Chapter nine – Potions and exploring the premises

A few days had gone by since Harry arrived at Hogwarts. In many ways things weren't much different from life as Harry knew it in the muggleworld. He kept mostly to himself, as he had always done.

To begin with many of the other students had attempted to approach him, some with nosy questions and some with to Harry no apparent reasons. He couldn't decipher their motives for showing interest in him, as he had never before really been the target of any positive attention. He assumed they had their motives though.

As he was not very gracious to those initially showing interest in him, they one after the other came to the conclusion that it was rather pointless trying to make friends with him.

As for the classes they had attended so far, Harry found them as easy as he had found his studies in the regular muggle school he had attended the previous years.

He always worked hard, reading ahead, which paid off. They had still not done much practical work though, as they in most subjects had gone to merely one or two lessons as of yet.

Harry had been delighted to discover though that what little practical work he had attempted with his new wand had worked perfectly.

Also it was certainly a nice perk not having Dudley and his mindless followers around to worry about too. Adding on top of that the wonderfully elaborate meals they got each day, far better than anything Petunia had ever cooked, Harry felt his life overall had improved.

His only regret was that the students didn't have private rooms. The Entwhistle boy was perfectly tolerable as he seldom spoke, and when he did whatever he had to say had a point to it. The other three dimwits Harry could have gladly done without though, thank you very much.

The muggleborn who'd chattered away at him at the welcoming feast, Terry Boot as well as his newfound friend Anthony Goldstein were the kind of well meaning, constantly happy people who would just never shut up.

The leader of their little gang of three, Michael Corner was without question Harry's least favourite roommate though. He was not simply annoying; he was a complete asshole as far as Harry was concerned.

The boy was cocky, arrogant and he had made it a habit to ask Harry rude questions while throwing him looks of condescension. It was as if he'd made it one of his goals to prove in some demented way that he was better than the famous Harry Potter.

Harry himself thought the rumors going around of the power he must possess, having (supposedly) defeated Voldemort were exaggerated and ridiculous, but Michael Corner was a bigheaded, ignorant loudmouth who needed to learn some manners.

In opposition to Corner's obvious resentment of Harry's fame, most of the student body appeared very interested in him; well they had to begin with.

The first couple of days, aside from those actually approaching him, everyone he walked by seemed to gawk at him. Harry hated this more than anything. He was used to going fairly unnoticed and he despised this unwanted attention he received from strangers everywhere he went.

As he glared at anyone and everyone he caught staring at him and had handled those who dared fling him nosy questions increasingly coldly, he had started to get a reputation already of not being, let's just say, the approachable type. The number of strangers walking up to him for no other reason than their rude nosiness had decreased as the days went by.

Today was the last day of Harry's first week at Hogwarts. The introduction to the last of the subjects Harry was taking this year was today, potions. He'd learned that the teacher glaring at him from the Head table at the start of the week had been the professor teaching this subject, professor Snape. From what Harry had seen from afar the man was about as pleasant as Harry at his worst, on his better days. Not that Harry cared one way or the other; he was just hoping Snape was a competent teacher.

When Harry had found his way down to the correct dungeon classroom, he took a seat at an empty desk near the front row.

He was among the first students there but the rest soon filed in. Harry knew much of the work in this class would mean doing labs, meaning they would most likely need to work in pairs. As they were even numbered, eight Ravenclaws and six Hufflepuffs, he harbored no hope of being allowed to work on his own, which would otherwise have been his preference.

He'd just never been a team worker.

As it was he just hoped that whoever became the odd one out and was forced to take a seat next to Harry wouldn't prove to be terrible at potions and hold him back.

Boot and Corner sat down together, leaving Goldstein to look around for someone to partner with. Harry held his breath wishing that annoying blabbing idiot would not choose him. As Goldstein took a seat next to Isabel McDougal Harry thanked the gods he had brushed Goldstein's attempt at conversation off rather rudely just that morning.

Turpin and Patil who had been inseparable ever since the first day of school naturally sat down together and the Hufflepuffs had all sat down with one of their housemates.

That left Kevin Entwhistle who entered the room just then. He took the seat next to Harry, merely giving him a nod. Harry returned the gesture, grateful he'd gotten the one that hardly spoke. Entwhistle seemed to be a very quiet person, Harry'd never heard him say anything more than absolutely necessary and he had never addressed Harry.

Harry sat in silence, trying not to listen to all the inane chattering going on around him. Then after a few minutes the teacher swept in, rather dramatically Harry thought, with his robes billowing behind him. Stopping at the front with a very serious expression he gave a speech, equally as dramatic as his entrance, talking about the fine art of potions making.

Well, at least he's passionate about his subject, if a bit melodramatic about it…

Then, when Snape called their names he paused at Harry's.

"Ah… Harry Potter. Our new… celebrity", he commented smoothly, voice laced with obvious mockery.

Harry just stared back, replying with a 'yes, sir.'

Does he dislike me just because I'm famous? Like I asked for any of that, I can understand that spoiled brat Corner, but a grown man? Not that I care what he thinks of me, as long as I get a fair grade. Harry narrowed his eyes. Perhaps he was a fan of that Voldemort character? But he's a professor; surely he'd understand a small child did not defeat a powerful wizard?

"Potter!" the professor suddenly barked.

Harry straightened his back a bit, "Yes, sir?"

"Can you tell me what I would get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?" Snape asked, staring at Harry with what could only be interpreted as poorly concealed contempt.

"A sleeping potion called the Draught of Living Death, sir." Harry stated in a neutral tone.

Snape looked at him intensely for a second before reluctantly confirming his answer. "That is correct. Can you also tell me the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?" Snape sneered at him.

"They are the same plant, which also go under the name aconite", Harry replied without missing a beat.

Snape gave him an even uglier sneer before confirming and barking at them that they were expected to be taking notes. Next he addressed a Hufflepuff named Hannah Abbott, asking her where one would look for a bezoar. At the correct answer he awarded her with one point.

Harry raised an eyebrow, not missing the fact that he answered two more elaborate questions than that just before, only being rewarded with a sneer.

Snape passed around a few more questions and declared that Ernie MacMillan, the boy sitting next to Abbott, was a dunderhead for answering one wrong.

Soon they were to attempt brewing their first potion.

Entwhistle and Harry hardly spoke as they worked, simply motioning to who was to cut up what.

When they were about halfway through, their potion looked just about right in color and texture, and both of them watched it carefully, waiting for the right moment to add another ingredient. A shadow fell over Harry as Snape bent forward to look in their cauldron. He said nothing, but just stalked on to the next bench, not before glaring at Harry as he looked up.

"He doesn't seem to like you very much", Entwhistle said, uttering the longest sentence Harry had ever heard from him, except when answering a factual question posed by a teacher.

"No, few people do. Though he seems a bit overly hostile towards someone he doesn't know at all", Harry replied thoughtfully. Entwhistle just nodded, before putting in the next item due into their brew.

At the end of the lesson their potion was, as far as Harry could tell, perfect. It looked exactly like it was supposed to. He bottled it up and handed it in to Snape who just glanced at the bottle frowning, before muttering "acceptable."

Harry refrained from rolling his eyes as he nodded before taking his depart from the cold dungeons.

Harry was actually glad the next day to wake up to a day free from lessons. While every subject had gone well for Harry, there was a lot to take in what with the new school and completely new subjects.

Saturday he decided that aside from studying in the library he would also explore the castle and the grounds a bit more. He hadn't been outside since they got there and felt that a bit exposure to fresh air was probably a good thing right about now.

Arriving at the school library which was already familiar to Harry, he set course towards his usual table in the back, which was nicely secluded behind several bookcases. It was quiet this far back in the library and Harry sat down with a content sigh, looking out the window next to his table which showed a view over the forbidden forest, before getting to work.

After a few hours of studying his texts for his classes and finishing his homework for the upcoming week, Harry packed up his things to leave.

As he got closer to the exit he stopped in his tracks as he heard his name being mentioned in a half whisper from behind a nearby bookcase. He should have gotten used to this already; people commonly appeared to entertain an unhealthy obsession with him. Nevertheless he could not help stopping to listen when he heard someone talking about him. There were several voices, boys.

"- strange. I say people should watch out for him, he must have some unknown powers, having defeated you-know-who. He must be as bad, to have managed that. And have you seen the look on his face? All… cold. No, that bloke gives me the chills."

Harry peered through the bookcase next to him, over some books in the row in his line of sight. He recognized the three boys hunched together over a table, whispering about him. They were first years, Gryffindors. The one who had just spoken had blonde reddish hair; Harry could not remember his name.

"I think he's stuck up, personally. Thinks he's better than the rest of us just because he's famous." A boy with flaming red hair and a lot of freckles, Harry vaguely remembered being named something starting with 'w', answered. Walker? Warren? No.

"He just seems like a typical Ravenclaw bookworm to me." The last boy, who had dark skin and Harry recalled as being surnamed Thomas, replied. "Yeah, he's a bit more withdrawn than most of even the other Ravenclaws, but maybe he's just shy." He continued shrugging.

"I think he's dangerous. He's so weird-"

"Look who we have here", the redhead said interrupting the blonde, shoving him lightly and pointing towards someone Harry couldn't see.

"Granger! Where have you been? You actually leave the library between classes? I never would have guessed. Hey, wait, where are you going?" The three boys got up from the table, assumingly to pursue Granger.

Assholes. No wonder I don't like people; most of them are ignorant jerks. Poor Granger, I sure am glad I don't share a house with those, though Corner isn't much better. He'd probably get along great with ginger, better hope they don't get together. Never mind, too many idiots, not enough time.

Harry walked straight through the castle and out through the main doors. He wanted to get outside right now. It was a grey, gloomy looking day, but the light wind felt nice. After walking along the big lake they had crossed on the first night for a while Harry took a turn, walking in the direction of the forbidden forest. He was not planning on entering it, who knew what those strange people saw fit to harbor right next to a school. But not far from the forests' outlining Harry spotted a cabin. He thought it best not to get to close, there was smoke coming out of the cabins' chimney, so supposedly that was someone's house. However as he was just passing it a familiar booming voice called from behind him: "Harry, that you?"

He turned around and faced the huge man he hadn't seen up close since the welcoming feast.

"Hello."

"Yeh out doin some explorin are yeh Harry?" Hagrid asked with a big grin.

"I guess you could say that. I thought I'd look around the grounds for a bit today when I don't have any classes", Harry replied warily. So that was Hagrid's house then? The cabin suited the huge man somehow.

"Yeah, I s'pose yeh haven't had much time for all that much explorin with all yehr new classes this week. Do you wanna come in for a bit of tea? I've made some buns just today", Hagrid offered with the same kind grin.

Harry hesitated. He was wary to just follow a huge, intimidating-looking man he barely knew somewhere secluded. However his instincts told him Hagrid was rather harmless and he'd had Harry at his mercy the whole day they were in Diagon alley without resorting to murdering him and selling of his organs or anything like that. He decided he'd take his chances.

"Yes, thank you. That would be nice." He followed Hagrid inside the cabin. The furniture were huge, to accommodate the huge man no doubt. Hagrid bid him to sit down and Harry half-climbed onto one of the chairs at the sturdy table. Hagrid sat out tea and a plate of big round buns.

Harry tentatively sipped at his tea, which tasted okay. Cautiously he tried to take a bite from one of the offered buns. It was hard as a rock. Biting with all his might he got a piece off, which he swallowed with difficulty.

"You made these?"

"Oh yeah, I make those a lot, good to have along with some tea", Hagrid replied while chewing on a bun of his own. "Yeh like 'em?"

"They taste like rocks rolled in a layer of flour. So no, not really", Harry replied honestly, putting the ball of whatever ingredients made up that barely edible rock, on the table.

Hagrid looked surprised. "oh", then he chuckled. "Guess I aint much of a chef", he said light-heartedly. "So Harry, how are yeh liking the school? Classes been good?"

Harry nodded, "Yes, I like it here. The classes seem interesting", he added civilly.

"Knew you'd like Hogwarts", Hagrid said cheerfully, "Meet any new friends?" he added inquiringly.

New friends? He actually thinks I had any before?

"No. I don't have… friends. I don't generally like people all that much. People don't tend to like me very much either", Harry stated indifferently.

Hagrid's grin faltered slightly. "I think you seem like an alright lad, I'm sure you'll find some people who'll understand yeh".

Harry just shrugged, drinking his tea. "I prefer being left alone, mostly. I know I'm not very agreeable, I know I'm not nice. But I don't think most people are either, not really. I'm just more honest about it." Hagrid looked at him thoughtfully.

"I think yeh might find yeh like some people Harry, only yeh met the right ones." Hagrid said after a moment of silence.

"Perhaps." But Harry doubted it. He knew what people could be like, and once you knew what people can be like at their worst it was hard to see anything else in them, at least for him.

"Thank you for the tea. I think I'll be on my way, I want to see the rest of the grounds before it gets dark", Harry said politely after a while.

"Yehr welcome Harry, it was fun having yeh. Yeh're always welcome to visit any time yeh feel like it", Hagrid replied warmly. Harry looked at him searchingly for a moment before getting up to leave.

"Yes, thank you. Perhaps I will see you another time." He thought that Hagrid somehow was proving to be… tolerable. He didn't know if he actually liked him, but the huge man had proved to be a very kind person, and he did appear more intelligent than be originally seemed.

"Bye Harry", Hagrid said as Harry left, closing the door behind him. This kid was odd, a little reserved, but he was growing on him nevertheless. Hagrid could see that life had not been easy on the boy, so maybe his outlook and way of acting shouldn't be so surprising. Hopefully Harry would eventually see that the world could be a good place, and that people weren't all bad, that he did need others to be happy. He hoped he would, because under that hard exterior Hagrid thought he could sense something more.

An hour or so later Harry had finished his tour of the grounds, not finding anything truly remarkable. There was the quidditch field, but none of the teams had been out practicing, unfortunately, Harry looked forward to seeing someone flying on a broom.

As he walked through the great hall he felt watched. Stopping and turning his head he saw Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick on a set of stairs, looking down at him, while talking. He just frowned before continuing on his way towards Ravenclaw tower. What is with these people?

Meanwhile up on the steps the teachers continued their exchange, which did concern Harry.

"I remember his parents from their time at the school. Lily also had a passion for her studies; he has obviously inherited her hard-working nature, which is good. But she was such a nice, outgoing person. This boy is just… He appears to reject anyone who attempts to befriend him. His parents were both popular, pleasant people. This boy shuns everyone. Have you noticed he is always alone? Even at meals he always sits away from everyone else, at a corner, never involved in the others' discussions. It's not healthy, something is wrong. I cannot see Lily or James in him, apart from his appearance. And then the bruises he had when he arrived…" McGonagall trailed of looking disturbed.

"I know Minerva, he does seem strangely antisocial. But he does well in class. Social interaction is voluntary; I can hardly approach him about that. Perhaps he is just a very solitary type of person. But I have also wondered about the bruises, as did Madam Pomfrey and Albus. However like the headmaster has told us, before the boy himself says anything to indicate his injuries were anything but accidental, there is not much we can do", Filius stated with a sigh.

"But with his injuries and the way he acts, you suspect the same thing as I do, don't you?" McGonagall said grimly.

"Yes. Yes I do."

Authors note:

Hi, I know it's been a long time since I updated. My inspiration for this fic just sort of fell asleep I'm afraid. I want to finish this story, but I must tell you that it might be long between updates for now. This story is on hold at the moment. I do plan on eventually finishing it though. When I have finished the story completely I will edit a lot of the beginning which I am not happy with and repost all of it. But as I haven't decided exactly where this fic is going and don't feel much inspiration for it right now, it is on hold for now.

I want to thank everyone who has reviewed and provided constructive criticism and encouragement, once again, this has been and always is, most helpful. Also I really do intend to finish what I have started, eventually, cross my heart :P