Disclaimer: Obviously I own nothing here, I'm just writing this for fun. If I did own 'Harry Potter', I assure you someone else would've died at the end of book five.

Anyway. Read. Enjoy. Review. Thanks.

Chapter One: Across the Barrier

Vernon Dursley glanced warily in his rear view mirror as he edged his car closer to the front entrance to King's Cross Station in London. Fifteen-year-old Harry Potter was squished into the back seat with his large trunk containing all of his belongings and one bulky cage containing his snowy white owl, Hedwig.

A spot opened up on the curb as a red SUV merged back into traffic and Vernon seized the opportunity to pull his car into the space. As soon as the car had stopped moving, Harry reached for the handle and began to climb out of the car. He wasn't quick enough.

"Hurry up, boy," Vernon snapped as Harry slipped out the door and hauled his trunk behind him. "I don't want anyone to see me here, what with your kind around today," Vernon spat the last few words as Harry pulled the owl cage out with him as well. As soon as Harry had pushed the door shut, Vernon was edging his car back onto the main road. Before Harry could even pull his belongings fully onto the curb, the car had disappeared completely in the midmorning traffic.

"Of course," Harry muttered. "They'd assume you were associated with us. Because it's only wizards who use King's Cross. No one else could possibly be here." With a sigh, he grabbed the handle of his trunk, picked up the owl cage, and made his way over to get a cart to place his belongings on.

As with every year, King's Cross Station was exceptionally busy on the morning of September 1st, but Harry knew exactly where he was going and could avoid the bother of having to ask a harried station employee for help. Luckily for him, the moment he stepped through the main entrance doors, he saw a mass of familiar people standing a few feet away from a newsstand.

"Ron!" Harry called to his best friend as he pushed his trunk towards the mass of red haired people. The boy in question turned quickly and smiled as Harry came up to him.

"Harry! Brilliant, you made it!" Ron Weasley congratulated as his mother scooped Harry into a protective hug.

Finally, he was released from Molly Weasley's arms. He glanced at the group around him and was delighted to see one non-red head smiling at him: his other best friend, Hermione Granger. She, as with all of the younger Weasleys, had a cart in front of her and was hugging her cat, Crookshanks, in her arms. The cat looked like he was struggling to breathe in her tight grasp.

"We were beginning to worry that you weren't coming, Harry," Hermione said. "We were supposed to meet twenty minutes ago."

"Traffic," Harry muttered. "And Uncle Vernon won't drive a bit above the speed limit; he's afraid he might crash and put a dent in his precious car." Hermione laughed sympathetically as Mrs. Weasley looked down at her watch.

"We'd better get moving to the platform now, kids," she began to usher them in the direction of their hidden platform. "Muggles everywhere, but that's too be expected, of course." A tall man in a business suit looked at her as though she were crazy at the unfamiliar word, but she smiled at him and herded the teenagers in front of her.

Harry fell into step with Hermione and Ron as they pushed their carts through the crowded station. The other three Weasleys returning to Hogwarts formed a similar line in front of them; Muggles in the station couldn't help but give the group a wide berth as they made their way through.

Many years of experience attending Hogwarts made the trip to Platform 9 and 3/4 an easy one and they soon arrived en masse at the barrier. Muggles went about their business, getting on and off of the trains arriving at both Platforms 9 and 10. Very few of them took any notice of the teenagers getting ready to disappear onto a platform none of them knew existed.

"Fred, George, you two go first," Molly ordered. "And behave yourselves once you've gotten to the other side."

Fred saluted her mockingly and stepped through the barrier. His twin followed close behind him and soon he, too, was gone. Once they were safely through, Molly turned to the girls.

"You next, Hermione," she motioned toward the seemingly solid wall. Hermione stepped forward, her cart securely in front of her. A moment later, she was gone, as well.

Molly motioned next for her youngest child and only daughter. Ginny waited for a moment as a Muggle woman pulled her two curious children onto the train about to depart from platform ten. Once the two sets of inquisitive eyes were safely out of the way, Ginny stepped forward and disappeared with her cart through the wall.

Now it was Harry's turn.

Molly seemed reluctant to let Harry go and gave him another quick hug before pushing him towards the barrier. Harry aligned his cart with the wall between platforms 9 and 10 and stepped forward. He approached the wall as normal, stepping confidently towards his destination, but just as he should have disappeared through the wall, something went wrong.

Instead of slipping easily through the barrier, Harry bounced back. Hedwig squawked in protest as her cage was jostled. He looked confused at the wall and then turned to look at his friend behind him. "It's not going to be second year all over again is it..." but he stopped short when he noticed that Ron was no longer behind him, or anywhere on the Muggle platform, that he could see. Mrs. Weasley appeared to be gone as well. "Weird," Harry muttered. He stepped back from the barrier and looked around. Sure enough, the two Weasleys had vanished.

Harry wasn't sure what to do as he looked back at the barrier. After a moment's deliberation, he decided his best bet would be to try again to get onto the platform.

He paid no attention to the Muggles hurrying to meet their friends and relatives on platform 10 when the train arrived. The conductor had just announced that it would be there in five minutes.

Harry realigned himself with the wall, checking as he did to see if Ron or Mrs. Weasley might have reappeared in the few seconds that had passed, but they hadn't. Growing more confused by the moment, he stepped forward again, expecting this time to bounce back. He didn't.

Harry looked around, surprised to find himself on Platform 9 and 3/4. He turned in a full circle, taking in the whole platform and pausing for a moment to look at the wall behind him. Nothing looked out of place except for the fact that he didn't see the Weasleys or Hermione anywhere.

"Strange," he whispered as he stepped further onto the platform and away from the barrier. "But where could they have gone?"

A flash of red caught his eye. Unless his eyes were mistaking him, Ron Weasley was now standing over near the train's engine. "How did he get there?" Harry muttered, but pushed his cart in that direction and called his friend's name.

The boy looked up upon hearing his name, but didn't seem to be able to locate the source of the voice. Harry called out to him again and this time Ron located Harry, who was hurrying as quickly toward him as he could push his cart.

"Do I know you?"

Harry stopped short at his friend's question. "I'm... Harry? How did you get in here?"

Ron wrinkled his nose at Harry. "Through the barrier, same as anyone else. Who did you say you were?"

"Harry. Harry Potter," he answered. There was still no recognition on the other boy's face. "Your friend, you know, the boy who lived, ring a bell?"

"Obviously you've lived," another voice drawled from beside them. "But clearly not well enough to have decent clothes, even of the Muggle variety. I know their fashions are horrid, but really, they do make them in a wide range of sizes, you could have at least tried to find yours." Harry turned to look at the boy who had spoken; he was sure he had recognized the voice.

He was right. Standing next to Ron was Draco Malfoy, his enemy since they first met. Both he and Ron were glaring at Harry who suddenly got the feeling that something far stranger than he had imagined before was going on.

"I don't think I know you," Ron looked Harry up and down. "And I do tend to know everyone worth knowing around here. Comes from having your father be next in line for Minister of Magic."

"Minister of Magic?" Harry spluttered. "Have you gone mad, Ron? Your dad hasn't been able to get himself promoted above a bottom level office because he loves Muggles too much!"

Ron snorted disdainfully, "My father? Love Muggles? I think you're the one who's gone mad, whoever you are." He paused thoughtfully. "And Draco is quite right, you really ought to get better clothes. I daresay I hope your robes are in better condition than the filth you're wearing now."

That was when Harry took a good look at Ron's clothes. He was wearing Muggle clothing, as was everyone else in the station, but he was dressed in the latest fashions and, Harry couldn't be sure, but the clothes looked like they probably carried a designer label.

Harry stepped back in confusion, not sure of what to make of the situation in front of him.

"There you two are!" Harry turned at the sound of another voice and saw a girl who looked quite a bit like Ginny Weasley approaching them. He did a double take as she walked over to Draco. This was no Ginny Weasley he had ever known. Like Ron, she was wearing brand new clothes and she looked a bit like one of the models in the magazines that his cousin Dudley had to hide from his parents.

Just when he thought he couldn't be any more surprised, Harry got another shock. Ginny threw her arms around Draco and kissed him squarely on the mouth. Harry looked over to Ron and saw that the boy didn't seem to mind as Draco and Ginny continued to kiss.

"Umm..." Harry mumbled, stumbling backwards. "I'll just be... I'll just go now, I think." He glanced warily over his shoulder at the three of them as he hurried away.

Not paying attention to where he was going, Harry soon collided with someone else. Hurrying to pick himself up from the floor, Harry looked up to see Fred and George standing over him. Fred offered him a hand and soon he was back on his feet again. Harry wasn't sure he wanted to chance asking if they knew him, but didn't see how he had a choice.

"You all right, mate?" Fred asked.

Harry smiled, "Yes, fine. Just not paying attention, sorry."

"Quite all right."

The twins were not openly hostile to Harry, as Ron had been, and he noticed quickly that their clothes were in the same shabby, hand-me-down state they had been when he last saw them on the other side of the barrier. Harry felt his confidence returning. "I just ran into Ron over there. He was acting friendly with Draco Malfoy!"

George looked questioningly at Harry, "Of course. Why wouldn't he be? I mean, you are talking about Ron Weasley, aren't you?"

Harry nodded, confused again, "Of course I am, who else would I be talking about?" he paused for a moment, contemplating the other part of that statement. "And what do you mean, why wouldn't he be? The only person Draco Malfoy hates more than Ron is me. Or perhaps Hermione."

Fred glanced at George and then turned back to Harry. "If you mean, Hermione Granger, I'll back you up on that. Malfoy certainly does hate her."

"Loathe her, you mean," George interrupted.

"You, I'm not so sure about," Fred continued. "You do look quite a bit like the type Malfoy and Weasley would hate, what with your ragged, over-sized clothes and all, but... who are you?"

Harry looked bewildered at the two boys standing in front of him. It took him a moment to begin to gather his thoughts together, but finally he spoke, "What do you mean, who am I?"

"Just that," Fred answered. "I mean, you seem to know who we are, but I haven't a bloody clue as to who you are."

"Of course I know who you are!" Harry spluttered. "You're Fred and George, everybody knows that!"

"Well, I wouldn't say everybody..." George demurred.

Fred smiled eagerly, "I would! After that end of year prank last spring!" George's face lit up at the memory.

"End of year prank... What end of year prank?" Harry wondered aloud. He couldn't remember any prank and hoped that Fred and George would have realized that a prank at the end of last year would have been very distasteful.

Fred laughed, "Obviously you wouldn't know, mate. You didn't go to Hogwarts last year."

"Yes, I did!" Harry insisted. "I did, and I went to Hogwarts the year before that, and the year before that, and..."

"All right, all right, we get it," George interrupted. "You went to Hogwarts last year... except you didn't. I think I'd remember you, what with that awesome scar on your forehead. Where'd you get that, by the way?"

Harry instinctively reached up to flatten his bangs down over his scar as he glared at the twins, "You think you're being funny, about my scar? Listen, if this is one of your pranks... and, it'd be a good one, I'll admit... but if it is, it's not very funny, so you can stop it now!"

Fred and George shared a confused expression, and then both turned back to Harry. "I don't know what you're talking about," Fred began.

"I mean, sure, we were planning on letting off a few dungbombs in the Prefect's compartment on the Express later on, but nothing here in the station. Are you crazy, with our mum here to catch us?" George continued.

Fred grinned, "She's left now, you know?" Both boys eyes lit up with the possibilities this presented.

"You really don't know who I am?" Harry asked, a defeated tone drifting into his voice.

George took pity on the younger boy, "You could start by telling us your name."

A girl brushed past Harry in a hurry, bumping her cart into his leg. "Sorry," she mumbled as she bustled past. He stared after her for a second, sure that he was seeing Hermione, but she didn't stop to pay him a moment's notice.

Suddenly, he saw a hand waving in front of his face. "Yoo-hoo," Fred said, "your name, mate?"

"You really don't know?" Harry asked once more, a note of resigned acceptance in his voice. The twins shook their identical heads no. "I'm Harry. Harry Potter."

"Nice to meet you, Harry," George stuck out his hand and Harry took it. The red haired boy shook his hand vigorously up and down for a few seconds before Harry could wrench his hand away.

"And you say you've been to Hogwarts for a few years now?" Fred asked.

Harry nodded quickly, "Yes, this'll be my fifth year now."

"Which house?"

"Gryffindor, of course!" Harry was growing more worried by the second.

Fred wrinkled his nose, looking Harry over thoughtfully, "No, I think we'd definitely remember you if you were." He motioned to his brother, "We're seventh year Gryffindors ourselves. Neither of us Head Boy as our dear mother would have liked, but we can't all be Percy Weasleys can we now?"

Harry glanced down at his cart as Hedwig chirped happily from her cage. "You remember me, don't you girl?" he extended a hand in the general direction of his owl. "I'm not going mad, am I?"

George clapped his hand on the younger boy's shoulder, "I think you are, mate. But that's okay. Can't speak for Fred, but I for one like you."

"Me, too, mate. Never can have too many loony people around," Fred slapped his hand down on Harry's other shoulder. "So, before we miss the Express..."

"Dear mother would hate that..."

Fred silenced his brother with a glare, "Why don't we go stow our stuff and find a compartment?"

"You are coming with us, aren't you, Harry?" George asked. "You can't very well just stay in the station."

Their point was emphasized as the train's engine whistled and let off a puff of smoke. "All right," Harry said. "This is so weird."

"No, it's magic," Fred said happily. "Come on, then." The twins pushed their carts in front of them as they hurried towards the train. Harry shook his head as he watched them go. After a moment, he grabbed the handle of his cart and hurried after them. Fred and George hauled their trunks onto the train and then turned to help Harry with his. Once all of their belongings were on board, Fred reached a hand down to pull Harry onto the train.

The platform was empty as the three boys boarded the train. They each grabbed their trunks and Harry clutched Hedwig's cage to his chest. The door swung shut behind them as they started down the corridor in search of an empty compartment.

--------------------------

The Hogwarts Express lurched out of the station and into the open air of the magical realm of London. Harry stood up and glanced out the window as the familiar landscape passed by. He, Fred, and George had found a compartment in the back of the train. It was the only one open, meaning they had to drag their belongings all the way down the long corridor.

Once their luggage was safely stowed, he had opened Hedwig's cage and the owl now sat on the bench next to her cage, warily eyeing Fred and George who were bent over a notebook in front of them on the opposite bench. Harry turned from the window and collapsed onto the bench next to his owl with a sigh.

Fred looked up and smiled at him, "Come on, mate, it can't be that bad! We're here, after all."

"Well, apparently we're wherever he's come from, too," George commented. "So it's not like we're a special treat, is it?"

"I think I'm always a special treat!"

Harry smiled, "You can't expect me just to slip into your world, no questions asked, can you? I've no idea how I got here or how to get back!"

"So you think this is an alternate universe for you or something?" George asked. "That's kind of, well, impossible, isn't it?"

"Cleary not," Fred countered. "How else do you explain it?"

Harry looked at the notebook laying open on Fred's lap. Writing in the twins' messy scrawl covered the parchment pages inside, and there were a few diagrams of what appeared to be the lay out of the train on the page it was opened to. "What is that?"

Fred and George looked at each other and seemed to be having a silent conversation as Harry watched them. Finally, they appeared to reach a decision, and Fred said, "We'll only tell you because we like you. And, who knows, you might not even be real."

"It's the secret to our success. All of our research and planning. Everything we've done or learned over the years," George continued.

"It's all in this notebook," Fred finished. "We've never let anybody else see this, so you better not make us regret it." He handed the notebook over to Harry who looked at the red cover.

The notebook was beaten up and clearly well loved. In gold lettering, centered on the front, it said 'The Private Property of Fred and George Symmons: Danger Contained Inside'. Harry wrinkled his nose in confusion, "Symmons?"

"What about it?" Fred asked. "I thought you said you knew us?"

Harry nodded, "I do. But... Symmons? Is that your surname?"

"Of course it is," George said. "What do you think?"

Harry looked down and read the name off the notebook silently in his head again. Then he turned back to the twins, "Where I come from... well, the Fred and George I know... their last name isn't Symmons."

Fred looked confused by this. At first, George did, too, but then he seemed to come to a realization, "Is our name Weasley? Well, are our other us named Weasley, I guess I should say?"

"Yes!" Harry exclaimed. "That's it. Why isn't that... I mean, if you know that it would be Weasley, then..."

Fred seemed to understand now, too, but it was George who began to explain it to Harry. It was clearly not his favorite subject to talk about. "Our last name used to be Weasley. When we were, what, about three years old, our mum had her last baby, our sister, Ginny, you know her, right?" Harry nodded, so George continued, "Well, she and dad weren't on very good terms even then, and once the baby was born, things got worse. Soon, I think Ginny was only about four months old, they divorced."

Harry was shocked at this. He couldn't even begin to imagine the Weasleys he knew getting divorced. Fred picked up where his brother left off, "Dad took Ginny with him, as well as Ron and Percy. The rest of us stayed with Mum... George and I, and Bill and Charlie, that is. I don't know, are there others in your... your whatever?"

Harry shook his head, "No, just those."

George nodded, "Okay, so pretty soon, Dad started to get even further away from the type of person Mum wanted to be associated with. He's very big on purity of blood and all of that. So Mum decided to go back to her maiden name, Symmons, and had all of our names changed accordingly."

"Without the hindrance of a Muggle loving wife, he began to rise in the Ministry. So that's why Ron and Ginny are rich little Slytherins and we're just poor Gryffindors," Fred finished.

Harry's head was spinning. Any part of him that was still clinging to the hope that this was just a very elaborate prank was quickly leaving him behind. "It's just so strange," he said. "I just saw all of you in King's Cross Station, and everyone was happy. And now this..."

"It's weird for us, too," George said. "We've never met anyone from, you know, anywhere else, either. What're you going to do once we get to school?"

"I don't know," Harry admitted. He wrinkled his eyebrows as he considered it. "I hadn't really thought of that, I guess. I suppose I'll have to speak with the professors, or something," he sighed, then glanced down at his wrist before remembering he had no watch. "It is still the same year and all, isn't it?"

"1995, mate," Fred answered. Harry nodded. He opened his mouth to ask something else, but was interrupted when the heavy compartment doors were hauled open.

The girl who had bumped into Harry on the platform stood in the doorway, her head down, wavy brown hair cascading over her face. She was panting in an effort to catch her breath and sounded as though she had run all the way down the train. She was dressed in ordinary Muggle clothing, but the neck to her shirt seemed to be stretched out of shape.

"Hermione?" George asked. The girl looked up and Harry was surprised to see that it was indeed his friend. "What happened to your shirt?" he indicated the distorted neckline.

"Weasley," she muttered, "and Malfoy."

"Of course," Fred sighed, standing up. He walked over to her and pushed her into the compartment, then glanced out into the hallway. He turned back into the compartment and shoved the doors closed. "You've really got to start standing up to them. What'd they do?"

She sighed, "Tried to curse me. And when I ran, grabbed me by my shirt. But I got away," she added unnecessarily. "Can I sit in here?"

"Of course," George said. Then he looked at Harry, who was staring wide-eyed at Hermione. "Oh, by the way, this is Harry. He's, umm..."

"He's new," Fred finished. The boys shared a look and this time included Harry in the silent discussion, wherein they decided not to tell Hermione about Harry's mysterious appearance.

Hermione smiled slightly at him and moved to sit down next to Harry, but jumped in shock and scooted to the end of the bench as Hedwig nipped affectionately at her hand. "Is that your owl?" she asked Harry.

"Yes," he answered. "Sorry about that. Don't mind her, she's just friendly."

Fred sat down again and then noticed the secret notebook was still in Harry's hands. He jumped up quickly, snatched the book back, and stashed it in his luggage. As he finally sat down for good, he looked across to see Hermione's inquisitive look. "Oh, don't mind that," he cautioned. "Nothing really, just a bit of fun."

"Something else to make Gryffindor lose points?" she asked warily.

Fred smirked at her, "Nothing worse than melting cauldrons in potions class."

Hermione blushed furiously and looked down at her hands, "I don't do it on purpose. I can't help it if I don't understand potions at all. And with horrid Malfoy and Weasley in there to taunt me about it all the time... Did you know Malfoy has been made prefect?"

"That is disgusting," George agreed. Fred nodded and it was all Harry could do to stop himself from doing the same. He had to remind himself that he wasn't supposed to know who these people were.

"Do you know who the new Gryffindor prefects are?" Fred asked.

"Neville Longbottom, of course," Hermione rolled her eyes, "and Padma Patil. Which Parvati isn't too happy about."

"What do you have against Neville?" Fred asked.

Hermione rolled her eyes again, "Oh, he's only Mr. Perfect. Most popular boy, the best grades in the school, full of himself, every girl wants him. If he was any worse, he'd be in Slytherin!" She looked at the boys across from her, "Oh, you two just like him because he plays chaser on the bloody Quidditch team!"

"And he's a damn good chaser, too!" Fred exclaimed.

"Whatever," Hermione said. "There is a world beyond Quidditch, you know!"

Fred nodded, "Sure there is. Pranks!" George high-fived him and Harry joined in their laughter. "You do like Quidditch, don't you, Harry?" Fred asked.

Harry nodded, "I played seeker at my, er, old school."

Hermione glanced over at Harry and he could almost see a question forming in her eyes. After a second, she asked, "Are you going to be sorted? What happens with a transfer student? That is what you are, right, you look too old to be a first year."

Harry didn't know how to answer this without telling Hermione the truth, something he had a feeling wasn't a good thing to do. He opened and shut his mouth a few times while trying to think of something to say; finally, George stepped in and saved him.

"He'll be a fifth year, like you. And he's been pre-sorted. Gryffindor. McGonnagall didn't think it would be right to make him be sorted with all of the first years, you know," George told her. Hermione looked curiously at Harry for a second but then nodded and accepted this answer without further question. Once she had turned away from him, Harry mouthed a quick thank you to George who smiled in response and gave him a thumbs up.

Just then, the doors slid noisily open again and the four Gryffindors looked up to see Draco Malfoy leaning lazily against the doorframe. Ron and Ginny Weasley were with him and a boy that Harry recognized immediately as Goyle was hovering behind the group.

"Well, well, well, isn't this sweet," Draco drawled, observing the people in the compartment in front of him. "Very Gryffindor of you, Symmons," he glared at both of the twins, "to take the crazy boy in with you."

"Who's crazy?" Hermione asked.

"Quiet, mudblood," Ron snarled at her. Harry was surprised to see that she immediately quieted. "The boy next to you is completely mad, or haven't you noticed? Harry Potter, wasn't it?"

"The boy who lived?" Draco chuckled.

Fred, George, and Hermione all looked questioningly at Harry who suddenly wished he could disappear into his seat. Luckily, George came to his rescue, "He's not mad, Malfoy. He thought you two were people he recognized from his old school."

Ron snorted with laughter, "Did he then? And why would people from his old school be here?"

No one had a good answer to that and Ron and Draco both smiled condescendingly down at the lot of them.

"Why don't you all leave?" Fred growled. "No one wants you here."

Draco smirked and stepped further into their compartment. Ron did the same, following the blond boys lead. "I don't think I will," Draco reached down and grabbed a lock of Hermione's hair. He fingered it as she tried to jerk her head away from him. "I think I'd like to have a bit of fun with the mudblood."

Fred jumped up and physically put himself between Draco and Hermione. She gave out a yelp of pain as Draco tugged on her hair as he was pushed away, but he quickly dropped her hair and she huddled by the window as Fred glared down at Draco. "I said leave. This is our compartment. And don't think I don't know some curses to make you regret it if you stay."

The two boys eyed each other for a few minutes that felt like an eternity to Harry until Ginny's voice broke their concentration. "Come on, Draco," she purred. "We might as well leave. There's hardly any room to snog in here anyway."

Draco turned to look at her as she smiled sweetly at him. He glanced back at Hermione and then turned to leave, muttering obscenely under his breath. After he exited the compartment, Ron turned to do the same, but not without directing a rude gesture at both of his estranged brothers.

Hermione whimpered from her spot in the corner as Goyle slammed the doors shut behind the four Slytherins. Fred paced one lap around the small compartment and then sat back down next to his twin.

"Are you all right, Hermione?" Harry asked. The girl nodded quickly, rubbing the part of her scalp sore from Draco's pulling her hair.

"You've really, really got to learn to stand up for yourself," George said. "We won't always be here to run them off. And who knows if they'll always listen to us anyway."

Fred nodded in agreement, "This time they only left because of Ginny. And how disgusting is that, her going to snog Malfoy. Even with everything, she's still my sister, and that's just wrong."

"He's really horrid, isn't he?" Harry muttered.

"Absolutely despicable," Fred agreed. Then he grinned slyly at Harry, "The boy who lived? What's that about?"

Harry shrank back in his seat again and smoothed his hair back down over his scar. He hunched down and blushed slightly, but hoped the others didn't notice. "It's nothing really."

"Well, obviously it's something," George said. "If you told them about it. Why'd you tell them about it, and you won't tell us? We haven't called you mad!"

Fred shook his head, "Actually, we have. But what is that? It's something with your scar isn't it! Someone cursed you, and you lived, and you got that scar! I'm right, aren't I?"

"Scar?" Hermione asked, leaning forward to look at Harry. With a sigh, he pushed his bangs out of the way and let her see the lightening bolt shaped marking across his forehead. "Oh, wow," she muttered. "That looks like it was painful."

"I'd rather not talk about it," Harry scowled. "And I'd rather not talk about the whole boy who lived thing, either, all right? And I didn't tell them about it, I just mentioned it when I was trying to..." he glanced over at Hermione. "When I thought I recognized them. And they would have known what it was anyway, if they were, er, who I thought they were."

"Why did you think you recognized them, Harry? There wouldn't have been other boys from your other school transferring here, too, would there?" Hermione asked.

Harry laughed ruefully, "No, I'm pretty sure there wouldn't be. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one. Me and Hedwig here," he ran his hand over his owl's head.

Fred laughed and Hermione turned to look at him. "Oh, nothing," he motioned back towards Harry. "Just, you know, thinking of something else funny." She wrinkled her nose at him, clearly aware that something strange was going on, but not anywhere near being able to wager a guess as to what it was.

Suddenly, something occurred to Harry. He turned to the twins, "Was your father a Slytherin?"

George looked surprised at the question, but nodded quickly, "Yes, I'm pretty sure he was. I'm sure Ron and Ginny would make a fuss about it if he were something else."

"Or maybe they'd try to hide it," Fred offered. "Why do you ask?"

"Just that you're so different from them," Harry said. "It's just interesting, is all."

Hermione nodded, "Well, it's a good thing, isn't it? It'd be horrid to have four like those two," she motioned towards the door the Slytherins had left through, "running around."

"We were raised by our Gryffindor mum," George added. "Loves Muggles a lot, she does. She and Hermione's parents are great friends. Hermione's Muggle born, by the way, I don't know if you knew..."

"You don't have anything against Muggle borns, do you?" Hermione asked. She, Fred, and George all waited with interest for Harry's answer.

"Not at all!" Harry said quickly. "One of my best friends from... from back home is a Muggle born."

Hermione sighed happily with relief, "That's good to know. It's so horrible with the people, mostly Slytherins, of course, who are all so prejudiced. And I try so hard to be as good as everyone else, but I'm such a failure as a witch, so that's just one more thing for them all to make fun of me for."

"You're not a failure, Hermione," George said. "You just need a little extra work, I guess."

"All right," Fred cut in. "This conversation has gotten far too serious for my liking. There will be more than enough seriousness once classes start."

George snorted, "Since when have we ever been serious in classes?"

"Oh, right," Fred laughed. "So much for that idea. Anyway, that doesn't mean we can't have fun for now. Anyone for a game of Exploding Snap?" He reached into his pocket, rummaged around for a minute, and pulled out a battered deck of Exploding Snap playing cards. Harry wondered how it could have taken him so long to find the deck of cards in his pants pocket, but figured he must have magically expanded the pockets, no doubt for the purpose of holding more prank items.

He offered the cards around to everyone. Harry nodded his assent but Hermione declined to play. The three boys gathered close together, setting a trunk between them for a playing surface, and began a game.

Hermione watched with interest from her seat by the window as the boys played happily until it was time to change into their robes and prepare for arrival at the school.

To be continued...

Scenes from Chapter Two: Welcome to Hogwarts

- "Wait a second," the boy across from Seamus said. Harry recognized immediately that he was Dean Thomas. "Potter? Are you related to the Quidditch player?"

- "Sirius Black?" Harry asked in a whisper, as if the shock had knocked his voice out of him.

"That's him," Fred said. "What, you know him where you came from, too?"

- She motioned for Harry to come forward. He stepped towards the Head Table as she stood up and came around to meet him. "Who are you, boy?" she asked in a not entirely unkind voice.

"Harry. Harry Potter," he answered quickly and quietly.

"And you are in fifth year here?"