Prologue – A Shadow of Prophecy

Author: Khodexus

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.

"It is done?" A tall thin man spoke as soon as his companion arrived in their shadowed meeting place.

"The charm is in place. 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?"

"Do you doubt my vision?" The first man replied. He was obviously quite pleased with the result of their mutual endeavor. "I have never been wrong, only right in unexpected ways. The Master knows this, and will no doubt reward you for this service, once he returns. You still have your part to play, so don't let me keep you."

"The boy didn't seem particularly remarkable to me. I'd like to know more about this path we are setting him on." The second man frowned, searching his companion's expression.

"I have foreseen that the boy is key to the success of our plans." The first man said cryptically.

"So you know how this will end then? The boy will ensure our victory?"

"None can say with absolute certainty, but I can say this. Prophecy is a tricky thing, but this path has the most favorable outcome, provided we continue to nurture it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have another appointment to keep, and you'd better get back before you're missed. The Master doesn't like being kept waiting."

The man bowed briefly, turned and left. The first man smiled to himself, and departed his own way, to set things in motion that would further ensure the success of his plans.

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.

Author: Khodexus

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 exhilarated by everything he'd learned so far that day. He was a wizard, and there was a whole world of magic and wonder that he'd never 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 the giant but friendly man covered in a worn coat and plenty of tangled hair both on his head and sprouting from his face emerged from the Gringots bank (run by goblins of all things) just a little behind Harry's 11 year old form. He'd only just turned 11, and they'd come here, to Diagon Alley to purchase the things he'd need at the new school he'd be attending in about a month.

Harry scanned 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 even his own magic wand. He was definitely looking forwards to that part. The ornate and stately bank behind them held wizarding money, and Harry had been quite surprised to learn his parents had left him a small fortune when they'd died at the hands of the dark wizard Voldemort ten years previous. That was why he'd come to live with the Dursleys, and why he knew little to nothing about this world of witches, wizards, magic wands, and bank telling goblins.

"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 in this place, hidden by magic in the very heart of London. The sign outside the shop 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." He did look a bit ill, Harry had to admit, since the veritable roller coaster ride on the goblin carts in the bank. The carts seemed to be a fairly logical way to navigate the vast underground labyrinth where the various vaults beneath London were placed. They were most likely guided by magic, since Harry hadn't seen the goblin who'd accompanied them steering in any visible way. Hagrid hadn't handled the ride very well, and Harry could understand why he might want something from the Leaky Cauldron to steady his nerves. They'd passed through the Leaky Cauldron on their way in here, from what Harry could tell it was the hidden entrance to this magically concealed place of wonder, 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 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 something amiss. "Hagrid?" He turned around; Hagrid was out of earshot, but not out of sight. It would be very difficult to lose sight of the man, even in this crowd, considering how much he towered over the other wizarding folk here.

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 in front of him.

"Blimey, 'Arry, I thought yeh was getting' yer robes fitted?" Hagrid looked surprised, but concerned, and still a little green around the face.

"I was, but… I handed you my money, remember?" Harry informed him. Harry had been enjoying just looking at his bag of gold and silver coins on the ride back up in Gringotts, but when he'd almost lost a coin over the edge, Hagrid had offered to take and hold onto the bag for a bit.

"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 a few other sweets. He sat patiently while Hagrid caught his breath, and then fished out the bag of money, handing it back to Harry.

" '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 game keeper said, eyeing the sign above the store they'd stopped by. "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. He wasn't feeling quite as anxious as he had 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 up 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, "Hogwarts too?"

"Yes." Harry nodded, standing as still as possible to avoid being pricked by the pins.

"What was that all about outside just now? I saw you waving at someone." He continued in his slightly bored drawling tone.

"Oh, I almost forgot my money before coming in here." Harry said, blushing a bit in his embarrassment.

"I've done that." His companion 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 companion, who had quieted while the pinned and fitted robe had been pulled off over his head. The boy 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 decorated 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, thinking about how all this was new to him. "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 muggles."

"There's a twist." The blonde mused, "So you're not muggle born, but still don't really 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. "Well, that's my dad outside just now." He added, after Harry spotted a man with the same complexion and hair color as this boy, but quite a bit taller, just outside the shop window. "But I'm sure we'll see each other more on the way to Hogwarts." 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. It was good to know there were more people in this new world of magic who would be helpful, even if the boy did seem a little aloof.

Harry and Hagrid spent some time purchasing the rest of the things he'd need, including his school books, a cauldron, and Hagrid even got him his own snowy owl as a birthday present, which Harry named Hedwig. It was only later as he sat with Hagrid eating some food back in the muggle part of London before boarding the train to go back to the Dursley's that he realized he hadn't asked the boy 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, right." The man retrieved an envelope from a pocket in his coat, which seemed to be 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 agreed. "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 your owl, she'll know where ta find me… See yeh soon, 'Arry."

Soon the train was leaving, and 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 here Harry stood, his panic rising, alone, staring at the platforms nine and ten and at a complete loss 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 broken 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 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 until he spotted the tall white-blonde man who'd arrived at the robe shop to retrieve his son while Harry had been there. Beside him walked a shorter woman about the same age, with much darker hair. A moment later he spotted the young boy from the robe shop, and noticed all three of them were wearing matching, sophisticated, if somewhat old fashioned clothing. They drew closer, and Harry sighed briefly in relief, both that here was someone who could help him make his train, and also that they weren't wearing their robes either. He'd worn jeans and a t-shirt since he'd have felt rather awkward navigating the station in 'wizard clothes.'

"Hello there." Harry returned, glancing once back in the direction the red headed group had gone, but couldn't 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, and Harry wasn't sure he liked it.

"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. This was a man who was assured of his own importance, not the sort Harry usually liked.

"Remember your manners." The woman spoke at last. Harry found her to be a bit more pleasant, it was obvious she cared for her son, and made Harry wonder a bit 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 the lot of them 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 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 himself blushing heatedly. "I see how 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.

"How to get on the platform?" Narcissa supplied. "I'll give you a hand with 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, and don't worry about crashing into it." She continued in a soft almost conspiratorial tone. "You'll pass right through 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 that instant he would have hit the barrier with the front of his cart. When his eyes opened, he was through, and 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.

"Right." 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. It's nice having servants to do that sort of thing, and house elves certainly enjoy serving well enough. He'd get all fussy and cry if we didn't keep him busy." Harry had never cared much for the idea of servants, but if this house elf – whatever that was – actually enjoyed the work, he supposed it was a bit different. He'd have to remember to ask more about house elves later.

Draco led the way enthusiastically as they looked for a car. The train was packed, with people leaning out of windows to wave goodbye, though there were a few minutes left before the train would leave. Together they found a compartment near the end which was still empty, 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 said with some relief.

"Oy, Fred! C'mere and help!" he called to another boy, who looked just like him, same build face and everything. With the twins 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 the lightning bolt shaped scar which – he'd been told – was a mark of the dark magic Voldemort had used on him the night his parents had been killed. For whatever reason, his spell hadn't worked, and Harry had survived, while Voldemort had disappeared. That was why he was famous in the wizarding world, and why everyone reacted so strongly when they learned who he was.

"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 stepping 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 he didn't really look or sound truly sorry. Still, as before, Harry appreciated the effort.

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.

"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 once more. 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 basically 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 pleased 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, while they were still getting the game started. 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 changed 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 bit 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, normally he didn't speak up much at all. 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." Harry accepted that answer, "What does that mean?"

"It means that… well…" again he stuttered, and glanced around, buying a bit of 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, Harry's cousin, Dudley, 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 a little 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 looked slightly more pale than usual rather suddenly.

"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, and Father says all the best witches and wizards get into Slytherin, they'll make you 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, but much less pretty?" said 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." He muttered.

The same boy leaned in and whispered in a conspiratorial tone to Harry, though just barely loud enough for Draco to hear. "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 from these two. The twins ducked out of the room, 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 interrupted their game for a third time. The door to their cart 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 had 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 moves left, however, when there came a knock at the door, followed by a dark haired boy looking in on them, "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, no doubt a bit tired of these interruptions.

"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 a bit 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? Would that even be allowed at Hogwarts?"

"Maybe not for first years." 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 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 snidely, 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 judged by his face that Draco didn't much care for this girl so far, but also was relieved that he was just as surprised at the idea of already memorizing their course books as Harry was.

"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, though he couldn't say exactly why.

"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.

"We don't…"

"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 at that. "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. My dad's 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 she said, Ravenclaw?"

"Oh that's right, you wouldn't know." Draco warmed to his topic, and 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. 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 everyone, 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 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. "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, "You're different." He began quickly, "Yeah sure, you were raised by muggles, but you've still got a lot of natural talent in your blood. You're famous afterall, so even if you've got a little catching up to do, you're still perfect for Slytherin."

They discussed some of 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 those 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, but 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 at this unexpected round of introductions. "Crabbe, Goyle, this is my good friend, Harry Potter!" he finished with a dramatic flourish.

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." He said, getting into his 'role' as Draco's "good friend" 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 played your part perfectly, 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 a bit.

"They'll be fine, but the looks on their faces were priceless." 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 one of the Hogwarts Governors."

"Hogwarts Governors?" 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 again. "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 that Harry likely 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 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, which was dark and difficult to make out without much light nearby.

"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 with the crowd milling about.

"That's Hagrid." Harry motioned to Draco. "C'mon, he's calling for the first years to go that way." They pushed their way towards Hagrid's bobbing lantern.

"There yer are 'Arry!" Hagrid smiled when he noticed him, then turned back to the rest of the gathered first year students. "Everone 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 mountain across from a mirror black lake reflecting the light of the stars and the lights from the castle's 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 one 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 in the stone cliff face. After a short time in the dark they came to an underground harbor, of sorts, and disembarked onto a beach of smoothly worn pebbles. Torches hovered near a great pair of doors providing light throughout the cavern.

After watching everyone leave the boats, during which Neville discovered that his missing toad had been found by Hagrid, the huge man led them up a set of stone steps and right up to the door, where he knocked three times on the sturdy, the sound echoing around them in the close 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.

Once again the copyrights for the Harry Potter worlds belongs to J.K. Rowling. All original characters depicted here and this story are copyrighted to me.