Chapter One: Bedtime Stories

"…and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named vanished in a puff of smoke, while little Harry Potter looked on calmly. The wizarding world, grateful to Harry for saving their lives their lives, sent him to a place where he could be safe from any harm. And some say that, to this day, the Boy Who Lived protects all little witches and wizards from harm. So if you ever see a young boy with the symbol of a lightning bolt on his forehead, smile and thank him for keeping us safe."

From "The Boy Who Lived"

Written and Illustrated by: Erica Brahms

Wizardling and Witchlet Publishing, 1989

Ginny Weasley closed the book with a sigh. When they had arrived back at the Burrow, her family home, she had immediately rushed up the stairs to her room, ignoring her mum's offer of some tea and biscuits. Through the closed door, she could hear her father assuring Mum that she was probably a little upset that all her brothers were gone and that she would be fine in a few minutes. She smiled, she'd have to give him a big kiss later, as well as one for her mum for worrying her.

She had immediately rushed to her bookshelf and pulled out a much worn book with a bright blue cover. On it, there was a picture of a little boy – Harry Potter. She had read it through twice and now sat, cross-legged on her bed, and traced the picture with one finger. It didn't look quite like the boy she'd seen in the station that morning. About the only thing right in the picture was the scar. He had black hair, sure enough, but it wasn't messy like the boy's had been. It lay flat and neat on his head. His eyes were green, but they were dark where his were bright, like the frog stuffed animal she kept on her bed, and he'd worn glasses. He wore robes in the picture, while he had been wearing muggle clothes that looked like they might have been too big for him when he'd shuffled up to her mum in the station and asked how to get to Platform 9 ¾.

Thinking back to the shy boy, not much taller than her, who had shifted nervously as he talked and seemed to be all alone, she realized something else that was wrong with the picture.

The real Harry Potter hadn't been smiling, he'd looked sad

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Ron's first letter home was so unbelievable, Ginny would have thought he was lying if she hadn't overheard Professor McGonagall telling Mum much of the same in a floo call. Barely two months into Hogwarts and her brother was best friends with THE Harry Potter. Harry was now the youngest seeker in a century. They'd snuck out at night for a duel with that awful Malfoy boy (though the letter ordered her NEVER to tell Mum this) and had ended up running into a monstrous three-headed dog. And on Hallowe'en they'd fought, and beat, a fully-grown mountain troll!

While the contents of her letter were exciting and interesting, it was the short letter Ron had sent to Mum that had captured little Ginny's attention. The letter had contained an explanation about the troll, as well as the information that Harry was seeker for the Gryffindor team, but it had ended with a request that was stranger than anything Ginny had read in either letter.

Mum, Harry doesn't talk about it, but I don't think those people he lives with are very nice. I was talking to him the other day about Christmas and he asked me if everyone in our family got presents. At first I thought he was making fun of me…you know, with how poor we are? But when I said "of course," he just looked sad and said "of course." Then I asked him what he hoped to get for Christmas and he said "It doesn't matter," and left. I don't think he expects to get any presents, Mum. Do you think you could send him something, maybe? Nobody should go without presents at Christmas.

Was Ron mad? Why wouldn't Harry Potter get presents at Christmas? Who ever heard of someone not getting any presents at Christmas? The idea was so foreign to her that it finally pushed her resolve to do something she'd contemplated since seeing the sad boy who'd looked nothing like her bedtime story Prince.

Pulling out parchment and ink, she quickly got to work.

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Harry Potter sat at breakfast in the Great Hall trying not to doze off into his sausage. He, Ron, and Hermione had been out 'til curfew the previous night trying to find Nicholas Flamel in the library. He'd then had to spend several hours in the dorm doing the homework he'd put off in order to do the search. At least the essay had been for Transfiguration. If he'd had to do a History of Magic essay he'd likely have fallen asleep on it and woke up with ink all over his face, like he'd done the other night. Luckily, he was friends with Hermione now, and she'd known a handy little charm to clean it off quickly.

So asleep was he that he didn't notice Hedwig had landed in front of him until she nipped at the fingers loosely gripping his fork. Startled, he let his silverware clatter to his plate, sending a bit of egg flying into Hermione's hair, much to Ron's amusement. While the two of them bickered, something that had quickly become a norm between them, he untied the letter from Hedwig's leg. Confused, he stared at the envelope that bore his name. Who could be writing him a letter? The only person he could think who would was Hagrid, and this didn't look like his handwriting. Actually, after looking at all of his classmates' handwriting, he was certain it was a girl's handwriting.

Without quite knowing why, maybe because he didn't want Ron to take the mickey out of him for getting a letter from a girl, maybe because he was shocked and thrilled to get a letter from someone at all, he stashed the letter in the pocket of his robes. Muttering a hurried goodbye to the still-fighting Ron and Hermione, he rushed to the dorm, his curiosity eating at him and the mysterious letter burning a hole in his pocket.

Harry Potter,

You must be very confused to get a letter from a complete stranger, and you'll probably think I'm crazy by the time you've finished this but I have questions and I can't stand not having the answers anymore. My brothers are always telling me I'm too nosy for their own good, and they're probably right, (for once). You know some of them, I think. I'm Ginny Weasley: Percy, Fred, George, and Ron's sister. You might have seen me on the platform. You asked my Mum how to get on to Platform 9 3/4.

I guess that's my first question. How come you didn't know? And why were you there all alone? I've only ever seen a few seventh years catching the train by themselves.

I'm sorry if I'm prying too much. Dad says I tend to bury people with questions. I'm just curious. It's just that after seeing you at King's Cross, and hearing about you in Ron's letters, I'm confused. You don't seem a thing like I always imagined Harry Potter would be.

And I think you might be better than the bedtime story version of you. I'd like to see if there's a chance you could be my friend as well as my brother's.

Ever curious,

Ginny Weasley

P.S. Congratulations on making the Quidditch team. It'd be fun to play seeker, though I think I'd rather be a chaser. I sometimes sneak my brother's brooms out of the shed to practice. I'm pretty good, I think, but don't tell anyone. If you keep my secrets, I'll keep yours too. That's what friends do, after all.

A/N: So here we go again. This story starts out as a response to the "When Harry Met Ginny" Challenge on SIYE. As such the first few chapters should update quickly in an effort to get all the requirements in before the deadline. After that I should update slower, but I'll try to do it steadily. It should (cross your fingers) become a full series, a book per year, of this alternate universe. I hope y'all enjoy it.