An Ace In The Hole
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Chapter One: Surely You Jest
Albus Dumbledore sat at his desk in the Headmaster's Office looking wearily at a report from Mad-Eye Moody. He had already read through the report as many as ten times, yet his brilliant mind simply could not comprehend what he was reading. At long last, the mysterious disappearance of the Boy-Who-Lived was solved; however the findings were quite disturbing. He pulled hard at his beard with both hands as though the infliction of pain might help it all make sense. A knock at the office door dragged him back from the distant wanderings of his mind.
"You may enter, Minerva." called Dumbledore.
Professor McGonagall entered the office looking concerned at the mood and demeanor of Dumbledore.
"You summoned me, Albus?" asked Professor McGonagall.
"Yes Minerva," sighed Dumbledore "it seems that we have, at long last, located Harry Potter."
"You don't seem happy, Albus. What's wrong?" asked Professor McGonagall, taking a seat in front of Dumbledore's desk.
"According to Mad-Eye, Harry Potter was taken directly after Voldemort's attack by his mother's sister." said Dumbledore heavily.
"That's impossible!" exclaimed McGonagall. "The Dursleys couldn't have taken him! You said they had no idea of the Potter's demise until you confronted them about Harry's disappearance!"
"No Minerva, Petunia never saw her nephew." said Dumbledore calmly. "It seems that Lily Potter had another sister; a sister that she had just become acquainted with right before entering into hiding."
"Who is this person and where have they been keeping Harry Potter all these years?" asked McGonagall, her brow furrowed.
"Her name is Dr Harleen Frances Quinzel; half sister of Lily and Petunia Evans." replied Dumbledore. "Apparently, their father had an affair with an American Muggle tourist and this Dr Quinzel was the result."
"You say she became a Muggle doctor?" asked McGonagall. "That doesn't sound so awful."
"If that was where the report ended it wouldn't." sighed Dumbledore. "However, it says she was a Muggle psychiatrist in the States before becoming deemed mentally unstable herself."
"Mentally unstable?" repeated McGonagall.
"The Muggles committed her to the hospital in which she worked before she escaped." continued Dumbledore. "During some of her questionable activities she visited Britain in search of her father. While she was here she discovered her sisters, though only Lily accepted her. It was during one of her visits that Voldemort found the Potters and attacked, killing all but Harry. Dr Quinzel found Harry in his crib shortly after the attack and fled with her nephew to the States."
"So Harry Potter is in the States?" asked McGonagall. "When will you attempt to contact him or have you already?"
"Alas, if it was just so easy, Minerva." replied Dumbledore. "Simply sending an owl would, I'm afraid, reveal our world to some highly unsavory and dangerous Muggles."
"So what will you do?" asked McGonagall.
"I've done the only thing that I feel is safe." replied Dumbledore.
The high contrast of the moon and the lights of the city against the rising steam from the buildings in the dead of night was casting many shadows along the streets below. High above the city streets, another shadow was moving very fast; leaping from building to building. The figure that was casting the shadow was breathing very hard as he leapt and darted; avoiding the city life below. His long raven hair blew behind him as he ran with purpose; the purpose was not to receive a thrashing from his mentor and boss for being late. Just as he was reaching the end of his run something hit his feet, causing him to stumble and fall.
"Where you going in such a hurry kid?" asked a figure stepping out from the shadows.
He pushed himself back to his feet quickly, wiping some blood from his chin as he looked around to survey the newcomer.
"Go away little bird – before I pluck you and stuff you." said the raven haired boy. "I have no time for you tonight."
The raven haired boy stood and backed away from the newcomer, approaching the edge of the building. He spread his arms wide, as though about to take flight.
"And the name's not kid," said the raven haired boy "it's Ace!"
The boy leaned backwards and gracefully fell off the roof of the fifteen story building. The newcomer ran to the edge of the building and looked over, but the boy called Ace was gone.
"Gotta figure out how he does that!" murmured Robin as he pounded his fist on the ledge.
Nearly two blocks away the boy called Ace laughed to himself as he peered out of an alley, looking for signs of trouble before continuing his journey.
"Impressive." growled an unfamiliar voice behind Ace.
He turned to see the strangest sight he had ever laid his eyes upon and that was saying something! Men, wearing cloaks and carrying sticks stepped out of seemingly nowhere. Their leader was a grizzly sight, wearing some sort of blue electronic eye. Ace knew that whomever they were, they were serious.
"So what else have you mastered already?" asked the grizzly man.
"It will take more than sticks for me to tell." replied Ace, a sadistic smile curling his face.
"We've come to take you home." said a ragged looking man in a worn looking cloak.
"Sorry." said Ace. "I never go for rides with strangers."
The cloaked men sighed and the grizzly looking man shook his head.
"Why so serious, gentlemen?" asked Ace sadistically. "Put down your sticks and I'll put a smile on your faces, I promise."
The grizzly man smiled and pointed his stick in Ace's direction.
"It's called a wand, boy, and this will put a smile on my face!" growled the grizzly man. "Stupefy!"
Ace barely caught a glimpse of the red light that exploded from the stick in the man's hand before his head struck the wall behind him and all went black.
Ace awoke – or did he. He squinted his eyes then blinked them rapidly, trying to focus on what he was seeing. His brain was telling him that he had hit his head way too hard this time or he was finally losing his grip on reality. A bird that looked as though it was glowing red, sat perched at the foot of the bed that he was laying in. The bird simply stared at him as though he was as odd to it as it was to him. The room that he laid in was not like any place he'd been before. Then, he remembered the bright red light from the man's stick and attempted to sit up. This was a mistake as his head suddenly felt as though it might split in two.
"Lie back down, Ace." said a tall man with a long white beard and long white hair as he strolled into the room.
Ace immediately reached for his short knife, but it wasn't in his pocket.
"Looking for these?" asked the white haired man, opening his hand to reveal Ace's three silver knives. "I'm quite sure that you could 'carve a smile on my face' before I even had the chance to speak if I gave them back to you – so I won't."
The man closed his hand then opened it again and the three knives were gone.
"Who are you and how did you do that?" asked Ace.
"My name is Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, but you can call me Professor Dumbledore. And how I did that was magic. The same type of magic you used atop that building."
"So you're a magician?" asked Ace.
"A wizard – to be precise." replied Dumbledore. "Just like you, only with training and experience."
"Where am I?" asked Ace, glancing around.
"London." replied Dumbledore.
"ENGLAND!" shouted Ace.
"Correct." said Dumbledore calmly.
"Seems a little useless to threaten you." said Ace, not caring for the power this man seemed to possess over him at the moment.
"Wise assumption – Ace." chuckled Dumbledore, taking a seat on the bed.
"My real name's Harry – Harry Quinn, but I'm sure you know that." said Harry, aka Ace.
"That is partially correct." said Dumbledore. "Your real name is Harry James Potter. Your aunt, Harley Quinn, gave you her last name – of sorts – after your mother and father died."
"Yeah." snorted Harry. "My aunt Harley told me. They were killed by some maniac from here."
"That is true, Ace – I mean Harry." said Dumbledore. "They died saving you."
"So why bring me here now?" asked Harry. "Going to teach me some magic tricks?"
"Something like that." replied Dumbledore. "You have just celebrated your twelfth birthday and are already a year behind in your learning."
"I have all the learning I need." said Harry darkly. "What is it you would teach me?"
"To be a wizard and follow your parent's footsteps by attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." replied Dumbledore. "My only request would be that you do not converse with your aunt while you are there."
"Does she know where I am?" asked Harry.
"Do you think that Mr J, as you call him, would be happy if she did?" asked Dumbledore.
A sadistic smile curled Harry's lips as he pondered the fact that this so called wizard had reluctant feelings about Mr J knowing where he was. He had no intentions of attending this Hogwarts and yet he wondered if the place had anything that might be of value to Mr J. The thought of allowing the opportunity to pass him by without checking first was too much for him to even dare consider.
"So this – Hogwarts; it's a school of some kind?" asked Harry, curious to find out more.
"Yes." replied Dumbledore. "It was founded over a thousand years ago by the greatest witches and wizards of the day."
Harry saw the pride that this statement brought the old man and realized that he must be very highly involved in this school. He didn't even question the existence of magic, like others might in his stead. He knew that the things he did weren't normal and after a nasty run in with a beautiful woman named Zatana, he knew that magic was very real.
"So, are you some sort of professor at this school?" asked Harry, knowing the answer.
"Yes Harry, I am." replied Dumbledore. "My official duty for a while now has been Headmaster."
The head man himself had come to deal with him. This made Harry even more curious than before about his parents past and this school they had attended. 'Was there something very important about him attending this school or was the Headmaster here to evaluate the dangers of allowing him in', pondered Harry. He decided to find out.
"Uh, Professor," began Harry, attempting to sound respectful "I don't suppose that you take the time from your busy schedule to meet with every student, so why me?"
"I'm sure as you well know, Harry, your situation is unique." replied Dumbledore, a slight smile curling his face. "You can imagine that we do not send groups of trained wizards to bring every student here. Besides, I know about your past and current life so let's not play games. It will speed along the process."
"Fair enough." replied Harry. "So why am I so important? I was happy right where I was so why not just leave me be? "
"Were you happy, Harry?" asked Dumbledore softly. "I know that Harley was loving to you but what about Mr J?"
"Mr J taught me what I needed to know to survive." snapped Harry. "He cares for me but I wouldn't expect someone like you to understand."
"What did he teach you besides a hundred ways to carve up a man?" asked Dumbledore.
"We're both freaks, him and I." spat Harry. "The world doesn't accept people like us. They just want to pretend that we never existed and throw us away into forgotten places. My aunt realized that years before I ever came to live with them. She helped Mr J escape those that would have people like us put away for the sake of feeling normal." A smile curved his lips. "They cannot pretend that all is well as long as we're around."
"In time, you may see things differently." said Dumbledore gently. "I can introduce you to a world that will accept you for who you really are. Our world is kept secret from the world you have lived in. In our world, magic is common, and you are famous."
"Famous?" asked Harry, looking hard at Dumbledore. "What have I ever done to be famous?"
"You survived." replied Dumbledore simply. "You survived the darkest of magic and was left with just that scar on your forehead."
"So... it is a sign of power." said Harry and Dumbledore looked at him strangely. "Mr J has always called it my 'sign of power'."
"That scar marks the end of some very dark times in our world," said Dumbledore solemnly "but it also marks the tragic death of two very wonderful people that made the ultimate sacrifice. They sacrificed their lives so that you might live."
"So this maniac that tried to kill me... did he die?" asked Harry.
"Alas, no." replied Dumbledore. "He lost all his power, but he did not die. No one knows where he is now, but I'm sure that he is still out there waiting for his chance to regain his powers. When he does, I'm afraid, he will seek to finish what he started."
"I presume that you are a very powerful wizard yourself if you are the head of this Hogwarts." stated Harry.
"You are correct, Harry." said Dumbledore modestly.
"Then I should also presume that you can protect me while I learn the ways of a wizard." said Harry.
"That is also correct." said Dumbledore. "You need not fear Lord Voldemort while you are in my care. So, should I presume that you are going to attend Hogwarts this year? We cannot force you to attend. You can return to your aunt's care if you wish."
For the first time since he had met this man, Harry did not believe him. He could never imagine Mr J divulging information to someone then just letting them walk away. No – he knew that he was trapped and failure to comply could result in some nasty consequences. Besides, Mr J had taught him not to attempt to escape, but rather escape would come to him; he just had to be patient. In the mean time, it would provide him a grand opportunity to case this 'Hogwarts'.
"So, is that your bird?" asked Harry, attempting to divert the subject.
"Yes." replied Dumbledore. "His name is Fawkes and he is a phoenix. They are very rare and have many special gifts. They are very loyal, live for hundreds of years, can lift immensely heavy loads, and their tears have healing powers." Dumbledore turned a heated gaze to Harry and stared over his half moon spectacles. "Now, will you attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year?"
"Why not." replied Harry. "Sounds like a real blast and maybe one day I can repay old grizzly for the headache."
"Old grizzly," chuckled Dumbledore "is Alastor Moody; a very accomplished and skilled Auror, or dark wizard hunter."
Harry smiled sadistically at this. Not only had the head man greeted him, but they had sent the best to capture him. The idea that he made them nervous delighted him. 'What kind of powder puff world was he about to enter', mused Harry.
"So, when does school begin and how do I get there?" asked Harry.
"Start of term is in two weeks." replied Dumbledore. "I will accompany you to collect your supplies and you can stay in the Leaky Cauldron until it's time to go to Hogwarts. I will arrange for Professor Flitwick to come and tutor you so that you won't be quite so far behind your peers. You will take the Hogwarts Express on September 1st to the school along with the rest of the students. I will escort you to the train that morning."
"Didn't understand much of what you just said, but I haven't got any money for supplies." said Harry. "Your gang didn't offer me the option to pack."
"Your parents left you plenty of money, Harry." said Dumbledore. "First, we will visit Gringotts, the wizard bank, before we collect your supplies. I dare say that Diagon Alley is open for business by now."
Harry glanced at the clock on the wall and realized that it was morning. It must have taken them a long time to get here or he must have been out for a while. Even though all of his faculties hadn't returned to him just yet, the idea of casing out a bank made him eager to get going.
"So, when do we get started?" asked Harry casually.
"No time like the present, Harry." replied Dumbledore. "That is, if you feel up to it."
"I can walk." said Harry, standing to his feet.
"That won't be necessary." said Dumbledore, who grasped Harry by the arm before twisting on the spot.
"I don't understand where he is!" exclaimed Harley Quinn, pacing in circles. "I've scoured the entire city, yet there's no sign of him!"
Mr. J sat in his usual chair, licking his lips in what was his habitual fashion while stroking his chin with his left hand and staring intensely at the only door in the room. His gaze was so intense that Harley made sure not to pace in front of him.
"Mr. J, what will we do?" asked Harley, finally daring to address him directly.
Mr. J turned his gaze to Harley, contemplating hard about something before speaking. Harley was now wishing that she hadn't uttered a word.
"Tis true, my dear." replied Mr. J. "It seems that our young Harry has vanished, like magic."
He rose to his feet, straightened his jacket, then strolled over to where Harley stood, frozen in awe and fear of the man before her.
"Like magic," growled Mr. J "someone knows the secret behind the trick. Oh, someone in this city knows what happened to Harry and I'm gonna find 'em. Cause nobody takes away what belongs to me!"
Harry felt as though Grodd had decided to give him a hug. He felt all the air squeezed out of his body and just when he thought death was near, the compressing feeling was gone. When he opened his eyes he was standing in a very grubby tavern. It was empty, except for an elderly bartender. He stumbled slightly as Dumbledore let go of his arm.
"Very good, Harry." said Dumbledore. "Most people vomit the first time they travel side along apparition."
"You and Zatana would get along quite nicely I think." growled Harry.
"Professor Dumbledore," said the bartender "what brings you here?"
"I have business today, Tom, in Diagon Alley." replied Dumbledore.
The bartender bowed his head then turned his gaze to Harry. He stared for a moment before gasping and placing a hand over his mouth.
"Bless my soul, you must be Harry Potter." said the bartender breathlessly.
"Harry Quinn, to be exact." said Harry with a nod. "I don't go by Potter."
The bartender looked as though he wanted to argue, but thought better of it as he took in the manic look on Harry's face.
"Well, off to Diagon Alley." said Dumbledore, ushering Harry towards the back of the tavern.
They reached a brick wall and Dumbledore touched one of the bricks, causing the wall to slowly open into a doorway which led onto a cobbled street. As they stepped through the doorway, hundreds of shops and buildings popped into view. The Alley did not look normal, but he had already succumb to the idea that nothing he would see or hear would be normal. They walked down the middle of the street, as they were the only ones there, until they came to a large white corner building with large white pillars. The huge double door swung open at their approach and Harry looked up to see a warning posted in silver over the door.
'Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there.'
"That's an inviting gesture." said Harry with a smirk.
"I'd remember what it says if I were you, Harry." said Dumbledore. "It's not wise to steal from goblins."
"What's a –" began Harry, but was cut off by the sight before him.
Hundreds of short, ugly creatures with large heads, round eyes, pointed teeth, and long fingers were bustling about the bank in suits. Harry thought that these creatures looked anything but friendly and a good choice to guard a bank. He followed Dumbledore up to a teller window where a nasty looking goblin sat perched on a stool and writing in a large ledger. Regardless of the plaque above the door or the goblins within, Harry still was doing his best to casually case the place.
"We would like to visit vault 687." said Dumbledore to the goblin.
"I suppose that you have the key." said the goblin in a croaked voice.
"Of course, master goblin." replied Dumbledore, handing a small gold key to the goblin.
The goblin eyed Dumbledore and Harry could tell that the goblin no more believed his polite tone than Harry did. The goblin slid off the stool then rounded the wall and motioned for them to follow him. They were led to a small corridor before the goblin passed the key to another goblin and said something to him in a strange language.
"Griphook here will escort you to your vault." said the goblin. "I have other things to attend to. Good day."
"Follow me." croaked Griphook, as he motioned them down the corridor.
Harry did not like the size of this bank and was beginning to realize how hard it would be to escape this bank should you break in. The goblin led them to a rail car and motioned for them to get in. Dumbledore quickly hopped in and Harry reluctantly followed. The tiny rail car sped off down what reminded Harry of a roller-coaster as it quickly sped over hills and around corners. As quickly as it had began, the ride was over. Harry hopped out of the cart followed by Dumbledore. The goblin pressed a finger to a door that quickly chimed with metallic clicks before opening to reveal a small fortune of gold sitting upon a table. Harry quickly wondered what its street value was. Dumbledore scooped a small amount into a bag then they left the vault without barely a word spoken. When they exited the bank, Harry wondered why the old wizard had suddenly become quite.
"A goblin can spot a thief, Harry." said Dumbledore. "They are trained to detect those that are not trustworthy."
"So why did the one goblin in there act as though he didn't trust you, Professor Dumbledore?" asked Harry as innocently as he could.
"He wasn't concerned about me, Harry." replied Dumbledore, glancing down at him.
"Oh, but I disagree." said Harry. "He was looking at you the same way Bats looks at Mr J."
"I believe that was because I had brought you into their presence." said Dumbledore.
"Maybe, but not to worry." said Harry, smiling up at Dumbledore. "I won't be bumping off that bank any time soon."
Dumbledore smiled at Harry, though his eyes told Harry that the old wizard wasn't sure he believed his young companion. Harry breathed a sigh of relief as they headed on to shop for his supplies. The shopping trip, as a whole, was quite boring until they reached Ollivander's Wand Shop.
The moment Harry met Mr. Ollivander, he was intrigued. The old wizard had a demeanor about him that almost called to Harry.
"Well now, Harry Potter has come at last." said Mr. Ollivander.
"Call me Harry Potter if you will, Mr. Ollivander, but my name is Harry Quinn." replied Harry.
Ollivander glanced up at Dumbledore before he replied, "Very well, Harry Quinn. Shall we begin?"
Two weeks later, a very irritated Harry awoke to the screeching of his new owl, Hedwig. Harry chucked a pillow at the snowy owl's cage who hooted indignantly in response. It was the morning of September 1st and he knew that the old wizard would be along shortly to fetch him and escort him to this train he'd read so much about in Hogwarts: A History. The last two weeks had been no fun at all, due to presence of a very energetic and annoying Professor Flitwick.
Professor Flitwick had wasted no time in giving Harry the 'crash coarse' of last year's lessons. While Harry was pleased that the short-in-stature professor had been impressed with his abilities, the constant read, read, read lecture had him wishing he'd spent the last two weeks with Bats. Harry simply hated to read books. It was a useless skill on the streets and one that completely bored him to tears, yet this Professor Flitwick was obsessed with books.
Harry knew that those raps upon his door had to be those of Professor Dumbledore, for none other could knock so cheerfully. Harry made his way to the door and wasn't surprised to see the twinkling blue eyes looking down at him.
"Not really a morning person, Professor." said Harry, yawning loudly.
"I'm sure you're not – given your previous profession." chuckled Dumbledore. "Now, the Hogwarts Express leaves at precisely eleven o'clock so we must not be late."
"Why not just take me to the school yourself?" asked Harry, pulling on his new school robes.
"Taking the train is a tradition for all students." replied Dumbledore. "It's a way for you to get to know your potential house mates and build camaraderie with other houses."
"You people really do live in bubbles." muttered Harry.
Dumbledore ignored this statement and checked his watch.
"Come along Harry. Your things will be waiting for us there." said Dumbledore, smiling yet sternly.
Harry reluctantly took Dumbledore's extended hand, now knowing what was about to happen. They Apparated out of his room over the Leaky Cauldron into a bustling train station. Harry looked up to see that the sign read 'Platform Nine and Three Quarters'. Harry thought that even Mr. J would find that in bad humor.
As Harry looked down the station, he could see a scarlet steam engine sitting at the head of a long row of passenger cars. The idea of how this maniac Voldemort could still be alive was becoming more and more evident. Harry shook his head at the thought of riding this steam engine all the way to Hogwarts when he just covered several miles in a matter of seconds.
"Well, it's time you boarded the train and started to mingle with your fellow students." said Dumbledore happily. "There's a good family there."
Dumbledore pointed to a red headed family close to them. They looked so cookie cutter that it made Harry's nose curl.
"Yeah, well they don't look much to my speed." said Harry.
"Don't be so quick to judge." said Dumbledore. "You might just find yourself a friend for life if you keep an open mind."
"Listen, Professor," said Harry, turning to face Dumbledore "thank you for your help and advice, but I'll pick out my own friends in time. Those red heads might be your type, but I've got a way of reading people too."
Dumbledore's smile faltered; his eyes still twinkling as he stared at Harry. Then, as quickly as it had faltered, it had returned.
"Well, I will leave you to it." said Dumbledore. "Your things have already been loaded, so this is where I bid you happy travels. I will see you at Hogwarts."
Harry smiled and nodded to Dumbledore before spinning on his heals and heading for the train. Hopefully, he would find a way to pass the time aboard this ancient express.
Harley heard the door slam shut, followed by sadistic laughter that filled the building. Harley hurried downstairs to see what could make Mr. J so happy.
"Ah, Harley," growled Mr J, as she entered the room "I have good news for you."
"You found Harry!" shouted Harley, bouncing up and down.
"Haven't found him, but I know who took him." breathed Mr J. "Men with magic took him. I can only guess that they took him back to Britain."
"What are we going to do?" asked Harley.
"Don't you worry, Harley dear," replied Mr. J, his sadistic smile ever present "cause Harry Quinn – is a comin' home!"
Harry made his way slowly down the train; looking into each compartment for what he considered, 'suitable traveling companions'. He had almost given up and headed back towards the compartment with the blond boy and the two thugs when he found exactly what he was looking for; a compartment of possible freaks.
Harry stared through the window of the compartment door and was barely able to conceal his sadistic smile. Three people sat in the compartment; a bushy haired bookworm sorting her large stack of books, a shy looking boy with dark hair holding a toad as though his life depended on it, and a dirty blond with a mad look in her eyes staring intently around as though she was looking for something invisible. Harry slid open the compartment door and stepped inside.
"Hello." said the bushy haired bookworm. "Who are you?"
"The name's Harry Quinn." replied Harry.
"Nope." said the dirty blond.
"Excuse me?" retorted Harry.
"Your name's not Harry Quinn." said the dirty blond in a dreamy tone. "You sound as though you're trying to convince us, not tell us. Therefore, you don't believe it yourself."
Harry had to fight back the urge to laugh. The young girl wasn't as mad as she looked.
"Okay," said Harry "how about you tell me your name and let me decide whether I want to tell you mine."
"So you lied?" asked the bushy haired bookworm. "Why would you lie?"
"Don't jump to conclusions." replied Harry. "Things are rarely ever what they seem."
"I like you already." said the dirty blond dreamily. "My name is Luna Lovegood and this is going to be my first year at Hogwarts."
Harry smiled at the young girl then looked at the dark haired boy that had yet to say a word. The boy glanced up at Harry then stared at his frog.
"That's Neville Longbottom and I'm Hermione Granger." said the bushy haired bookworm.
The boy named Neville glared the bookworm then looked back down. The train lurched slightly as it began to leave the station.
"Well, my name has been Harry Quinn for many years." said Harry. "Some know me as Ace, but here in your little slice of the world I'm known as Harry Potter. Now, may I join you three?"
Neville Longbottom and Hermione Granger stared at him like he had just slapped them while Luna Lovegood smiled at him pleasantly.
"Why of course, Harry Potter." replied Luna smiling. "There's a seat available next to Hermione Granger."
Hermione stared at Luna as though she had sprouted another head as Harry took a seat next to her. The mood in the compartment was so tense that Harry knew had picked the right one. It was time for him to 'play his hand'.
"So," said Harry smirking as took in his bushy haired traveling companion "what's with all the light reading?"
"How old are you?" asked Hermione, her eyes burning holes into his.
"Avoiding my question or are you just dying to know?" asked Harry in a devilish tone.
"Not avoiding," replied Hermione, blushing hard "it's just that according to my books you were suppose to be in school last year."
"Books?" repeated Harry. "There are books about me and you've been reading them?"
"E-Everyone h-has." stuttered Neville.
"You can speak!" said Harry dramatically, grinning from ear to ear. "Very good, indeed! It will make the trip far easier."
"What does it matter if I speak or not." retorted Neville frowning. "Hermione's the only one that ever speaks to me."
"Well I'm here now and I'm speaking to you." said Harry, squinting at the frog in Neville's hand. "So what is the frog for? Does it squirt venom or something?"
"Venom?" repeated Neville. "Would make him bloody more useful if he did. His name is Trevor."
"Pleasure to meet you Trevor." said Harry, causing Neville to laugh. "So, Hermione, I am twelve years old and yes this is my first year officially however tiny Professor Flitwick has roughed me up to speed for my own good so that I can be with students my own age."
Luna looked disappointed, Hermione looked scared, and Neville looked delighted.
"That's excellent!" said Neville. "Do you know which house you'll be in yet?"
"Nope." replied Harry. "Professor Dumbledore said I would find out when I got there."
"You've met Professor Dumbledore?" asked Hermione in awe.
"Yeah, I've met the guy." snorted Harry. "He brought me to the station."
"Cool." sighed Neville.
"So, tell me about these houses." said Harry, leaning back and crossing his legs.
At this, Luna perked up, interested in the conversation once more. Hermione explained the differences in the houses and Neville informed him about the professors. Neville seemed extremely hesitant about the Potions Professor, which sparked Harry's interest greatly.
"So what about this Potions Professor – Snape is it?" asked Harry.
"He's the Head of Slytherin House and the Great Bat is only fair to them." replied Neville.
Harry physically flinched at the description, causing Hermione to snap at Neville.
"Don't give him any preconceived ideas, Neville!" hissed Hermione.
"Oh how I love witches that use big words." said Harry wickedly, causing Hermione to blush.
"Not really what I go for in a witch, myself." said a red haired boy as he slid open the compartment door.
Hermione and Neville scowled at the newcomer while Luna surveyed him with mild interest. He acted confident, but Harry could smell a facade a block away. He observed this newcomer appraisingly for a second before speaking.
"And whom might you be, Red?" asked Harry, leaning further back into his seat.
"The name's Ron Weasley – not Red." said the boy as he extended his hand, but Harry didn't move. Ron hastily stuffed his hand into his pocket. "My mum said that Harry Potter was aboard so you must be him."
"Name's Harry Quinn and I think I'll stick with Red." said Harry smirking.
"Come off it!" scoffed Ron. "I know you're him."
Harry rose to his feet so fast that no one in the compartment had a chance to even flinch. He drew even with Ron, merely inches from his face.
"When a man tells you his name, you should accept it." whispered Harry; a manic expression upon his face. "When you greet someone you should smile. My grandma never smiled and it made my grandpa miserable. Soon he took to drinking to make him forget the misery. One day he came home wasted and broke down sobbing on the living room floor. He asked my grandma why she never smiled and pleaded for her to. When she refused, he went into the kitchen and grabbed a peering knife. He forced the knife into her mouth and whispered, 'Smile for me', before he carved a smile onto her face. She was still smiling when we buried her."
"YOU"RE MENTAL!" screamed Ron, nearly tearing the door down as he left the compartment.
"See ya later, Red." chuckled Harry as he flopped back down into his seat.
"Y-You don't have any knives on you, do you?" asked Hermione, her face pale.
"Nope." replied Harry, popping the 'P' sound. "Dumbledore hexed me somehow. Every time I put a knife in my pocket it disappears."
"Did your grandfather really do that?" asked Neville, looking awe struck.
"So, ya think Red will come back before we reach our destination?" asked Harry, ignoring Neville's question.
"Rackspurts." said Luna, and Harry saw her smiling as she slipped from view behind a magazine called The Quibbler.
Before Harry could comment, the door to the compartment slid open once more. He looked up to see the blond haired boy and the two thugs standing there looking far too comfortable to be up to anything good.
"Well, if it isn't the squib and the mudblood." sneered the blond boy. "But who are your new friends?"
"Shut it, Malfoy!" said Neville.
"Wouldn't show too much spine, Longbottom." said Malfoy. "You won't be able to slide through another year in the shadows if people are staring, and we know how much you hate attention. You don't want them to notice that you have no real magical abilities, do you?"
"Malfoy, is it." said Harry standing up and striding closer to the three boys. "Maybe Neville doesn't want to just slide through this year. Maybe he's tired of the shadows that people like you cast. Maybe he's ready to slice a few throats – academically speaking, of course."
Malfoy took a step back from Harry while his two thugs cracked their knuckles menacingly.
"You're a little old to be a first year and I'm sure I would have remembered meeting you before." sneered Malfoy.
"Great observation and thanks for the compliment, but I prefer witches." said Harry, a manic look on his face.
"How dare you insinuate such a thing!" snapped Malfoy. "I am Draco Malfoy and you will learn to show some respect!"
"You gonna teach me blondy or do your thugs do all your work for you?" asked Harry, thoroughly enjoying himself.
Malfoy drew his wand, but Harry took it from him before he could blink, then shoved Malfoy into one of the two boys; pushing them into the compartment door. Harry put a swift kick into the side of the knee of the other boy; dropping him to the floor. Malfoy was shaking from head to toe.
"Need to work on those reflexes blondy if you plan on teaching me anything." said Harry in a soft voice. "I'm going to be nice and let you walk away this time. I have no idea what you called my friends here, but I'm smart enough to recognize a good insult. Do it again in my presence and you forfeit the right to reproduce. Am I clear?"
Malfoy nodded vigorously before Harry released him; shoving Malfoy's wand into the blond boy's robes. Malfoy and the other boy helped their comrade to his feet before quickly exiting the compartment. Harry flopped back down beside Hermione, feeling quite satisfied with the little exercise and hoping there would be more to come.
"F-Friends, Harry?" stuttered the bookworm as she stared at him.
"Am I moving too slow?" asked Harry, causing Hermione to blush.
"Seriously Harry." interjected Neville. "You want to be our friends?"
"Of course!" replied Harry enthusiastically. "It's why I joined you all. When I looked through the compartment door I saw a group that I couldn't wait to get to know!"
"Why?" asked Hermione. "I mean, Neville and I are just about as unpopular as you can get. I was surprised when Luna here joined us."
"When I opened the door, you said hi and invited me in." said Luna. "You were the first to do so."
"When I stepped inside," said Harry "I saw intelligence, adventure, and who wouldn't want to get to know somebody with a pet toad!"
The four of them burst into laughter and didn't stop for several minutes. The remainder of the trip was quite uneventful. Harry used the time to get to know his fellow traveling companions and friends.
Hermione was every bit the bookworm he had hoped for and more. She knew just about all there was to know about Hogwarts and the wizarding world. Neville was shy, but of noble bloodline. He knew all about what they called Pureblood families and their culture. Luna was a Pureblood, however her father was the editor of the newspaper, The Quibbler, which distanced them from other noble families. The Lovegoods were fascinated by strange and rare magical creatures that most deemed to be mythical, according to Hermione. All in all, this was definitely the group that Harry was looking for; a real band of misfits.
A/N: Well, there's my first crossover! If you enjoyed, please feel free to review and let me know if I should continue the story. This chapter was not beta'd simply because I did not wish to trouble one of my talented Betas with this until I knew if it was going to fade to a one-shot or spawn into a multi-chapter FF.
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