daphne continued. "Merlin suggested that Arthur summon the most powerful and influential lords from across the country to court and install them as his wardens, overseeing the magical communities and upholding the king's law. Arthur did as Merlin advised and created the twenty-four Knighted Houses of Camelot, charging them with governing and overseeing the magical communities in the king's name."

"We know that Arthur could not use magic, but historians' debate if he was a muggle or a squib. In any case, he was able to rule over the realm and he ushered in a peace that lasted for several years. Arthur, however, had a sister, Morgana Pendragon, who was a witch and had learned the magical arts from a priestess of the old ways. She had succumbed to thrall of dark magic and took on the name Morgan Le Fey, she brought death and devastation to the kingdom. War erupted with a Pendragon on either side."

"The war lasted many years and when it eventually ended, neither side was victorious. Arthur had been killed by Mordred, the son of Morgan, who wielded a magical sword, but with his dying breath, Arthur managed to kill Mordred. Morgan Le Fey escaped the battle injured, but she was pursued by the Knighted Houses, who banded together and caught her. She was burned for her treason," Blaise sighed, as if sad about her demise.

"The Kingdom that Arthur had united fractured, leaving behind a country ravaged by war. And the magic users of the time were once again hunted and killed by the muggles out of fear. With no heir to the throne, the kingdom crumbled and the magical and muggle communities split away from each other. Queen Guinevere is said to have been carrying a baby, but it had died in the womb at the same time as her husband, which is said to have been the work of a curse."

"The Queen became ravaged by a sickness that even Merlin, in all his wisdom, could not heal and she too died, sealed in her husband's tomb. Merlin returned to Camelot after the Queen's death and forced everyone to leave. He cast a powerful enchantment over the citadel to hide it from muggles and he began his seclusion. A hundred years passed, then a summons was sent to each of the Knight's Families. When they arrived, they found Merlin sitting at the old round table with a long white beard and magical staff, and he asked them to join him and he spoke at length of the visions he had of the future.

"He gave the Knighted families a charge: To protect and defend those who practised magic, to uphold the foundation of law that Arthur had created over their lands, and to uphold the legacy Arthur had strived to create, a place where people can live in peace without fear of persecution."

Theo paused only to wet his throat (with yet another sip of pumpkin juice. Leo was starting to wonder how much the boy had!) but continued his history lesson. "The families agreed to Merlin's request and took an oath to uphold their vow, and Merlin bound it to their bloodlines. And to help them, he gifted each family with a creation of his own making, a creation that enabled each family the control of magic that was both unpredictable and dangerous."

McKinnon wondered at the story. It was odd to think of Merlin and Arthur and the Round Table as real, but he supposed if dragons were real, what was to stop this old story from being true?

"But this all happened at the time Hogwarts was built. It can hardly relate to us now."

Daphne sighed. "Hogwarts was not even conceived when the citadel was built! It was only after Merlin sealed himself in the citadel and it was abandoned that the castle was built. You know Merlin went to Hogwarts. He was an old man at the time, but he went out of curiosity and was said to have been impressed by what the Founders created. He even asked to be sorted and was declared to be Slytherin."

"The Knighted Families endure to this very day, and they continued to uphold the vow that their ancestors made in the citadel. Of the twenty-four families, only four have become extant, however, the bloodline could be restored through a secondary bloodline I am sure. Those families eventually became known as the Ancient and Most Noble Houses and they all hold seats on the Wizengamot, which they created."

Leo sat thinking about that. In the last twenty minutes, he had learnt a critical point in British magical history and now, more than ever, realised how he needed to live in the magical world. "I never knew how much Merlin did."

"He was one of the most influential people in our history. Across the world, people have heard of him and his teachings. The Order of Merlin was created by the Knighted Families to award those who showed the qualities that Merlin encouraged," Theo concluded. "And the old families all have seats on the Wizengamont, where they, or their proxies vote."

Leo was quite shocked. He knew that the Black and McKinnon families were old, but he had not known just how old and influential they were. "So, does that mean that I can take my seats?" He asked, remembering what Daphne said about their role.

"Of course not," Blaise scoffed, rolling his eyes as if it was obvious. "But as soon as you return to your seat in Italy, you would be able to. Though I know Cassiopeia Black has taken care of being proxy to the Blacks."

Leo stored that piece of information away, thinking to write a small note to the elder.

"You could vote earlier though. The Ancient Laws were set out by our ancestors. Many of the laws are archaic but are still in use today but as they mostly all relate the Ancient Families," Nott continued, having known a bit about legislation. His head was leaning against the window to his right, as he sat opposite Leo. "They are not commonly used in the Wizengamot and form the basis of some of our oldest traditions. Now one law is of great use to you, once the sole remaining member of an Ancient House turns fourteen, they can claim their Heritage and rise to Head of the House. When you reach sixteen, you will be exempt from underage magic and at seventeen, you can claim your full Lordship over the House and take your family seat as your own."

"What if the Regent of the House made me proxy?" Leo asked, smirking slightly. If what they were saying was true, Leo would have quite a bit of power if he could convince the Regent of House McKinnon. They all brightened when he asked the question, which confirmed his thoughts.

"Alastor Moody is the regent of your house, by marriage," Tracey continued, somehow getting nail polish out of nowhere.

"Where did you -" Black pointed at her nails.

"Why? Does it look bad?" Tracey, next to Leo, frowned. She thought they looked good, though the colour could have been brighter.

"No, they look just fine," Leo ignored Theo and Blaise's looks, knowing he shouldn't have asked about makeup. But it wasn't his fault, he wasn't used to talking to girls as friends! Let alone witches who love makeup...

"Just fine?" Tracey repeated, starting to glare at Leo. Daphne from the other side of Tracey began to examine the bottle of light pink.

"Amazing, spectacular even!" Leo exclaimed with fake enthusiasm, hoping it worked to deter Tracey. "Now what were you saying about regents?"

Tracey huffed and looked away, leaving Leo miffed. Girls were confusing, he thought. And makeup? Confusing as fuck.

"Well, no one knows who the Black regent is, mainly because we have no idea if people are dead or not," Daphne brought up. Leo sat quietly thinking if they were dead or not. His Gringotts death said the death of his great-grandfather was disputed, and his Great Aunt was clearly alive and in Italy.

"No offence mate," Blaise began, and Leo knew it would be bad. "But your family is more messed up than mine. Honestly, I'm surprised you made it to the age of 11 without being kidnapped by a supposedly dead family member or the Malfoys."

"Please don't remind me of the Malfoys," Leo shook his head at his misfortune. He had just been introduced to their world and now he knew just how misfortunate he was to be related to the brat. Daphne had spent the better part of the ride talking about how Malfoy always complains, is lazy, pig-headed and arrogant. The idiot. "And now all I have to do this year is avoid Draco, find out about and get in touch with Alastor Moody, talk to the Head of the Malfoys, find my supposedly dead relatives, make allies in other houses, become close with my two godbrothers and survive school. No biggie." His sarcasm was noted, and after staring at each person in the compartment, he, and the other occupants, burst into bouts of laughter on the topic.

Once Blaise had wiped a small tear from his eyes, he turned serious. "We haven't explained why Dumbledore is bad yet, have we?"

Leo shook his head, annoyed with the number of things they were telling him. Why were they telling him? He was quite embarrassed by not knowing anything of the higher circles.

"Now there are many traditions such as Samhain, Yule and the Harvest Festival that wizards have been celebrating since the time of Merlin, and the tradition of Samhain since the beginning of time. Samhain was especially important because it was a time to honour the past, and our families through blood magic, which means we can calm the souls of the past. But now, it is illegal to do so," Leo nodded as Theo continued talking. "But many are forsaking our Ancient Traditions, and Dumbledore started this. When he first came to teach at Hogwarts, he convinced Headmaster Dippet to stop teaching Wizarding Culture, so muggle-borns were uninformed of our traditions, and soon they brought things from their world into ours, such as Halloween and Christmas. Now we didn't mind this, but soon Dumbledore used his position in the Wizengamont to ban some festivals and traditions with the pretence that they were dark." "The Ancient families still practice these though," Zabini added. "And Britain is the only country who has banned Wizarding Traditions and such, even though they aren't as dark as some Russian or Italian ones."

"Exactly. Dumbledore even implemented several laws that restrict the movement of the Ancient Houses. It's one of the main reasons you were in hiding with muggles," Tracey began to explain, finally putting her nail polish away. "He passed a law that pretty much said any heir or heiress who didn't have a direct family, was placed in the care of the Headmaster of Hogwarts or the Cheif Warlock, which he is. "

Leo nodded in his understanding, while the others finally stopped explaining the past.

"Why are you telling me all this?"

"You're going to need this in Slytherin, and it would be embarrassing for you to remain ignorant of your traditions, plus Malfoy would get the better of you," Theo stated, his lips curling as he imagined the shame Black could bring on himself; it would be hilarious.

"People will expect you to know about your family at social and political events, though every social event is a political event and most political events are social events," Tracey confusingly explained, still a bit annoyed at his earlier slight.

"You're a member of the Ancient Houses, we swore to stand together," Daphne replied politically.

"You grew up in the muggle world and are willing to learn, I would offer advice to any muggle-born or raised if they asked," the Italian boy shrugged his shoulders and offered a small smile to Leo's worried expression. "And in case you get into Gryffindor, at least you'll know who to sacrifice for Samhain."

"What?!" Leo spluttered. "I wouldn't sacrifice a Gryffindor!"

"Because murdering Malfoy means you'll get money and the heirdom," Tracey added in, twirling her nail polish between her hands. "You're very bright when you try, McKinnon."

They all shook their heads and began to wait for the next five hours of their trip to pass.

"Anything of the trolley, dears?" an old lady came past, opening their compartment with a trolley full of sweets and food. Leo had never seen that many sweets in his life. There were things called Chocolate Frogs and Liquorice Wands and more strange conceptions.

"We'll take the lot!" Leo replied while receiving shocked looks from all of the occupants. He took a hand full of all the lollies. And they only cost a few galleons!

"How many chocolate frogs are we allowed to get?" Leo asked the trolley lady.

"Well... there's no set limit," the lady replied carefully, eyeing the boy that sat in front of her.

"Great! We'll have all of them!" Black shouted, grabbing the giant box of chocolate frogs before she could say no, throwing enough galleons to her afterwards. "Thanks!"

"What are you planning?" Davis asked bewildered at her new friend's behaviour and manic grin, but she still thought it was going to be good.

"Don't worry Princess, we're only going to set them free," Leo grinned like a maniac and opened one of the packets, where the frog hopped out. There were hundreds of frogs in the box before them and the pile of wizarding cards beside them was getting bigger. Theo had told him that people collected the cards. Daphne and Theo wanted no part in the plan.

"How do we release them?" Leo asked them once they had finished unwrapping the frogs, and had eaten one each.

"I say, keep the box full of them to the front of the train so they can go everywhere," Tracey said, wiping the chocolate on her robes, signalling for McKinnon to follow her.

Leo moved to the door like he was a spy in the movies, and unlocked it, checking to see if the coast was clear. It was. He took hold of one box and shimmied it and himself, out of the cart. Then Tracey followed more normally and headed for the front of the train.

When they reached the end of the train, they set the box down on the floor and wondered when exactly to commence the nefarious, and rather ingenious, if they did say so themselves, plan. Around them was an enclosed space, and in front of them was a door that led to the conductor's compartment. There were bright reds and golds so far, and there were two windows on each side, both were large and had signs that read: Luggage Storage. The lights were dimmed with an eery silence encapsulating their mischief.

"Who may this be?" a sly voice called out, quickly followed by another.

"And with boxes full of chocolate."

Tracey shrieked as she felt a breath on her neck quickly dropping the box, forgetting its insides. Then Leo pulled his foot back and kicked the box firmly, sending it careening a few feet where it landed on its side, and chocolate frogs flew out, hoping down the hallway.

Leo and Tracey both turned behind them to see two astonished boys, of the same height and red hair. Their eyes trailed the chocolate frogs, which had left tracks of chocolate webbed feet wherever they went; chocolate was smeared on walls and doors and they simply continued down the long line of the train.

Tracey smirked as their eyes widened. The two redheads, Weasleys, she assumed, followed Leo and herself as they jumped over the box and ran along with the hopping frogs, throwing doors open as he went, allowing the obscene amount of frogs to fill every nook and cranny of the train.

Girls screamed and ran around while boys chased after them; many of the older students had their wands out as they chased down the chocolate frogs. The small group of four followed the gingers as they signalled to follow to an empty compartment, though it was obvious it had previously been occupied. They clattered into the compartment admiring the chaos they had wrought.

"Who did that!" an angry voice shouted from a nearby compartment. There were shrieks of fear and shouts of anger as people tried to avoid the chocolate frogs.

"Why on Earth would you do that?" the curly-haired boy asked, as he plopped down on a seat of the compartment.

Leo looked quite confused and explained; "I set chocolate frogs loose on the train to terrorize everyone… I mean, come on, who wouldn't have done it?"

"You're talking about it like it was a good idea," the other exclaimed, scandalized.

Tracey threw her arm out in the direction of the chocolate covered windows and declared, "It was a bloody brilliant idea!"

They all collapsed onto the ground, laughing at what had happened to the people outside. The prefects and Head Boy and Girl were running around the train, covered in chocolate splats with frogs in their hair.

Finally, Leo and Tracey stopped laughing, deciding instead to examine the compartment they had been lead to. There were discarded lolly wrappers on the table, which was littered with parchment and quills and two roughly packed sandwiches. Their compartment was different to the others, as it had neutral colours which were primarily cream and brown seats. The boys in front of them were studying the two who had followed them. It could already be told that they weren't muggle-born, though it was obvious by their actions and words that they were at least raised or had familiarity with the muggle world.

"You know Gred," the one with curly hair started talking. "We've never done a prank on the train."

"Very true Forge," the one with straighter hair sighed as if disappointed.

Leo's curiosity was spiking, as he didn't know who the two strangers were. But Tracey had heard from her third-year cousin that Fred and George Weasley were two of the best pranksters Hogwarts had ever seen.

"Who are you?" Leo cut in bluntly, his tact and slyness needed to be worked on.

"Of course!"

"Oh, do excuse us," the one on the right said.

"We were just engrossed in a talk," the one on the left was blasé, like talking without words was normal.

"Where are our manners?" the duplicate on the right asked, peering closely at Leo and Tracey.

"How do you know we weren't seen?" Tracey suddenly asked, drawing the group's attention to her. The Weasleys seemed curious too, but they didn't particularly care for getting detentions. As far as they knew, it would be a school record.

"I sent a small confundus charm behind us," Leo replied his sharp eyes bore into the twins.

"You're little firsties, aren't you?" the Twins looked sceptically.

"Yep. Problem with that?" Leo looked fiery. The twins knew he wasn't just talking about age, rather the magic he had just done.

"Of course not," the straight-haired one reaffirmed, smiling slightly as he caught the message.

"We were just like you in our first year," the curly hair reminisced, his eyes glazing over as if he was in the past. "Though we probably could have been a bit more subtle."

"Of course," the Left side nodded, he had straighter hair than the right side. "Well, to be polite, we'll introduce ourselves. I'm George Weasley, and he's my twin, Fred. We're third-year Griffs."

"No, no no no," Right side shook his head, "I'm George, and he's MY twin, Fred."

As the two playfully bickered over who was Fred and who was Fred's twin George, Tracey and Leo looked at each other, starting to chuckle lightly.

"Can't one of you be George and the other his twin Fred?" They looked at Leo as they suddenly stopped play-bickering.

"Well, I suppose I could be George, he could be my twin Fred," the one on the right said.

"Oh, but I like it better when I'm Fred, and you're my twin George," Left side teased as he leaned on his twin.

"At least I know which is Fred and which is George now," Leo grinned.

"Oh, do you?" The right side smirked.

"You both just agreed that you," pointing to the left, "are Fred, and you, "pointing to the right, "are George, so sure, I know which is which."

"Ah, but I could be Fred and him George," 'George' countered.

"Yes, could be," Tracey liked this game, "but you both just agreed on who was whom, so now you have to live with it, even if you are still arguing over who is the twin of whom."

"I like these, Gred," 'George' smirked at his twin.

"Yes, Forge, I think they'll fit in nicely," 'Fred' smirked back.

They turned wickedly to face Tracey and Leo, who were quite worried by their expression. Fred, who Leo knew had the straighter hair, raised an eyebrow at him as if expecting something.

"You see we're something of legends around Hogwarts, and have relics of the Marauders themselves, not that anyone knows that," George began speaking poshly with his head up high. Leo's eyes glimmered with his words. "And with some work, you could be our proteges."

Leo scoffed at the inane thought and began, "I'm Leo McKinnon-Black, Son of Padfoot and Godson of Prongs, with my own Marauders manual and map."

Fred and George looked at each other with a mixture of shock, while Tracey was confused at their behaviour. And bored. Instead of listening to the conversation, she tried to make sense of Black, while eating lollies of course. He knew more than a muggle-born, definitely, but still wasn't up to pureblood level. The heir looked pureblood, with his high cheekbones, the regal look and the arrogance or confidence that was usual in Black, McKinnon and Potter Heirs and Heiresses. He claimed not to know much of his family, but here he was explaining about his father and his pranks when he was in Gryffindor. Again, the Black Heir seemed to know about his father's side of the family, but for some reason hadn't contacted his House Elders or regent. But now, as the twins explained the Hogwarts houses, Tracey finally tuned in because her lollies, mainly made of chocolate and jelly beans had sadly finished.

"And- oh, you don't know anything about the houses, do you?" By now Fred and George had informed Leo of Hogwarts. He learnt of the moving staircases, the teachers and what they were like and if they were strict, the electives where Fred and George had told him while Arithmancy, Runes and Wand crafting were practical, Care of Magical Creatures was fun. They told him about the creatures in the forbidden forest and the cursed defence position.

"Houses?" Leo asked, feeling a little stupid. "Not much."

"Don't feel stupid about it," said Tracey. Black blushed again; Tracey was uncomfortably lynx-eyed. "Nobody can expect you to know all of this."

"There are four houses; you are sorted according to your values, so to speak. In Hufflepuff, they honour loyalty, fairness, hard work, honesty. You'd better not upset a brothel, you turn the whole house against you,"

George continued. "The Ravenclaws value creativity, intelligence, to a certain extent, sanity. They are stereotypically the 'smart house' but they drive the teachers to despair with random questions and homework that they didn't do because they got distracted and kept one all night long They are still brilliant. Most of the time they are not resentful and rarely get involved in bickering, but they squabble with Hufflepuff and when the Claws play a prank it is always malicious, thoughtful and complicated."

"Hufflepuff and especially Ravenclaw, are neutral houses. Many purebloods who don't want to be in Slytherin or Gryffindor go to Ravenclaw because they're respected, and Hufflepuff because no one will give them a second look," Fred explained.

"Then there is Gryffindor, the house of the brave, noble and chivalrous." Tracey rolled her eyes. "According to my cousin Amelia, most of the house is a bunch of impulsive, reckless and bigoted people. But some in the house are noble and nice, but most go into the house because it gained popularity after the war. They are known as the bullies of the school, and pick on all the houses, Hufflepuffs because they think people are duffers, Claws for being apparent know-it-alls and Slytherins for being evil."

George and Fred nodded at this, "The quidditch team and the prefects are nice, but many in our house tend to pick on others for no reason. Even though we prank, we only single people out if they're being bullies, even in our own house."

"And lastly, Slytherin," Tracey gave Leo a sly smile, while George explained. "Slytherin is the house where cunning, ambition and resourcefulness are valued. Slytherin has a reputation for producing a particularly large number of Dark Wizards, which is probably kind of true, but the other Houses also have their fair share. Slytherins tend to be picked on by the other houses but get along well with Hufflepuffs. They also strict on loyalty and bend the rules a lot. Slytherin and Gryffindor have had a longstanding rivalry. Quidditch tournaments between the two are crazy."

Darkness reined as the train blew its whistle and pulled into an outdoor station. Children clambered off in a hurried but orderly fashion, each eager to get to the school for different reasons. At first, Leo stared at the carriages that sat there, without anything to draw them along, as older students climbed in, in groups of four or five.

"Right, then! First years! This way, please! Come on, now, don't be shy!"

A huge man carrying a lantern called them up. "Come on now, hurry up!"

"Whoaa!" Tracey said, looking at the giant man in front of them.

"Right then. This way to the boats! Come on, now, follow me," the man walked toward the edge of a lake, where there were boats lined up at the edge. "Four to a boat!"

Leo hopped onto a boat with Tracey and a boy with ginger hair and one with messy hair and glasses. After everyone was accounted for, Hagrid started the boats moving on the water and kept up a running commentary the entire time.

"How are you doing Harry?" McKinnon turned to the young Potter heir, who was surprised as his name was called. The younger Weasley had a neutral expression but was listening intently to the conversation.

"How do you know my name?" the boy asked curiously, his sharp eyes cutting into Leo's own.

"We're godbrothers in case you didn't know," Leo explained, apparently his pseudo brother was as ignorant as he had first been. He seemed smaller than he should be, with baggy clothes slightly visible underneath his school uniform. Leo held his hand out. "Name's Leo McKinnon-Black, your dad was my godfather, and my dad was your godfather."

"Really? Do you know anything about them?" Harry asked curiously, still shocked at this revelation. The boats had been held back for a while because someone had fallen in. Hagrid was currently waiting just off the shore of the lake, drying the boy off. "I know a bit. Your dad's nickname was Prongs and he was part of the Marauders. He was in Gryffindor with your mum and pined after your mother since his first year. I'll tell you more as soon as I find out."

Tracey was busy staring at the sky, which Leo noticed was brighter at Hogwarts. The forest far off that seemed a little darker than any forest Leo had ever seen before- few as that had been- and even scanning the water below them. He recoiled when a tentacle floated up from the depths and brushed the side of the boat.

"You shouldn't trust anything he says, Harry! His father's in the wizarding prison, Azkaban, for bloody murder!" Ron's voice echoed through the water, drawing other's attention to their small boat. Harry looked at him with steel in his eyes, and Leo knew he believed Ron's words. "He'll be just like his father," Ron added for Leo's benefit. Tracey scowled at his words and Leo chose to ignore them.

"I'll have you know, Weasley, that my father was also a Hit-Wizard who captured 17 death eaters during the war against Voldemort," Weasley and Tracey both gasped at this information, and his use of the name Voldemort. But Potter was now listening to him. "And my mother was a decorated healer who was in the field every major battle to assist the injured before her family was killed by the Death Eaters. And let's not forget how House McKinnon partnered with House Potter to help your family recover its debts and build your house, which I have to say, sounds pretty cool from what Fred and George have said," Leo added to seem pleasant to Ron and was generally curious about their household. "So I suggest you hold your tongue about my family, who have done more in the war and have ended up with a child who isn't as bigoted as you."

Weasley had turned red, and Potter was looking ashamed, but they didn't offer an apology. Needless to say, the group was quite happy to see the end of that ride by the time they reached the docks closest to the school.

The view of the school itself was breath-taking. Turrets barely visible climbed to meet the clouds in the sky, with what looked like gargoyles settled in various spots on the roof. One large tower stood in the middle of the structure, with four others located around it, in a radial arrangement. Even further back, Leo could just make out the signs of at least four more towers that were covered in banners, and flags flapping in the wind.

All first-year students walked up to the entrance of the castle and up the staircase. An old-looking professor, wearing green robes with her grey hair in a bun tapped her fingers on a stone railing and then went to the top of the stairs to greet the newcomers.

"Ere' you go, Professor, McGonagall," the man said, leading the first years up the stairs. She nodded in acknowledgement.

"That's the head of Gryffindor," Zabini came up behind Leo, who jumped in surprise. He looked around and noticed that both Theo and Daphne were around him.

"Welcome to Hogwarts. Now, in a few moments, 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 your house points. Any rule-breaking, and you will lose points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup," the professor explained. "The sorting ceremony will begin momentarily. I suggest you all smarten yourselves as much as you can while waiting."

As she left the chamber, Leo swallowed.

"Wonder how we get sorted," he pondered aloud to no one.

"My brother said we have to fight a troll," Weasley spoke loudly, drawing scared looks from those around him.

"Of course," Leo sarcastically answered, standing beside Weasley. "And tomorrow we'll have to defeat a dragon to get to breakfast."

He had made eye contact with Potter who smirked and rolled his eyes. So Harry didn't think he would end up a murderer.

Then something happened that made Tracey jump in the air, several people behind him screamed.

"What the -"

People gasped. About twenty ghosts had just streamed through the back wall. Pearly-white and slightly transparent, they glided across the room talking to each other and hardly glancing at the first-years. They seemed to be arguing. What looked like a fat little monk was saying, "Forgive and forget, I say, we ought to give him a second chance -"

"My dear Friar, haven't we given Peeves all the chances he deserves? He gives us all a bad name and you know, he's not even a ghost - I say, what are you all doing here?"

A ghost wearing a ruff and tights had suddenly noticed the first years.

Nobody answered.

"New students!" said the Fat Friar, smiling around at them. "About to be sorted I suppose?"

A few people nodded mutely.

"Hope to see you in Hufflepuff!" said the Friar. "My old house, you know."

"Move along now,' said a sharp voice. "The sorting ceremony is about to start.

Professor McGonagall had returned. One by one, the ghosts floated away through the opposite wall. They had clearly rehearsed this beforehand.

"Now, form a line," the Professor told the first-years. "And follow me."

Feeling as though his legs had turned to lead, Leo got into a line behind Tracey, with Blaise following and they walked out of the chamber, back across a hall and through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall. It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles which were floating in midair over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting. These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets. At the top of the Hall was another long table where the teachers were sitting. Professor McGonagall led the first-years up here so that they came to a halt in a line facing the other students, with the teachers behind them. The hundreds of faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the flickering candlelight. The ghosts shone misty silver. To avoid all the staring eyes, Leo looked upwards and saw a velvety black ceiling dotted with stars and floating candles. He heard a quiet voice saying it was bewitched to look like the sky.

It was hard to believe that there was a ceiling there at all and that the great hall didn't simply open on to the heavens.

Meanwhile, Tracey looked down as Professor McGonagall silently placed a four-legged stool in front of the first-years. On top of the stool, she put a pointed wizards hat. This hat was patched and frayed and extremely dirty. Maybe they had to try and get a rabbit out of it, Tracey thought wildly, though not the wildest thing that was going through people's minds, as Zabini and Nott were thinking of more peculiar scenarios involving a hat. The first years soon noticed everyone staring at the hat. For a few seconds, there was complete silence. Then the hat twitched. A rip near the brim opened like a mouth and began to sing:

"Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,

But don't judge on what you see,

I'll eat myself if you can find

A smarter hat than me.

You can keep your bowlers black,

Your top hats sleek and tall,

For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat

And I can cap them all.

There's nothing hidden in your head

The Sorting Hat can't see,

So try me on and I will tell you

Where you ought to be.

You might belong in Gryffindor,

Where dwell the brave at heart,

Their daring, nerve, and chivalry Set Gryffindors apart;

You might belong in Hufflepuff,

Where they are just and loyal,

Those patient Hufflepuffis are true And unafraid of toil;

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,

if you've a ready mind,

Where those of wit and learning,

Will always find their kind;

Or perhaps in Slytherin

You'll make your real friends,

Those cunning folk use any means

To achieve their ends.

So put me on! Don't be afraid!

And don't get in a flap!

You're in safe hands (though I have none)

For I'm a Thinking Cap!"

The whole hall burst into applause as the hat finished its song. It bowed to each of the four tables and then became quite still again.

"So we've just got to try on the hat!" Ron whispered loudly. "I'll kill Fred, he was going on about wrestling a troll."

"When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted," McGonagall said.

"Abbott, Hannah!"

A pink-faced girl with blonde pigtails stumbled out of line, put on the hat, which fell right down over her eyes, and sat down. A moments pause -

"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat.

The table on the right cheered and clapped as Hannah went to sit down at the Hufflepuff table. Leo noticed the ghost of the Fat Friar waving merrily at her.

"Bones, Susan!"

"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat again, and Susan scuttled off to sit next to Hannah.

"Boot, Terry!"

"RAVENCLAW!"

The table second from the left clapped this time; several Ravenclaws stood up to shake hands with Terry as he joined them.

"Brocklehurst, Mandy" went to Ravenclaw too, but "Brown, Lavender" became the first new Gryffindor, and the table on the far left exploded with cheers; Leo could see the twins high-fiving her.

"Bulstrode, Millicent" then became a Slytherin. Leo thought they looked like an unpleasant lot. He was starting to feel sick now. He remembered being picked on by others because of his supposed orphan status, not because he wasn't good at anything, but because he was more unusual than others.

"Davis, Tracey!"

"Now here's an ambitious one! And cunning too! You have a thirst to prove yourself, despite the shortcoming you may have of being a half-blood illegitimate from a minor house. You're fiercely loyal though, but Helga's house isn't the best place for you. Remember child, believing means you're already halfway there! Best be SLYTHERIN!

"Finch-Fletchley, Justin!"

"HUFFLEPUFF!"

Sometimes, Leo noticed, the hat shouted out the house at once, but at others, it took a little while to decide. "Finnigan, Seamus," the sandy-haired boy next to Harry in the line, sat on the stool for almost a whole minute before the hat declared him a Gryffindor.

"Granger, Hermione!"

Hermione almost ran to the stool and jammed the hat eagerly on her head.

"GRYFFINDOR!" shouted the hat. Ron groaned loudly enough for the rest to hear.

"Greengrass, Daphne!"

"Good evening Miss Greengrass, shall we take a look inside your head? No, Occulemency shields don't hinder me, but it is an impressive talent to have mastered at such a young age. I also understand that you have such mighty goals and ambition! You are unquestionably a cunning and resourceful Heiress, though you do have a streak of mischief within you. You can be reckless, but Godric's house won't bear your full potential. Better be SLYTHERIN!"

A horrible thought struck Leo, as horrible thoughts always do when you're very nervous. What if he wasn't chosen at all? What if he just sat there with the hat over his eyes for ages, until Professor McGonagall jerked it off his head and said there had obviously been a mistake and he'd better get back on the train?

When Neville Longbottom was called, he fell over on his way to the stool. The hat took a long time to decide with Neville. When it finally shouted, "GRYFFINDOR!," Neville ran off still wearing it and had to jog back amid gales of laughter to give it to

"MacDougal, Morag."

"RAVENCLAW!"

Malfoy swaggered forward when his name was called and got his wish at once: the hat had barely touched his head when it screamed, "SLYTHERIN!"

Malfoy went to join his friends Crabbe and Goyle, looking pleased with himself. Leo certainly agreed that the boy looked like an arrogant ferret.

"McKinnon-Black, Leo!" McGonagall smiled as his name was called. The great hall was broken up into whispers. Worst of all was the Gryffindors and Slytherins, most of which were thrown regarding his presence. The teachers had already set up their gambling rings for this cycles sorting, so they were excited to see where this child would be placed.

"Ah, Mr Black. It has been a very long time since I have met someone of your name. Not since your Uncle Regulus in Slytherin. Now let's see. You've never had the chance to be loyal, have you? Such a shame, I see potential if you were sorted into Hufflepuff, but you've never needed work ethic, either. You do have a rather remarkable mind, but you want knowledge for power. Such resourcefulness, yes your early years were tough on you but you overcame the challenges. And what's this? A desire to prove yourself, yes that ambition burns deep inside you. But Godric would be so happy to have you in his house. Such cheekiness and bravery in the face of danger. You sometimes put others in front of yourself, but your ambition is too great for this. You are just like your father, but a touch more ambitious. Though I have to say, most members of the House of Black have threatened me with Fiendfire. Andromeda, Narcissa, Regulus and even Bellatrix had to convince me to sort them to Slytherin and your father to Gryffindor. I've finally found one that has a modicum of respect. Yes Heir McKinnon-Black, it looks like you are following your father's side instead of your mothers. As a word of advice, to only those you trust, the future will be hard, for the war is coming, and it is best to plan. Keep your friends close, and don't let Gryffindor's tendencies take you. Better be SLYTHERIN!

Leo took his hat off and headed for the green and silver table that was cheering loudly for him. McGonagall smiled at him, and a pat on the shoulder and he was off. The Slytherin table was at the far left of the great hall, next to the nest of Ravenclaws, who were followed by the Gryffindors then the Hufflpuffs. The first years were all bunched together at the end of the table, while the older years sat closer to the front. Daphne and Tracey were already seated next to each other, so Leo sat between Tracey and an older year. His tie had turned silver and green, just as Davis' and Daphne's had. A girl called 'Moon' had just been sorted into Ravenclaw, and it was Nott's turn.

"Nott, Theodore!"

"Now, now Mr Nott. I cannot and will not reveal secrets about others. I have never done so in my life. Oh yes! I know I'm not exactly what a normal person would call living! But yes I do have a life. The disrespect this generation have for the elderly. Now, you've already started compiling your blackmail book, not too shabby. You seem to exude Salazar's qualities. Ruthless, ambitious, and very cunning. Better be SLYTHERIN!"

Leo clapped along with his house as Theo came to sit opposite him, next to another senior. They shared grins and turned their attention back to the sorting.

There weren't many people left now. "Parkinson" then a pair of twin girls, "Patil" and "Patil" then "Perks, Sally-Anne" and then,

"Potter, Harry!"

As Harry stepped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like little hissing fires all over the hall.

"Potter, did she say?"

The Harry Potter?"

The last thing Harry saw before the hat dropped over his eyes was the hall full of people craning to get a good look at him. Next second he was looking at the black inside of the hat. He waited.

"Hmm. Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There's talent, A my goodness, yes - and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that's interesting... So where shall I put you?"

Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, "Not Slytherin, not Slytherin."

"Not Slytherin, eh?" said the small voice. "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, no doubt about that - no? Well, if you're sure - better be GRYFFINDOR!"

Harry heard the hat shout the last word to the whole hall. He took off the hat and walked shakily toward the Gryffindor table. He was so relieved to have been chosen and not put in Slytherin, he hardly noticed that he was getting the loudest cheer yet. Percy the Prefect got up and shook his hand vigorously, while the Weasley twins yelled, "We got Potter! We got Potter!" Unlike many of his house, Leo clapped enthusiastically for his godbrother, who looked delighted chatting to the twins. As they looked his way, he gave them a nod which they reciprocated. Zabini had sat next to Theo, while Parkinson was next to him, and Malfoy further down.

As the last people were sorted, a tall man with a flowing silver robe and tastelessly purple robes stood up and gestured for silence. "Welcome!" he cried, beaming as if nothing could've made him happier than seeing all their faces. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you!"

He sat back down.

Black stared at the high table, then turned back to his year mates. "Is he—a bit mad?"

"Bit eccentric, if you ask me," Tracey sighed.

"And yes," Nott added. "He's… off upstairs. Of course, he's also one of the most powerful wizards alive today, arguably the most powerful, and rumour has it he's the only person the Dark Lord ever feared."

"And he's a school headmaster?" Leo said in disbelief. "If I was that good a wizard, you can bet I'd be doing anything except—except hanging around this place teaching."

The others chuckled, and then the conversation was interrupted by the appearance of so much food Leo's jaw dropped. The great hall was compiled of over 50 separate dishes, which were steaming hot and smelled delicious. There were jugs of what Leo discovered as pumpkin juice, which he disliked instantly, and water.

"I love magic," Leo said fervently, serving himself a healthy amount of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

"Well, this is certainly a surprise," a snide voice said.

Leo glanced opposite and saw the same pretty dark-haired girl who'd been with Malfoy earlier. He put down his fork and instead stared at the small girl next to Blaise.

"Parkinson, right?" he said, hoping not to deliberately antagonize anyone just yet.

"Pansy Parkinson, at your service," the girl said, giving him a cunning smile. On Parkinson's other side, Malfoy studiously ignored them in a way that told Leo he was hanging on to every word. "I can't say anyone was expecting for you to turn up to Hogwarts."

"Yes, I was away for a while," Leo said. Daphne and Parkinson made eye contact. Leo thought the temperature fell a few degrees. "Business of House McKinnon as you know."

"Whereabouts did you stay?" Parkinson said, clearly interested. McKinnon-Black knew girls like her, who collected gossip and ruled the social ladder. He didn't want to get on her bad side, but he didn't like her because she seemed to stay with Malfoy.

"My mother's close friend and a squib member of the Black family," he said flatly, lying through his teeth. It wasn't like he had much of a choice other than revealing he lived in a muggle orphanage.

It was, as he'd predicted, rather like dropping a bomb on the table. "Squibs?" Malfoy said, losing his studied disinterest. The other's knew he was lying, but the ferret looking Malfoy and his slaves Crabbe and Goyle looked shocked. The stocky girl, Bulstrode, seemed disinterested in the news, she wasn't as bigoted.

Parkinson was visibly shocked. "I hope you washed the taint off."

Leo said cheerfully. "Of course I didn't. I've always wanted to see what would happen if it infected a pureblood witch. I've heard some get the most terrible warts."

Parkinson shrieked and moved away from him, while Nott and Tracey couldn't help but snicker.

"So I suppose you grew up away from the majority of wizarding culture."

Leo was sorely tempted to lift the pitcher of water from the middle of the table and pour it on her head but felt that would be too rude.

"Nope," he said indifferently. "I know all about culture and traditions, just haven't been in Wizarding Britain for too long. Though I did go to the French district once. It was quite nice."

The Malfoy sneered. "A Slytherin with a relatively Muggle childhood. Wait till my father hears about this. You'll probably disgrace all of us with your primitive ways."

Black glanced around his end of the table. Nott, Greengrass, Davis and Zabini were all waiting for him to handle this on their own. He could already tell Slytherin was the house of power plays and internal politics, meaning that he had to deal with this challenge or they'd all think of him as the weak one and probably shun him.

Fine. He'd dealt with worse bullies than Malfoy.

"If you would have listened, then you would know that I know about my culture and wizarding traditions, and have learnt more magic than you'll ever be able. I've read a lot too," he said pleasantly while taking a piece of roast chicken to place on his plate. "Enough to know that it's a poor idea to antagonise the heir to a Noble and Most Ancient House on the first day of term, let alone two. A lesson some of us could stand to learn."

Malfoy blushed red. "You think you're so clever, McKinnon," he snarled.

"I know I am Drakey," Leo swallowed a piece of meat, waving his fork at Malfoy. It was a pureblood custom to use a person's family name until they permitted the use of their given name. "Thank you for acknowledging it."

Davis was grinning and Greengrass looked approving. Malfoy turned away and instead turned to Blaise. Wouldn't he know not to alienate anyone on their first day? Zabini was tall and dark-skinned with a cutting white smile and an expression that made it seem like he was perpetually laughing on the inside at a joke the rest of them were too ignorant to get.

"Zabini," Malfoy mused. "Not the Black Widow's son?"

Zabini's smile went from cutting to lethal. "On the chance that I am, Malfoy, are you willing to piss me off?"

Malfoy grumbled.

Leo raised his eyebrows at Nott, who mouthed later.

The conversation mostly died as they steadily ate their way through everything on the table, and them all the desserts when the main course disappeared. Malfoy seemed content to retreat to his conversation with Parkinson, and Leo stuck with Theo, Tracey, Daphne, and Zabini, but decided to stay quiet.

Leo was starting to feel sleepy so sipped ice water to keep himself alert. His new housemates didn't seem the sort he could drop his guard around. Not yet, anyway, especially not the girls and Malfoy and his goons. He finally dared turn his attention up to the high table. McGonagall was seated in between a very short man and a tall man with slightly greasy dark hair. Since the first years sat at the table closest to them, Leo had an excellent view of the professor on the end, who wore a turban and seemed exceedingly nervous, especially whenever the black-haired man turned to talk to him.

"Who's got the turban?" he said.

Nott glanced at the table. "New Defence teacher."

"His name's Quirrell," Parkinson said offhandedly. "Apparently, he had a bit of a scare with a vampire and walks around with garlic in his turban now."

They all stared at him.

"What?" she asked. "I have my sources."

Leo glanced up at the high table again just in time to meet Quirrell's eyes, and the man gave him a nervous smile. "Who's the one that keeps glaring at me? With the greasy hair?"

Greengrass glanced at the black-haired man, "Professor Snape," she said, confirming Leo's suspicions. "Our Head of House, and the Potions master here."

Black recognised the name instantly, Snivellous. This year was going to be amazing. Though he did agree with his father on the notion that the man looked like a greasy slimy git.

"He does not seem to like you, Black," Malfoy sneered.

Leo glanced at the table again. "That makes life so much more fun, Malfoy. I've always enjoyed a challenge."

Malfoy once again scowled and turned away. Nott, Blaise and Tracey all gave him smirks, while Princess had taken to shaking her head.

Dumbledore dismissed hem from the hall with a few warnings, namely that the Forbidden Forest was forbidden—"Never would've guessed," Nott muttered with heavy sarcasm, drawing smirks from Leo and Zabini—and that a particular corridor on the third floor was strictly out-of-bounds on penalty of death, so Leo was going to see the inside.

"Slytherin first years," someone said firmly. "Come with me, please."

They looked up and found an older girl and boy waiting for them, both wearing little silver badges embellished with a stylized P.

The first years obediently shuffled off their seats and fell in behind the prefects. Leo casually let Malfoy pass him by to walk with Greengrass, Tracey, Theo and Blaise at the back, a gesture that did not go unnoticed by anyone except possibly the monosyllabic slabs of beef who appeared to consider themselves Malfoy's shadows.

The prefects introduced themselves as they walked as Gemma Farley and Tony McDougal, sixth year Slytherin prefects. The major wizarding school exams were at the end of the fifth and seventh years in Hogwarts, so the sixth year prefects were responsible for handling the firsties. Leo paid attention to all their commentary about landmarks to help them find their way through the twisting corridors of the dungeons. He did not want to get lost down here. But he had the map and already knew some passages from Gred and Forge.

"That there is our Founder, Salazar Slytherin," Farley said proudly, pointing at a large portrait depicting a sharp-faced, dark-haired man holding a large snake. He raised a scornful eyebrow at them all and turned away. "Most of the other Houses would assume the entrance to our dorms is behind the painting. If any of you corrects that misconception, you can expect one of the upper hears to hex your mouth shut while you sleep."

"The entrance is down here," Tony added, winking at them and pointing to a blank stretch of wall, then showing them that the wall sconce across from the concealed door had a tiny snake engraved on the side, where no one would think to look unless they knew it was there. After telling the password to the wall—"Firedrake"—the stone rumbled out of sight and let them into their common room.

The common room was littered with chairs, tables, and couches; it might've been oppressive except for the fire crackling merrily in the massive hearth and the white-gold glowing wizard lights shining from chandeliers and wall sconces all around the room. One wall was lined with books; another was made entirely of glass that seemed to look into the bottom of the lake. Leo imagined it'd be stunning during the day, but at night it was just blackness outside the windows. A large bulletin board, mostly empty, waited on the wall next to the entrance.

"Welcome home," Farley said with a grin.

A few upper years were already camped out at the chairs and tables. They ignored the firsties. Some others came in the entrance, skirted the group of young students, and went into a passage over to the left that he guessed went to the dorms.

"First years, this way," McDougal said.

They settled down into a series of sofas and chairs scattered around the fire, all facing Farley and McDougal. Four others joined them and introduced themselves as the new fifth year prefects, Ava Pucey and Lucas Roberts, and the seventh year prefects, Emily Taylor and Spencer Wright. The fifth and seventh years then sat down and let Farley and McDougal lead the orientation.

"I know you're all tired, so we'll keep this short," Farley said. "Welcome to Slytherin. The people in these dorms will be your second family for the next seven years. After your biological family comes loyalty to the school, and within it, loyalty to Slytherin House."

"Professor Snape, our Head of House, has certain standards," McDougal continued. "Grades, for those who don't know, are O—outstanding—E—exceeds expectations—A—acceptable—P—poor—and D—dreadful. On the OWLs in the fifth year, you can actually get a T for a troll, but that pretty much only happens if you sleep through the test or someone hits you with an Illiteracy Jinx."

Black and Theo shared a look to learn that hex.

"If you're floundering in a class, come to one of us," Farley advised. "Me or Tony first, then if you can't find us, one of the fifth or seventh-year prefects. We'll arrange tutoring from one of the other upper years. We work together to keep everyone up to scratch."

"We'll pass out your schedules in the morning," Farley said. "We'll lead you to your dorms tonight and the Great Hall in the morning, but after that, you should be able to find your way around. If you get lost, ask about the painting or the ghosts. We don't have any maps, but if you place your wand in your palm and say "Slytherin" and you'll be guided back to the common room."

"One last thing," McDougal said. "The Slytherin rules."

"Rule one: House unity above all. Whatever squabbles and power play you have, keep them to yourselves. Never bicker with another Slytherin where another house can see."

"You should be warned that most of the other houses don't like us much," Wright cut in. "We get on well enough with Ravenclaw in the classroom and most of the Hufflepuffs at least get what it's like to be stereotyped, but a lot of the school—especially Gryffindor—will expect you to be a set of stupid prats. Don't go picking fights and proving them right." He paused. "At least, don't be stupid. If they're prats, go ahead and be a prat back."

"Just do it with class," Ava Pucey added, drawing laughter from the other prefects.

"Anyway," McDougal said, "rule two. Don't get caught. We're Slytherins, meaning we do what it takes to be successful, even if that involves breaking the rules. But we're also the house of cunning, which means if you're breaking a rule, you better have a damn good reason, and you better have a plan to pull it off."

"Rule three: if you do get caught, blame someone else, and make sure that person isn't a Slytherin."

"Rule four: Academic standards of excellence, like we covered."

"Rule five: No duelling in the common room or the dorms. We don't want to have to deal with repairing broken furniture, and no one likes it when the whole common rooms stink of burned hair."

"Rule six: no non-Slytherins in the common room. Ever. The password changes every week; it'll be posted on the bulletin board on Mondays. Don't tell it to anyone who's not of this House."

"Rule seven: what happens in the dungeons, stays in the dungeons."

They paused, looking around at the first years. Leo had never seen a group of eleven-year-olds this solemn.

"All right," Farley said, at last, looking satisfied. "You're all probably exhausted. Girls with me, boys with Tony."

Black fell in with Theo, Malfoy, the beefcakes, and Blaise. Tony showed them the branching passages of the boys' dorms, explaining how the castle opened and closed rooms for every student. "There's six of you, which is the most we ever put in a room," he said. "You're here. The doors are all labelled with what year you're in, so you have zero excuses to barge in on another dorm. We all respect each other's privacy; no peeking in upper-year dorms and we won't break into yours. The same goes for each other's trunks and wardrobes. If you need warding spells, come talk to me or Wright. Bathrooms are at the end of the hall. Keep them clean and don't leave your toiletries lying about. Clear?"

They all nodded, and he pushed the door open.

The room was long and rectangular, with three beds on the left and three on the right. He took the bed next to the small window, farthest from the door. Theo took the one next to him, and he had Zabini next to him. Crabbe and Goyle were next to each other on the other side of the room, with Malfoy opposite Zabini closest to the door.

Malfoy settled down and prattled on about how he shouldn't have to share a room with anyone, and how he'd be complaining to his father about this, and how his father said the Head Boy and Girl got their rooms, and he'd be going for that in a few years, thank you very much, and how his father told him there were secret passages in the Slytherin dorms if you were clever enough to find them. Black and Nott made eye contact and Leo had to look away to keep himself from sniggering.

As soon as he sat on the bed, there was a pop and his trunk appeared at its foot. Leo was immensely relieved. His trunk had both his family crests on them and was password activated.

He watched Malfoy unpack into the wardrobe by his bed and decided there was no point in doing the same. The wardrobe section of his trunk was just as functional, and it allowed him a quick exit if he needed one. He changed into his pyjamas and started muttering ward spells and silencing spells around his bed. He didn't want anyone to sneak up on him while he was sleeping, so Leo had taken to mastering a warding spell that he had found in his Family Vault. Most spells were too difficult for him, but he'd mastered the few that he could with his magical abilities.

Nott and Zabini both seemed to be casting wards of their own. Malfoy frowned at them and crawled into bed, looking annoyed; clearly, he hadn't thought to learn any ward spells. Neither of the beefcakes did, either, but that was no surprise.

Leo said goodnight to Nott and Zabini and climbed into his bed. His silencing spell cut off all sound as soon as he was entirely on the mattress.

The bed was larger than he'd ever seen; the orphanage had crappy single beds. This was adorned with a heavy duvet, silk sheets, and a canopy and curtains of a rich dark green. He saw Nott simply point his wand at the curtains to close them and copied the other boy; they slid obligingly closed.