Harry Potter really hated his life. At the moment, he was squashed up in the backseat of his Uncle Vernon's car, alongside his pig of a cousin Dudley and a pile of luggage. Needless to say, it was not a hell of a lot of fun.
Any normal ten-year-old boy, you see, would be ecstatic to discover that because of a move; nearly half of a school year would be spent at home. Dudley, who couldn't do anything academic to save his life,was certainly happy about the fact that his parents, Petunia and Vernon Dursley, had decided to wait the half-year until their 'precious son' (Dudley) and 'the freak/boy' (Harry) started high school before enrolling them at a school (or 'worthless institution'). Harry, however, would have much preferred being at a 'worthless institution' than being stuck at home with the pig (Dudley), the giraffe (Petunia), and the hippo (Vernon).
Why was Harry living with his aunt and uncle, one might ask? Well, Harry was an orphan – an orphan who knew nothing about his parents other than their names (Lily and James Potter) and how long he had been with them (until he was one). His 'family' (more like owners) treated him like at worst, dirt, or at best, a servant – so from that Harry was able to gather one more thing about his parents, or more specifically, his mother – Petunia hadn't liked her sister very much.
Harry wasn't informed of much else either, or at least around the Dursleys. At school he knew lots, seeing as his teachers, or at least his former teachers, were the only ones who had ever liked him. But here with the Dursleys, all Harry knew about the move was the why and the where – they were moving because Grunnings, the drill company where Uncle Vernon worked, had transferred him to the branch of Grunnings at Ottery St. Catchpole. Harry really wasn't looking forward to it – the one and only good thing about the move was the fact that the stairs at the new place didn't have a cupboard – Harry's bedroom at their old house in Little Whinging had been a cupboard under the stairs. At least he would have a bedroom.
Harry had been so absorbed in his thoughts that he hadn't even noticed the fact that they were there until the car had already stopped. "Out, boy," Harry's uncle said roughly, pulling Harry out of the car by the scruff of his neck. Harry hurried into the new house with an armload of heavy luggage so as to try and escape more verbal punishment (and manhandling).
Harry struggled to sleep that night. He had been disappointed (though he knew better than to show it) to find that his new 'bedroom' was actually supposed to be a study, and was so small that it might as well have been a cupboard under the stairs. The house was a three-bedroom house – why couldn't he have the third bedroom? It wasn't too big, but it would certainly be better than this. Sighing, he turned over and tried again, in vain, to fall asleep on his flimsy single mattress.
"Up! Boy, get up!" was what Harry woke up to the next morning. His Aunt Petunia was calling him to get up and make the breakfast. At least she wasn't tapping on the door. That was infuriating.
Mumbling incoherently to himself, Harry dressed quickly and, blinking sleep out of his eyes, hurried down the stairs to make breakfast.
Harry rushed out the door as soon as there was a break in his chores. Moving had upped the quantity of said inconveniences, and though he knew that he would be in for a beating (verbalized, of course – the Dursleys had never gone so far as to physically hit him) when he got back, slipping away for even an hour was worth it. Although, Harry realized as he broke into a run, he had nowhere to go. There was a weeping-tree at the park in Little Whinging, and that had been his sanctuary, but he would have to find a new place to call his now.
Soon, the jogging Harry found a lake that was incredibly calming and peaceful. The water's edge was lined with trees, and Harry thought that it would be good to find a tree like the weeping-tree in Surrey to make his sanctuary. Glancing around, his eyes probing the colourful thicket of trees in a contemplative search, he found the perfect tree!
But once he started rushing towards the tree, he realized that someone else had already claimed it as their own sanctuary. And that someone was the most beautiful girl Harry had ever seen.
She was about Harry's age, give or take a year or so, and had soft, wavy hair that tumbled in loose curls all the way down her back, hair that was the prettiest shade of scarlet that Harry had ever seen. Her skin was lightly freckled and sun-browned, and her body was slight and slender. She held some kind of book – a diary, perhaps? – and was writing in it with some kind of strange, plumed red-and-gold feather. Her eyes, almost hidden by a lock of that soft scarlet hair, were cast down upon the book. It was only when Harry got closer that he noticed what colour they were – a warm, chocolate brown. They were amazingly filled with all different emotions – laughter, mischief, happiness, innocence, but underneath it all there was an underlying, but clearly present, hint of loneliness.
Excitement filled Harry up to the core. Could this girl be like him – friendless, alone? Could Harry possibly become friends with her?
As soon as Harry thought this, his dismissed his initial wonderings. He had never had a friend before – everybody thought he was strange, weird, odd. This girl would be no different – he was sure of it.
However, just as he thought this, words seemed to force their way out of Harry's mouth, apparently of their own accord. He heard himself speak as though it were a stranger talking – "Hello, what's your name?"
The girl looked up, startled. Harry cursed himself for being so – what was the word? Mysterious? Sudden? Yes, that was it. Sudden. The poor girl clearly had no idea how long he had been watching her – for all she knew, he could have been staring at her for hours – given that she had been there for hours, of course.
"Wh-who are you?" she said, the look of shock in her deer-caught-in-headlights-like eyes changing swiftly and suddenly to suspicion. "Explain yourself."
Harry restrained a grin with difficulty, for reasons he was completely unaware of. This girl was so – feisty. And it was with a complete loss of control of his tongue that he responded, "My name's Harry. Now, to repeat my question, what's your name?"
The girl's eyes were still suspicious. "I'm smart enough not to divulge things like that to complete strangers, thanks. And don't say you're not a stranger because you've told me your name. I'd want to know someone for more than five seconds before I told them my name, all blasé without a care in the world. It's a dangerous world." She folded her arms defiantly.
This time, he really did smile, for a reason again unclear to him. Why was this girl so different from the others? Why was she so unlike the girls from his old school back at Surrey?
Ottery St. Catchpole was definitely a strange town, Harry mentally decided. Suddenly aware that this curious girl was awaiting his reply, Harry decided this time to hold his tongue and keep control of what he said.
Weighing his words carefully, he finally responded with, "I promise I mean you no harm. My full name's Harry Potter." He tried to convey as much genuineness through his tone of voice and his eyes as he could.
For some again unknown reason – God, was he getting tired of these constant unknown reasons! – the unique girl began coughing violently when he said this. Finally, when her coughing fit subsided, the girl spoke, this time with apology laced through her words.
"I'm really sorry," she said sincerely. "My name's Ginny – Ginevra, really, but I hate that name – and my last name's Weasley." Harry was clueless as to what he had said to cause this sudden change of tone which had seemingly come from nowhere. He was getting quite fed up with not knowing anything. Apart from her name, this girl truly was a mystery.
He didn't know why, but Harry felt drawn to this – this Ginny. Everything about her was, at least in his eyes (and from the little that he knew), perfect. He was seized by a sudden, mad desire to be her friend. So it was with a complete lack of muscle control that he flopped down beside her, putting his back to the tree trunk and shifting so that as little tree roots poked into his backside as possible, which was surprisingly easier than it looked due to the soft moss that cushioned them.
Ginny's eyes widened in surprise, but Harry took no notice – or at least, he pretended to take no notice. Taking extra care not to blurt anything extra out, Harry asked her, "What are you doing here?" He was careful to soften his words so as not to appear too blunt. He was, for some unknown reason, desperate not only for a friend, but for Ginny especially to be that friend. Now acutely aware of this strange desire, he vowed then and there, on the spot, to turn over a new leaf here at Ottery St. Catchpole.
"I'm… I, um…" Ginny looked reluctant to tell him why she was here at the weeping-tree. The question had the clear potential to be tactless – Harry only just realized this after he had foolishly spoken the words. He chided himself for being so stupid – at first he hadn't thought the question to be a personal one, but he really didn't know anything about Ginny or her life – she could be here mourning somebody's death or something.
Finally, after an awkward and rather pregnant pause, Ginny began talking again, albeit in a quiet voice. "I'm here to get away from my brothers. I'm a lot younger than them as well as being the only girl. They exclude me all the time." Ginny blushed as soon as she said this.
Harry felt a surge of sympathy for the poor girl, followed by a feeling of immense elation. If she was telling him things as private- and personal-seeming as this, did that mean that she was his friend?
"I – I'm sorry to burden you," Ginny said hurriedly.
"No, no, that's perfectly alright," Harry exclaimed, his voice rushed a little from his haste to get rid of the awkwardness. There was another lull in the half-conversation, but this time it wasn't as awkward and heavy as before. It was more pleasant, for the both of them knew, somehow, without a clue in the world as to how they knew, that they had just made their first friend.
For the rest of the day the duo talked, just talking, happily aware of their first ever friendship. Sometimes they would talk about morose things, like Harry's life with the Dursleys and how Ginny always felt excluded from her six brothers, and other times they talked about lighter things, things that they could talk freely about without their voices hitching with sadness or shame. They didn't even retreat back to their separate houses for lunch – the giddy feeling inside the both of them was sustainment enough.
Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley had just made their first friends respectively.
Little did they know that just the next day they would become far more than friends.