Beginnings

Harry Potter, an eleven year old boy, was like many boys his age that lived in Surrey: an awkward, excitable, impressionable young man. Unlike the average boy growing up in Surrey, Harry was a wizard. Yes, Harry was wizard, a magical person that could cast spells and fly a broom and do other impressive feats that Harry couldn't even imagine himself doing, but he was one of them. That rather important bit of information was something that he hadn't known until a month ago on his eleventh birthday when he first met Rubeus 'Keeper of Keys and Groundskeeper' Hagrid, but his family knew. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia, the Dursleys, they knew.

Distractedly peering out the window Harry was called by a departing Ron Weasley, the red headed boy he had shared a train car with on the ride from London. The train was arriving at Hogsmeade Station to allow the students to disembark and continue their journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, their final destination. Harry had no idea what was in store for him, but it had to be better than what he had, right? He turned to exit the car and joined the others in the aisle while the train came to a complete stop.

His mind was reasoning with him as he shuffled off the train mixed in with hundreds, maybe thousands, of other students. Students like him; wizards and witches the lot of them. He was part of a wizarding community. The idea of it had him a bit overwhelmed. For once he fit in, not a freak like his family claimed. Just like on this train, he was just another kid. Okay people recognized him, knew his name; he had a scar, sure, but he couldn't possibly be that Boy-Who-Lived. He doesn't even know what that meant; they were just words as far as Harry was concerned.

How could this silly scar mean so much to people? He has had it his whole life as far as he could remember but he was nothing special. His guardians made that point very clear to him over the past eleven years of his short life. Uncle Vernon strove to ensure he was compliant and knew his place. Aunt Petunia's sole purpose in life, her reason for living, was to dote on her beloved son. Her life revolved around his cousin Dudley, not giving Harry much thought other than to keep him busy with chores, out of sight and quiet as to not disturb her family. It was simply his lot in life so this... this Boy-Who-Lived business, must be someone else.

"First years, this way!" A voice called out. Something poked at his memory. He knew that voice, only he couldn't get over his excitement to pay it much mind. Staring wide eyed, Harry turned on the spot with a gleeful grin plastered on his face. This was it, the start of a new life, a fresh beginning. No more Dursleys: no more cousin Dudley, no more Uncle Vernon, no more Aunt Petunia, no more abuse at their hands... at least until summer. Harry shook his head. No, he wouldn't fret over that until the time came for him to leave here to head back to London. There was just too much newness and he didn't want to miss out on a thing. Closing his eyes, Harry lifted his face to the brisk night air and inhaled deeply. Freedom. It smelt so sweet.

"First years, line up 'ere, if'n y' please!" Hagrid's booming voice broke through Harry's reverie. "Come along now, down t' the dock." Hagrid led them along a path down to the water, a looming large shadow of a man with a lantern held high leading the way.

Standing at the water's edge, Hagrid grinned down at the mass of students. Harry looked towards the lake and the wide dock behind the giant of a man. A string of small boats awaited their passengers. Ron stood beside Harry wide eyes and dumbfounded. With his mouth agape, Ron stared up at Hagrid. Having not met the man before, Ron was stunned by the sheer size of Hagrid with wild black hair flowing past his shoulders and a beard just as untamed fanning his broad chest. "Woah!"

Hagrid stared for a beat at the gawking boy before grinning at Harry. Hagrid cleared his throat, grin gone; he looked around at the gathering students. "Righ' then, four tae a boat. We got a schedule t' keep ta."

Harry looked around for a moment before clamoring into a boat, taking a seat beside his new friend, Ron, and was joined by two others students he had met briefly on the train: Hermione Granger, the bushy haired girl who fixed his glasses and the boy who lost his toad named Neville, the boy, not the toad. They gawked at the hill high before them across the lake. The sight was breathtaking, with darkening skies behind the silhouette of Hogwarts castle with its twinkling lights beckoning them in welcome.

His stomach was in knots of excitement. So much had happened in such a short amount of time. From Hagrid's rescue, to the discovery that he wasn't just a freak as his relatives claimed; he was actually a wizard, a real life wizard! Then there was his introduction to the wizarding world, shopping in Diagon Alley, meeting new potential friends and now Hogwarts. He felt almost light headed with all the new information he was processing and felt his body sway with the boat.

"Careful. You don't want to touch the water. There are things that live beneath the surface. I read about it in Hogwarts, a History that there is a giant squid that protects the lake." Hermione, the bushy-haired brunette, stated with a self assuredness that unsettled Harry.

Harry stared at the inky black depths of the water, seeing nothing but the reflection of the stars above them while he nodded slowly, "Alright."

Hermione was rather intimidating. It was her first year, she was born to... what did Hagrid call them? Mud? Mugs? He looked up at the hill again as it grew larger and the night grew darker around them as its shadow overtook the boats. Hermione's parents knew nothing of magic, were regular people just like the Dursleys. Yet she knew so much already and Harry felt lost, even with all the information Ron tried to force feed him on the train.

She mentioned a book she read, Harry glanced over at Hermione with a growing understanding. That must be it. She's studious. Harry grinned at her and looked up just as they docked at Hogwarts. Okay, so of the folks he had met so far, the Weasleys, Neville, Granger, Malfoy and his goons; he should have some help getting his feet under him in this new world. He would simply need to be cautious until he-

Hagrid's large fist pounded on the large door with such a racket it broke through Harry's musings. Harry grinned up at the giant man and remembered how kind he was to him, how patient and caring. Right then, Harry had one more friend to add to his growing list, although Malfoy and his two bodyguards could surely be kept off the list of Harry's potential friends. A small shudder ran through Harry at the memory of their brief encounter and had a sudden urge to find Ron's rat a bit of cheese for his brave act of interference between him and Malfoy.