AN: This story was original created sometime before the sixth book released, but it's thought and ideas have evolved to include the later working of JK Rowling.

I don't own Harry Potter, that honor belongs to JK Rowling. In the future, author notes and disclaimers will be at the end of the chapter.

Finally, if you don't like the idea of a gray, or dark Harry Potter, then you're not going to like this story. So, please don't bother to read it.


Prologue: Divergence

"Get the mail, Dudley," said Uncle Vernon from behind his paper.

"Make Harry get it."

"Get the mail, Harry."

"Make Dudley get it."

"Poke him with your Smelting stick, Dudley."

Harry dodged the Smelting stick and went to get the mail. Three things lay on the doormat: a postcard from Uncle Vernon's sister Marge, who was vacationing on the Isle of Wight, a brown envelope that looked like a bill, and - a letter for Harry.

Harry picked it up and stared at it, his heart twanging like a giant elastic band. No one, ever, in his whole life, had written to him. Who would? He had no friends, no other relatives - he didn't belong to the library, so he'd never even got rude notes asking for books back. Yet here it was, a letter, addressed so plainly there could be no mistake:

Mr. H. Potter

The Cupboard under the Stairs

4 Privet Drive

Little Whinging


The envelope was thick and heavy, made of yellowish parchment, and the address was written in emerald-green ink. There was no stamp. Turning the envelope over, his hand trembling, Harry saw a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms; a lion, an eagle, a badger, and a snake surrounding a large letter H.

"Hurry up, boy!" shouted Uncle Vernon from the kitchen. "What are you doing, checking for letter bombs?" He chuckled at his own joke.

It was at that moment when time seemed to stop for Harry. Not once in his life had the Dursleys ever given him anything, willingly. Even now, he could smell the awful 'uniform' his Aunt Petunia was making for him. If they wouldn't even buy him a used uniform, what would they do with this letter? This proof that someone thought something of him.

What may have seemed like minutes, was actually only seconds. Harry slipped the letter into his trouser waistband underneath his shirt, before going back into the kitchen to give his Uncle Vernon the mail.

Harry was extremely aware of the feel of his letter. So much so, that he didn't even register Uncle Vernon saying something about Marge being ill. Harry barely managed to dodge Dudley's Smelting stick as Dudley tried to take advantage of Harry's absent-mindedness.

"Dad, I'm going out with my mates. I'll be back later." Dudley heaved himself away from the kitchen table after guzzling down his food.

Harry had just managed to get a couple pieces of toast as Uncle Vernon handed Dudley a twenty pound note. "Have fun son." A couple of minutes later Uncle Vernon picked up his briefcase for work, then pecked Aunt Petunia on the cheek. "I'm off. Make sure the boy doesn't mess up the house."

"Of course. I have a long list of chores for him." At that admission, Aunt Petunia eyed Harry wearily.

Harry had a couple of minutes to put his letter in his cupboard before getting a start on them. It was probably better that he stay near the house today. Dudley seemed to be in a rare mood.

It wasn't until well after dinner when Harry had a chance to take a look at his letter. The light was dim, but he'd long since learned how to read in the light of his cupboard.



(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)

Dear Mr. Potter,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall,

Deputy Headmistress

Harry must have re-read the letter more than twenty times. He'd even read the school list several time. So many questions ran through his mind, but one stuck out more than the others. Was this some kind of joke? Harry knew from the Dursleys that magic wasn't real, so Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry couldn't be anything other than a cruel joke.

He had finally gotten a letter, and a part of him had hoped it was a long-lost relative asking for him. How stupid did Dudley think he was? Who would even know where he slept? He had tried to tell a teacher once in primary school, but she hadn't believed him. More importantly, she had told the Dursleys about it in front of him. The boa constrictor incident was the longest time he'd spent in his cupboard, but telling the teacher had come a couple of weeks close.

Harry wanted to scream, throw things around. Just destroy anything... but his relatives were sleeping. He'd hate to let Dudley win. So Harry took a deep breath, turned around in his cupboard and tried to go to sleep.

The next day Harry watch Dudley carefully. Although he had already decided that the letter was a prank, he wanted to make sure. He'd had the dream again where he was flying on the back of a motorcycle. Impossible, yes, but with magic...

Harry dodged Dudley's Smelting stick, "What do you think you're looking at four-eyes? Go get me some hot chocolate!" Dudley said while waving his stick around.

"You heard Dudley. Get the lad some hot chocolate. I'm not sure what's gotten into you boy." Uncle Vernon admonished as he read the paper.

After pouring Dudley some hot chocolate, Harry spoke to Dudley, "You get that new green ink yet, Dudley? I think I saw an ad about it on the telly."

"Green ink?" Dudley snared. "Why would I want funny colored ink? I'm not some silly girl!"

"Of course not, Dudders." Aunt Petunia coddled Dudley. "Besides, it's not proper to write in colors other than blue and black." Aunt Petunia gave Harry a disapproving look before kissing her Dudder on the cheek.

Harry knew his aunt, so her saying that would mean there wouldn't be green ink, not to mention emerald-green ink, in the house.

"What are you watching the telly for anyway? Petunia, you must not be giving the boy enough chores to do." Uncle Vernon admonition as he got up for work. "It's the middle of the week, and the boy has time to laze about. Not in my house!"

"Don't worry dear. I've got a nice list for today." Turning around to Harry Aunt Petunia continued, "You're going to need to try on your uniform today too. The smell is just coming out."

The disgusting feeling Harry had from the thought of trying on those rags must have shown on his face for his Aunt Petunia hit him lightly on the head. "Don't be so ungrateful."

Today was going to be a long day.

That night Harry lay awake thinking about the letter.

Harry had several opportunities to hint at Dudley about the letter. Nothing he said got the response from Dudley that would have meant an unsuccessful, or successful, prank. The only thing he could conclude from that was Dudley didn't prank him.

Now that Harry was really thinking about it, the level of detail put into the school list should have clued him in that Dudley was not the perpetrator. No way Dudley could come up with, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander. And if Dudley didn't prank him, who did?

His aunt and uncle wouldn't ever joke about magic... No one else knew about the cupboard under the stairs...

Harry must have spent nearly an hour going over the possibilities before coming up with the only logical possibility. "It's not a prank." Harry whispered to himself. "If it's not a prank, then what is it?"

Harry got the letter out of the loose floor board where he kept his most precious possessions and re-read the letter. If this was real, then he had until next Tuesday to reply. "We await your owl... What do they mean owl? This came by post." Harry rolled around holding the letter close. Taking a deep breath, Harry closed his eyes. Slowly Harry fell asleep with the letter clutched gently in his hands. One thought was swirling in his mind. Could magic be real?

Thursday found Harry running through everything weird that seemed to happen around him while he did his chores. Of course, there was the vanishing glass at the zoo. The time he'd been chased by Dudley's gang and found himself out of their reach on the roof. The ridiculous haircut that grow back overnight. Those were just a few of the strange things that he had been blamed for by his aunt and uncle. Could he have done them? Could they have really been his fault?

Harry stopped working to see if he could make anything happen. He must have stared at the dirty dishes for ten minutes straight. Nothing happened. Harry angrily throw the plate in his hand down shattering it.

"What was that?" His Aunt Petunia came screeching into the kitchen. Harry panic wishing he hadn't broken the glass. He was sure to go to his cupboard without dinner tonight. As Aunt Petunia came in the room, she looked around. Her eyes taking in everything. "Pick up that dish from the floor, and don't make that noise again." Aunt Petunia said before leaving to go back to her snooping.

Harry looked down. The dish that was broken just seconds ago was whole. "No way." Harry whispered.

Now that he thought about it, he had been afraid or angry all those other times too. Maybe those emotions were a trigger to magic. Which meant, Dudley sure doesn't have any... Harry smiled to himself as he thought about having something Dudley never would, magic.

With all that decided, Harry still needed to reply. He didn't know if this magic school had a different way for sending letters which used owls, but he would have to hope that if he sent it through the post, Hogwarts would get it.

Although there was post on Saturday, Harry knew he'd never get anything mailed with his uncle home. He could wait until Monday to reply; however, Harry didn't know how long it would take to get to Hogwarts. He didn't even know where Hogwarts was located. Still, it didn't hurt to try.

So, Harry used his chores to get an envelope and stamp from his Aunt Petunia's supplies. He spent his free time drafting the letter on some scrap paper, before using his best hand writing to pen the final copy. With the letter addressed just as nicely and stamped, Harry slide the letter into the waistband of his trousers before dinner.

Just as he planned, his aunt sent him to take the trash out after supper. Harry took his time putting the letter in the post for pick-up. With that done, Harry gave one last wishful look behind him. It was done.

Minerva was a stern woman. She was most know by her students as tolerating no nonsense, but being fair in everything she did. And she liked to think that extended to the first year letters. But it had been two days since the deadline for acceptance letters, and she had yet to receive a very special first year's reply. Minerva was a stern woman, but her slightly fizzled hair showed her worry.

Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagall had already gone to Albus about the lack of a reply from Mr. Potter.

"Did you check to see if Mr. Potter opened the letter, Minerva?" Dumbledore asked Professor McGonagall while popping a lemon drop into his mouth.

"Of course I did, Albus. Mr. Potter has opened the letter, but he has not replied to it. I'm worried." The stern woman frown slightly, worry evident in her eyes.

"Not to worry, I've spoken to Arabella and she has assured me that nothing undesirable has happened to Harry." Dumbledore smiled kindly to McGonagall. "I'm sure Petunia just used the muggle post to get the response here. We'll get his reply any day now."

"As you say Albus. I hope you're right." McGonagall took her leave.

Minerva shook her head remembering the conversation she had with Albus just two days ago. But, it was the third of August. Even if Lily's sister had used the muggle post, it should have gotten here by now...

Minerva nervously tapped her quill on the parchment before her. She had already completed the majority of the muggleborn meetings. Minerva looked down at the last of the paperwork for Ms. Granger. I very smart girl, but a Ravenclaw for sure.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Minerva looked up to her window to see a tawny owl tapping. She quickly opened the window. After giving the owl a treat, Minerva looked at the letter. In neat tiny hand writing was her name and the school in the center, but what caught her attention was the writing in the top left corner:

Mr. Harry J. Potter

4 Privet Drive

Little Whinging


Minerva smiled to herself. For some reason, Mr. Potter sent the letter to the wrong address for the muggle post to get here. However, things like this happen from time to time with her muggleborn students so they had contingency in place to re-direct the mail to the right place. In fact, the letter was time stamped from a week ago.

Minerva chuckled to herself. She had worried for nothing. Minerva smiled as she prepared to read the reply. She only expect a line or two from Harry. So, this would be short. As Minerva read down the paragraph, her smile turned into a frown, then a scold that would have made Severus Snape jealous.

"Those muggles..." Minerva spun around in her chair and marched up to Albus' office with the letter in toll. "Cockroach clusters."

"Minerva, what do I owe this surprising visit...?" Albus started to greet Professor McGonagall only to have her cut him off.

"You will not believe what just came in the mail, Headmaster." The smile on the professor's face was more predatory then welcoming.

"I'm guessing Mr. Potter's reply." Dumbledore said with his hands in surrender at his deputy's aggressive behavior. "I told you not to worry."

Dumbledore started to open his mouth again to continue when Minerva replied, "Yes, and isn't it an excellent letter." Dumbledore opened his mouth but shut it at a look from his colleague.

"Dear Deputy Headmistress McGonagall, I am pleased to receive this letter about your school. I had not even known that magic existed. So it was with great surprise that your letter reached me with the offer to attend a school of witchcraft and wizardry... "

Professor McGonagall stopped reading the letter to address the Headmaster directly, "Dumbledore, the boy doesn't know a thing about our world. He's as ignorant as a muggleborn. How do you explain that?"

"I am sure Mrs. Dursley just hasn't explained it to him yet" Dumbledore defended himself against Minerva's attacking question.

"Ha, if that were the worst of it Albus, if only." Minerva replied.

"I'm sure it not that bad." Dumbledore responded.

McGonagall looks at Dumbledore before continuing, "... Although I would be pleased to attend Hogwarts, I am afraid I cannot afford a boarding school. Additionally, I've had a look at the school list of uniform, course books, and other equipment and do not believe I will have enough money to afford the school supplies. I would like to inquire about any type of scholarships that maybe available for underprivileged students? The boy is asking for scholarships. Scholarships for underprivileged students! If this were to get out that the Boy-Who-Lived has been living like a pauper!"

"Minerva, you surely are over reacting. You know we keep the Dursley unaware of the large sum of money Mr. Potter is to inherit. I'm sure this will all be cleared up as soon as we tell Lily's sister about the money set aside for Harry to go to Hogwarts." Dumbledore replied trying to calm Professor McGonagall down.

"Is that so? You believe that even though Mrs. Dursley has yet to inform Mr. Potter of his magical inheritance that she will suddenly tell him all about," McGonagall look down at the letter and read from it, "where Mr. Potter can buy supplies? Tell him information about the school and the type of classes here at Hogwarts?" McGonagall looked back up at Dumbledore daring him to say yes.

"Well, Mrs. Dursley did let Harry open his letter..." Dumbledore replied optimistically.

"No, Albus. This time I will not stand by and just trust these muggles. If Mr. Potter feels the need to ask for pamphlets, then I will just have to treat him like any other muggleborn."

"Now Minerva, that's not necessary. I'll have Hagrid go pick him up, and..."

"No, Albus. Mr. Potter is as ignorant of our world as any muggleborn, so I will treat him as a muggleborn." McGonagall said with a sharp nod of her head.

"Minerva, still..." Dumbledore started to reply.

"Is it not my duty as deputy headmistress to attend to the muggleborns?" McGonagall interrupted.

"Well yes, but..." Dumbledore started to reply again.

"No buts. I'll take Saturday off to go pick up Mr. Potter and explain to him the wonderful world of magic." McGonagall gathered herself before turning around to exit, but stopped at the door turning back sharply to Dumbledore. "I almost forgot. Mr. Potter's vault key if you please Albus."

Holding out her hand Dumbledore got the key from his desk, "Here, I'd been keeping it close since I thought we might have to reimburse the Dursley for their expenses."

"Thank you Albus, and I'm sorry for my temper earlier." McGonagall spoke calmly.

"Not to worry, not to worry. We all get a little excited from time to time. It's good to see you excited for all the right reasons." Dumbledore smiled back at McGonagall with a twinkle in his eyes as she finally took her leave.

Saturday brought about a bright sunny day to number four Privet Drive. Harry had just gotten the mail for Uncle Vernon who, along with his Aunt Petunia, was in a very good mood that August morning. A mood that even extended to Harry, who received two rasher with his toast this morning. Despite the happy atmosphere here at Privet Drive, Harry was not altogether sharing it.

It had been eight days now since his reply to the Hogwarts letter, and Harry was beginning to believe the letter had not made it in time to Professor McGonagall. If only he had known how to get an owl to deliver it...

Dudley had only just gotten up to leave when there was a firm knock on the door.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

"Now who could that be at this hour? I'm not expecting company today. Are you Vernon?" Aunt Petunia got up to go answer the door.

"No dear, I'm not. Perhaps it's one of Dudley's mates?"

Thinking it was one of Dudley's mates, probably Pier again. Harry moved a little further into the kitchen. Best way to avoid a tussle was not to be seen in the first place.

"I got it." Dudley said as he ran past Aunt Petunia.

"Hello young man. Are your parents' home?" A strong female voice said from the door.

Curious Harry moved closer to the doorway of the kitchen, but Dudley have the door only half opened.

"MUM, it's for you!" Dudley hollered to Aunt Petunia who was just steps behind him.

Dudley swung the door open to reveal a tall, black-haired woman in a sober brown dress that looked very old fashion. She had a very stern face and Harry's first thought was that this was not someone to cross.

Harry's attention was turned back to his Aunt Petunia as she gasped, "You." The hollow and scared look on her face turned red in anger. "What are you doing here? We don't want you people here. And I know it's past the deadline so you shouldn't even be here!" Aunt Petunia tried to close the door, but Dudley was still in the way looking excitedly between the stern woman and Aunt Petunia.

"Petunia, it seems you haven't changed much. I'm here for Mr. Potter. I received his letter through the muggle post. I can assume from your expression that you didn't know it had arrived?" The woman who Harry now realized was Professor McGonagall continued into the house easily pushing past Dudley and his Aunt Petunia.

"I..." Aunt Petunia opened her mouth to protest but didn't get to as Professor McGonagall continued.

"No matter. I'm here for Mr. Potter. We'll be back shortly after he's done shopping for school supplies." At this Harry Potter quickly went to the door dodging Uncle Vernon's hand as his uncle tried to stop him from going toward the professor.

"Petunia, who is this?" Uncle Vernon asked in confusion.

"She's one of them." Aunt Petunia spat.

"Mr. Potter are you ready to go?" Professor McGonagall asked looking directly at him.

Before Harry could reply, Uncle Vernon spoke, "Now see here, your kind are not welcome in this house. I demand that you leave at once!"

"I will momentary, once Mr. Potter is ready to go. Are you Harry?"

Harry tried to say yes, but his uncle interrupted again, "The boy will go nowhere with you! Get back in the kitchen!" Uncle Vernon shouted while pointing in the direction of the kitchen.

For a second Harry almost went, but steadied himself. "I'm ready to go ma'am."

"Boy get back here! He will not be going to that school. We swore when we took him in we'd put a stop to that rubbish," Uncle Vernon said as he looked to Aunt Petunia who nodded in agreement. "Swore we'd stamp it out of him!"*

"Mr. Dursley, I am not here to argue with you about this topic. Certainly not with the door wide open for everyone to hear." With that statement, both his uncle and aunt shut right up. Both looking horrified at the open door. "I will be back at a later hour. At which point we can discuss withholding certain information from Mr. Potter." The gleam in Professor McGonagall's eyes made glee bubble within Harry.

A small smile made it to his lips. "I'm ready to go Professor McGonagall. I'm glad you got my letter on time."

"Get back here boy! I've told you already he's not going!? He's going to Stonewall High and he'll be grateful for it.I will not pay for him to go to some crackpot school!" Uncle Vernon hissed his reply at a reasonable level.

"Mr. Dursley, I am not asking you to pay for Mr. Potter's education. There are many programs for which Mr. Potter can attend Hogwarts. Your funds will not be necessary." Professor McGonagall gave Uncle Vernon a withering look before turning her back to leave.

Dudley had since moved out of the way with Aunt Petunia leaving Harry to stand next to Professor McGonagall. As Harry too turned around to leave, Uncle Vernon lunged for him. The professor turned around so fast it almost gave Harry whiplash. With a shiny stick pointed directly at his uncle, the professor spoke in a cold tone, "I would re-think your actions Mr. Dursley."

With that Harry hurried out the door and was quickly followed by the professor. Once outside, the door slammed shut. At the end of the drive way, the professor looked closely at the closed door. Harry looked too. It was a rare event when his aunt wasn't peeking out the blinds, but right now that was the case. With a slight nod, the professor walked down the street with Harry closely at her heels.

The professor walk confidently down Privet Drive and straight up to Mrs. Figg's house. "Ah, professor? I thought we were going to get my school supplies?" Harry questioned softly.

"And we shall. But first." Professor McGonagall knocked three times on the door.

"One moment." Mrs. Figg said through the door before opening.

"Arabella." Professor McGonagall nodded in greeting.

"Minerva. You're back quickly," Mrs. Figg said while showing them through the door. "I thought you wanted to have a chat before Diagon Alley?"

"Yes, but I didn't want to have this conversation in a hostile environment. So if you don't mind, I'll be using your sitting room for a bit."

"Of course, I'll bring out some biscuits."

Professor McGonagall moved to the sitting room, "Please Harry this may take some time, take a seat." Once Harry was sitting across from the professor, she continued, "My name is Professor McGonagall as I see you are aware. I am the Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts, and I teach transfiguration. I know you must have questions, but to be efficient it might be better if I ask some questions of my own first."

"Okay" Harry said hesitantly.

"What do you know about Hogwarts?"

"Ma'am, I really only know what was written in my letter. I'm still not completely convinced that magic is real. Or that I have magic..." Harry trailed off as he looked down at his lap.

Arabella re-emerged with a plate of biscuits. "I'll be in the other room if you need me."

"Thank you Arabella." Professor McGonagall turned away from Mrs. Figg and took out her polished stick. "This, Mr. Potter, is a wand. You'll be getting your own later today." Harry nodded at this information never taking his eyes off the professor. With a swish of her wand a teapot and cups appeared. Another swish and it was whistling its readiness. "This, Mr. Potter, is magic. After completing your seven years at school, you will be able to do this and much more." Harry looked on in excitement, not daring to interrupt the professor.

After pouring them both some tea and taking a sip, the professor continued, "Moreover Mr. Potter, there is a magical registry that writes down all the names of children who are magical. It doesn't matter if you are born from non-magical parent or magical ones, like yourself. In fact Mr. Potter, you have been in that book since the day you were born to the delight of your parents." The professor smiled kindly to Harry before taking another sip of tea. Harry followed grabbing a biscuit as well. It was surprisingly the best food that Mrs. Figg had ever feed him.

"Is that why my relatives knew about Hogwarts? My parents went there?" Harry asked after taking another bite of his biscuit.

"Yes, I had the pleasure of teaching both Lily and James. Although you father was quiet the trouble maker. You seem to have inherited the majority of his looks, but for the eyes. You have your mother's eyes. I hope you also have your mother's studious nature and not your troublemaker of a father's." Professor McGonagall gave Harry a stern look, and Harry quickly nodded in agreement. He didn't know how his dad could get in trouble with a teacher this stern at school.

The professor took another sip of tea before continuing, "Hogwarts is split into four different house, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. As a first year, you will be sorted into one of the house based off of you predominate characteristics. Gryffindor founded by Godric Gryffindor has students of courage, chivalry and determination. Do you have your letter?"

"Right here", Harry pulled it out of his waistband. He'd been carrying it around since his birthday.

Pointing to the seal the professor continued, "The lion on the Hogwarts seal is the symbol for Gryffindor with red and gold as its house colors." Professor McGonagall looked up, "I am the current Head of House for Gryffindor." Pausing briefly for a sip of tea she continued, "Hufflepuff was founded by Helga Hufflepuff. Hufflepuff is known for valuing hard work, patience, loyalty, and fair play rather than a particular aptitude in its members. The badger on the seal is its symbol with yellow and black as house colors. The herbology teacher, Pomona Sprout, is the current head of house. The eagle is the symbol for Ravenclaw. It was founded by Rowena Ravenclaw has members characterized by their wit, learning, and wisdom, and has blue and bronze as its house colors. Filius Flitwick, the charms professor, is the current head of house for Ravenclaw. Finally, we have Slytherin. Founded by Salazar Slytherin this is the house for the cunning, resourcefulness, and ambition. Severus Snape, the professor for potions, is head of this house. As you can guess, the snake on the seal represents Slytherin with green and silver as house colors."

Here Professor McGonagall paused to look Harry in the eyes, "It is important to remember that each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards."

Harry nodded in understanding, the professor didn't want to tell him one house was better than the other despite being head of house for Gryffindor. He wasn't all that surprised she didn't try to get him in her house. Professor McGonagall didn't seem the type to brag, or exaggerate to get him to pick her house. Now that he thought about it, she probably had no control over who went to which house, so why should she try?

Harry was about to ask how the first years were sorted before he thought of a better question. "Do you know which house my parents were in?"

Professor McGonagall looked down at him, "Yes, they were in my house, both Gryffindors." Harry nodded his head maybe the sorting was based on linage. "Mr. Potter." Harry looked back up, "I don't want you to think you must go into Gryffindor just because your parents were there. I'm sure they would be proud of you no matter what house you were sorted into."

Harry nodded again, he was doing a lot of that today, "Thank you professor."

Before Harry could really think about what characteristics he had, the professor continued, "You asked about the subjects taught at Hogwarts in your letter." She paused for Harry's nod, "Besides the four I mentioned already, there is Defense Against the Dark Arts, History of Magic, and Astronomy for first year. After your second year, you will be able to add two to three electives. These include Arithmancy the study of magical numbers, Ancient Runes the study of runic magic and Care of Magical Creatures which is self-explanatory. Muggle studies is another which I'm sure you won't need."

Harry stopped himself mid nod, "I'm sorry professor, but what's a muggle?"

"Oh, yes. Sometimes I forget you've grown up as a muggleborn. A muggle, Mr. Potter, is a non-magical person. This includes your relatives, the Dursleys."

"Thanks." Harry smiled over at the professor.

"Finally there is Divination which teaches methods of divining the future." The frown on the professor's face gave out that she didn't quiet care for the subject.

"I have to take at least two of those classes my third year?"

"Yes, Mr. Potter, that is correct. I don't normally encourage taking more than three."

Harry nodded in agreement, "I think that answers all my questions about the school." Harry looked ready to get up, the tea was cooling down and he'd down about four biscuits.

"Mr. Potter, there is something else I must ask you." Harry settled back down. "Do you know how you came to be at the Dursley's?"

Harry smiled sadly at this question, he knew this one, "Yes, my parents died in a car crash and left me with my aunt."

McGonagall took a sharp intake of breath, "A car crash?" Her voice was low and threatening, "They told you Lily and James Potter dead... in a CAR CRASH!"

"Ah... yes..." Harry spoke hesitantly.

McGonagall took a deep breath before continuing, "Car crash? No, Mr. Potter, nothing as small as a car crash. This is a long story, so I'd better start from the beginning. A wizard by the name of V-Voldemort, although we don't say his name anymore, about twenty years ago gathered followers, who were known as Death Eaters. It was a dark time, Mr. Potter, you couldn't trust anyone for the Death Eaters were cowards hiding behind masks. At night they were obvious, but during the day they could have been anyone. Many of those who stood up to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his followers died. At that time, Hogwarts was probably the safest place because of Headmaster Dumbledore. Probably the only man You-Know-Who was afraid to face."

McGonagall shook her head before continuing, "You're parents, Lily and James, were a part of one of the last organizations fighting against You-Know-Who. Strong wizards your parents with powerful magic. At some point during the war, Dumbledore got some information that your parents where at the top of You-Know-Who's hit list. They went into hiding with you using a Fidelius charm which made their house impossible to find; invisible, intangible, unplottable, and sound-proof. The only problem was that the Fidelius charm required a secret keeper. Sirius Black was the Potter's secret keeper and on Halloween ten years ago he betrayed his best friend to You-Know-Who."

The Professor stopped there wiping away a single tear from her left eye. "You-Know-Who killed Lily and James that night. However, that was not all that happened." Here Professor McGonagall looked straight at Harry. "You-Know-Who also tried to kill you, Harry. No one is sure why, but he did try. However, he couldn't. The killing curse, a very powerful curse, bounced back giving you that mark on your forehead and ripping You-Know-Who from his body."

Harry touched his scar, one of the most unique things about him, as he absorbed this new information. His parents died to protect him. Harry closed his eyes. He remembered a blinding flash of green light, so much more clearly than he had ever remembered it. And something else, a high, cold, cruel laugh.

"You, Mr. Potter, are known throughout the wizarding world as the Boy-Who-Lived. You are famous in our world."

Professor McGonagall gave Harry a few moments to digest this new information before getting up. "Come Mr. Potter, we must still get your things." McGonagall walked briskly to the fireplace before turning around to talk to Mrs. Figg. "Thank you for your hospitality, Arabella. We'll be back in a couple of hours once we've gotten Mr. Potter's things."

"Always welcome Minerva. Always welcome." Mrs. Figg gave the professor a jar before moving back from the fireplace to let Harry move forward.

Harry looked back and forth between Mrs. Figg, Professor McGonagall, and the fireplace. If he didn't know any better, he'd think the professor planned to use the fireplace to go somewhere.

"Mr. Potter, I don't believe you have ever used the floo?"

"No ma'am. What is the floo?"

"The floo is a means of magical travel through fireplaces."

Harry tried not to look green at the thought of jumping in an active fire.

"I know Mr. Potter, but it is a very safe means of travel. I'll demonstrate. You take a pinch of floo powder," she to a pinch of the powder in the blue jar to demonstrate. "You say loudly and clearly the destination, Diagon Alley for us, then throw the powder into the fire. Step in and you will be let out at the floo in the Leaky Cauldron. Alright Mr. Potter?"

"Yes, ma'am. I think I got it." Harry replied.

"Good, now before we go." The professor handed the blue jar back to Mrs. Figg before she got out her polished stick, which Harry now recognized as her wand, and with a swish and flick a ball cap appeared. "Put this on Mr. Potter. I'd like to not cause too much of a commotion in the pub."

With the cap firmly on his head covering his scar, the professor faced the fire, "Diagon Alley!" throw the pinch and the flames turned green. Without further ado, she disappeared in a flash of smoke and flames.

Gulp. Maybe he could catch up some other way...

"Now don't you worry Harry. Just do like the Professor and off you go." Mrs. Figg hurried him toward the fireplace, handed him the jar for a pinch, and was turning him to the fire. There was no turning back, at least not without tripping over seven or eight cats...

Taking a deep breath, "Diagon Alley!" Harry jumped into the flames after throwing the pinch in the fireplace. If he was going to burn to death, then he was going to do it in a hurry.

Harry stumbled out the fireplace coughing up ash and landed ungracefully on his face. Strong hands helped him to his feet, and a second later all of the ash was cleared from his clothes.

"Nice landing lad." Came a male voice from the bar.

"Thanks," Harry gave a cheeky smile, "I was going for a back flip. Guess I went the wrong way."

"Ha. Haa. And cheeky too. Names Tom," the bartender replied.

"Harry." Harry didn't think the professor would want him to give out his full name.

"Professor, not used to seeing you bringing muggleborns through the floo?"

"It was the easiest way." Professor McGonagall turned to Harry, "Now, let's get to Diagon Alley."

The Leaky Cauldron was a very dark and shabby place. A few old gentlemen were sitting at the bar. One of them was smoking a long pipe. A small woman in a witch's hat went back to talking to the bartender, Tom, who was quite bald and looked like a toothless walnut. The low buzz of chatter had momentarily stopped when they, well, flooed in. Everyone seemed to know the professor, and from Tom's earlier statement he wasn't all that surprised. It seems she came here a lot with other students.

The professor led them out into a small, walled courtyard, where there was nothing but a trash can and a few weeds. Harry was a little confused when Professor McGonagall turned to him, "To get to Diagon Alley, you need to count the bricks on this wall and tap the brick that is three up and two across with your wand."

As the professor talked, she tapped the brick she'd been pointing toward. The brick quivered in the middle causing the small hole that appeared to grow wider and wider. A second later they were facing an archway larger than seven feet tall. Harry looked down and around in awe.

"Welcome to Diagon Alley."

A small smile touched the professor's lips at Harry's amazement. As they stepped through the archway, it magically shrink back into a solid wall. Harry turned back around to see the sun shining brightly on a stack of cauldrons outside of the nearest shop.

"Professor, don't I need a cauldron." Harry took out his school list to check. Yes, right under the OTHER EQUIPMENT section, "a pewter, standard size 2, cauldron set." Harry stopped walking to look at the professor in question.

"Yes Harry, you will be needing a cauldron along with many other things, but first we must get you some money." The professor replied.

Harry looked confusingly up at the professor, "Oh, you don't have the scholarship funds on you?"

"Normally, I would. However, you will not be needing financial assistance to go to Hogwarts." McGonagall smiled kindly down at Harry, "You parents left you quite a bit of money, along with having set aside funds for your Hogwarts tuition." Professor McGonagall patted Harry on the shoulder before she continued, "We will be stopping at Gringotts, the wizard bank, to get you enough money to buy all of your supplies and some extra pocket-money for the rest of the school year."

Harry looked surprisingly back at the professor. He had money. His own money that the Dursley didn't know anything about. As the professor started walking again, Harry was in such concentration about the professor's action this morning that he missed the very magical shops selling robes, telescopes, and much more. He missed the strange people doing the shopping and the interesting spectacle outside of the shops.

No, Diagon Alley had just been replaced with this notion. Professor McGonagall had protected the knowledge of him having money of his own. Not even the professor thought the Dursley would leave his magical money alone. Assuming that wizarding money was different from normal, no muggle money. Harry looked at the professor again with a new light. She'd told the truth without telling the truth. He'd never even thought of trying that before. After all, Dudley was stupid enough that it took him a while to get direct insults if he worded them just right.

It was only when the professor slowed down that Harry looked up again. "Woo."

"This, Harry, is Gringotts," McGonagall said.

Standing before Harry was a snowy white building that towered over the other shops within the alley. Beside the burnished bronze doors were small scarlet and gold uniformed… "What is that?"

"Ah, that would be a goblin. They run the bank and are not known for their kindness." The professor responded.

The goblin was about a head shorter than Harry. He had a swarthy, clever face, a pointed beard and, Harry noticed, very long fingers and feet. He bowed as they walked inside. Now they were facing a second pair of doors, silver, with words engraved upon them:

Enter, stranger, but take heed

Of what awaits the sin of greed,

For those who take, but do not earn,

Must pay most dearly in their turn.

So if you seek beneath our floors

A treasure that was never yours,

Thief, you have been warned, beware

Of finding more than treasure there.

Once inside, Professor McGonagall lead them toward the counter where more goblins sat scribbling in large ledgers, weighing coins in brass scales, and examining precious stones through eyeglasses.*

"Good morning, we've come to access Mr. Potter's vault." Professor McGonagall said while handing the goblin a tiny gold key. Harry had noticed that she had been calling him by his first name since they arrived at the Leaky Cauldron. It must have something to do with the low profile the professor was trying to keep. He wasn't quite sure if all this was necessary, but who was he to argue with a professor?

The goblin looked at the key closely, "This seems to be in order. I'll have someone take you to your vault, BOGROD!"

Bogrod lead them to a narrow stone passageway where he whistled and a small cart came hurtling up the tracks toward them.

The professor took her hat off and cased a quick spell before they were off through a maze of twisting passages. The cold air stung Harry's eyes, but he refused to close them. At some point he was sure he'd seen a burst of fire, but by the time he'd twisted around to see if it was a dragon they were long passed.

A little while later they passed an underground lake with huge stalactites and stalagmites growing from the ceiling and the floor.

"Professor? What's the difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite?"*

"A stalactite is above, and hangs downward like an icicle, while a stalagmite is below and sticks upward." Professor McGonagall responded easily.

"Oh..." Now didn't he feel stupid?

It wasn't much later when the cart stopped at last beside a small door in the passage wall. Everyone got out of the cart and waited as Bogrod unlocked the door. Green smoke billowed from the door. Only once it had cleared could Harry get a good look. He gasped in amazement at what he saw inside. There were mounds of coins, gold, silver, and bronze alike. Without knowing what each coin was worth, Harry knew just by looking that this was a lot of money.

"I assure you, Mr. Potter, you will be very well off for a very long time." McGonagall got a bag out before doing a quick spell that summoned about 75 coins of all three colors into the bag. "The gold coins are Galleons. There are seventeen silver Sickles to a single Galleon and twenty-nine bronze Knuts to a Sickle. This should be more than enough for the year."

After receiving the bag, Harry was surprised the relatively small bag was as light as it was with more than 200 coins in it.

Once they returned to the surface, the shopping went pretty quick. They got his robes from Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. Madam Malkin tailored his robes nearly eight feet away from the next group of Hogwarts students and seemed to talk to Professor McGonagall the whole time.

Next came Flourish and Blotts. Professor McGonagall told him how much he could use for books before going across the street to get a trunk. It was just enough to get all his books new. He guessed the professor didn't want him to get to many other books that would cause trouble. He was just about to get his books off the shelf when he say the used section.

Stopping for a moment. Harry could get all new books, something he's never had before, or he could get used books and get extra. Harry didn't want Hogwarts to be like primary school. He'd had enough of trying to get scores lower than Dudley. Sometimes it was easier not to turn in the work at all. At Hogwarts, he had a chance to be great. A great wizard like his parents. Professor McGonagall had told him that his mum had studied a lot. She seemed to expect the same out of him.

It didn't take long for Harry to find all of his required books in the used section. Next he had to decide what type of extra material to get. Hogwarts was bound to have a library, so maybe he should get general things to help him get used to the wizarding world.

Harry picked up a beginner's guide to potions which seemed to be targeted to pre-Hogwarts students, a book on traditions in the wizarding world, another on the interworking of the ministry, a book on commonly used charms (Harry was sure there would be a book like that at Hogwarts, but it was only three Sickles), and finally a book on controlling inner magic. The last one had exercises to help focus magic and retain information better. It was the basics of the basics in a branch of magic called mind and body. He just barely got it all with a sickle to spare.

"Excellent timing, Harry." Professor McGonagall spoke as she put his purchases in his new truck, then shrank it. "Now to get the rest of your supplies. We'll make the wand stop the last."

It didn't take them long to get the rest of the list, cauldron (pewter, standard size 2) set, crystal phials, telescope set, brass scales, and basic potions ingredients. In addition to that, they also got Harry a quill set, several feet of parchment, and ten blank journals for taking notes. Harry had always preferred a notebook to sheets of loose paper. The bond journals were the next best thing he'd been able to find. He didn't think Professor McGonagall would take him to a muggle shop (not to mention he hadn't any muggle money) to buy pens and notebooks for class...

"Would you like to get a pet, Harry?" The professor stopped in front of the Eeylops Owl Emporium, "An owl, or perhaps a cat." Professor McGonagall pointed to another shop across the street, Magical Menagerie.

"No thank you professor, I don't really have anyone to owl?" Harry looked at Professor McGonagall to make sure he'd used the term right before continuing, "And I don't think it wise to bring a cat back to the Dursley's..."

"Very well then. Let's continue to Ollivanders." The professor led the way down the cobbled streets.

Ollivanders was a narrow and shabby shop that had peeling gold letters over the door that read Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C. Once they were inside, Harry was tempted to believe the owner may have been around at the shops grand opening. It was an unsettling experience the way Mr. Ollivander knew who he was even with his hat covering his scar. To make matters worse, it took them nearly half an hour to find him a wand that worked, an eleven inch holly and phoenix feather wand. If the wait wasn't bad enough, the fact that his wand was related, brother wand, to Voldemort's wand didn't help either. So, Harry was a little down once they came out from the last shop.

As they were walking back to the Leaky Cauldron, Professor McGonagall hesitated for a moment before walking further down the street to Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor. "I do believe you deserve a treat."

After eating a chocolate and raspberry sauce with chopped nuts sundae, Professor McGonagall handed Harry an envelope, "This has your ticket for Hogwarts. You will want to go to King's Cross and find platforms nine and ten. There is a dividing barrier between these two platforms, platform nine and three-quarters. You will need to walk straight at the barrier between the two platforms. I suggest taking it at a run the first time. Do you understand?"

"Right, walk into the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Take it at a run." Harry nodded his understanding.

"Good. Once we get back to the Dursley, I'll want to have a talk with your aunt and uncle. You should go to your room and take a look at you books."

"Yes, ma'am" Harry briefly wondered if she knew his room was a cupboard. Maybe living in a cupboard under the stairs wasn't all that uncommon?

The Dursleys weren't home when they got back. The professor had to use an unlocking charm to get in the door. Once inside, Professor McGonagall enlarged his trunk. "Do you need help getting it up into your room?"

"No, I should be fine." Harry said.

"Good," the professor sighed as she looked around. "Will you be alright by yourself?"

"Yes, ma'am" Harry replied.

"I'll send your relatives a letter with the important details. It's probably best I don't do that in person. I wouldn't want to hex the muggles in my anger." She looked at Harry before continuing, "I'll see you at Hogwarts, September first."

"Thank you professor for all the help." Harry spoke with a little emotion entering his voice. He had not accepted for the Deputy Headmistress to come help him in person.

"Remember Harry that you can come to me with anything. If you need to get in touch, contact Mrs. Figg." Professor McGonagall gathered herself and headed to the door.

"Alright... ah professor?" Harry questioned the professor as she opened the door.

"Yes, Mr. Potter" McGonagall looked back at Harry expectantly.

"Is Mrs. Figg a witch, like you?" The question had been bothering Harry since they got to Mrs. Figg's house.

"No, Mr. Potter. Mrs. Figg is a squib, a non-magical person born from magical parents." Professor McGonagall replied swiftly.

"Alright. Thank you again, professor." Harry stood by the door as the professor left.

"You are very welcome, Mr. Potter." Harry watched as the professor left before dragging his trunk to his cupboard. Harry pulled out the first book on top, beginner's guide to potions, and a journal before setting up shop in the kitchen.

The Dursleys didn't come back until a couple of days before the first. All that time, Harry managed to feed himself, rationing the food to last nearly a month. Harry had read a head in all of his textbooks. The book for History of Magic was pretty exciting. He couldn't wait to get into that class. The transfiguration was by far the hardest to understand. Harry had taken to drawling pictures of the plants in the Herbology textbook to help him identify each species, which helped him get better with using quills. Besides history, Harry also like potions and DADA. Overall, he was looking forward to learning more about magic.

There was only one problem. Harry was sure that getting his uncle to drive him to London would be almost impossible. Once the Dursleys had returned, Harry had been mostly confined to his cupboard. So it was with apprehension that Harry asked Uncle Vernon to drive him. "Uncle Vernon? Could you take me to King's Cross tomorrow? I need to take the train from platform nine and three-quarters at eleven o'clock."

"Platform what?" Uncle Vernon asked taking his eyes from the telly momentarily.

"Nine and three-quarters, sir." Harry was choosing to say everything all at once, thinking that his uncle would want to get rid of him. After all, there was no way Uncle Vernon would believe platform nine and three-quarters existed.

"Rubbish! There is no platform nine and three-quarters." Uncle Vernon replied briskly.*

Hook, line, and sinker.

"It's on my ticket, sir. I'll only need you to take me to the station. I'll make sure I get to the platform." Uncle Vernon eyed him wearily, maybe he had over played his hand. Less is more, Potter, less is more.

"Barking, howling mad, the lot of them. You'll see. You just wait. I'll take you to King's Cross. I had to do it anyway or that bint would have my tail." His uncle replied grudgingly before turning his attention back to the telly.*

Harry sighed in relief, next time he wanted something he'd use fewer words.

They reached King's Cross at half past ten. Harry was pleasantly surprise when Uncle Vernon dumped Harry's trunk onto a cart and wheeled it into the station for him. Could Uncle Vernon really want to prove a point about whether platform nine and three-quarters existed? Harry hadn't even planned for this possibility. It was hard to keep the glee off of his face when Uncle Vernon stopped dead, facing the platforms with a nasty grin on his face.

"Well, there you are, boy. Platform nine, platform ten. Your platform should be somewhere in the middle, but they don't seem to have built it yet, do they?"*

"Thank you Uncle Vernon." Harry smiled back without replying to his uncle's statement, then ran straight into the barrier between the two platforms... and came out on the other side to a scarlet steam engine. There were a good amount of people on the platform, but not enough to be packed. A sign overhead said Hogwarts Express, eleven O'clock. Harry looked behind him wishing he could see the look on his uncle's face. Instead he saw a wrought-iron archway where the barrier had been, with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it.

Harry pushed his cart toward the train to look for a compartment. The first few carriages had about two to four students in them and Harry really wanted to get a carriage to himself. It didn't take long, somewhere down the middle of the train he spotted a couple of empty carriages. One of the older students sporting a yellow tie and a pin on his robes helped him get his trunk on the train, a Hufflepuff for sure.

After settling into his carriage, Harry changed into his new robes, since they were nicer than anything he owned. Once settled, he got out his transfiguration journal to try changing the toothpick, really just a random piece of wood he found in the Dursley's back yard, into a needle. He'd not gotten very far when three student came into his compartment.

"Over here, this one's empty." Harry didn't like how this was going. "Alright firsty, out." The older student jabbed his finger out of the door as the two females came in.

"Lee, I thought you said this way empty." Said the dark skinned female.

"It will be in about 30 seconds." Lee looked at Harry pointedly, "Or do you fancy havin' a giant tarantula down you trousers?"

Harry quickly got up reached for his trunk, but was stopped by the older boy, Lee. "Don't worry about the trunk. You already have your robes on, so you won't be needing this. It will appear in whatever dorm you get sorted into later."

As Harry left his compartment, he heard one of the girls call out, "Hope you get sorted into Gryffindor, best house there is!"

"Yeah right," Harry whispered to himself as he began his search a new for a compartments with other students around his age.

It didn't take too much longer for Harry to find another compartment. This one had four students in it two girls and two guys that looked to be first years too.

Opening the compartment conversation stopped, "Can I sit with you? Some older Gryffindors just stole my compartment, and all of the other compartments have older students in them."

The light skinned male of the group answered, "Getting pushed around by Gryffindors already? You must be a Slytherin in waiting."

Harry smiled as he replied taking a seat across from the skinny light skinned male and next to the two girls in the compartment, "I don't know both my parents were Gryffindors. Besides, if I'd been cunning enough, then I would still have my compartment."

"Should have said you had the dragon pox," the group laughed a little at the skinny guy's joke.

"Nott, really? That wouldn't have even fooled a Hufflepuff." The blonde girl replied.

The brown skinned boy huffed at that, "I'm afraid I have to agree with Greengrass. No ones that stupid."

"I don't know. You haven't met my cousin yet." Harry replied.

"Touché. Blaise Zabini," the dark skin boy nodded his head in greeting.

"Theodore Nott, you can call me Theo." Theodore held out his hand in greeting for Harry to shake.

"Daphne Greengrass." The blonde girl nodded in greeting.

"Tracey Davis," came the soft spoken voice from the brown haired girl who hadn't spoken yet.

"Harry Potter," Harry said after shaking Theodore's hand and nodding back in greeting to the rest.

All eyes snapped to his forehead. "Potter? Gryffindor definitely. If you're not a blood traitor just like you father, then I'll shake a muggle's hand." Blaise spoke up first.

"Oh, shut it Zabini. At least his mother's not known for killing her husbands for the money." Theodore replied in Harry's defense.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Blaise causally looked out the window as if the current topic was boring him.

"Boys." Looking him up and down Daphne continued, "So you're Harry Potter?"

"And you're not that easily impressed..." Harry replied.

"It's nice to meet you, Harry." Tracey's response was the most promising to Harry. He'd have no problems making friends with her.

Harry smiled at Tracey as he replied, "It's nice to meet you too, Tracey."

"Where have you been all this time? That's what everyone really wants to know." Daphne grilled Harry.

"With my relatives, nothing special. I'm just learning about my world now. So you'll have to excuse my ignorance." Harry wanted to get that out there just in case he said or did something that might offend his new friends.

"Just learning? Where were you? Living with muggles?" Blaise replied in belief.

"Yes, actually. It wasn't a very pleasant experience." Harry added the last part since Blaise didn't seem that fond of anything muggle.

Harry was rewarded when Blaise next spoke in sympathizing voice, "No, I imagine not." Yup, Blaise was warming up to him.

Soon they were in a discussion that moved from Quidditch to Hogwarts and a little about pureblood traditions. Harry had brought up that topic to check the accuracy of his book.

The conversation only stopped when the door opened about a quarter to one to reveal a woman with a cart full of sweets.

Harry bought a bit of everything to try the sweets. Theo gave him a look when he just started to pop jelly beans in his mouth with little regard. "You might want to be more..." Harry nearly spit back up a bean that tasted like ear wax. "...careful..."

Harry ate slowly after that only trying the ones Theo and Daphne said were the best, leaving the rest for another time.

It was much later when there was a knock at the door and a round-faced boy came into the doorway of the compartment. He looked tearful.

"Sorry, but have you seen a toad at all?"

When they shook their heads, well Theo, Tracey and Harry, the boy just turned away and left.

"Sometimes I wonder how Longbottom got into Hogwarts." Blaise responded quietly.

"Sad isn't?" Nott nodded his agreement.

"What can you expect when you've been to a mind healer as much as he has?" Daphne added just as morosely.

Harry looked confused, so Theo clarified, "I'm pretty sure he was put under the Cruciatus curse as a baby."

"And the Cruciatus curse would be..." Harry asked.

"An Unforgivable Curse. I'm sure Nott could tell us all about them." Blaise replied.

Theo rolled his eyes and continued the conversation as if Longbottom had not interrupted. Theo hadn't gotten two sentences in when the compartment door slid open again, revealing Longbottom and a girl also wearing her Hogwarts robes.

"Has anyone seen a toad? Neville's lost one," she said. She had a bossy sort of voice, lots of bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth.

"And you would be?" Daphne didn't look to happy to see them.

"I'm Hermione Granger. Now, have you seen it?" Granger demanded.

"Granger? I don't know that name." Blaise spoke pointedly to the group ignoring Granger.

"Must be muggleborn." Theo replied to Blaise.

"Longbottom, I think you're going to want to leave. Now." Greengrass looked past Granger also ignoring her presence. It was obvious Harry's new group of friends were not going to be very friendly to muggleborns. Harry would have felt bad, but he didn't like to be bossed around by anyone. Harry would pick his fights, and this one wasn't worth the friendship of Blaise or Daphne.

"Hey, you don't have to be so mean! Who do you think you are?" Hermione replied in outrage.

"No, Hermione. I already asked them. They haven't seen Trevor. Let's go." Longbottom gentle guided Granger out of the compartment. At least Longbottom seemed like a reasonable person, Harry would keep that in mind.

"But..." the door slid shut cutting off whatever the Granger girl could have been about to say.

"As if she owned the place..." Daphne hissed to the compartment at large.

"I'm always telling you muggleborns aren't worth the dirt under my shoes." Blaise replied with disgust on his face.

"No, don't you start again." Theo replied, but before anyone of them could really start up, the door slide open again. "What do we have a sign on the door saying 'interrupt please!'?" Theo spoke softly under his breath, but Harry heard him.

"Nott, do you know where Harry Potter is? His supposed to be on the train this year, and I need to make sure he's making the right friends. Me." A platinum blond boy said as he entered the compartment with two larger boys beside him.

Theo rolled his eyes before answering for the group, "I haven't left this compartment since I got here. How would I know where he is?"

There it was again. Answering a question without lying, but definitely not telling the truth. Harry was sure he could learn a thing or two from Theodore if no one else.

"Humph, you're right. Crabbe, Goyle come on. We need to search the train for Potter." The blond haired boy left.

Once he was gone, Harry spoke, "Thanks Theo, but who was he?"

"That, Harry, was Draco Malfoy. He'll be in Slytherin with us for sure." Theo replied.

"You'll have a hard time explaining that one, Nott." Daphne said softly. Harry thought he saw real worry in her eyes.

"Don't worry about it so much. Now Harry owes me." Theo said with a smirk on his face.

Harry was sure he would be able to handle Malfoy when the time came. He was a little too much like Dudley, spoiled rotten.

The boat ride over to Hogwarts was amazing even if the giant, well almost a giant as Theo told him the difference in size, was a little intimidating. The almost-giant had even invited him over for tea, which was a little surprising since he'd not invited anyone else. When they reached the castle, Professor McGonagall was there to receive them and was just as stern as he remembered.

Professor McGonagall lead them from the entrance hall, which was big enough the Dursleys' house could have fit in it, to a small empty chamber off the hall. Once all the first years were packed in close, the professor gave a rather short speech about what was about to happen, including the banquet, the sorting, and the four houses. As Professor McGonagall left to get ready for the sorting, Harry couldn't help but to be glad that the professor had told him about the houses and general life at Hogwarts beforehand. Her short speech had been more intimidating than informative.

Despite being short, the wait for the sorting managed to be agonizing. Not because of the unknown about the sorting. He didn't once think that they had to fight a troll that a tall red-head boy was talking about loudly with Granger. No, Harry was more worried about the sorting's finality. What if he got sorted into Hufflepuff? Despite the kind words Professor McGonagall had for the house, Harry was sure that being sorted into Hufflepuff would be proof that he didn't belong anywhere. The stories Theo had about them painted Hufflepuff in a different light. It wasn't like the professor could say the same thing being Deputy Headmistress. She had to say something nice about all the houses. Harry might have doubted the stories about the house if they had come from Blaise or Daphne, but Theo...

Harry was briefly distracted when about twenty ghosts streamed through the back wall. The group of pearly white transparent ghost glided across the room talking to one another as if the first years weren't even there. Still, the ghosts would have made for a better distraction if the monk looking one hadn't mentioned Hufflepuff…

Harry was very glad to be pulled out of his thoughts with the return of the professor. With the wait over, Professor McGonagall led the first years into the great hall. The sight helped to distract Harry further. A truly magical place, and the ceiling, if it was really a ceiling... It was as if the Great Hall opened up to the heavens.

Harry was a tad relieved to see Professor McGonagall place a pointed wizard's hat on a four-legged stool. It would seem the sorting was done with an old hat; patched and frayed and extremely dirty. Harry's nerves had calmed down enough that he'd managed to listen to the majority of the hat's song, which wasn't all that bad even if it didn't tell him anything new about the four houses.

After the song, began the sorting. The roll call sorting started with Hannah Abbott who went to Hufflepuff. Harry couldn't tell if she was happy about that or not. He knew how he would feel, but she didn't necessarily seem to show that feeling on her face.

Tracey, Daphne, and Theo all made it into Slytherin, which left just him and Blaise waiting to join them. Harry was a little disappointed when Malfoy made it into Slytherin, but he wasn't all that surprised given what the others had already said. What was surprising was that Granger and Longbottom made it into Gryffindor. Harry just hadn't been expecting that outcome.

A short while after Theo was sorted, Professor McGonagall called out his own name. "Potter, Harry!"

As Harry stepped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like little hissing fires all over the hall. Harry could make out Malfoy's voice probably talking to Nott down the table. Harry had noticed they hadn't seat near each other.

The last thing Harry saw before the hat dropped over his eyes was the hall full of people craning to get a good look at him. Harry vaguely heard a 'shit' from the area he believed was the Gryffindor table.

"Would serve them right too if you don't end up in Gryffindor, Mr. Potter. Treating any first year like that." A small voice in his ear said.

Harry was in complete agreement. He'd be better off in any house but Gryffindor. Harry didn't think that lightly with his previous worry about getting sorted into Hufflepuff. Hufflepuff was still the house of hard work, and Harry could live with that even if he'd miss his friends. Harry waited for the hat's judgment.

"Hmm. Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There's talent, ah my goodness, yes... and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that's interesting... But I think you already told me were to put you... Not Gryffindor or Hufflepuff. Are you sure? You would do well in either of those houses... No?" Well, if you're sure... better be SLYTHERIN!"

*Note: Italicized parts and '*' parts are taken directly or partially from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, except for the letter which is my own creation.

This is a Harry/Ginny story as it's the only pairing I like for Ginny (& my favorite for Harry). With that said, Ginny doesn't make an appearance until chapter three (in current outline). I think you'll like my Ginny...