On Sunday afternoon Severus had pulled out a black lunchbox, which he transfigured to blue, and set it on the kitchen counter. "Tomorrow morning place this on the table and say, "Lunch to go," and the elves will fill it with your lunch. The lunch box has a charm to keep hot food hot and cold food cold inside."
Harry went to bed Sunday night both nervous and excited, and he dreamt of the dragon skeleton hanging from the school ceiling coming to life and trying to eat him when he got several maths questions wrong.
In the morning, Severus woke Harry earlier than he usually did and told him to get dressed. Harry put his lunchbox on the table and asked for lunch and when he opened the lid was pleased to find leftover chicken from dinner the night before, a metal bottle full of pumpkin juice, and a small bowl full of salad.
"Anything good?" Severus asked.
Harry showed him and Severus gave a nod. "No desert," Severus commented.
"They never give us desert at lunch," Harry said.
"It's unfortunate isn't it?"
Harry turned to stare at the usually serious man and was surprised to find the hint of a smile on his face.
They ate breakfast in the Great Hall, Harry scarfing down his food because he was excited to head out, and then left together. The air had a slight chill to it and Harry was glad that Severus had made him bring his coat, even though the days still grew warm in the afternoons.
"Here," Severus said as they walked past the edge of the forest and into town.
Harry looked over and found three Knuts being handed to him.
"What's this for?"
Severus pointed to Madam Pudifoots Cafe and said, "Dessert."
He nodded and Harry ran into the cafe and had a raspberry cream pastry picked out before Severus could follow him into the shop. Harry handed the three Knuts to Madam Pudifoot and took the pastry eagerly.
"That's for after you eat the chicken and salad," Severus said.
"Promise," Harry grinned as he put the pastry into his lunchbox.
Down the street Harry spied other parents bringing their children to the school to drop them off. There was a girl about his age with light brown hair in braided pigtails, a younger boy with dark brown hair, and a blond boy who was accompanied by his blond father. Harry's anxiety grew the closer they came to the school, wondering if he'd be able to make any friends at all.
"Severus," the blond man said, and Harry looked up at his guardian to see how he knew the blond boy's father.
"Lucius," Severus said. "I did not realize Draco attended."
"He began halfway through the last school year. Narcissa felt he would be better behaved for a teacher than a private tutor."
The boy, Draco, stared at Harry and his scar and Harry stared back.
"Behave yourself Draco," his father warned, and then he squeezed Draco's shoulder gently and disappeared with a pop that startled Harry.
"Have a good day," Severus said, giving Harry a pointed look that also clearly said, ‘behave.' Harry nodded and then turned to go inside with the others. When he turned back, Severus was already walking back up towards the castle at a brisk pace, probably because he had class in twenty minutes.
Mr. Blackwood was inside writing something on the blackboard when Harry followed Draco and the others in.
"Good morning everybody," he said cheerfully without turning to look at them. "Everyone find a seat."
Two girls raced to find a desk next to each other, and Draco took one against the back wall. Two other boys waited to see where Draco sat and then intentionally sat in desks not next to his. The only desk left open was one right next to Draco, so Harry sat down in it. He noted that the other kids were pulling their new school supplies out and putting them in the drawer that pulled out of their desks so Harry did the same.
"Father bought me the nicest quill starter kit at Ink And Quill," Draco said, and while Harry was interested to see what that starter kit looked like, the other students didn't seem to care.
"It's just quills Draco," the girl with braided pigtails said. "We're going to mangle them."
"Not me," Draco said. "Mother taught me how to cut them last week," he said proudly. Harry again was interested, as he had no idea how to cut and care for his quills, let alone how to write with them, but he noticed the other boys roll their eyes.
"All right class," Blackwood said, finally turning around. "It sounds like you're eager to get started with your quills. I've already written instructions up on the board. We're learning to use quills this year because several of you are going to Hogwarts next year and quills are what you'll be using the majority of the time while you're there. Before we get started for the day I'd like to welcome you all back, and also to introduce your new classmate, Harry Potter." He didn't have to point as all of the other children already knew each other and Harry was the only new face in the room. They all turned to look at him and all of their eyes predictably traveled up to his scar. He wished his hair was long again to cover it up, because people staring at his scar was starting to get old.
"Harry, we have a tradition here. Every year when we come back we tell the class a few things about our vacation. Do you want to go first?"
"Erm..." he looked around nervously. The other kids all seemed so interested in him. "I took a train ride all the way up to Thurso," Harry said, thinking of spending the night at the empty outdoor train station for nearly three days. No one needed to know he'd taken the train because his relatives had kicked him out. He wasn't sure what else to say, because while his summer had been interesting with the discovery that he had magic, that would probably not be as interesting to anyone else. "And I moved. I live at Hogwarts now."
Several of the kids said, "Whoa," as if they were impressed, but Harry wasn't sure why they would be.
"You live at Hogwarts?" a boy asked. "Why?"
"What's that like?" Draco asked next. "Are you already in a house?"
They stopped asking questions and waited for Harry to answer. Trying to think of how to explain it so he didn't sound totally lame for having to have a new guardian, he said, "My guardian lives at Hogwarts. I'm not in a house. I live in the dungeons, and it's a lot more crowded now that the term started."
They seemed like they wanted to ask more questions, but Mr. Blackwood asked another student to share. Harry tried to keep track of their names.
Draco Malfoy had gotten a second broom for his birthday and had gone on a trip to Europe with his parents. Albin Atturbury and his younger sister Anwen, (who refused to sit next to him in class), went to their grandmother's for the summer and spent the entire summer swimming in a lake. Cade Rowe went to several quidditch matches with his father and uncle, Alexandria Prewitt had stayed home all summer and spent time with friends, and Cait Combe had taken music lessons all summer to learn to play piano (which she hated, but her mother was making her take lessons anyway). Mr. Blackwood also shared that he and his wife and two children had gone camping throughout the summer and gone to the beach. Harry assumed his children must have been too young for school since they weren't here in class with them.
The girl that had told Draco off earlier had been right. They mangled their quills on their first attempt at cutting them. Draco had only done slightly better than the rest of them, but because Harry had been watching Draco cut his he hadn't done quite as poorly as some of the other children. Maths was next, and Harry was pleased to find out every child had a different workbook as they were all at different levels. Draco had the same workbook as Harry and was only two chapters ahead, for which Harry was thankful. He was behind, but not as behind as he had thought. After maths the teacher let them have 20 minutes of free time inside the classroom to talk or play or read, and Draco and the other boys immediately came to where Harry stood looking at a bookshelf of books about magic.
"Are you going to Hogwarts next year?" Draco asked.
"Yes," Harry said.
"Me too, I'm going to be in Slytherin," Draco said.
"Now Draco won't be able to brag about being the only boy going to school next year," Cade said.
Harry looked at him and Cade said, "Me and Albin will go the year after next."
"I'm going next year," Alexandria Prewitt said, "and what house you end up in doesn't matter as much as Draco thinks it does."
Draco frowned at her as she skipped away to the other side of the room, but didn't say anything.
"What house are you going to be in?" Draco mumbled when Cade and Albin moved off to examine a new potions kit set up on a table by the stairs to the loft.
"I don't know," Harry said. He didn't know much about the four houses at all and he told Draco as much. "I've been sitting at Slytherin table all week though."
"My family are always in Slytherin," he said proudly. "Slytherins are brave and cunning and very loyal."
"What about the others?" Harry asked.
"I don't know. Father once said Hufflepuffs were pushovers and Ravenclaws think they're smarter than everyone else. You live at Hogwarts though. You could sit at all the tables and find out ahead of time which house you belong in."
"I don't get a choice though do I?" The Headmaster had mentioned the Sorting Hat, but Harry wasn't entirely clear how it all worked as he'd skipped the start of term feast a week ago.
"Father said you get to choose."
"C'mon Harry," Cade called from across the room. "Come look at the frog eyes in the Potions set!"
Harry wondered why they hadn't invited Draco and why they didn't seem to like him very much.
"Do you want to go look?" Harry asked Draco, who looked like he'd rather stay in the corner of the room by himself.
"I'll look later," he said. Harry frowned but Cade and Albin were calling him again so he went to join them in their last few minutes of free time.
English flew by and after that they all sat at their desks and had lunch. Harry did as he promised Severus and ate his chicken and salad before the pastry, but he spent time savoring the pasty. Draco bragged about his house elves and what good food they prepared and showed off the slice of chocolate cherry cake he had for dessert, but the other kids ignored him as they talked amongst themselves and didn't invite him to join their conversation. When they were finished eating, Mr. Blackwood told them they had forty minutes for recess and asked the other kids to explain to Harry where the recess boundaries were.
Outside the kids led Harry to the back of the schoolhouse and pointed at some trees on the other side of a big dirt yard. "We can't go in there," Albin said. "We can play in the area here or on the side of the schoolhouse by the door. We have to stay out of the lane if we do though."
"Look, I brought my Falmouth Falcons signed Quaffle," Draco said, and the other kids turned to see him holding a dark blue Quaffle with silver signatures all over it. "Who wants to play with it?"
"We'll use the school Quaffle," Cade said, and went to a box against the schoolhouse and started rummaging through it until he came out with a faded, scuffed up red Quaffle.
Harry wondered exactly what the Falcons were though and why the Quaffle had signatures on it, and went to Draco.
"What's the Falcons?" Harry asked.
"Have you been living under a rock? They're the best team in the isles."
"British National is better!" Cade called, before going back to playing catch with Albin and ignoring Draco and Harry.
"Don't listen to them," Draco said, "they're just jealous I have a quaffle signed by the entire team."
"Well," said Harry, "do you wanna play?"
Draco moved back ten or twelve feet and threw it at Harry. Harry reached up for it but it sailed through his fingers. "Sorry," he said, but was thankful Draco hadn't said anything about it. Cade and Albin were throwing the school Quaffle through some kind of hoop on a stick on the other side of the dirt yard, but Draco seemed content to just play catch with Harry, if only Harry could catch the Quaffle. He threw it to Draco but he didn't throw it hard enough and it hit the ground and rolled off to the side.
By the end of recess, Harry had only caught it once and thrown it all the way to Draco twice.
"Look," Draco said, holding the Quaffle out to him. "Still shiny, see? Father put five or six protection charms on it before I was allowed to bring it to school. He said a dragon would have to torch it before it got damaged."
Harry was glad he hadn't damaged it or gotten it dirty with all the times he'd dropped it, and was glad Draco wasn't mad at him for not knowing how to play.
The rest of the school day flew by in a blur with history, a brief lesson on what Potions were used for, and a lesson about the Ministry of Magic. At three Mr. Blackwood bade them all goodbye and dismissed class for the day. Outside, Draco's father wasn't there yet, and the other children seemed to be walking home alone without their parents.
"You were with Uncle Severus this morning," Draco said.
"Uncle?" Harry asked.
"He's my godfather. I see him sometimes on holidays or in the summer."
"Oh. I live with him now."
Harry shrugged and looked away. "I'm supposed to go straight back to the castle after school." He took a few steps away, hoping Draco wouldn't ask again, but then turned back and waved at him. "See you," he said, and hurried down the path through Hogsmeade.
That night at dinner, Draco's mother and father asked about his first day of school, and if he had made peace with the other children yet. Only they knew how desperate Draco was to make a friend at school.
"I'm friends with Harry now," Draco said proudly, glad he had good news to report. "We're going to sit together again in class tomorrow. He loved my Falcon's Quaffle and let me tell him about all the signatures."
His mother and father shared a look that Draco ignored. They weren't sure if Draco was telling the truth or not, but Draco was happy regardless knowing he wouldn't spend a second year in a row with no friends.