Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter
This story is an AU fifth book and is cannon up though the fourth book.
I feel I owe you a bit of explanation before you start. First I would like to thank Cordria who encouraged me to give this a try despite my misgivings.
This story was originally written for and with my children. We were reading the books together and there was a long gap between when the fourth and fifth book came out. While we were waiting, I decided to write our own. Part of the motivation was as an exercise to encourage my children who had always leaned toward the math side of academics to work on their weak writing and reading skills.
I was not trying to copy Rowling's style but for the private pleasure of sharing this literary experience with my children. At the time I did not participate in the wider world of fanfic or even know of its existence. If I had I would have actively avoided it, if for no other reason than it is overwhelming.
Before the story could be completed, the real books were published and the movies had been produced, and my children had grown up. One of the reasons it was not pursued further was because of how the story compared with the real thing, both in the things that I guessed wrong and maybe more so in the things I guessed correctly. It is natural for anyone reading this to assume that I just appropriated the ideas that were later revealed. I assure you that anything past the fourth book was purely my conjecture. Have in mind that J.K. Rowling is an excellent writer and placed the seeds for future events are in the earlier books, giving me much to build on.
Although, it would probably embarrass them, I want to express my gratitude and love to my children and the opportunity they gave me to share an appreciation for the wonderful world of Harry Potter.
Harry Potter and the Sorting Hat
Chapter 1 Rats
The summer sun beat down on the quiet row of houses along Privet Drive, bathing everything in a haze of heat. It was very still; the heat seemed intent on baking the energy out of everything. Even the birds seemed too listless to stir. From inside the air-conditioned houses the faint sound of TV's and radios reporting on the heat wave was almost the only sign that anything lived along the street.
In fact the only movement at all seemed to come from a teenaged boy crouched over in the middle of the lawn. His jet black hair stuck up where it wasn't plastered to his face with sweat. He was working steadily at pulling weeds, pausing now and then to wipe at his face to keep the sweat out of his eyes, which were a startling green. The movement momentarily exposed the curious lightening-shaped scar on his forehead. He was actually about to turn fifteen, but being small and skinny could have passed fro being younger. The boy's name was Harry Potter.
Although he lived in this house, it did not feel like home to him. As he worked, his mind strayed back to his school where he had spent the school terms since age eleven. For most boys, the thought of school in mid-summer was comfortably far away, but for Harry it was uncomfortably far away. He was far more comfortable at school than he was with his Aunt and Uncle even though they were the only family he had.
His school was a most unusual place for Harry was a young wizard. He had just completed his fourth year of study at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He thought of the huge stone castle with its myriad of towers, staircases, wide ground and classrooms. Harry even thought he wouldn't' mind being in Snape's (his least favorite teacher) classroom. At least the dungeon would be cool. He felt a pang of homesickness and touched the letter that was in his pocket just to hear it crackle. It had been delivered by an owl last week.
As much as he missed Hogwarts, he missed his friends even more. The letter was from his friend, Ron Weasley.
Ron was going to Romania with his brother Charlie who worked at a dragon reservation. In the letter, Ron told him that his parents had asked Dumbledore if Harry could go with them but Dumbledore had said that maybe Harry could visit later in the summer when Ron got back. Harry sighed and yanked at a particularly stubborn weed.
Dumbledore was the headmaster of Hogwarts and the greatest wizard alive. He knew Dumbledore had his reasons for not allowing Harry to go, but he really wished Dumbledore would explain it to him. He guessed that by staying with the Dursleys he got some sort of protection.
Harry didn't like thinking about why he needed protection. He was not alone in that; most witches and wizards were so afraid of the dark wizard that had tried to kill him that they wouldn't even say his name.
"You would think that I'd get used to it by now," Harry told himself.
After all, Lord Voldemort had been trying to kill him practically since he was born. In fact, he was famous for it. Harry had only found out about it when he was first told he was a wizard four years ago, but it seemed that everyone else in the wizarding world already knew that his scar was a relic from a powerful curse. Voldemort had killed his parents and had tried to kill him. No one knew why, least of all Harry. It seemed that each year since he had first heard of the dark wizard, Voldemort or one of his followers had tried to finish what they had started fourteen years ago.
Harry stabbed at the ground and yanked viciously at a stubborn dandelion as he thought of how his summer had started.
When Harry Potter had followed his Uncle Vernon from the train station he thought he was ready to face whatever came. He now felt he couldn't have been more wrong.
His uncle walked a few paces in front of Harry as if to give the other passerby's the impression that he had nothing to do with the skinny fourteen-year –old pushing the loaded trolley behind him. Perhaps it was the trolley Uncle Vernon wanted to dissociate himself from. It was piled with such an odd assortment of trunks, and packages, and topped off with a large cage in which a snowy owl sat squinting in the glare of daylight, that Harry could barely see to guide the trolley. His Uncle did not approve of the way people kept turning to look at the peculiar baggage.
After his initial grunt by way of greeting, Uncle Vernon didn't speak to Harry until they reached the car, buckled in, and were driving back toward Privet Drive. Harry had nothing in common with Mr. Vernon Dursley except a mutual feeling of gloom at being back in each others presence again.
One particular point of misery was his cousin, Dudley. His Aunt and Uncle thought Dudley was the handsomest, cleverest, and most wonderful boy there could ever be. Harry knew him to be a stupid, mean bully and the most spoiled brat he had ever encountered. True, Dudley had stopped trying to use Harry as a punching bag ever since Harry had returned from his first year at Hogwarts but that didn't meant he hadn't found other ways of getting Harry 's goat. Harry wasn't looking forward to seeing Dudley.
Harry's Aunt and Uncle usually tried to pretend to neighbors that they didn't have a nephew so Harry was surprised when his uncle detoured from the route home and after a few turnings onto side streets, pulled into the driveway of a small but painstakingly manicured lawn. His uncle got out and walked to the front door and knocked. A man dressed as neatly as his lawn came out, spoke to his uncle for a few moments, and then followed him to the car and got in.
Harry had difficulty suppressing his urge to ask who the man was. Asking questions had always been a taboo at the Dursleys but it was hard to fit back into old patterns after a year at school. He could see his Uncle glaring at him in the rear view mirror and decided he would find out soon enough without asking.
"Is this the boy?" the man asked in precise, clipped tones.
"No, that is our nephew. Totally hope. No point in wasting good money tutoring him."
Tutoring? Harry wondered what Mr. Dursley was talking about. He knew his aunt and uncle found his school and what he learned there abhorrent, but he couldn't imagine them spending money to have him tutored in Muggle subjects.
"I have hired you to tutor my son, Dudley," Mr. Vernon continued, grinding his teeth, "He attends Smeltings and they have informed me that he must be tutored if he is to return next year. Smeltings has very high standards. I expect you to prepare Dudley to meet those standards."
"In which subjects am I to instruct your son?" the man asked in the same clipped voice.
"Here," grunted Uncle Vernon and he handed the man a thick envelope with the Smeltings letterhead. The man scanned the letter.
"I see, all of them," he said dryly.
Harry was glad he was in the back seat because he was able to duck down and hide his grin. Evidently his slow-witted cousin was in danger of getting kicked out of school because his marks were so poor. Remembering how the Dursleys had gloated when they thought Harry would be the one to attend the local high school, made Harry clamp his hands over his mouth to prevent laughter from escaping.
If he had known what was in store for him, he would have wept instead.
Aunt Petunia was waiting at the door to greet the tutor. To Harry she hissed, "Take your things to your room and be quiet."
Dudley looked sullenly out of piggish eyes in his fat face. "I don't want to have a tutor. This is supposed to be my summer holidays."
Dudley is a very bright boy," Aunt Petunia said to the tutor while patting her son on the shoulder and beaming proudly. "I know you will enjoy working with him."
The man looked doubtfully at Mrs. Dursley's pride and joy. Dudley was very fat. When Harry had last seen him, Dudley was supposed to be on a diet. The diet obviously had no apparent effect, but Harry was taken aback at how much taller Dudley was. Atop the massive frame were the same slicked-down blond hair and the same sneer Harry remembered.
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley escorted the tutor into the living room. After glaring at Harry silently for a moment, Dudley followed resentfully. Harry resolved to keep out of Dudley's way as much as possible. He heaved his belongings up the stairs and hung Hedwig's cage on its stand. He had barely time to release Hedwig from her cage when he heard the sound of shouting.
"I cannot teach such a nasty, belligerent, stupid boy!"
"How dare you speak about my son in such a manner?" thundered Mr. Dursley's voice "Leave my house, at once!"
"With pleasure!" came the clipped tone. This was followed by the sound of the front door slamming so hard, the panes rattled.
"Obviously, quite unsuited to teach!" Mr. Dursley huffed.
The next day a woman arrived in a tailored skirt and jacket. She left even faster saying a boy the age of Dudley was far too old to throw a tantrum like a two year old. Mr. Dursley slammed the door after her.
Over the next week a parade of prospective tutors came and went in rapid succession. Harry found it highly amusing to see his Aunt and Uncle being told by so many people what an ill-mannered, spoiled brat their son was. Harry had been longing to tell them that for years.
On the other hand, Harry deemed it would be prudent to stay out of the Dursley's way. Harry was the only one around on whom they could vent their anger. Fortunately, Harry was too fast for the lumbering Dudley to catch most of the time, but at meal times Harry was expected to join them at table. Harry ate as rapidly as possible, while trying to avoid sharp raps form Dudley's Smelting stick. His aunt and uncle glared at him and told him what a bad influence he had been on Dudley.
"Wash up the dishes," Aunt Petunia ordered. "I have to get Dudley 's clothes ready." AS if clothes would make a difference, Harry thought.
"But Mother, I don't want to see another tutor," whined Dudley. "They're always so unfair."
Aunt Petunia murmured something sympathetic into Dudley's ear as she bent over to kiss his forehead.
"Now, Duddy-kins," his mother coaxed, "it wouldn't hurt to just meet him."
Dudley screwed his face up, preparing for a tantrum. He had gotten a lot of practice at them lately. "But I don't want to. They are always so mean. I try so hard but they just don't like me!" Dudley wailed.
"I'm sure this one will be better," soothed Uncle Vernon, "He had better be. It's the last one." He too bent over to give his son a reassuring embrace. When he straightened, Dudley was holding a ten pound note in his fat fist. Dudley's tears stopped instantly as he noticed Harry watching.
"It's not my fault; he makes me nervous," Dudley said taking another swipe at Harry. Harry danced backwards and hastily began clearing the table.
His uncle turned his fury on him. "As soon as you've cleaned up breakfast, I want you in your room." Harry was only too happy to comply.
"After you've straightened up the living room. It must be ready when the tutor arrives," his aunt snapped.
Mrs. Dursley led Dudley off, promising to take him out for ice cream if he tried real hard with his tutor. Harry scrubbed the pans, cleared the table, and washed the dishes. He then went into the living room to confront the results of Dudley's last tantrum. Furniture had been knocked over, books and papers had been shredded like confetti. Glass crunched underfoot where a vase had been smashed. The mantle piece which was usually covered with pictures of Dudley had been swept clean. It was the only clean spot.
Harry had once been in a classroom that had looked this bad. But the mess the pixies had made was cleared with a wave from Flitwick's wand. Harry wished he could just wave his wand and clean up the mess. Uncle Vernon would probably lock him in his room it he knew harry had even thought about it. Tat as starting to sound appealing. If he was sent to his room, he could at least get started on his own school work.
Harry would be entering his fifth year after the summer and would be taking his O.W.L's. It seemed his teachers had decided that the summer holidays would be a good time to start preparing even though the tests were almost a year away. Harry didn't mid the work as much as one might think. While he was working, he could pretend that he was back at Hogwarts. Despite the events of last year, Harry as homesick for the imposing castle.
Unfortunately, using magic would do more than send Harry to his room. It would get him expelled from Hogwarts all together. The use of magic by underage wizards outside of school was strictly forbidden. Harry sighed and began dragging a chair over to the window so he could hang the curtains back up.
Harry was just finishing up when the door bell rang, announcing the arrival of the latest tutor. Mrs. Dursley stuck her head in to make sure the room as in order and noticed Harry standing there with the rubbish pan in his hands.
"Out!" she hissed. Then she paused. "Go make some tea. Use the good china. Don't break it."
"If you don't want it broken, don't serve tea while Dudley is throwing tantrums," Harry muttered under his breath.
"Don't you get cheeky with me," said Aunt Petunia, her eyes narrowing to slits, "Harry straighten up. You look scruffy."
Harry rearranged his clothes as best he could and made a pass at his hair. Neither had much effect. The clothes because they were hopelessly too big for him, being the hand-me-downs from Dudley and his hair because it just grew that way. It would never lie flat no matter what he did.
Ten minutes later, Harry brought the tea tray into the living room. Things seemed to be going rather unusually well. True, Dudley didn't look exactly tolerant, but at least he wasn't shouting insults and the furniture seemed to be more or less where Harry had left it. Harry surmised his aunt and uncle had promised Dudley a really big bribe.
Spread out across the coffee table was a series of colorful picture books, the ones for beginning readers with large type and words that all had the same ending. Dudley was struggling to sound out words that ended in "at". Harry made room for the tea tray and started to pour tea as unobtrusively as possible. Maybe after this, he could get away upstairs before Aunt Petunia thought of something else for him to do.
"Sss….at. sat," said Dudley.
"Good," said the teacher approvingly, "go on."
"d..d…..d," Dudley tried.
"No that's a "B," the tutor said in a mild voice.
"b…b..at", Dudley actually smiled at his accomplishment. Harry admired the tutor's patience as he poured tea for Mr. and Mrs. Dursley. They ignored him; all their attention was on Dudley.
"f….f….f…at," continued Dudley.
Harry couldn't help it. There was something so ludicrous about watching the obese boy trying to read "fat". His lips twitched into a grin as he handed the tutor a cup a tea. The tutor caught Harry's expression and an answering smile twitched on his own lips. He was a young man and as neatly dressed as the other prospective tutors but his brown eyes glittered as he looked into Harry's face with a lively interest.
Dudley must have realized that he no longer held the undivided attention of his audience and looked up.
"What are you doing here? Get out!" he yelled furiously. Sounding out all those words was hard work and he wanted to take his frustrations out on somebody.
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley rounded on Harry, telling him off for disturbing Dudley's lesson.
"Excuse me," the tutor interrupted. "Perhaps, we may try something. Often students do better if they work with a peer. It encourages them." The man turned to Harry. "Why don't you make up sentence for each work Dudley reads?" He looked at Harry expectantly.
Harry looked at his aunt and uncle. They glared at him but did not say anything. Harry cleared his throat and said the first thing that popped into his head. "The fat brat sat on a rat."
Dudley went ballistic.
"Why you little…" he roared and called Harry a very nasty word.
He lunged for Harry, knocking over the coffee table. Mrs. Dursley screamed at the sound of breaking china and hot tea splashed across the egg-shell colored carpet. The upturned coffee table caught Harry's shins and he went over backwards.
The tutor tried to intercept Dudley, but was knocked aside by one of Dudley's flailing fists. Dudley launched himself over the fallen table and landed on top of Harry. Harry's breath went out of him in a rush leaving him momentarily stunned. Then Dudley's fat hands closed around his neck. Mr. Dursley and the tutor rushed in to separate them.
Dudley screamed wordlessly into Harry's face as he shook him like a rag doll, banging his head repeatedly on the floor. If he couldn't pry Dudley's fingers off it was an even bet whether he would pass out form concussion or lack of oxygen to his brain first.
In retrospect, Harry thought things might have worked out if he hadn't panicked. A dozen brown rats suddenly appeared. They scampered over the combatants, nipping and squealing. Abruptly, Dudley removed his hands from Harry's neck and, squealing louder than the rats, he jumped onto the nearest piece of furniture which happened to be an end table. Mrs. Dursley shrieked from her place on top of an over-stuffed chair.
Mr. Dursely looked ready to take up where Dudley had left off strangling Harry. The tutor stood petrified as the rats boiled out of the room, down the hall and out through the mail slot. Silence fell around Harry as he sprawled amid the wreckage, gasping for air.
AN: Since I am new to this fanfic I'm not sure if I selected the correct category. Is "Books" correct?