Introductory Author's Note
Every piece of fanfiction begins with an idea. Usually something an author wants to either change or elaborate upon. In my case, I had a couple of them that got me started writing this.
First of all, I really only find Harry to be a particularly believable character in Order of the Phoenix, when he is frustrated and angry. With everything that happens to him in the books, year after year, that just makes more sense to me compared to the rather innocent boy in canon. Plus, I remember being a teenager, as well as having more recently watched my nephew go through his teen years. Being sarcastic and cynical is the way most teenagers act in my experience.
And that's before we get to someone suffering such an abusive childhood as Harry. While the Cinderella-like aspect fits in with the more whimsical, fairy-tale like first book, the series goes on, becoming darker and more serious, and yet that abuse is never treated very seriously.
I think that's why so many people choose to make a bigger deal out of it when writing fanfiction.
I've also tried to make Harry more cynical in part to make him more devious- as I think that's how he would react to having to deal with the Dursleys for all those years. Plus, it helps make the sorting hat's assertion that he could do well in Slytherin work better, as Harry is much more often shown being impulsive rather than cunning in canon.
However, that's only part of the germination of We're In This Together.
The other half in this case being Pansy Parkinson.
It was obvious to me to have Harry paired off with a Slytherin girl for this story. It could have easily been the more popular Daphne Greengrass instead.
But I decided to use Pansy for a few reasons.
1. She is the only Slytherin girl that actually gets some characterization in the books.
2. She seems quite likely to have had parents that would support Voldemort.
3. Way too many stories that feature Pansy also feature Draco, or even worse Draco/Hermione (which is beyond disgusting- he's a bigot that wants to kill her for fuck's sake)
4. Pansy is basically the mean girl role in the series, which I wanted to play around with.
5. If there can be thousands upon thousands of stories that turn nasty bastards like Draco and Snape into heroes, then surely even the school mean girl deserves a chance to shine- and uncover some hidden depth along the way.
As a point of departure though, this Pansy is rebellious. Canon Pansy shows up at the flying lesson being a bitch (but seemingly knowing Parvati & Neville already- something that will come up in this story) but otherwise doesn't appear again until book 3 when she starts hanging around Draco all the time. Therefore, I've taken the trope idea that while canon Pansy is basically set up with Draco/betrothed to him somewhere around the beginning of their third year, this Pansy is disgusted by Draco & wants to be free from him.
Also, with Pansy's family being potential Death Eaters, this fits perfectly with a second idea that started off this entire thing- what if Harry found a girl from a magical background who also suffered an abusive childhood? How would they team up & get along? What effects would their similar backgrounds have on them- both negatively & positively... etc.
And that led directly to the focus on their relationship- the intensity of that first teenage love, magnified in this case by trauma, magic, and the various adventures that Harry always gets drawn into.
With Harry being more cynical, he fits much better with Pansy than canon Harry would have.
He is also much more distrustful of authority here- as authority has let him down his entire life, with no one ever doing anything to help him against the Dursleys. Then when he gets to Hogwarts, Harry has to repeatedly save the day while the authority figures still let him down over and over again. Or in Snape's case, go out of their way to make him miserable.
Now in some ways, this story is inspired by the popular "Independent Harry" tropes.
However, I will try to avoid (or at least twist) many of the cliches that I've seen in similar Harry breaks free fanfics. For one thing, this starts at the end of Chamber of Secrets, rather than the more common end of Order of the Phoenix/emancipation via Sirius' will idea. For another thing, breaking free from Dumbledore's control of his life will not be a focus.
That being said, because Harry will be different from canon, he will also react very differently to many of the characters- especially some of the good guys. I will be trying to avoid bashing any characters though. Not that bashing is necessary to show someone in a negative light. And in this case, even some of the characters that I personally really like won't be portrayed as positively as they often are.
But I do try to keep people's behavior similar to canon for the most part- other than the admitted changes to Harry, obviously.
And over the course of the story, there will be changes to the plot as well that divert things away from canon, as the actions of our protagonists create ripples throughout the narrative.
As a note about the rating- this story will eventually feature sex & violence. There will be cursing throughout, although I won't have them swear like a sailor the way I did at that age. I hope you enjoy the story.
ADDENDUM January 2020
I realize that the size of this story might seem a bit daunting if you're just starting it. It could have theoretically been broken up into different volumes based on each year of Harry's schooling.
If you would like to break it up into smaller portions, chapter 40 marks the end of year 3 & would fit as the end of Part I. Chapter 63 marks the end of year 4 & thus Part II. I'm currently writing year 5.