Harry Potter watched as he saw another boy getting fitted at Madam Malkin's, who looked like he was getting fitted into Hogwarts robes. "Hullo," he said to the boy, who had a pointy face and almost luminous white-blond hair.
"Hello," the boy said in response, straightening his back and lifting his head almost immediately. "You going to Hogwarts, too?"
"Yeah. It's my first year." He fell silent for a few seconds, as the tailor fitted him up. "If I'm honest, I'm a bit nervous actually. I'd never even heard of Hogwarts up until a few weeks ago – I do hope I'm not too far behind everybody else. I've bought all of my books, and started looking through them, but-"
"Oh, so you don't have wizard parents?" Harry didn't know whether or not he was imagining it, but the blond boy appeared to gain a slightly superior expression.
"Er, well, I do. I mean, I did. They died when I was a baby – I got brought up by my muggle relatives... they don't like the idea of magic, you see."
The boy dropped his superior expression at once, and looked around the shop before answering, as if he was supposed to keep up his arrogant attitude. "Oh, I see. Well, my father died when I was very young, too. I've been brought up by my mother," he said, gesturing over to a pretty woman with the same luminous blond hair, wandering around the dress robes. "Anyway, I'll tell you all about Hogwarts."
And for the duration of their time in the store, Harry learned not only about Hogwarts, but the ghosts, professors, and best of all – Quidditch. Also, seeing the animation on the boy's face made Harry feel slightly better about his worst worry. Perhaps he would make his first ever friend at Hogwarts. Maybe even more.
Harry beamed. He'd been waiting patiently for the rest of the holiday to finish, barely containing his excitement for the first of September. He'd now read all of his textbooks at least three times, in addition to Hogwarts, A History and Quidditch Through The Ages (he'd bought a copy shortly after being told about Quidditch by the boy he'd met in Madam Malkins). He was now sat on the Hogwarts Express, clutching his copy of Hogwarts, A History, as if it were a bible.
Now, he just hoped he didn't wake up and find out it was all just a dream.
His compartment door slid open, revealing a pretty faced bushy haired girl. "Hello, are you new too?" Harry nodded. "Oh, good! Do you mind if I sit...wait, is that Hogwarts, A History?" She sat down and retrieved her copy from her bag. "I've read it about four times, non of the other first years seemed to have heard of it – I personally wanted to find out as much about Hogwarts before I came, but everyone else doesn't really seem to care."
"Do they not? I bought mine whilst I got my textbooks; I didn't want to fall behind and it's definitely a good read. And our textbooks, too. They're so interesting. I can't wait for lessons, it's going to be great learning about everything. I've read them all – I've been brought up by muggles so I didn't really want to be behind before I'd even started. I don't want to get kicked out, either," Harry gushed. He'd been unable to discuss magic or his textbooks to his Aunt or Uncle so he was quite excited by the prospect of being able to talk about them.
She beamed. "I completely agree. I think that Potions sounds like the most exciting so far, all of the poisons, potions, draughts... Oh I forgot, I'm sorry. My name's Hermione Granger," she smiled.
Harry smiled back. "I'm Harry."
"Glad to meet you, Harry...wait..." She looked up at his forehead. "Harry Potter? You're in about five of the books I've already read. You and your parents are very well known. I'm sorry about what happened to them."
"No worries. And really? I'm in books? That's weird."
"Yeah, in fact -" Hermione was cut short by the compartment door sliding open once more.
"Thank Merlin," the blond boy Harry had met before said. "You saved me from sitting with the biggest pair of thickest Bludgers. Complete idiots..." he slid into the seat next to Hermione, across from Harry. "You know, I was going to owl you after we'd met, and then I realised I never did get your name. I'm Draco by the way," offering his hand to Hermione and Harry. "Draco Malfoy."
"Harry Potter," Harry smiled as he shook his hand.
Draco's jaw dropped as he gaped at Harry's head. "Really? I...I thought you'd be more..."
"Heroic looking?" They all laughed. "No, I was only a baby when it all happened. I can't remember. In fact, I didn't even know about it until a couple of months ago. I found out from Hagrid, the Gameskeeper."
Hermione looked disgusted. "What? You mean, your relatives didn't even tell you? That's horrid!"
So Harry briefly told them about his childhood, whilst Hermione's and Draco's disgust became more and more apparent. Eventually, the conversation once more turned to Hogwarts, it's houses, and it's lessons.
Harry couldn't wait.
Harry, Draco and Hermione all huddled with about thirty other first years at the front of the Great Hall. "So, what house do you want to get sorted into?" Harry whispered. "Ravenclaw," Hermione said straight away, whilst Draco seemed to think about it. "My parents were sorted into Slytherin. But, I guess, between us three, I'd like to be in Ravenclaw. You?"
"Same, I think. I'd like to be in Ravenclaw, but I wouldn't mind being sorted into any of the others."
"I guess Gryffindor wouldn't be too bad," Hermione added thoughtfully.
Draco snorted. "I think I'd get disowned for getting sorted into Gryffindor. I guess that's the good thing about being brought up with muggles – you aren't expected to get sorted into a certain house. See that red-haired kid over there?" Harry and Hermione looked, and at the front of the first years, was a boy with bright red hair. They nodded. "A Weasley. As far as I'm aware, every Weasley ever known was a Gryffindor. Bet he's nearly crapping himself."
Funny enough, when they all looked again, he looked halfway to crapping himself, staring at the hat as if it was his worst nightmare. "But that's awful," Hermione said. "Why can't people just get sorted for their qualities rather than their family history?"
"Well, Hermione...what Hogwarts, A History doesn't tell you is people's views on certain houses. For instance, Slytherin has always been considered the house for 'bad wizards', whereas the sun doesn't shine bright enough out of the Gryffindor's backsides. People consider Ravenclaws to be anti-social, library-bummers. And, Hufflepuff? That's mainly considered the rejects house. When kids don't have much ambition, or courage, or intelligence, they get put into a house with all of the rest of the mindless folk. So, basically, when Gryffindor families suddenly get a Slytherin child, the child is suddenly considered 'evil', or vice versa, the child is suddenly too good and brave, and not worthy of the family name."
"But that's ridiculous!" Hermione looked towards the Weasley boy with sympathy.
Draco smiled softly. "That's life."
Hermione looked ready to argue, but her name had been called out. "Good luck," Harry and Draco said in unison as she walked timidly towards the stool and the Sorting Hat.
Twenty minutes later found Harry and Hermione sat side by side, tucking into the feast at the Ravenclaw table. Harry watched as Draco sat at the Slytherin table, miserably poking at some potatoes, in between what Harry guessed to be 'the biggest pair of thickest Bludgers'.
Hermione, following his line of sight, commented. "He told the hat to put him in Slytherin."
Harry was taken aback. "What do you mean?"
Well, as I was one of the first sorted, I had the chance to watch everyone else's reactions with the hat. In most cases, the hat barely touched their head before it decided a house. The hat stayed on him the longest, about a minute or so, and I could've sworn I saw him muttering 'Slytherin'," she said sadly. "Remember what it says about the sorting in Hogwarts, A History?"
Harry thought for a moment. "'The hat mainly considers the potential skills and qualities in a student. However, in some cases, it has been known to consider the student's choice of house.'?"
Hermione nodded. "It looked like he was arguing with the hat." Draco looked up at that moment, almost as if he sensed someone talking about him, and smiled weakly at them both. They returned the smile, and the three of them broke eye-contact.
"I feel sorry for him," Harry said shortly after, biting into his steak.
"Me too," Hermione agreed, before they both turned their attentions back to their food, and the conversations around them.
As it happened, they still spoke to Draco a lot. As their house tables were next to each other in the Great Hall, they often sat fairly close together. In addition to this, they shared their Potions, Transfiguration and Charms lessons, as well as spending most of their free time at a table at the back of the library, furiously studying.
A few people did not approve of this friendship trio however. Harry and Hermione had lost count of the amount of Ravenclaws who approached them, warning them about the 'evil' Malfoys. Draco apparently got a fair bit of grief from the Slytherins. And Professor Snape.
Professor Snape appeared to favour all Slytherins, with the exception of Draco. This was because, in the first lesson of potions, Draco had sat on a table with Harry and Hermione.
Harry could remember that lesson quite well.
Snape had swept into the classroom, and had almost immediately noticed and glared at their seating arrangement. "Mr. Malfoy, move this instance."
Draco was confused. "Why?"
"Because I said so, now go and sit with your house members, Mr. Malfoy," he said, then turned towards the board to charm some instructions onto the board. However, Draco stood his ground and did not budge from his seat next to Harry. All of the Ravenclaws and Slytherins eyes were bouncing between Draco and Snape, wondering what was going to happen, as the tension increased.
Snape turned around, apparently noticing the lack of movement. "Mr. Malfoy? I believe I asked you to move."
"I believe you're asking me to move unfairly."
"How dare you be so rude to a teacher! 10 points..." Snape halted.
"Yeah, that's right. I'm in Slytherin, remember?" Draco said, smirking.
"10 points from Ravenclaw!"
"WHAT?" Draco exclaimed so loudly that both Harry, Hermione, and anyone close by jumped. The silence was thick with tension. "Nobody from Ravenclaw has even done anything!"
"Mr. Malfoy, I will now ask you to leave. Never have I witnessed such behaviour in my classroom."
"Gladly," Draco said, scowling. "You just wait until my mother hears about this," he added, grabbing his stuff and slamming the door on the way out.
When the class was looking at Snape expectantly for his reaction, he sneered at them all. "If you don't want to lose any more points, I suggest you get your books and cauldrons out. Now, follow the instructions and get on with it. The ingredients are in the storage cupboard."
However, Snape did apparently wait for Draco's mother to hear about the incident, as after that, Draco was pretty much ignored by Snape, regardless of where he sat. Unluckily for Harry and Hermione, he seemed to enjoy venting his anger out on them instead. Sadly for Snape, he soon found out he couldn't take it out on their poor potions skills – they made perfect potions, answered questions perfectly, and got full marks grudgingly given by Snape. Therefore, points were taken for discussing group work too loudly, or sometimes scratching their quills too loudly. Occasionally it was due to a slightly wonky tie, odd socks, or unpolished shoes.
Harry and Hermione had decided it was too much effort to get upset over this treatment – it wasn't affecting their potions grades, they still got full marks. And they did more than make up for the points taken in their other subjects.
Draco, however, got agitated every time it happened. "I just want to hex the smirk off his greasy face...bastard," he muttered.
It was odd, Harry thought. Before Hogwarts, he never had friends, or people who stood up for him (who could blame them, really?). And now, looking between Draco and Hermione, he had found his first ever friends.
And nobody was going to take them away from him.
Despite Draco being in Slytherin, the three of them remained just as close as ever, spending nearly all of their free hours together.
Harry and Hermione had just finished Herbology with the Gryffindors, and were walking up to the school to meet Draco in the library, when they heard voices in front of them.
"It's pathetic," Ron Weasley said. "Miss! Miss! Please pick me!" he shouted in a high pitched voice, jumping up and down in the air with his hand up. "I'll wet myself if I can't be an insufferable know-it-all!" The rest of the Gryffindor boys laughed. "No wonder she's not got many friends. I wonder why Harry Potter even bothers with her."
"Hermione-" Harry started, looking to where Hermione had been beside him. Instead, he saw her running past the Gryffindors, heading towards the toilets. Shit, why the fuck did Weasley really need to say that?
"Oi, Weasley. What the fuck was that for? She's done nothing to you!"
The Gryffindors stopped, Ron's face turning red and looking slightly guilty as he looked back to the figure running past them.
"She's so lovely to everyone, yet you think you can make fun of her? Simply because she has more brains than the rest of you put together? You're pathetic."
He started walking past them, when he saw one of them raise their wand. He smirked to himself. So that's how they wanted to play, was it? When he saw the boy's mouth open to case, he cast a shield charm on himself and then sent a leg-locker curse at them all.
"And you call yourself Gryffindors? Do you not realise how cowardly it is to turn a wand on somebodies back? I'll be expecting you to apologise to Hermione. Or else."
As he walked up to the library, he just thought of how mad people made him sometimes.
Draco was furious when Harry had told him, but seemed slightly mollified at the fact Harry punished them slightly. "C'mon," he said, grabbing Harry's hand and rushing out of the library. "I've got just the thing that'll cheer her up."
They waited outside of the girls toilet for half an hour, and there was still no sign of Hermione. "Wait here," Harry said, and cast a notice-me-not charm on himself.
"Wait-" Draco said. "How did you do that? That's some seriously advanced magic," he added, his jaw agape.
Harry smiled. "Extensive reading. Anyway, wait here," he said, entering the toilets.
"Hermione?" He called out, heading to the cubicle where the sobs seemed to be emerging from. "It's me. Come out, please?"
He heard the door unlock, and was soon greeted with a face full of bushy hair. He rubbed her back soothingly. "It's okay. Me and Draco are here for you. Who needs ugly freckly Gryffindors anyway? You have an albino and a speccy freak right here." Hermione giggled slightly through her sobs. "Anyway, Draco says he's got something that'll cheer you up, so clean up your face so we can get moving."
As she splashed water onto her face and wiped away the last of the tears, she mumbled a, "Thank you."
"For being here, now. For being my friend. I've never really had friends, they've never looked past my bushy hair and 'know-it-all' answers," she sniffed.
Harry hugged her. "I don't think any of us has really had a friend."
"Guess we'd better stick together then, hm?" Hermione smiled.
Harry beamed. "I guess we'd better."
Draco's idea had turned out to be one of his best, ever. He'd followed Fred and George Weasley once, after he'd seen them acting suspiciously. They'd found a secret passage to Honeydukes, the chocolate shop in Hogsmeade.
Which then found them sat by the lake an hour later, eating all of Honeyduke's finest. They had all cheered up considerably, and Hermione was once again in a good mood.
"Nice one, Draco," Harry said for the umpteenth time. "I can't believe I've never had this chocolate – it's just heavenly."
"Tell me about it," Draco said, mid bite.
"...Hermione?" She looked up, and scowled at seeing Ron Weasley stood awkwardly in front of her. " I just wanted to say I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said what I did, I was just jealous-" He gulped and blushed up to his red hair. "You're really intelligent, something I'm not." He finished, pushing his hands into his pockets. "Sorry, I really am."
Hermione smiled slightly. "It's okay. Thanks."
Ron's eyes widened when he saw the chocolate surrounding them. "Hey – is that...?"
"Honeydukes? Yes. Want a piece?" Hermione offered with a shy smile.
"Want a piece? Are you joking? I'd love one," he added, sitting across from them.
Harry looked to Hermione, who now seemed to be okay forgiving him, and included Ron in their conversation. However, Draco had a frown etched on his face the entire time Ron was there.
When Harry asked him about it later, Draco responded, "he doesn't deserve Hermione's forgiveness. She's better than him."
"But surely everyone deserves a second chance?"
Draco shrugged. "Maybe."
And then they went back to their work, in silence.