The Harry Potter universe and all the characters in it belong to J. K. Rowling. I get nothing out of this except enjoyment.
A popular speculation among Harry/Hermione fans is what might have happened if Harry had met Hermione first, instead of Ron. This story is based on that premise.
It was originally intended to be a oneshot, but as it grew to more than 20,000 words, I decided to break it up, with a separate chapter for each year. One consequence is that the chapters vary greatly in length.
The format will be a bit unusual, as the scenes shown will consist of the initial meeting of Harry and Hermione before first year, and their subsequent encounters at the beginning of each additional year. The events of each school year will be conveyed through flashbacks. So most of Year 1 will be revealed in summary form at the beginning of Chapter 2, Year 2 at the beginning of Chapter 3, etc.
There's a fundamental assumption that the reader is familiar with the original story; what is presented here will mostly be things that happen differently.
These changes from the story in the books are subtle rather than dramatic, at least initially. The main plot of the story was primarily driven by outside forces, and won't deviate dramatically until Harry begins to take control of the events, rather than react to them. The key is when the closer relationship that Harry will form with Hermione causes a significant enough difference in his actions to affect the plot. You'll have to wait and see which book I think that happens in.
I'm going to try using footnotes – i.e. – (1), (2), (3), etc. – to make comments on various points in the story. Rather than breaking up the flow of the story with inserted author's notes, they will all compiled at the end of the chapter. We'll see how that works.
Hope you enjoy the story.
When Harry Met Hermione
Harry Potter stood in the middle of King's Cross station looking around anxiously, trying to figure out what he should do next. The Dursleys had refused to make a special trip into London; instead his Uncle Vernon had dropped him off on his way to work. As a result he had arrived at the station at 8:00 AM, three hours before the Hogwarts Express was scheduled to depart. Given that he had no idea what or where Platform 9 ¾ was, he worried that he might need all that time just to find it.
It hadn't taken long to confirm his uncle's scoffing insistence that such a platform did not exist, at least as far as anyone could see. After a few minutes he decided to stay and watch the area between Platforms 9 and 10, hoping that another student might show up. Taking a seat on a bench, he pulled out his History of Magic text to read while he waited. (1)
An hour later his strategy paid off when another early arriving family showed up. "Are you sure this is the right place?" the mother asked her daughter as the father frowned. "There isn't anything between Platforms 9 and 10." Harry perked up and put his book down, leaning forward to pay close attention.
"Yes mother," the bushy haired girl insisted. "The professor told me how to find it." After a pair of hugs the family said their goodbyes, and the young girl pushed her trolley determinedly toward the wall. And vanished.
Harry blinked. What had just happened? He glanced back at the girl's parents, who were staring at the wall, nearly as surprised as he was.
"Excuse me?" Harry blurted out, hurrying up to the man and woman. "What did she do?" The two adults whirled around to face him, alarmed expressions on their faces.
"What did who do?" the father asked, his eyes shifting back and forth nervously between Harry and his wife. Harry immediately understood his concern. Fumbling in his pocket he pulled out his ticket for Platform 9 ¾ and held it up to show them.
"I heard what you said, and I need to do the same thing your daughter just did," he explained. "But I don't know how she did it."
The couple relaxed and after looking around to make sure no one could overhear, the mother asked. "So you're a wi… I mean, you're going to Hogwarts too?" Harry nodded.
"She just pushed the trolley into the wall between 9 and 10 and went right through," the father declared. "There didn't seem to be anything else to it."
"Oh. OK," Harry replied, glancing uneasily at the wall in question. If this didn't work it wouldn't be a pretty sight. "Thanks."
The two adults wished him luck and stood back to watch as he attempted to repeat the magical feat they had just witnessed from their daughter. Just as his trolley was about to hit the wall he closed his eyes and winced.
When nothing happened he opened his eyes and found himself on a nearly empty platform beside a scarlet steam engine. Confirming that he was in the right place was a sign hanging overhead with the words Hogwarts Express emblazoned in large letters. Harry let out a large sigh of relief. He'd made it.
In front of him stood the bushy haired girl, taking everything in with wide-eyed wonder. He immediately felt that he'd found a kindred spirit in this presumably muggleborn student. As he approached her she spotted him and gave a shy smile, revealing a rather large pair of front teeth.
"Hi," Harry greeted her as he pulled his trunk and Hedwig's cage off the trolley. "I'm Harry."
"I'm Hermione," she replied quickly, putting out her hand to shake his. "Hermione Granger."
Not knowing what to say next, Harry stuffed his hands in his pockets and nodded his head back to the wall they'd just come through. "I, erm, just met your parents. They told me how to get onto the platform."
"Really?" Hermione challenged. "Didn't you remember how to do it?" Harry explained that no one had told him and Hermione gave him a skeptical look, as though not really believing that a professor could have made such an oversight. Lacking any explanation, Harry shrugged and suggested they board the train. Being the only two students on the platform this early, they really had no choice but to share a compartment, as it would have been rather rude to separate. Not that they had any inclination to do so. As they helped each other stow their trunks, Harry joked about how heavy hers was.
"Just how many books did you bring?" he teased. Rather than smiling at the jibe, Hermione stiffened up and glanced away. Harry realized that he'd struck a nerve. "Hey, don't worry about it," he continued apologetically. "I like to read, too." Those were apparently the magic words as his companion brightened immediately. Harry added that his favorite magical book so far was History of Magic.
"Oh, I liked that one too," Hermione agreed enthusiastically. "I'm looking forward to that course ever so much. My favorite, though, is Hogwarts, A History. I presume that you're muggleborn as well? I've actually read all the books that were assigned. I hope we're not at too much of a disadvantage. I've tried a few simple spells, just for practice of course, and they've all worked for me." She paused to take a breath and dropped her eyes with a slight blush, as she realized that she hadn't given him a chance to get a word in for a while. "I'm sorry. I tend to prattle on sometimes when I get excited."
Harry grinned – she was as excited as he was. "That's OK," he reassured her. "I'm not very used to people talking to me." Hermione's eyebrows rose questioningly, but Harry didn't want to explain that right now. He responded that he wasn't familiar with Hogwarts, A History (Hermione assured him that he could borrow her copy), that he hadn't tried any spells since he'd been told they weren't allowed to (she sheepishly admitted that she'd been told that too, but couldn't resist) and that he wasn't exactly muggleborn. That one brought her up short, but before she could ask what he meant he explained.
"I was raised by my aunt and uncle who are muggles," he revealed. "I didn't know anything about magic until a month ago on my birthday. My real mum and dad were killed when I was a baby." Hermione gave his hand a sympathetic squeeze as he looked down at the floor. He could tell she wanted to inquire further but was trying to be polite. After a few moments' thought he decided that she would find out who he was eventually and it was better to be upfront about it now.
"I'm Harry Potter."
Hermione's eyes went wide and she gasped. "Are you really?" She went on to declare that she'd read all about him and listed three reference books that told his story. He was skeptical, questioning how accurate they could be, since as far as he knew he was the only survivor of that night. Hermione promptly apologized for her insensitivity and offered to let him read them. Once that was out of the way the two settled down and began to tell about themselves.
When Harry expressed his amazement at her claim to have learned all the year's texts by heart, Hermione pointed out with a touch of embarrassment that she'd had nearly a year, since her birthday was in September. She'd wanted to do everything she could to make certain she wasn't behind her classmates. Harry sensed that her know-it-all behavior was to a large extent a way to cover up her insecurity. Gradually the two new students grew more comfortable with each other, falling into an easy camaraderie as they discovered they had quite a bit in common.
Both children confessed that they'd never had friends, and were very glad to meet each other. Both had been ostracized at their previous schools, although Hermione not as much as Harry. She was aghast when he revealed that he'd been forced to deliberately do poorly in his schoolwork so as not to be punished for showing up his cousin. She declared heatedly that she'd not let him even consider such a thing at Hogwarts! They briefly discussed what they'd read in their course books, and Hermione demonstrated one of the spells she'd learned by fixing his broken glasses. Harry decided that his new friend was simply brilliant. She showed him some other spells she'd learned and he tried them out. He soon realized that this Hermione Granger was a very good person to know!
The conversation turned to the houses at Hogwarts, and Hermione recited what she'd read about each of them. She wondered if they were allowed to request a house, or if they were simply assigned to one. Harry offered the opinion that Ravenclaw would suit her best, but he wasn't sure about himself. Hermione thought she might rather have Gryffindor. The two shared a shy smile as they agreed that they hoped they'd end up together.
About an hour and a half after had Hermione arrived at the station, but still a half hour before their scheduled departure, quite a few more students had begun to show up. Hermione wondered nervously if they should change into their school robes. Harry noted that some students were already wearing them, but others were not. They decided that perhaps it was a good idea to do it then, before it got too crowded. At that point both glanced awkwardly at each other. With a touch of embarrassment, Hermione explained that she'd asked Madame Malkin when she bought her robes, and had been informed that only underwear was worn beneath them. (2)
Harry glanced around, not seeing any changing rooms available, so he suggested that they close the blinds and he'd stand outside the door, and when she'd finished they'd switch. Hermione agreed, and he went out into the corridor to stand guard. While waiting he determined that he would not think of Hermione inside the compartment in her underwear, so naturally, he could think of nothing else. By the end of the previous school year nearly all the girls in his class were wearing bras, whether they needed them or not. From what he'd noticed of his new friend, she was one of the ones that did. Trying to get his mind off that area of her anatomy, he next found himself wondering what color her knickers were. Groaning to himself, he resolved to concentrate on the doorknob until she was finished.
Suddenly the door opened, and Hermione was standing before him attired in her new robes. Harry couldn't help shooting a glance at the small bumps on the front of her robes, but fortunately, Hermione had no experience with boys checking her out so she didn't notice. She gave a quick twirl and asked him how they looked, and he nodded his approval. Back inside their compartment while she took her turn outside, he quickly changed, glad to be rid of Dudley's shirt and trousers that didn't fit. While on the subject of his hand-me-downs, he decided to ask Hermione if she could repair his taped up trainers too.
It occurred to him that he was becoming close friends with a girl. Not like a girlfriend, though, he wasn't ready for that yet. She would just be a friend who was a girl. But now that he thought about it, that could work out well for him down the road. When he did get to the point where he wanted to date a girl, he would already know her. And even if he didn't date her, she could help him out with other girls. It was a win-win situation.
Soon other students began to arrive. One was a distressed round-faced boy named Neville who was looking for a lost toad. Harry and Hermione introduced themselves, and shared a smile at Neville's reaction to hearing Harry's name. Hermione offered to go help Neville look for his toad, instructing Harry to hold down the fort. The nod of understanding she gave him as she left let him know that she realized that he'd rather not wander through the train sticking his head in each compartment and subjecting himself to all the stares of his fellow students. Harry nodded back his appreciation and settled backing his seat to look out the window.
Only a few minutes before the train was due to leave Harry noticed a family of redheads come onto the platform. They looked like an interesting mix – a rather pompous older brother, a pair of twins who sounded like troublemakers, a nervous looking boy who Harry guessed was a first year like himself, and a younger sister who was clearly too young for school yet. Minutes later his compartment door slid open and the youngest redheaded boy looked in. "Can I sit here?" he asked. "Everywhere else is full." Harry grinned and nodded, gesturing to the seat across from himself.
Harry was a bit annoyed when the new boy, who introduced himself as Ron Weasley, stared at him and had the nerve to ask to see his scar, but he sighed and complied, moving his hair aside to reveal the oddly shaped disfigurement. (3)
Ron spent a few minutes telling about his family, and was in the process of describing the unique wizarding sport called Quidditch when Hermione and Neville returned with Neville's toad. Hermione took her seat next to Harry while Neville settled in next to Ron, and Hermione briskly introduced herself.
The rest of the train ride went relatively smoothly, as the four new students became acquainted with each other. There was some unpleasantness when Draco Malfoy arrived to introduce himself and arrogantly inform Harry about who the 'right sort' of people were. These comments set Ron on edge and for a few moments it looked like a fight might break out before the haughty blonde decided the odds weren't in his favor and left. A snack trolley arrived just past noon, giving Ron and Neville the opportunity to explain wizarding sweets. Hermione looked dubiously at the chocolate frogs, but was eventually persuaded to try one.
Harry had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing at Hermione's indignation when Ron tried to cast a spell on his rat, Scabbers.
"That can't be a real spell! It doesn't sound anything like any spell I've read about. Where did you learn it?" the bushy haired young witch demanded.
Ron sullenly admitted that he'd got the spell from his brother, George, who he suspected was playing a joke on him. Upon hearing this Hermione launched into a mini lecture on the etymology of spell terminology, which she had read about in one of her reference books.
Neville stared at her, amazed that a muggleborn first year could know so much about magic. Harry shook his head in amusement, while Ron sat back and scowled. He really didn't care for this bossy know-it-all, but he could see that she and Harry were friends, so resolved to try to put up with her.
The wide-eyed wonder was back on the faces of the two newcomers to the magical world when they reached Hogwarts. The four new friends shared a boat on the ride to the castle, gasping in awe at the first sight of the magnificent structure. They huddled together as they waited to enter the Great Hall, Hermione nervously reviewing spells that she might be tested on under her breath until Harry took her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.
As they entered the imposing chamber Harry's jaw dropped as he looked up past thousands of floating candles to see what was apparently empty sky, with stars twinkling in the darkness.
Seeing this, Hermione leaned close and whispered to him that the ceiling was enchanted to mimic the sky outside. "I read about it in Hogwart's, A History," she added, with a self-conscious smile. Harry grinned and squeezed her hand again.
Hermione was the first of their group to be sorted. Harry gave her an encouraging pat on the back as she nearly ran up to the stool and jammed the Sorting Hat eagerly on her head.
Harry shot her a smile, which she returned before hurrying over to the table where her new housemates cheered her arrival. Neville's name came up a short time later, and he was sorted into Gryffindor as well. Soon Harry's name was called. A loud murmur went up from the students as the most famous wizard of their generation stepped forward.
After being assured by the Hat that he would do well in any house, Harry asked to be placed in Gryffindor with his friends. When his wish was granted he couldn't help grinning as Hermione and Neville stood with their new housemates to cheer his selection, joining in the Weasley twins' chant, "We got Potter! We got Potter!" Harry squeezed in next to Hermione and she couldn't resist giving him a quick hug while he exchanged handshakes with the students sitting nearby.
Finally Ron was called, and it took only a few seconds for the hat to call out, "Gryffindor!" again. Harry applauded with the rest of his house as Ron's brothers welcomed him to the table. Amazingly enough, the four new friends had all ended up in the same house. Harry and Hermione shared a smile. This was going to be a great year!
(1) According to Book 1, Harry considered his books very interesting, and read them late into the night during the month before he went off to Hogwarts. He found the name Hedwig in History of Magic.
(2) Although the movies show the students wearing uniforms under their robes, the books don't say anything about uniforms. But they also don't say much else, just that students change into their robes on the train. However, in Book 5, when James turns Snape upside down in 'Snape's worst memory', Snape's underwear is revealed when his robes fly up. Therefore, I choose to assume that robes are worn in the fashion indicated.
(3) At this point Harry is more at ease with his introduction to the magical world, having talked with Hermione for two hours and made two friends already, than he was in the book when he met Ron. So he's not as nervous, and more likely to be annoyed when Ron asks to see his scar (which neither Hermione nor Neville did).