WARNINGS FOR THIS STORY:
The Dursleys are good, Dumbledore is evil...ish. Ron is mislead, and the main characters are changed a bit. I also changed Dudley's birthdate to September and...well, you'll see what else in this chapter.
I love Dumbledore and Ron, but it's just too fun and easy to bash them both, especially Dumbledore. And bashing evil people in a fanfic is no fun - they're already bashed in cannon.
Anyway, so tell me what you think! the next chapter should be up tonight, it's almost done.
Harry James Potter had just leapt back onto the Hogwarts Express when it began to move, heaving a sign and running his fingers through his thick, messy hair. It had been a close call for a moment; his aunt had just had to hug him one more time….
Harry smiled sadly. He was excited to finally be going to Hogwarts, but he was going to miss his aunt and uncle and cousin. They had become his family ever since his parents had been killed when Harry was a baby. Sometimes, he would wonder what it would have been like if he didn't have his loving aunt and encouraging uncle to support him through his parent-less childhood. But he had never gone without a hug or a kiss on the cheek goodnight, so the object of parents never stuck out as such a huge emptiness as it might have should his aunt and uncle have acted differently towards him.
Harry was just over a year old when his parents had been killed. Luckily his mother, Lily, had an older sister named Petunia who was glad to take the boy in. Petunia Dursley and her husband Vernon had a son just a few months younger than Harry – Dudley. Vernon was large with almost no neck and a large moustache. He worked at a place called Grunnings. Petunia was a tall woman with a long neck and auburn hair who loved to spy on their neighbours and spoil the boys. In fact, Harry and Dudley were indulged so much they would have likely become spoilt if the children at school weren't so mean to them. Harry was made fun of because of his small size, messy hair, and glasses. Dudley was picked on because he took after his father in size.
Harry was nervous about school, mostly because he was worried that he wouldn't be all that good at practicing magic, even though he had been reading about it for years, but also because he was worried that he would be picked on here as he had in 'Muggle' school. The bullies at school had left him plenty of scars from constantly pushing him down or throwing the quick blow when the teacher had his eyes adverted, but they had also scarred him emotionally making it so that trusting wasn't such an easy thing for him as it may have been for other eleven year olds.
Harry had known for as long as he could remember about being a wizard. His aunt and uncle had never hidden from him the fact that he had magical abilities or that his mother and father had been killed by an evil man named Voldemort. For every birthday and Christmas, Harry remembered getting at least three magical presents from his family; books on the history of the wizarding world, children's books like The Tales of Beetle the Bard, miniature potions sets, and magical toys.
Harry was always wary about making his cousin feel jealous that he didn't have any magical powers, but the younger boy didn't seem bothered at all. Then, on Dudley's seventh birthday, everything had changed. It had started when Dudley was irritated with himself for not being able to blow out all of his birthday candles at once. If you didn't blow them out together, it didn't count right? Well, after taking three puffs to extinguish them all, Dudley proclaimed that he wanted to try again, but before Petunia could re-light the seven green candles, they burst into tiny flames by themselves.
It was realized that Dudley must have received the magic gene that his mother held dormant in her, being a squib, and since he was born three months after Harry, he would probably be getting his Hogwarts letter the next year. Harry was thrilled that his cousin would be joining him, and Dudley couldn't wait to fly on a broomstick.
Harry smiled at all his memories, thankful for his family, and had just sat down in his compartment when a red-haired boy walked in.
"Sorry but um…could I sit in here? Everywhere else is full…" he said shyly. He had freckles splattered across his face, blushing cheeks, and blue eyes that gazed somewhat adoringly at Harry.
"Of course!" Harry said, beaming. He was eager to start making friends, and though the dangers of them turning their backs lurked somewhere in his head, he brushed it aside – he fit in now; he was where he belonged and he would try and make friends that were just like him. Finally, children his age (other than his cousin) who had magic and knew of the secret world kept hidden from the prying eyes of Muggles.
But less than ten minutes later, Harry sat with his jaw hanging down and his eyes wide behind his glasses. The red-haired boy, Ron Weasley, after a little prompting for some inside information on the wizarding world from Harry, had almost flat-out outlined the 'good' things and the 'bad'. For instance, Gryffindor was considered the 'best' house:
"Well there are four houses," Ron began. Harry already knew that and a bit about every house, but he didn't want to be rude and interrupt. "Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. Hufflepuff is basically just a bunch of idiots for the most part, and Ravenclaw is for the really smart kids. Slytherin of course is for evil people – nearly everyone who comes out of that house is a dark wizard. Gryffindor is probably the best house. That's where my whole family has been for a long time. It's where your parents were, right?"
Then it went to talk about 'dark' families. Apparently there were several that Harry should avoid, according to Ron. For instance, the Parkinson's, the Patil's, the Crabbe's, and, most importantly, the Malfoy's:
"Their kid is here this year. Draco's his name – weird, right? Well, his mum is alright I guess, but his dad was a Death Eater. They were You Know Who's servants."
After all of this, Harry was at once confused, suspicious, and angry. He knew that it probably wasn't Ron's fault that he had these opinions (stated as facts); it was probably his parents or someone close to him that caused him to be so judgmental. Harry had heard enough from his aunt to know that there was no two ways about it; Voldemort had been evil. But as for the people who were his servants – who was Harry to judge them? Voldemort may have threatened their families or forced them to comply. Harry was going to hold judgment on all of the people Ron had mentioned until he had seen proof that they were 'evil'.
Less than two hours into the ride, the compartment door slid open to reveal a bushy-haired girl about their age.
"Sorry, but have either of you seen a toad? A boy named Neville's lost one…" she asked politely.
"No." said Ron gruffly, barely looking up from his chocolate frog card. Harry, however, saw an opportunity and took it.
"No, but I'll help you look!" he announced, jumping up and pocketing a few pieces of candy. "See you later." He said to Ron, and followed the girl out.
"It's a pretty big toad, from what I understand. His name is Trevor." She informed him.
"Right," Harry said, glancing into all of the compartments they passed.
"I'm Hermione Granger, by the way." She added, turning and offering Harry her hand. She was pretty, in an odd sense of the word. Bushy hair that spun around her face and uncontrollable waves – quite like Harry's own – that she continually shoved back with frustrated fingers, pale skin and somewhat pink cheeks, and wide intelligent brown eyes unhindered by the thick glasses someone might normally picture on a girl of her appearance.
"I'm Harry Potter," Harry said, smiling.
"I thought so," Hermione said. "If you don't mind…there're some people who want to meet you just down there. They asked me to invite you if I saw you…"
Harry blushed, still not used to how famous he was in the wizarding world – what was so special about him?
"Sure!" he said, mostly just glad to be away from the baffling and judgmental Ron.
"Great!" Hermione smiled. "They're just this way…"
She led him to a compartment a few doors down. Inside were six other children, four of them Harry's age and two a few years older.
"Harry, these are the people I was telling you about." Hermione announced, indicating the others with her hand. Harry noticed that all of them but the oldest two were already in their Hogwarts uniform just like he was. Ron had criticized him for getting dressed early, but Harry had been excited and didn't want to wait. Plus, he liked his new wizard clothes.
"Hello" "Hi" and "Nice to meet you" came from the children, but it was the last two to speak that drew Harry's eye.
"Hi Harry," said the two oldest together. They were identical twins with bright red hair, and Harry suddenly realized something.
"Aren't you two of Ron's brothers?" he asked. Ron had mentioned his siblings; apparently he had six of them.
"Unfortunately," one of them grimaced. "I'm Fred, by the way, and that's George."
The others introduced themselves as well. Neville Longbottom was the boy who had lost his toad. He had a kind round face and short brown hair and Harry felt immediately like they knew each other quite well somehow, though he couldn't quite place it. The other three children were Draco Malfoy, who Harry had glimpsed in Diagon Alley, and Padma and Parvati Patil. Padma and Parvati were identical Indian girls, while Draco was pale and had slicked-back blond hair. They all smiled warmly at Harry, and Harry decided that Ron Weasley had probably been misled. They all seemed kind enough, and Harry was usually a good judge of character.
"Sorry Harry, but this isn't just about Neville's toad – though he is still lost – or about us wanting to meet you," Padma said. "It's because…well…"
"Fred and George found something," Neville said slowly. "And it involves you."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked, confused.
"Well actually, our little sister Ginny found it." said George. "It's a letter written to our brother from Dumbledore."
"Yeah," Fred said, pulling a wrinkled envelope made of heavy parchment like Harry's Hogwarts letter had been on out of his pocket. "And…well…it really…shocked us and Ginny. Neville, Padma, Parvati, and Draco are all mentioned in it too. We thought you had the right to read it."
He passed the letter to Harry, and Harry took it out, wondering what it could possibly contain. Inside, written in curly, black script, was the following:
Enclosed is your key to the vault I have created from Mr. Potter's funds. Your payment per month will be deposited into it directly without your parent's knowledge as long as you continue to work with me.
Now, your task is to first befriend Mr. Potter. His aunt and his mother never quite got along from what I hear, and I expect that the Dursley's weren't as nice to the poor boy as they should have been. Second, be certain to place a high value on good families such as yours and the differences between houses. Harry will probably end up in Gryffindor, but we must make certain for his safety. Third, you need to clearly outline the people Harry should not be friends with, but be certain to do it in a way that does not arouse his suspension. For instance, Draco Malfoy is out of the question; there are far too many dark wizards in that family. Parvati and Padma Patil should be avoided, as their mother was good friends with Harry's mum even though she was in Slytherin. They could corrupt the boy. Last and most importantly Neville Longbottom – he and Harry cannot be together do to the reason I have told you in person.
I want you to understand Mr. Weasley that even though it is vital that you be Harry's first friend, it doesn't at all mean that he shouldn't have any others. The most important thing is that he cares for and trusts you the most.
Thank you for all of your help Mr. Weasley. I hope you enjoy your compensation.