Chapter One

Platform 9 ¾ was busy this morning. The Hogwarts Express shot white steam into the air and sent shrieks and whistles over the crowds. They wouldn't have noticed, not with the screeches of owls and various familiars and all the chatter from different students. The thump of trunks being loaded was lost in the din. He stood back toward the wall, watching the scene of orderly chaos with wide eyes.

He'd never seen this many owls and rats and cats except for at a zoo. There were other birds as well, a couple fat doves and a lone hawk or two. The hawks looked uncomfortable in the cages with their hoods on. As he watched a boy lost control of his cage and the bird inside screeched and nipped his finger. He yelped loudly and yelled at the bird. That was stupid; it was his fault the cage dropped.

He watched quietly as the parents said goodbye to their children, giving them hugs and kisses. He watched as one red-headed boy grumbled and pulled away from his mother, clearly embarrassed at being kissed on the cheek by his mother in public. If that was me I wouldn't pull away, he thought enviously.

His parents were ignoring him, lavishing all their attention on his older twin brother. He shot a glance at them, warmly hugging him and telling him to be careful and to write if he needed anything. He snorted; most likely they'd be getting a letter from him a few days into the term, saying he'd forgotten some essential piece of equipment or a precious article he wanted to show someone. His wonderful, perfect, handsome, famous brother. He stalked past them, lugging his black and silver trunk behind him.

His mother frowned at him. Oh great, here comes another lecture, he thought. Lily Potter only frowned like that when she was about to berate him for something he'd supposedly done.

"Harry, I don't see why you couldn't have gotten a trunk in red and gold. There's no possible reason why you'd be in any other house than Gryffindor. Not with your brother there," she added, fondly looking at her older son.

"I didn't want red and gold, Mum. I've already told you that," Harry replied in exasperation, thinking there's no way I'll be in Gryffindor, not with Zachary there.

"Watch your tone when you address your mother, boy," James Potter said threateningly, narrowing brown eyes in distaste.

"Yes, sir." Harry just about snarled back. His father had never called him by name that he could remember. It was always boy or 'you there'.

He turned away from them and removed his wand from its wrist holder, muttering "Locomotor Mortis." He watched in satisfaction as the trunk levitated and began to move forward. Harry stepped onto the train, directing his trunk to an empty compartment. "Wingardium Leviosa," brought it up to the overhead rack.

He sat down, pleased with his spellwork. He'd been practicing as often as he could. The levitation spell had been the one he wasn't sure about, the little 'swish and flick' motion had been hard to practice without a wand. He'd been using a stick from the backyard.

He was very excited and kept twirling the wand in his hand. Finally he was going to be able to attend the famous school. He should have been attending for the last three years but his parents had put a powerful magical suppressant charm on him when he'd begun to show signs of magical ability. All they cared about was their perfect little 'Zachy'.

He closed emerald eyes in irritation, attempting to put his parents out of his mind. Instead he considered the school houses again. There were four, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. The Hufflepuffs were said to be a bunch of indecisive idiots so he didn't want to be put there. Gryffindor was immediately out. Ravenclaws were said to value intelligence and Slytherin was famous for the cunning and house loyalty. Those were his two choices. Of the two he preferred the idea of Slytherin house, it sounded like the best choice.

It helped that Slytherin was the enemy of Gryffindor house. The inter-house rivalry had been going on for centuries according to Hogwarts, A History. He'd been reading his parents' old schoolbooks since he could read at all. The house elves had taught him how to read, his parent's only concern for the last 15 years was their famous older son. Saying that his parents hadn't had time for him was a gross understatement.

The train had been moving for a couple hours when the compartment door slid open. He turned his eyes to look at the newcomer and saw a pale-faced blonde with striking gray eyes looking at him. The stranger appraised him a couple moments longer, looking at the black and silver trunk with elegant calligraphy spelling out H. Potter before saying,

"So you're one of the famous Potter's. I'm surprised I haven't seen you before. My name is Draco Malfoy."

Harry's eyes flashed in annoyance as he said, "Yes, I happen to be one of them. Certainly not my choice though. Just in case you care, my name is Harry."

"So you don't like being famous?" Draco drawled, one eyebrow raising in polite disbelief.

"For one thing, I'm not the famous one. For another, no I don't. My brother is an annoying prat and my father is a conceited idiot who brings down the reputation of the purebloods with every word that comes out of his mouth," he snapped.

"I think you and I might actually get along, Potter."

"Call me Harry."

"Then you can call me Draco. What house are you in?"

"I don't know."

"How can you not know what house you're in?" Draco asked.

"I've never been to Hogwarts," Harry explained. "My parents deemed it unnecessary for me to receive a magical education."

"How could they prevent you from receiving a letter until now?" Draco asked, gray eyes lit with curiosity.

"A magical suppression charm," he said. "I couldn't break it until recently. I've never been allowed near a wand or an adult wizard since I was six."

Draco whistled. "Why would your parents do that?"

"All they're concerned with is my famous, perfect brother. They don't want to have to bother with their other son," Harry said venomously.

"So you're going into Gryffindor, right? All the Potters have been there."

"No way. I want nothing to do with my family or their precious house."

"I hope you're put in Slytherin then. That's the best house in the whole school. Almost every powerful wizard has been there for the last 80 years. We're the only ones worth anything in that school. The Ravenclaws are decent but only if you have intelligence."

"Believe me, I've got the intelligence with plenty to spare," Harry smirked. "My brother has only average magical abilities; I'm the one with the talent. Pity for them that I'm not exactly loyal to the family name."

"Glad to have you, Potter. Hope to see you at the Slytherin table. We're almost there, you might want to change."

"Thanks. See you, Draco."

"Later, Harry."

Draco turned around and walked away. Harry changed into his robes with a small laugh. Had his parents known he was talking to a Malfoy… He chuckled as he considered their reactions. Everyone knew the Malfoy's were major supporters of the Dark Lord. His mother would have glared at him with dark lips pressed together so hard they'd turn white and his father... He cut the thought off, refusing to think of James Potter.

When the train rumbled to a halt he exited, standing on the platform as he gathered his wits and walked along toward the path. Waiting at the gate were horseless carriages. Harry knew they were drawn by thestrals and for a moment he wished he could see them. He knew it was likely he'd be able to see them before too long; thestrals could be seen by those who'd watched somebody die.

He stepped into the fourth carriage down the way and found himself sitting alone. That was fine with him; he took the time to prepare for the presentation. Harry knew there would be a public Sorting after an announcement by the Headmaster; his presence was the first time a student had been accepted after third year. Dumbledore and his parents would want to draw all the publicity they could from this. He smiled thinly; this would be one publicity stunt he would actually like. It would be nice to stun his parents and their friends, not to mention his spoiled, stupid brother.

Harry Potter started laughing and it was a good thing he was alone in the carriage. The laugh would have sent chills down the spine of anyone listening. Life is good, he thought, very good.