A/N: This world, characters, story belong to J.K Rowlings and Scholastic books. They own it not me, I'm just having some fun exploring their world and playing around with a few what ifs.
A Chance Encounter
1: The Greengrass Family
Harry Potter wasn't just confused. He was terrified!
He continued to push his trolley through the throngs of people at Kings Cross station. He had one eye on where he was going while trying to spot any sign that could lead him to Platform Nine and Three Quarters. Harry's stomach lurched after a third time circling platforms nine and ten. Hagrid made it sound so simple.
Harry wasn't the only one annoyed. Hedwig voiced her disapproval with a series of hoots that received the attention of several people. We must make quite the sight. He ignored the stares he and his owl were receiving. They probably think we're performers, Harry thought, expect us to dance or put on a show.
Here's our first fan, Harry thought after bringing his trolley to a sudden halt when a young girl with dirty blond hair stepped in front of him without warning. He had stopped just in time since the last thing he needed right now was hitting someone with his trolley. She looked no older than eight and paid Harry no mind. Her brown eyes were solely focused on Hedwig. "Pretty bird," she complimented, but he had a feeling she was talking to Hedwig not him.
Where's Harry Potter? He could hear them all saying at Hogwarts, picturing their mumbling and their confusion when he never showed up. He got stuck at Kings Cross. It would be announced in front of the whole school. He could imagine the laughter that would bring, the boy-who-lived, they'd jeer, more like the-boy-who- failed. Harry groaned, when his stomach gave a painful lurch. The school year hasn't even started and I've already failed. He turned away from Hedwig's fawning fan to look at the clock hanging above them. It read 10:39. He was running out of time. Uncle Vernon's vicious triumphant look flickering across his face when he learned what platform Harry needed to get on. They're probably still laughing. The last thing he wanted to do as to try to call them and ask to be picked back up.
His thoughts on the Dursleys stopped the second he saw the girl slip two of her fingers into the cage. "Don't," he warned trying to stop her, afraid what his temperamental owl would do to the poor girl, but to his surprise, Hedwig leaned her feathery head to allow the girl to pet her. She then let out a very pleased hoot from the girl's touch.
At least someone's enjoying themselves.
"Astoria, there you are," The sound of clicking heels on the platform followed the woman's voice.
Harry turned to see a beautiful woman who looked like she belonged on one of the magazines his Aunt Petunia got at the store. She had long black hair which was tied in an elegant bun. She was wearing a purple dress. "You know better than to run off, Astoria," She wagged her finger at the girl.
Astoria slipped her fingers out of the cage. Her shoulders slumped before pouting. "I'm sorry, Mum, but look at the pretty bird," The mention of Hedwig perking this Astoria back up.
That was when she noticed Hedwig and Harry for the first time. She gave the owl a quick glance before she turned to Harry, where he noticed she had the same color eyes as Astoria-honey brown. She gave him a polite smile. "You do have a very pretty owl."
"Thanks," Harry knew he should've been more polite, but he saw the clock over the mother's shoulder and it now read 10:41.
"Is this your first year at Hogwarts?" The woman's simple question cut through the fear that had been settling over him at the thought that he wouldn't be able to get to Hogwarts.
His relief must have been plain to see since before he could answer her question, the woman was already giving him a thoughtful smile. "It is."
"It's my daughter's too," She was holding Astoria's hand, "Not hers," she added, sensing the unasked question, "I still have a few more years with her." She poked her daughter's side which brought out a delightful giggle. "We can go to the platform together if you'd like?"
"Yeah," Harry answered quickly, "T-thanks."
Harry turned to find the new voice to see he was staring at a very cute girl. She looked to be his age, and she was holding the hand of an older man who must've been her father. He was dressed in a simple black business suit. His hair was dark blond and carefully slicked back. He was the one pushing the trolley and neither were even looking his way when they approached.
"Cyrus, Daphne where have you been?"
The man named Cyrus shrugged. "You should know how Daphne is Roxanne. After all she does take after you."
It must've been a family joke given how the mother and two daughters reacted.
"Look at the pretty bird, papa," Astoria pointed to Hedwig, bringing the new arrival's attention to Hedwig and Harry for the first time.
This Cyrus was an imposing man. Harry thought, trying not to wince under his sharp blue eyes which were currently on him. "Are you a first year at Hogwarts?"
"He doesn't know the way to the platform, Cyrus," Roxanne remarked with a sympathetic tinge in her voice.
Cyrus took that information with a nod. "Muggle-born?"
"No, sir," Harry answered, "I was raised by muggles though," He wasn't sure if he gave the right answer when their eyes widened before they settled on his face.
It was Cyrus who spoke first. He bent down to become eye-level with Harry. "You're Harry Potter." The two daughters gasped at the name while the mother looked to be on the verge of crying.
Harry gulped. He brought his hand up to his hair to try to cover up his famous lightning bolt scar.
"It's alright," Cyrus held his palms up facing Harry, "Forgive my bluntness, I didn't mean to startle you or give off the wrong impression."
"I should've known," Roxanne had bent down beside her husband. "You look just like your father but you have Lily's eyes," Cyrus wrapped a comforting arm around his wife, "But I'm sure you already know that, you've seen their pictures."
Harry had immediately brightened at the thought of these strangers in front of him actually knowing his mum and dad. It dimmed slightly with the cold reminder that his parents were strangers to him until a few weeks ago he had believed they had died in a car crash. He had never even seen a picture of either his mum or dad. The Dursleys had forbidden any mention or trace of them in their house. "No, I don't have any pictures of them."
Roxanne gasped while her husband muttered something that sounded an awful lot like the curse words Uncle Vernon would direct at Harry when he was in one of his more fouler moods, but Cyrus' weren't aimed at Harry.
"You've never seen pictures of Lily or James?" She asked.
"Did you know them?" Harry's curiosity was filling his insides like a swelling of a balloon. "I'm sorry," He apologized when he realized he hadn't answered her question, but ignored it. "No, I haven't."
"Yes," She answered after a short pause, her eyes were glistening. "I was in the same year as James and Lily. I was friends with your mother throughout our time at Hogwarts and after. When I got married she was my maid of honor and when she married your father, I was her matron of honor."
"Really?" Harry couldn't believe his luck with this chance encounter. He had accidentally stumbled upon someone who knew his parents.
"Yes, we had the privilege of knowing them," She answered again with a patient smile. "I have pictures of your parents. I can send them if you want?"
Harry nodded because he wasn't sure he could trust his voice. His throat tightened, his mind nearly shutting down at the thought of finally being able to see his parents' faces. He wanted to pinch himself to make sure that he wasn't dreaming.
"Perhaps, we should introduce ourselves properly," Cyrus extended his hand, "I'm Cyrus Greengrass. This is my wife Roxanne Greengrass and these are our two daughters, Daphne and Astoria."
"It's nice to meet you, sir," Harry shook the man's hand. "Did you know my parents too?"
"Yes, I did, I was two years older than them but I didn't have the distinct pleasure of calling your parents friends until after they graduated."
"We've met before," Roxanne Greengrass observed in a soft voice, "When you were born, I held you just like your mother had held Daphne." Her cheeks were wet with tears.
Cyrus looked over his shoulder to see the clock now read 10:50. "We should get to the platform. Harry and Daphne are going to need to find a compartment."
Roxanne nodded. "I will send you the pictures by the weekend."
"Thank you," His voice came out dry and croaky.
"We need to get going," Cyrus ushered them across the platform intersecting nine and ten. The Greengrass family stopped at a brick barrier and then turned back to Harry. "All you have to do is go through the barrier."
Harry tilted his head, believing that they were having him on. He looked from the serious looking family to the very solid brick barrier. "Ahh," was his response.
Cyrus smiled. He gently put a hand on Harry's shoulder. He didn't comment on Harry's instinctive flinch. "I'm going to lead you so that you know we're not joking."
"Okay," Harry couldn't see any traces of mockery or deception on the man's face. They said they knew my parents. He was willing to trust them. He wanted to trust them.
Cyrus moved to grab Harry's trolley too before they began to push it forward, picking up speed as they went while the brick barrier was hurtling towards them. They were about to hit the bricks, but then they didn't. They passed right through it to find himself staring at a sign that read: Platform Nine and Three Quarters. Excited and relieved to have made it, Harry only was able to appreciate the sign for a second or two before a sudden whistle brought him to look at the beautiful crimson painted Hogwarts' Express. It looked so new and clean that it made him think of model train sets especially the ones that were never taken out of their box.
On the platform there were dozens of families crowding under the shadow of the train. There were parents giving teary-eye goodbyes while envious or sullen siblings silently watched their brothers and sisters depart for Hogwarts.
He hadn't even noticed Roxanne, Astoria, and Daphne had joined them until Daphne's trolley was pushed up alongside his. She gave him a small smile that Harry found himself returning. Mr. Greengrass helped Harry with his as they made their way through the crowd, Daphne was holding onto her sister's hand while their mother pushed Daphne's trolley. Astoria had tears in her eyes when it was time for the sisters to hug.
"You two better hurry and find a compartment," Cyrus suggested.
"Thanks for all your help," Harry wasn't sure what he was more grateful for, them helping him find the right platform or them knowing about his parents and offering him pictures.
"You're most welcome, Harry," Roxanne stepped forward, "If you need or want anything all you have to do is write. Okay, Harry?"
"Okay," He nearly stuttered, he had never been offered that before. Their kindness and generosity was nearly overwhelming for him.
"You're going to be a great wizard, Harry," He shook Cyrus' hand a second time, unsure what to say to such a compliment or the confidence in which he made it.
"Goodbye, Harry," said Astoria softly, from her mother's side. She gave Harry a shy smile.
"Come on, Harry, we should hurry," Daphne encouraged him to follow her up onto the train. Their trunks and Hedwig's cage followed them up with help from Cyrus.
"You don't have to sit with me if you don't want to," He found himself saying. His time at primary school had prepared him to move forward alone.
Daphne stopped in front of him. "Why would I do that?" Her hands were on her hips. "Don't you want to be friends?"
Friends? Harry didn't even try to stop himself from grinning. He never really had friends before because of Dudley and his threats. "Yeah, I do."
They fell into a comfortable silence while they pulled their trunks through the train. They received a few looks, but no one seemed to recognize Harry. Something that made him incredibly grateful and relieved. Daphne noticed his reaction, but she didn't tease only offering him a smile. They finally found a compartment near the back of the train. The two of them were able to lift their trunks on the luggage racks. Harry put Hedwig's cage on the seat next to where he was going to sit.
Daphne had already opened the window. The noise from the departing crowd was loud with all the different farewells mixing with each other to make a loud wave of goodbyes that was crashing down onto the train. She was trying to spot her family in the crowd while Harry was fine with just getting comfortable in his seat. His eyes wandered through the throngs of people spotting a plump red haired witch who was lecturing a pair of equally red headed boys whose heads were sticking out of a train compartment's window. They didn't seem to be listening to who Harry assumed was their mother since they were making faces at a young girl who must have been their sister. The redheaded girl was smiling, but tears were freely coming down her face.
"Yeah?" He turned away from the redheaded family seeing where Daphne was trying to get his attention. He saw her parents and sister were all smiling and waving, but he noticed they were looking at him too. He waved back unable to stop himself from smiling.
Life was finally getting good for Harry Potter.
A/N: Thanks for clicking on this story and checking out the first chapter. A few quick notes/thoughts before you chose to continue or not.
Confession, I'm an American and therefore I will struggle with British vernacular from time to time. So I apologize to my British readers, I do hope to have a 'Britpicker' at one point go through this story and clean it up, to make the appropriate changes and to give this story a more authentic read.
One of the main inspirations for the Greengrass family and the root idea for this story was from a brief passage in the first book where Hagrid tells Harry that he wrote to his parents' friends to get pictures to form a photo album to give as a gift for Harry. At that, I was curious/excited to explore the possibility of that idea of one of those family friends to actually meet/recognize Harry before he starts his Hogwarts adventure and to give a different impact on the impressionable eleven year old.
Warning: This story will stay close to canon in the beginning before slowly, but surely diverging from the books' story-line. Its a slow burn where it'll take some time for Harry, and the plot to begin to change and reshape. Overall, I like to think this story has a similar feel to the books, but still remain unique in its approach/angle.
When I have time I do try to make edits and changes to the chapters as I've grown as a writer since this story debuted, so many years ago. One of these edits is the changing of 'The Sorcerer's Stone,' back to the 'the Philosopher's Stone,' the correct name. So I apologize for any confusion if you read it in one chapter as one name and a different name in another chapter.
That being said, I hope you enjoy this story, and if you do not, that's perfectly fine there's thousands of great stories on this site for this fandom with wonderful diversities in plot, characters, pairings, etc. I think its great that such a vast array of likes and tastes can be catered to. So that the audience/readers can find the stories that they enjoy.
If that's the case, thanks for giving this story a shot, you invested time in it, and I'm appreciative of that commitment. To those few who end up continuing to read and maybe even liking this story, I'm thrilled and humbled to help provide a form of entertainment for you.
Thanks for reading,