Prologue – A Shadow of Prophecy
Rated T: For occasional graphic concepts and atmosphere. No cussing, no adult situations, no violence (yet).
Disclaimer: I do not own any rights for the worlds or characters in Harry Potter. Those rights are owned by Scholastic Publishing Inc and J.K. Rowling. I do own the rights to my original characters depicted here, in as far as they differ from the worlds created by J.K. Rowling.
A tall man sat at a booth in a crowded pub apparently waiting for something. He made no effort to conceal his presence, and thus he went mostly unnoticed as he sipped his drink in solitude. His back was to most of the room, but that only made it easier to listen in, and remain aware of comings and goings without anyone taking particular note of him in return.
He heard his co-conspirator's footsteps before the pale man entered his field of view.
"It is done?" He asked without looking up, making a subtle gesture to the empty chair across from him.
"The charm is in place." the man replied nervously as he sat down, glancing around the room behind the taller man.
"Stop fidgeting, and look at me. You look like a man with something to hide."
The newcomer stopped and looked directly at his calm companion. "Why, a place like this?" He asked; his tone a little more controlled.
"It is public, we can see and hear all that goes on. Anyone who saw us in a darkened alley might suppose we were up to no good."
"But we are…"
"Two friends meeting over a pint." The tall man interrupted his companion.
"Right… So, if your information is correct, then events are already set in motion that will take the boy on the path of our choosing. Is that right?" The nervous man asked.
"Do you doubt my vision?" The tall man raised one pale eyebrow, "I have never been wrong. Only right in unexpected ways. The Master knows this, and will no doubt reward you for following my instructions." The nervous man flinched upon hearing the word 'Master'. "And, you still have your part to play, so don't let me keep you."
After a moment of quiet, the nervous man spoke, "The boy didn't seem particularly remarkable to me. I would like to know more about this path we are setting him on." He searched the tall man's expression, but it gave nothing away.
"I have foreseen that the boy is key to the success of our plans." The tall man replied cryptically.
"So you know how this will end then? The boy will ensure our victory?"
"Prophecy is a tricky thing. None can say with absolute certainty. But I can say, this path is most likely to produce a favorable outcome, provided we continue to nurture it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have another appointment to keep, and you had better get back before you're missed. He doesn't like to be kept waiting."
The nervous man flinched again, rose from the table, bowed briefly, turned, and left. The tall man smiled to himself, and after a time paid for his drinks, and departed his own way.
Year 1 – The Philosopher's Stone
Chapter 1 – Diagon Alley to Platform Nine and Three Quarters
Chapter Summary: Harry's first visit to Diagon Alley, and then the journey from platform nine and three quarters, but things have already been set in motion that will change the course of Harry's life forever.
Rated T: For occasional graphic concepts and atmosphere. No cussing, no adult situations, no violence (yet).
Disclaimer: I do not own any rights for the worlds or characters in Harry Potter. Those rights are owned by Scholastic Publishing Inc and J.K. Rowling. I do own the rights to my original characters depicted here, in as far as they differ from the worlds created by J.K. Rowling.
Harry was still astounded by the unlikely chain of events that had led to him standing with a goblin-run wizard bank behind him, and a smorgasbord of magical shops all up and down the street in front of him. He was a wizard, and there was a whole world of magic and wonder that he'd never before dreamed existed. His aunt and uncle, the Dursleys, had tried to keep this knowledge from him since he'd come to live with them when he was only a year old, but his new friend Hagrid, had set him straight. Hagrid was a giant but friendly man covered in a thick worn coat with a mass of tangled hair sprouting from both his head and face. Harry had only just turned 11 that very day and they'd come here, to Diagon Alley – a place hidden by magic in the very heart of London – to purchase the things he'd need at the new school he'd be attending in just over a month.
Harry reviewed the list he'd received along with his letter of invitation to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It detailed all the things he needed to bring as a first year student: robes, cauldrons, books of course, and he'd even get his own magic wand. He was definitely looking forward to that part. The ornate and stately bank behind them held wizarding money, and Harry had been quite surprised to learn that his parents had left him a small fortune. The Dursleys had told him his parents had died in a car crash, when – as Harry had learned earlier that day – the truth was that they had died at the hands of the dark wizard Voldemort.
Every witch or wizard Harry had met that day had instantly recognized his name, or the lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead, which – he'd been told – was a mark of the dark magic Voldemort had used in an effort to kill him and his parents. For reasons no one seemed to understand, the spell hadn't worked the way it was meant to. Harry's parents had died, but he had survived, and Voldemort had disappeared. That, apparently, was why Harry was famous in the wizarding world, and why everyone reacted so strongly when they learned who he was.
"Might as well get yer uniform." Hagrid's gruff, friendly voice interrupted Harry's musings. He turned to see the man, twice as tall as most ordinary men, nod towards a nearby shop. The sign outside read, "Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions". "Listen, 'Arry, would yeh mind if I slipped off fer a pick-me-up in the Leaky Cauldron? I hate them Gringotts carts." Hagrid had been looking ill, Harry had to admit; since the veritable roller coaster ride on the goblin carts in the bank. The carts were certainly an exciting way to navigate the vast underground labyrinth where the various vaults beneath London were placed. Hagrid hadn't handled the ride very well – Harry had almost lost his money over the side during a particularly sharp jolt – and he could understand why the big man might want something from the pub to steady his nerves. The Leaky Cauldron was a quaint establishment filled with witches and wizards. It also seemed to serve as the hidden entrance to Diagon Alley.
"Might as well, I'll be alright." Harry assured his large friend. He turned to move towards the door to the robe shop, glancing in the window to get an idea of what he might expect. He spotted a pale boy with white blonde hair standing on a stool next to someone pinning up a black robe draped over him. Harry stopped short with his hand barely on the door knob as he realized Hagrid was still carrying his money after offering to hold onto the bag of gold and silver coins on the ride back up from the vaults in Gringotts. "Hagrid?" He turned around; Hagrid was out of earshot, but not out of sight. It would be very difficult to lose sight of the large man, even in this crowd, considering how much he towered over the other wizarding folk.
He glanced around wildly, drawing a look from the blonde boy he'd spotted earlier, and shouted, "Hagrid!" as he moved a little ways down the street. He jogged a little and jostled through the crowd, hoping he wouldn't get trampled or some such. "Hagrid?!" he called again, but then stopped short as the giant suddenly appeared before him.
"Blimey, 'Arry, I thought yeh was gettin' yer robes fitted?" Hagrid looked surprised, but concerned, and still green around the face.
"I was, but… you have my money, remember?" Harry informed him.
"Uh, right." Hagrid looked sheepish. He started patting down the pockets on his coat to find it, but then also began to sway on his feet. In a momentary panic, Harry glanced around, and quickly motioned the giant over to a white stone bench outside a small store selling ice cream and sweets. He sat patiently while Hagrid caught his breath then fished out the bag of money.
" 'Ere ya go." He looked a bit recovered, and sat for a moment longer as Harry stood.
"Thanks, I'll see you when you get back." Harry gave him a reassuring smile.
Hagrid stood before he could move off. "I'll get yeh some ice cream." The man said, eyeing the sign above the store. "Go an' get yer robes, an' meet me back 'ere, a'right?"
"Alright, sounds great!" Harry beamed then turned and trotted off towards Madam Malkin's once more. With money in his hand, he was feeling more confident than he'd been when he'd first started to enter the store.
Once inside, he was greeted by a short sturdy woman dressed in mauve robes, who Harry figured must be Madam Malkin. "Hogwarts dear?" she spoke before Harry had a chance to start. "Got the lot here – another young man being fitted up just now, in fact." Towards the back of the shop, the same pale boy he'd seen earlier was still standing on a footstool while Malkin's assistant was finishing pinning his robes in place to get the proper fit. Harry was stood onto a stool next to him, and the proprietor draped a matching long black robe over his head and began to start on the same process for him.
"Hello." Said the boy in a slightly bored drawl, "Hogwarts too?"
"Yes." Harry nodded, standing as still as possible afraid he might be pricked by the pins.
"What was that all about just now?" He continued.
"Oh, I almost forgot my money before coming in here." Harry said, blushing a bit in his embarrassment.
"I've done that." The other boy shrugged. "I usually have someone carry my money for me, like Dobby, or mother. She's up the street just now, looking at wands."
Harry was silent for a moment, before turning towards his new acquaintance, who had quieted and stilled while the pinned and fitted robe had been pulled off over his head. The boy then pulled on another robe, similar in appearance and cut, but different in color, and far more elaborate in its design. This was also mostly black, with silver and green trim, a small shield emblem decorating the front over his heart, with a pair of dragons on either side, and two serpents coiled about the top.
"I really don't know what to expect." Harry began. "My parents never got the chance to explain all of this to me, I only just found out they were a witch and a wizard."
The boy looked confused for a moment, but also slightly more interested and less bored. "Oh so you're from one of the wizarding families? Well, how much do you know?"
"I know I'm a wizard, but my aunt and uncle who raised me were… normal people… what's the word?"
"You were raised by muggles?" The boy supplied.
"Yes, that's it." Harry beamed.
"Now there's a twist." The blonde mused, "So you're not muggle born, but still don't know our ways? That must be rough, what happened to your real parents?"
"They're dead. They died when I was very young."
"Oh, sorry." He didn't sound very sorry, but it was comforting to hear him make the effort anyway. "Well, that's father outside just now." He added. Then Harry spotted a man through the window with the same complexion and hair color as this boy, but quite a bit taller. "But I'm sure we'll see each other more at school, or on the way there." He paused and turned back, adding almost as an afterthought, "If you still have questions by then, I'm sure I can explain anything you might need to know."
He was soon out the door, and Harry didn't have much chance to reply. A simple 'Thank you' was all he got out, but the boy left Harry smiling nonetheless. It was good to know there were more people in this new world of magic that would be friendly and helpful, even if the boy did seem a little aloof.
After his robes were fitted, Harry went back to the ice cream parlor, where he was happy to find Hagrid with his normal pallor restored. They enjoyed their dessert then spent some time purchasing the rest of the things he'd need, including his school books, a cauldron, and of course a wand.
Ollivanders was by far the quietest shop Harry had visited, and the proprietor, Mr. Ollivander, had unsettled Harry, as he'd had him try out numerous wands, before finding the one that suited him best. It turned out, the wand he'd been given, held a phoenix feather core, and the phoenix whose feather resided in his wand had given just one other feather. A feather which formed the core of Voldemort's wand. Ollivander found this coincidence 'curious'. Harry found it disturbing. But even that couldn't dampen the appreciation he felt for his wand. It felt perfect in his hand.
After wand shopping, Hagrid bought Harry a snowy owl as a birthday present, which Harry had come to name Hedwig. It was only later as he sat with Hagrid eating some food back in the muggle part of London that he realized he hadn't asked the boy in the robe shop his name. He supposed he'd have to remedy that when he saw him 'on the way to Hogwarts'. Which led to another thought. "Hagrid? How will I get to Hogwarts?"
"Oh, that." The man retrieved an envelope from yet another pocket in his coat, which Harry swore was made of nothing but pockets. "Yer tickets fer tha Hogwarts Express." He informed him. Tha's the train tha' take yeh from King's Cross station ter Hogwarts. All the instructions are there on yer ticket, jus' remember ter be at King's Cross on tha first o' September."
"So the other students will be on the train with me?" he asked, glancing over the ticket and instructions in his hand.
"Most of 'em." Hagrid affirmed. "Now let's get yer home." He said, rising to his feet. Together, they made it to the train that would take Harry to his home, Hagrid helped him board, but paused when Harry was just inside, and Hagrid still on the platform, "First o' September, don' forget. An' if the Dursleys give yeh any trouble jus' send me a letter with yer owl, she'll know where ta find me… See yeh soon, 'Arry."
As the train was leaving, Harry pressed his nose to the window, hoping to watch Hagrid until he was out of sight, but the big man disappeared between one blink and the next, mystifying the youth, but intriguing him as well. Magic was going to be a lot of fun, he decided.
When September 1st came around, Harry woke up early, and was far too excited and nervous to get back to sleep. He'd made arrangements with his uncle Vernon to be taken to King's Cross station. Though, when he'd asked about it the previous day, Vernon had seemed to think it was funny that his ticket instructed him to leave from 'Platform Nine and Three Quarters'. His uncle was convinced there was no such thing.
So there Harry stood alone in his t-shirt and jeans, his panic rising, staring at the platforms nine and ten and at a complete loss of what to do next. Vernon had driven away after wishing him a 'good term' and he was beginning to suspect his uncle had been right about platform nine and three quarters not existing. Hagrid had tapped 'the third brick from the left' to open the magical passage into Diagon Alley from the Leaky Cauldron, but Harry wasn't certain he had the nerve to start tapping bricks between the platforms with his wand. It was bad enough people were staring at him for his owl, Hedwig, sleeping in her cage on his cart.
He was interrupted from his despairing musings by the sound of a nearby voice, "– Packed with muggles, of course –" He spun around to see a motherly woman walking with four boys and a young girl, all with bright red hair. He knew the word muggle was only used by wizards to refer to non-magic folk. He wasn't certain what he would have done with the knowledge, for at that moment he heard another voice, this one somewhat familiar.
"Hey, you there!" Harry turned again, scanning the crowd for the boy he'd met at the robe shop. He first spotted the tall white-blonde man identified as the boy's father. Beside him walked a shorter woman about the same age, with much darker hair. A moment later he spotted the boy himself waving enthusiastically as they approached, and noticed all three of them were wearing matching, sophisticated, if somewhat old fashioned clothing. They drew closer, and Harry sighed briefly in relief that here was someone who could help him make his train. He was also relieved to see that they weren't wearing their robes either.
"Hello there." Harry returned, glancing once back in the direction the red-headed group had gone, but he could not find them anywhere on the platforms. By this point the well-dressed wizarding family had stopped just in front of him. They were eyeing him with a mixture of curiosity and mild distaste at his shabby clothing. Not that that sort of thing was new to Harry; he felt a bit of distaste at his hand-me-down outfits too, from time to time.
"This is the boy I mentioned, from Madam Malkins'." The blonde kid told his father, and the woman Harry guessed was his mother.
"The one who was raised by muggles?" His father's voice was haughty yet soft spoken. This was a man who was assured of his own importance; not the sort Harry usually liked.
"Yeah, that's me." Harry agreed then glanced back towards the platforms once again. "I realized, I never asked your name." he said, turning back to the boy.
"You should have introduced yourself, Draco." The older man admonished his son, every word spoken carefully.
"Remember your manners." The woman spoke at last. Harry found her a bit more pleasant. It was obvious she cared for her son, and made Harry wonder what his own mother had been like.
"Sorry." Draco looked a bit chagrined, but quickly stepped forwards, and offered a hand. "Draco Malfoy." He said after a moment, "My father and mother, Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy." He added, nodding to his parents, who nodded in turn. Harry had to admit that they were quite polite.
"H'Harr…" he paused, remembering the reactions of the patrons in the Leaky Cauldron when they'd learned who he was, but he took a deep breath and continued on. "Harry Potter." He finished in a softer voice. As he'd expected, all three of them looked momentarily startled, obviously recognizing his name.
"So this is Potter!" Lucius said, his tone taking on a note of wonder and something else, Harry wasn't certain. "The boy who lived." Draco's eyes looked about ready to pop from his head, and Harry felt his face flushing heatedly. "I see now, why you'd know so little of our ways." The older man continued, "I'm sorry for what happened to your parents."
"Draco, Lucius, perhaps we should get moving, the train leaves shortly." Narcissa reminded them, and Harry noticed she'd reached over to close Draco's gaping mouth, leaving him looking slightly less stunned.
"I don't know how to –" Harry stammered, glancing back in the direction the red-haired group had gone.
"Of course, it's your first time. Never been on the platform before." Narcissa surmised. "We'll show you the right of it." She assured him, sharing a meaningful glance with her husband, who seemed pleased by something.
"That'd be great." Harry agreed, his relief returning and causing him to smile. Narcissa put a hand on his shoulder, and steered him towards the barrier between platforms nine and ten.
"It's really quite simple." She explained, her bearing and tone putting him quickly at ease. "You simply walk straight at the barrier." She continued in a soft almost conspiratorial tone. "You'll pass right through it onto the platform, easy as cake. There's no reason to be nervous, I'm sure you'll do fine, you're a natural born wizard, after all."
He'd been quite nervous, but she seemed calm and confident enough, which helped him steady himself, and try to do exactly as she'd suggested. He felt a twinge of panic at the last second, worried that he'd crash into the barrier and jostle his owl in her cage. He held his breath, and blinked in the instant he would have hit the barrier with the front of his cart. When his eyes opened, he was through, and he gasped at the bright red engine before him. He quickly glanced back, and where the barrier should have been, was a wrought iron archway with the words Platform Nine and Three Quarters gilded at the top of the arch.
He laughed briefly at the wonder of it, and a moment later Draco emerged, his awe and confusion from learning Harry's name replaced by a look of determination. He smiled when he saw Harry. "Best hurry." He said after a moment, as his mother, then father emerged through the archway.
"Alright." Harry agreed. The conductor was already calling for 'all aboard' and Harry certainly didn't want to be left behind. "Where's your trunk, and things?" Harry asked Draco as they approached one of the cars.
"Dobby already took them onto the train. He'd get all fussy and cry if we didn't let him."
Draco led the way enthusiastically as they looked for a car. The train was packed, with people leaning out of windows waving goodbye, though there were still a few minutes left before the train was scheduled to leave. Together they found a compartment near the end that hadn't yet been claimed, and Draco hopped aboard to check on it, while Harry unstrapped his trunk, and started trying to lift it up the steps.
"Want a hand?" Harry looked to see one of the red-heads he'd spotted earlier.
"Yes please." He answered with some relief.
"Oy, Fred! C'mere and help!" he called to another boy, who looked just like him, with the same face and everything. Obviously twins. With their help, they got the trunk into the empty compartment, leaving Harry to wonder where Draco had wandered off to.
He thanked them, and wiped some of the sweat from his brow, pushing his hair out of his face in the process. Apparently, the motion gave the two boys a glimpse of his distinctive scar.
"Blimey," said one of the twins, "Are you –?"
"He is," said his brother, "Aren't you?" He asked Harry.
"What?" he was getting used to this sort of reaction, but it was still a bit overwhelming to him.
"Harry Potter!" they said together.
"Of course he is." Draco said, coming back into the compartment from somewhere further up the train. While he'd been away, he'd apparently changed into his robes. "Who are you?" he added, glancing at them, a small sneer forming on his face as he took in their clothes, almost as shabby as Harry's. "Let me guess; red hair, and hand-me-down clothes? You must be Weasleys."
"That we are, blondie." They chorused, smiling, and quickly stepped off the train back onto the platform, not the least bit perturbed by Draco's snide tone, or expression.
Harry scowled in mild irritation at Draco's rudeness, an expression which apparently didn't escape his companion's notice.
"They're not friends of yours, are they?" He asked after a moment.
Harry shook his head, but quickly explained, "They were friendly, and they helped me get my trunk into the car."
"Oh, sorry…" Draco shrugged, though as before he didn't really look or sound truly sorry.
Harry sat down, out of sight of the window, as the twins voices drifted to them from just outside. "Hey, Mom, guess what?" "Guess who we just met on the train?"
"Who?" came the reply, the voice sounded like the same woman Harry had heard mention muggles back in the station.
"Harry Potter!" They chorused in unison.
Draco snorted a little, "You'd think they'd never met someone famous before." He muttered, though Harry sent him a look, and he remembered his manners. "I take it you don't like getting gawked at?" Never mind that he'd done a little gawking when he'd learned Harry's identity just minutes earlier.
"Not really, no." Harry admitted.
He heard a young girl's voice drift through the window, "Mom, oh please…"
"Ginny, the poor boy isn't something you goggle at in a zoo." Came the twins' mother's voice, mirroring Draco's statement of only moments before. Harry wished the train would move already, closing his eyes and thinking about it like he had on a few previous occasions where he'd made something magical happen without realizing it.
"Is he really, Fred? How do you know?" the woman continued.
"Asked him." "Saw his scar." "It's really there – like lightning."
"Poor dear, I hope he wasn't alone." The mother replied.
"Never mind that, do you think he remembers what You-Know-Who looks like?" One of the twins responded.
"I forbid you to ask him, Fred." His mother told him sternly, "No, don't you dare. As though he needs to be reminded of that on his first day at school."
"Do you know any games?" Draco interrupted Harry's eavesdropping on the family outside. "I don't suppose you do." He continued without waiting for Harry's reply. "At least not wizard games."
"How are wizard games different?" Harry found himself asking.
"Well, muggles don't use brooms, so they can't play quidditch. But I meant something more like chess." He'd pulled a small box from his trunk on the rack above the seat, though Harry didn't remember seeing it there just a moment before. It turned out, the box folded out into a chess board, with little pewter figures intricately carved into chess pieces.
"I know how to play chess." Harry smiled, grateful that he was familiar with something wizards did.
"Bet you've never played wizards chess." Draco continued, smirking. "I'll teach you. The rules are probably the same, but the pieces are enchanted. I got this set for my birthday." He started to set out the chess board, though Harry was quite astonished to discover the little pieces were finding their own places on the board, moving around like miniature people, and even calling up questions to Draco and Harry.
Before long they were playing together, and Harry forgot all about the red-headed family back on the platform. He barely noticed when the train started moving, he was so engaged in the game. They'd both made several moves, and Harry had already figured out that Draco was understandably more practiced at this than he was, when the door to their compartment slid open and another red-head, closer to Harry's age, poked his head in.
"Anyone sitting there?" he gestured to the seat across from Harry and Draco. "Everywhere else is full." He explained.
"Sorry." Draco said, almost automatically. "We've already claimed this compartment." The boy scowled, and might have said more, but seemed to change his mind and retreated back into the hallway.
"Draco," Harry began, scowling in his own turn, "he's got to sit somewhere doesn't he? This compartment can hold more than two." Harry felt a bad for these red-heads. He was quite accustomed to getting all this clothes second hand from his cousin, Dudley, who was quite a bit larger than him, despite being fairly close in age. He'd also never much cared for people who picked on others just because they were less well-off.
Draco blinked at him a few times, and glanced around, as if searching for an answer. Harry wasn't certain why he was being so bold with his new friend. Maybe it was the knowledge that he was leaving behind his life with the Dursleys, even if only for the next nine months. Becoming a wizard was turning out to be quite liberating.
"Father says we don't want to be associating with their sort." Draco finally explained.
"What sort is that?" Harry blinked.
"Well uh…" he paused again, his brow contracting as he fought to put together the right words, "Didn't you see his red hair, and the state of his clothes?" he waited for Harry's nod, then continued a bit more briskly, "He's obviously a Weasley like those other boys."
"Okay." But Harry wanted a little more, "What does that mean?"
"It means that… well…" again he stuttered, and glanced around, buying some more time to formulate his response, "The Weasleys are a wizarding family." He began, then very quickly clarified, "But they're not like the Malfoys, or the Blacks. They're…"
"Poor?" Harry guessed, as Draco's silence had begun to stretch. He'd been looked down on for the state of his own clothes often enough, even though the Dursleys spoiled their son absolutely rotten. Harry himself had never gotten anything new, if it could be passed down to him from Dudley.
"Well, they are that, but… they're also not very good wizards, and Father says there's a Weasley in the Ministry who's a total buffoon, and always going on about the muggles. He says they have no pride in their heritage, and give the rest of us a bad name."
"You know, I never had any money until I found out I was a wizard. If my Uncle Vernon knew about all the money I've got in Gringotts he'd no doubt try to find a way to take it from me."
"Oh." Malfoy once more looked sheepish. "I didn't know. It must have been rotten, being raised by muggles. I can't imagine how you survived it. But I guess you've survived worse, right?"
"I suppose you're right, though I don't really remember Voldemort at all."
Draco gasped, and suddenly looked several shades paler than usual.
"What?" Harry regarded him, perplexed.
"You said His name." Draco seemed to be both impressed and a little wary of him for it. "Even Father doesn't say His name."
"Oh, well it's not like I'm trying to be brave or anything, saying the name," Harry explained, "I just never knew you shouldn't. I've got loads to learn, I feel like I'm already way behind. I bet I'm the worst in the class."
"You'll be brilliant." Draco assured him, "We'll both get into Slytherin. Father says all the best witches and wizards get into Slytherin, and you'll be one of the greatest wizards of all time, you'll see."
Harry smiled, but then almost jumped when the door slid open again. "Hey Harry." One of the twins from before beamed at them both, while the other gave Draco a snide look. "Have you seen another red-head, like a smaller version of us." Said the second twin. "But much less pretty?" Finished the first.
"Yeah, he was in here just a minute ago, but he went off, I don't know where." Draco didn't say anything this time.
"If you see him, tell him Fred and George went down the middle of the train, Lee Jordan's got a giant tarantula down there." They both turned to regard Draco, "Nice chess set." The second twin told him.
"Oh, shove off." The blonde muttered.
The same boy leaned in and whispered in a conspiratorial tone to Harry, though loud enough for Draco to overhear. "I'd try queen to D-Four if I were you, might check mate him in a few moves that way."
"Hey, this is our game, now shove off!" Draco looked even more disgruntled now, and more than a little irritated at the interruptions. The twins ducked out and slid the door shut, their laughter echoing back through the hall.
"Guess they don't seem to like you much either." Harry said, though he had to work hard to hide his smirk at the twins' parting shots.
"You're not gonna be mad at me if I'm rude to them are you?" Draco queried, sitting back down and regarding the chess pieces once more.
"I suppose if they started it…" Harry shrugged.
It was a little past noon, judging by the sunlight out the windows, when a clattering noise just in the hall interrupted their game. The door to their compartment was slid back by a friendly blonde witch pushing a cart laden with snacks and sweets of all variety. She smiled as she looked in on the two of them, "Anything off the cart, dears?" she asked.
Harry jumped to his feet, his stomach reminding him in that moment that he hadn't eaten breakfast. Draco stood as well, and although he didn't look quite as eager, he was of course still very interested. Harry was the first in the corridor, and started examining everything that was on the cart, most of it he'd never heard of before, and it sounded and smelled incredibly exotic to his senses.
When he'd lived with the Dursley's he'd never had money for candy, and now that he had pockets full of coins, he wanted to buy as much as he could. The unfamiliarity of these snacks slowed him down enough that Draco had already selected several items before Harry decided he couldn't limit himself to just a few. He bought one of every item on the cart, and carried it back inside as Draco was settling into his seat with his own snacks
Harry started with a healthy bite of a pumpkin pasty. They enjoyed their snacks and their game of chess for a while longer, as the countryside sped past them out the windows. They were both so absorbed that they rather lost track of time.
They were nearly finished with one game, a game in which Harry was losing rather badly, despite the Weasley twins' suggested move. More than half his pieces lay in defeated moaning heaps on Draco's edge of the game board. There were still a few possible moves left, however, when there came a knock at the door, followed by a dark-haired boy ducking his head inside, "Sorry," he began, "but have you seen a toad at all?"
"A toad? Why would we have seen a toad?" Draco had put on an exasperated expression.
"I've lost him!" wailed the boy, "He keeps getting away from me!"
"I'm sure he'll turn up." Harry quickly reassured him, feeling badly for his plight, even if Draco didn't seem interested in the least.
"Well, if you see him…" he muttered, as he turned to leave.
"Can you imagine; a toad?" Draco began, almost before their visitor was out of ear shot. "Father said I had more important things to think about at school than looking after a pet, maybe my second year I'll bring my dragon."
Harry blinked, and couldn't hold back the astonished look Draco's comment was no doubt calculated to elicit. "You have a pet dragon?"
Draco shrugged. "It's not a real dragon; it's a komodo dragon, just a big lizard really." He shrugged again, but also grinned, happy to have surprised Harry, even if only briefly.
Draco had just taken his next move in their chess game when the door opened yet again. The boy from before was visible in the hall, but it was a girl accompanying him who stood in the doorway. She had brown hair which spilled about her face in a bushy mass. "Has anyone seen a toad? Neville's lost one." She asked in an authoritative voice.
"I told him before, we haven't seen his toad." Draco said rudely, but the girl wasn't really paying attention, she was looking at the chess board, where Harry's knight was crying in its small voice to be 'let back into the action'.
"Is that wizard's chess?" she asked after a moment, and sat down to get a closer look. "I've read all about it, but I've never seen a set before, nobody in my family's magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it's the very best school of witchcraft there is, I've heard – I've learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough – I'm Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?"
She spoke quickly, running her sentences together, and not giving Draco a chance to get a word in, and it appeared from his expression that he had very mixed feelings about some of the things she'd said. Harry was starting to suspect that Draco just didn't like anyone.
"I'm Harry Potter." Harry introduced himself quickly. He had a bad feeling about what was going to happen when Draco got a chance to speak.
"I'm…" Draco began.
"Are you really?" Hermione's face lit up and she gave him a toothsome smile. "I know all about you, of course – I got a few extra books for background reading, and you're in "Modern Magical History" and "The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts" and "Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century"."
"Am… I?" Harry stuttered, a bit overwhelmed by this girl who read so much.
"Goodness, didn't you know, I'd have found out everything I could if it was me." She paused to take a breath, and Draco tried to interject.
"Do either of you know what house you'll be in? I've been asking around, and I hope I'm in Gryffindor, it sounds by far the best; I hear Dumbledore himself was in it, but I suppose Ravenclaw wouldn't be too bad…"
"Gryffindor?!" Draco snorted, and Hermione finally turned to regard him. "I'll just bet you'll be in Gryffindor, we're both going to be in Slytherin, of course. Everyone in my family has been in Slytherin."
"Slytherin?" Hermione looked a bit taken aback. "I suppose if you want to be, but I've heard some nasty things about Slytherin, to be perfectly honest, not that I necessarily believe everything I've read about it, it can't all be true, if it were really so bad, I can't imagine they wouldn't have done away with the house ages ago, anyway, we'd better go and look for Neville's toad."
She left, and Harry regarded his new friend for a long moment. He looked very different from the boy he'd been starting to get to know. There was something almost sinister about his expression as he scowled at the door through which their latest acquaintance had departed through. "Draco." Harry began, when the silence started to stretch. "Are you all right?"
Draco shook his head as if to clear it, then gave Harry a reassuring smile. "I'm fine, I just hope that one doesn't end up in the same house as us. Father warned me about her sort. It's almost criminal, letting in people who were brought up by…" he stopped, and his face turned a rather unattractive shade of red. "Well, you know what it was like, not knowing anything about our ways until you got your letter. It'll be worse for her, her parents aren't even magic."
Harry grimaced, not liking the reminder, "She seems to be doing alright." He muttered, "Did you believe that part about already knowing the course books by heart?"
Draco shrugged, "It's possible, but I bet she was just bragging."
"What's so bad about Gryffindor?" Harry asked, after considering for a few moments.
"Gryffindor is full of goody-two-shoes, and pansies." Draco said, as if quoting someone he admired, "Slytherin's where you want to be, all the greatest witches and wizards were in Slytherin."
"I think you've said that already. What exactly are Gryffindor and Slytherin and what was that other one?"
"Oh that's right, you wouldn't know." Draco seemed to be returning to his normal self. "See, Hogwarts was founded centuries ago by four great wizards named Salazar Slytherin, Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Helga Hufflepuff." Draco warmed quickly to his topic, as he straightened in his seat, his inflections reminded Harry a little of how his father had talked back at the station, "Salazar Slytherin wanted to teach only the best witches and wizards, and that meant people who were already raised in our traditions. The others disagreed on certain things, Gryffindor wanted to train the bravest and noblest wizards, while Ravenclaw wanted to train all the brightest and most intelligent, and Hufflepuff wanted to teach every else, or something rubbish like that. They couldn't find a compromise, so instead, each formed their own house. When new students go to the school their first year they're sorted into the house best suited to them. Since you and I will be very powerful wizards someday, I'm sure we'll both get into Slytherin."
"I'll try, but I don't even know how we get into the houses, do you?"
Draco shook his head, "I don't know the specifics." He admitted, "But I suppose we'll find out soon enough."
"What was that she said about 'nasty stuff' to do with Slytherin, though?" Harry asked, thinking it all over.
"Oh… well you see, just because a wizard is great, doesn't always mean he's good. Slytherin's got sort of an undeserved bad reputation because some of the greatest dark wizards also came from there."
"That makes sense, I suppose." Harry agreed. "But, if you're going to be in Slytherin, I think I'd want to be too; if that is really the best place to learn to be a great wizard. But… do you think they'd accept me? You said Salazar Slytherin only wanted to teach people who were brought up as wizards?"
Draco thought about it for only a moment before answering, "Well, yes you were raised by muggles, but your parents were both magic, so it's different. You're famous afterall, so even if you've got a little catching up to do, you're still perfect for Slytherin."
They discussed the houses, and the history of the school for a little while, but once again the door slid open, and new faces appeared to look in on them. "Oh, hello Malfoy." Said the first large beefy boy, who shared similar rugged traits with his companion, "They've been saying all up and down the train that Harry Potter is back here somewhere, want to come with us to see him?"
"Hello." Draco smiled at them, and stood, then gestured to Harry. "These are my friends, Vincent Crabbe, and Gregory Goyle, I've known them since we were little – their families are friends with mine." The two newcomers blinked, and looked a little confused. "Crabbe, Goyle." Draco stood a little straighter, and finished with a dramatic flourish. "This is my good friend, Harry Potter!"
His announcement had the intended effect of awing and flabbergasting the two of them, and Draco wasted no time in taking advantage of their discomfiture. "What's wrong with you two?" he asked in mock surprise, "You said you were looking for him, right? Well you should have come straight to me, I could have introduced you whenever you liked."
Harry didn't care for people gawking at him, but the way Draco was making a bit of a show of this definitely amused him. "We were just finishing our game of wizards chess." Harry said, getting into his 'role' as Draco's "good friend" and acting as casually as possible, as if he and Draco were used to doing this sort of thing all the time.
"Oh, I'm no good at chess." Goyle admitted, glancing behind him at Crabbe, who shook his head to indicate he wasn't good at it either.
"I know that." Draco rolled his eyes, "That's why I play with Harry, and don't usually invite you two around for chess."
"Right." Crabbe admitted, shrugging. "Well uh… good luck with that, hope you beat him at least once, Potter." They departed, chatting animatedly to each other, and Draco barely contained himself as they drew out of earshot. Finally, he burst out laughing, and Harry couldn't help but laugh with him.
"That was wicked brilliant!" Harry complimented, as Draco wheezed, catching his breath. "I've never done anything like that before." He admitted.
"You were perfect, thanks for that." Draco wiped a tear from his eye, still shaking with his mirth, though he'd mostly gotten it back under control.
"I hope they don't feel too bad." Harry continued, still chortling.
"They'll be fine, but the looks on their faces… were fantastic." Draco waved away Harry's concern, "They're made of tough stuff, like all of their families. They often look after me; they're handy in rough spots, even if they aren't the brightest."
"I think I know the type, though usually I don't get along well with that sort."
"Well, now that you've got me, I can help you get along with just about any sort. We Malfoys are good at taking charge, and seeing things get done. Father's the head Hogwarts Governor."
"Hogwarts Governor?" Harry asked; not certain what that entailed.
"Oh, that means he helps make decisions regarding how the school is run. Though the headmaster makes most the decisions, the governors can vote to overrule his decisions, or even ask him to step down."
"Sounds important, and I guess that helps the school run more smoothly?"
"Absolutely. Dumbledore has accomplished some great things, but he can be a bit scatter-brained at times. He's pretty old afterall." Draco paused as they heard footsteps again in the corridor.
The door slid open, and there was Hermione back for a second round. "I've just been up to the front to ask the conductor, and he says we're nearly there, you'd better put your chess set away, you wouldn't want to lose the pieces, if I had a set like that I wouldn't want to lose pieces."
"We don't need you to tell us that." Draco scowled at her, his mood darkening the moment she'd come in.
"All right – I only came in here because people outside are behaving very childishly; racing up and down the corridors." She sniffed, and quickly ducked back into the corridor, where she could be heard saying to someone else, "Oh hello, um, you've got dirt on your nose, by the way, did you know?"
Harry helped Draco put the chess pieces away, even though they hadn't quite finished their game. They both knew Harry would have lost, but he'd still have liked to have played to the last move.
Just as they finished a loud voice echoed along the length of the train, "We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minutes time. Please leave your luggage on the train; it will be taken to the school separately."
Draco stowed his chess set back in his trunk, then moved to the door of their compartment as the train finally slowed to a stop. He paused in the doorway, and motioned for Harry to wait for a moment. "Corridor's crowded; no reason to go bumping elbows with everyone." He muttered.
After the press of bodies thinned a bit, Draco moved out, tugging Harry along with him, getting behind a larger boy who was making his way to the doors, and following in his wake. In no time they were on the platform. With the lights inside the train behind them it was pitch black on the platform at first, though Harry's eyes quickly began to adjust to the gloom.
"Any more firs' years? Mind yer step, now! Firs' years follow me!" Harry beamed as he observed Hagrid's form carrying a lantern in his outstretched hand which made him incredibly easy to spot even over the tallest students in the milling crowd.
"That's Hagrid." Harry motioned to Draco. "C'mon, he's calling for us to go that way." They pushed their way towards Hagrid's bobbing lantern.
"There yer are 'Arry!" Hagrid smiled then turned back to the rest of the gathered first year students. "Ever'one here? Then follow me!" he called, before leading them along a steep narrow path away from the platform.
The students gasped and 'ooohed' in a wave as they rounded a bend in the path and caught sight of the castle perched near the top of a small mountain across from a mirror black lake reflecting the lights from the stars and the castle windows.
They found a fleet of small boats floating at the shore of the lake, and quickly got themselves sorted, four to a boat, though Hagrid had a bigger boat all to himself. Once they were all situated, Hagrid called out "Forward!" and the boats began to move, cutting across the water smoothly, as if being pulled by invisible ropes. They ducked as the boats passed through a curtain of ivy hiding a low arched passage into the stone cliff face. After a short time in the dark they came to a harbor, of sorts, and disembarked onto a beach of smoothly worn pebbles somewhere beneath the castle. Ahead of them at the top of a wide stone staircase, were a great pair of wooden doors flanked by rows of torches on either side providing light throughout the cavern.
After leaving the boats, Hagrid led them up the steep stone steps carved right into the bedrock, and up to the door several stories above the surface of the lake, where he knocked three times on the sturdy wood, the sound echoing around them in the vast chamber.
Author's Comments: I've been working on this one for quite some time, and while I don't read a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction, I understand this particular concept has been done before. However, the ideas wouldn't leave me alone, and I'm sure my story will have its own merit and uniqueness. In particular, Seru Crescent and Illusor Maeneld have encouraged me to work on this when I wasn't sure if it was worth the effort, and I think it's turning out to have potential.
So please, let me know what you think. I apologize if this first chapter is a bit slow, but if you bear with me I have some interesting things planned; I'm not sure if I changed enough, but there's more to come.
Edit 6/03/2015: I've made a few significant changes here just recently, editing a few things for better flow, and adding quite a bit to the prologue in particular. I hope this improves the atmosphere, and provides a little stronger story hook. Enjoy!
Once again the copyrights for the Harry Potter worlds belong to J.K. Rowling. All original characters depicted here and this story are copyrighted to me.