A/N: This story is incomplete and more or less abandoned. Sorry.
Disclaimer: not mine, or books 6 and 7 would be substantially different. Harry Potter is owned by JK Rowling and whoever she licensed the rights to.
Nine and three-quarters
Harry was looking at the retreating figure of his caretaker, as the man drove off leaving the young wizard standing near the wall between platform nine and a platform ten, with platform nine and three-quarters was nowhere in sight. Was it all a big joke? Was he just dropped off in the middle of King's Cross station for a prank?
For a moment he wondered if the stone wall between the two platforms held the secret, but he did not see any brick that looked special like the one that was used to enter Diagon Alley from the weird bar the previous month, and he was reluctant to take out his wand in any case as his school books had mentioned that it was strictly forbidden for wizards to use their magic in front of Muggles.
Just as Harry was trying to work up the courage to ask a guard where he could find either platform nine and three-quarters or at least the train to Hogwarts, he overheard a plump red-haired woman speaking to her children.
'I don't know why Dumbledore insisted we not use the floo this year. Look at this place, crowded and filled with Muggles of course –'
Harry quickly turned his trolley in their direction and scrolled after them, overhearing the woman playfully ask the only girl in the group if she remembered the platform number. He watched from a small distance to the side as the group neared the brick wall between platforms nine and ten, and then to his surprise the oldest boy just marched straight through the wall as if it was not even there. He waited until the two younger boys – twins from the look of them – also went through, as did the youngest boy, and then the woman with the young girl.
Seeing that nobody was paying much attention to him, Harry pushed his own trolley towards the barrier, closed his eyes, pushed on... and found himself in the middle of a large crowd of families all dressed in the same weird fashions he had seen in the alley. A quick glance at a clock told him it was nearing eleven, so Harry manoeuvred through the crowd towards an empty compartment car near the front of the train.
Placing first his owl cage holding Hedwig, then his trunk up the train steps, he was relieved when he finally had the heavy trunk inside with him and tucked away in a corner of the compartment. He took a seat near a window, and watched the bustle on the platform.
'Did you see how few firsties there are this year?' Harry overheard one of the older children – students – still on the platform say to another. Both students had a shiny silver badge on their chest with a letter P on it.
'I know, I didn't count more than forty if even that,' was the reply.
Any further discussion was halted as the train whistle blew, and the two quickly looked around the platform, then hopped on the train. Harry picked out one of his school books, and began reading.
A few minutes later the door to his compartment slid open, and a girl already wearing her Hogwarts robes looked in.
'Oh hello there, you seem to have a lot of space. Do you mind if I sit here? Most other compartments are full, and I was so excited about the whole experience that I just picked a compartment at random. Then these two older students had the absolute nerve to come in and tell me that I was sitting in their compartment, when it was clear that there are no reservations anywhere on the train! Oh I see you are reading A History of Magic, don't you think it's absolutely fascinating?'
She had a bossy voice, and somehow managed to rattle all that off so fast Harry could hardly keep up. Before Harry could do more than take in her look (lots of bushy brown hair, oversized front teeth, and a determined look in her eyes), she spoke up again.
'Oh but where are my manners. I am Hermione Granger, and I am the first witch in my family. My parents were ever so proud. Didn't you read your books before getting on the train? You really should have, your education is very important you know'.
'I'm Harry. And yes I did read my books before, I was just going over the basics again as I want to be prepared for my first day of classes,' Harry replied tersely.
'Take any seat that's free.'
He looked to the girl again, and with an internalized sigh stood up.
'Let me help you with your trunk.'
He helped the girl place her trunk in the compartment and then went back to his book. The girl – Hermione – either realised she was annoying him or just did not care all that much, and opened her own book, Hogwarts: A History.
If Harry was hoping for an otherwise quiet train ride, this was spoiled when the girl suddenly spoke up again.
'Do you know what house you'll be in? I've been asking around and am hoping for Gryffindor, it sounds like the best. I bet Dumbledore himself was sorted there and –'
'Dumbledore was a Ravenclaw,' Harry interjected, without looking up.
'What? Where did you read that?' the girl stared at him with wide open eyes.
In response, Harry just tapped his book.
'Chapter twenty-seven on The Great Wizarding War, where it briefly mentions that Grindlewald's conqueror came from the Ravenclaw house at Hogwarts. As Dumbledore is the only one credited with ending Grindlewald's reign of terror, logic dictates it must be him.'
'Oh...' Hermione pulled out her own copy from her trunk, and paged to the same section.
'Well you are right. I am trying for Ravenclaw then, if Dumbledore came from that house it must be the best one. Is that the same house you are trying for? And you know, you never did tell me your full name,' she looked accusingly at him.
'Harold Black, at your service,' Harry replied with a mock bow. 'Now do you mind? I am trying to finish this chapter.'
The young witch huffed, and went back to her own reading.
A/N: As I hope you realize, this is an AU and while it follows canon mostly at the start, things will diverge more and more over time.
I've first written this silly fanfic all the way back in 2009 but never published it as I was not very happy with it, especially after I found a few much better written stories on this site with much the same premise. But I was convinced to upload it anyway, so I am currently in the process of re-editing the existing chapters and trying to improve the story as I do. Chapters will be posted as I complete them.
Please bear with me as I stumble through the English language, British culture (both Muggle and Wizarding), and this site's obscure formatting rules.
A/N 2: Format edited 17-06. I've been told I need to use more blank lines to make it easier to read :)
I could really use a beta reader. Please let me know if you'd like to help me get my formatting and grammer better.