-All characters, except Loire, belong to J.K. Rowling-
Harry received a letter from owl post on July 31st, 1998, before he’d even started making his morning cup of tea.
First, I would like to say thank you for all of the help you are giving to the restoration project this summer. It is because of your dedication and that of the other students that we are are on track to open for class September 1st.
I am looking forward to having yourself, and other students from 8th year, join us for your final year of education.
Please come to Hogwarts this afternoon at 5pm to meet with me and discuss an important matter which will affect your last year in the castle.
You may use Hagrid’s floo. I have written the address on the back of this parchment along with the password for my office.
Once Harry had successfully removed himself from Hagrid’s suffocating hug, and promised to come back to catch up before leaving, he walked the grounds from the hut to the castle and headed for Headmistress McGonagall’s office.
Harry looked at the gargoyle for a moment, then down at the paper in his hand, sighed, and said, "Elder Wand." The staircase appeared and he took it to the Headmistress' office. When he entered he looked around, noticing McGonagall standing behind her desk with Professor Loire standing next to her.
"Hello, Mr. Potter. Thank you for coming to see me today," she said.
"Hello Headmistress, I got your owl. Is everything ok?" he sat in front of her desk.
McGonagall gave a tight smile and sat down, followed by Loire. The three of them sat quietly for a moment, silence filling the room. Harry tugged at his school tie that was suddenly too tight around his neck. Professor Lorie remained relaxed and even a touch smug as if whatever was about to happen was of great amusement to her. Finally, McGonagall squared her shoulders and looked straight at Harry.
"Mr. Potter, we have asked you here today to discuss a sensitive issue," she began, "You are aware that Dolores Umbridge is on the education board at the Ministry?"
Harry unconsciously shifted his right hand, "Actually, I didn't know. I hadn't thought to catch up with her," he deadpanned.
"I have word that she will not be there forever. Until that change is in effect though, she still holds a lot of power at the Ministry," McGonagall paused, seeming to brace herself before the next statement. "She has made some decisions about your return to Hogwarts. We will need to comply with them until her position changes."
Harry narrowed his eyes and said nothing. He knew from her time as a Professor at Hogwarts, that the decisions Dolores tended to make bordered on the extreme. He could only hold his breath and hope that he would not be somehow forced to carve anything else into human flesh.
"The returning 8th-year students will sleep two to a room in the renovated west tower. Due to the recently released information about your preferences," McGonagall spoke slow and steady.
This sounds practiced. She never talks to me like this. Harry thought.
"We will need to room you with a female student," she finished.
"What preferences?" Harry asked casually. He could think of more than one preference that she might be talking about, but he was fairly certain which one would upset Umbridge.
Professor Loire lifted a brow at him, leaned forward, and placed a copy of the Prophet in the middle of the desk so they could all see the front page. The headline read Savior isn't Saving Himself.
Harry recognized the article, it had come out several weeks ago. He had been out late the night before at the wizarding club, Double Arrow. A few drinks, a sloppy kiss on the dancefloor, and a back alley blowjob had all been reported by the bloke he'd pulled that night. Harry figured the story had gotten that bloke a nice chunk of change, but it was the photo he'd snagged that really sold the whole thing. Up until this point, Harry's "preferences" had only been rumor.
Harry looked down at the paper and felt his shoulders tense as he tried to process through the anger, and regret he felt for being outed so publicly, coupled with the awkward sensation of feeling no shame for the act, but a cascade of embarrassment at having to discuss this with his professors. He looked back to the Headmistress, "She can't do this! I can't be punished for being bent!" Harry caught the smirk on Professor Loire's face and sent her a scowl. She didn't seem bothered.
"Mr. Potter, you are not being punished," McGonagall replied.
"I don't want to room with a girl. I want to room with Ron," he said. "Besides, this is ridiculous! I've never messed around with anyone at Hogwarts."
Now it was McGonagall's eyebrow that lifted at him.
A slight blush tinged Harry's cheeks and he fought to keep it from going full down his neck as he remembered the prefects bathroom in 4th year. "Fine," he amended, "I've never messed around with anyone in Gryffindor."
McGonagall pursed her lips.
"Oh bloody- any men in Gryffindor then," he said, "I've never messed around with any men in Gryffindor."
Professor Loire struggled down a laugh, turning her eyes toward the ceiling to search for something less amusing. Harry sent her another dirty look.
"Harry, I want to give you the opportunity to choose who you room with."
McGonagall sighed, "To choose an appropriate female to room with."
"This is ridiculous," Harry muttered and folded his arms across his chest.
"Mr. Potter," Professor Loire said, her voice floating through the office in a way that made Harry suspect she might have some Veela heritage, "surely there must be one female in Hogwarts whom you trust."
Whom. Harry rolled his eyes. Must be a pureblood or raised by dentists.
After his silent protest, McGonagall offered, "Hermione Granger, perhaps?"
"No," Harry shuddered, "Hermione will drive me around the bend in a months time with her nagging about my study habits.”
“Luna Lovegood?” she countered.
“Luna would only need a week to make me crazy, despite what she thinks about my sanity.”
“Perhaps a student from a different year?” Loire interjected.
Harry ran a hand through his wild hair, “Luna is a different year. Other than that there’s only Ginny, and she wouldn't keep her hands off me if we were caged together like this. So no," he glared at each of them, "there are no 'appropriate females' here." He'd never used air quotes before, they were nice for times when you needed to condescend.
“Surely there must be someone here who can keep their hands to themselves,” Loire said.
Harry huffed a humorless laugh. “Some girl who won’t try to rig my food with love potion? Who won’t peep at me in the shower? Who won’t sniff my clothes or try to touch me…” He gagged on the last words ‘while I sleep’.
"No, Professor," Harry spit the word at her, "there's not a single-" he froze mid-rant as his mind filled in a name for the one female who fit the bill. He sank back into the chair and glanced at McGonagall, feeling defeated.
The Headmistress raised an eyebrow. “Well? Do you have a name?”
She blinked, the deep lines of her mouth dragging her lips down, making her look older. “Oh. I see. Miss Parkinson is not going to like this…”
"Well she can get in line," Harry bit back.