A/N – I decided to have a crack at the essay Hermione might have written, it's probably more gushy than anything she might write (but then again perhaps not if she thought he'd never see it) and it's probably not as long or as well written as what she would be able to produce. Still it's the best that I can come up with

Defining Harry – An Essay by Hermione Granger

I've known a lot of amazing people in my life, my parents who raised me with tenderness and pride and allowed me the freedom to be who I am, my professors in high school who always encouraged my insatiable thirst for knowledge and my school principle who was respected and loved by an entire school and by the previous generations who studied there. Yet when asked to write an essay about the person I admire most none of those people even entered my head. My first, and only, thought of the perfect candidate for the topic of this essay was my best friend in the world Harry Potter.

Harry is not an easy person to explain, his character has more depth and intricacy than anyone would ever guess on first meeting him. On the surface he appears to be just what your average young man should be and nothing more, it's what you find when you look a little deeper that makes him so extraordinary. I first met Harry on our first day of high-school, the school that we attended was a boarding school in Scotland that is known for accepting mostly students whose families have attended there for generations, but it is a school for gifted students and that's the reason for my own acceptance. Harry was the son of two of the schools most remarkable graduates, who had died shortly after his birth. As such there was a great deal of expectation about what Harry would achieve and he, being raised by an Aunt and Uncle who wanted nothing to do with the school or its Alumni, had been told nothing about it. On our first day there, despite the fact that he was the son of one of the old families and I was a new kid, I knew more about what to expect than he did.

I'll have to admit here that at the age of 11 I was an insufferable know it all and was quite unpleasant to be around. A lot of the children from the old families resented the fact that I was able to out perform them in school and I didn't make things any easier on myself by constantly showing off my knowledge in a misguided attempt to make friends. As that was the case it should not be surprising that for the first few months of my life at this prestigious school to which I had been accepted I had not a single friend. Worse than that was that many of the kids in my year level actively hated me, Harry's best friend Ron hated me more than most and I assume that Harry also did though I've never asked and he's never said.

Harry was the exact opposite of me, he was the quiet achiever. He did very well in all his classes but he never called attention to it, he had a lot of friends and was quiet popular but he never personally bullied me or anyone. Despite the fact that he never bullied me or said a nasty word to me I am quite sure that for those first few months of our acquaintance he disliked me as much as anyone. On Halloween all of that changed. I was all alone, I had no friends to be with me of course, and I got myself into a life threatening situation. I don't want to go into to details about the situation I found myself in but my life was in very real danger and as no-one could be expected to come looking for me I fully expected to die. Yet somehow, miraculously, Harry heard something or saw something that made him think of me, something that made him realise I was in trouble. Despite the very great risk to his own life and despite the fact that we most assuredly were not friends (as I stated previously I'm fairly certain he actually disliked me at the time) he came looking for me and he saved my life. I've never forgotten what he did for me that night and from then on we became the best of friends.

I had admired Harry from a distance before we became friends, in a third party sort of way, despite that fact that he seemed to dislike me as much as everyone else he was never mean and he was even generally polite. When I came to know him better through our friendship I came to realise that I had never done him justice. To illustrate exactly what makes him so admirable I need to disclose something of his childhood that he would rather no-one know about, but I know him too well to think he will hold it against me.

Harry was raised by his mother's sister and her husband, and though they were closely related they never held any love for him as a child or as a young man. I know that since he moved out at the age of sixteen he has not heard from them once, but their sins towards him go much deeper. When he was left with them to raise he was barely one year old and the age gap between him and his cousin was only of a few months. The two boys should have been raised as brothers and equals but they were not. The Dursley family lived in a four bedroom home and for the first ten years of Harry's life those bedrooms were treated as, the Aunt and Uncle's room, the spare bedroom (for guests), his cousins' bedroom and his cousins' second bedroom. You might well wonder where Harry slept for those first ten years and you would be shocked to know the truth. Despite having two bedrooms in the house that were, for the most part, unused, Harry's bedroom was in the cupboard under the stairs.

He was treated as a slave by his Aunt and Uncle and as a punching bag by his cousin. He was made to do all of the chores that the rest of the family found unpleasant, he was often not allowed to eat, his birthday was never celebrated, he never received a single Christmas present from them and he was never allowed to ask questions. He was bullied and beaten by them all on a regular basis and it was only when he was accepted as a student at my school that he was able to get away from them. At the school it was completely different; there he was admired and looked up to by almost everyone. There were some who were jealous and tried to bully him but he never allowed himself to be intimidated. Considering the way he was raised, the way he behaved on escaping that prison was remarkable indeed.

The most remarkable thing about it was that he never really spoke of it. He did not complain and try to earn people's sympathy for his plight he merely pushed it aside and focused on what he was doing now, on being the best that he could be. All I know of his child hood has been gleaned in dribs and drabs over the years. I found out that he had never received any presents from his family when I saw his surprised delight to receive a few presents from friends that first Christmas and his pleasure at receiving 50cents from his family. Remarkably, even though it was the first gift they'd ever given him of any value, he gave it up immediately to a friend who needed it. I only discovered that they withheld meals when I told him off for not eating enough over the school holidays and being so thin when we returned to school in our second year. I only found out that they never bought him any clothes of his own when I saw him in free dress for the first time and saw that none of his things fit.

With all of these difficulties anyone would expect that the smallest amount of praise and attention would be soaked up like rain in the desert, that his head would have been easily inflated, but it was not so. After years of being told he was useless he came to school and found that he was good at his classes and truly gifted at sports. He was the house teams MVP from first year right through to seventh and could easily have gone on to fame and fortune on the sports field when he graduated. Surely this would be enough to turn any young man's head particularly one who was as sports mad as Harry and who had been deprived of so much. He was not interested.

The one thing I have always admired most about Harry, the thing that led him to save my life and become my friend all those years ago, was something he learned from the Dursleys. Through all of the neglect and mistreatment he did not learn what most people would expect him too, he didn't learn to mistreat people and he didn't learn to bully, he learnt the exact opposite; he learnt what it feels like to be the bullied and belittled. When he came to school, he became popular and he became privileged but he never forgot what it was like to be alone and friendless, surrounded by people who thought themselves better than you and who thought that gave them the right to treat you badly.

Instead of becoming a bully with his new found popularity he became the champion of the bullied, he stood up for those that could not stand up for themselves. When offered the chance for fame and fortune on the sports field, he turned it down and became a hero by occupation. When I say a hero by occupation do not think I am exaggerating, he is the youngest person ever to be accepted into the secret services and has a track record of apprehension that is staggering on its own but has also been achieved with clean apprehensions that would stand up to the most stringent of scrutiny into his integrity.

My Headmaster once said that it is not what we are born that defines us but the choices we make, never was that more true than with my friend Harry. He was raised in neglect and abuse and chose to rise above it. He was popular at school but became the defender of the bullied rather than a bully. He was gifted at sports but chose to pursue a more important but less financially rewarding path. He could have been friends with anyone in our entire school and he chose to befriend me, the bushy-haired, buck-toothed, know-it-all that infuriated and alienated everyone else. Most importantly he never considered any of it as a choice. He has unfailingly done what he thought was right without once considering that there even was another option; much less that he could possibly choose it. Yet despite all of his achievements and all of his goodness, all of his talent, all of his intelligence and yes even his good looks he remains genuinely and sincerely modest. He never ceases to amaze me.

It is all of this and so much more that makes him the person I admire and respect the most. I know that he would shudder to read this essay and be horrified that I even selected him for its topic yet I know that he would never resent me for sharing any of this. I could relate a hundred anecdotes that he is everything I have said and more but I will not bore you with the repetition of theme. I will only add in closing that he is the best person I have ever known and that knowing him has changed my life forever.