A/N: Well, Ryoko and I, Heaven, have decided to throw our talent together and coauthor a fic. This is pre Hogwarts and very slightly AU. Please leave us a review and let us know what you think. Happy reading!!!
Seven year old Harry Potter hung onto the railing of the stairs as his oversized cousin Dudley Dursley, also seven, thundered past him, nearly pushing him off.
"Watch it Potter." Dudley's large mouth, usually filled with cake or pie, was sneering at him. "You'd better not get in my way today, or else."
Harry simply stared at him, it was his way of annoying Dudley and it was something he couldn't get in trouble for, because he never said anything.
Petunia Dursley stuck her long neck out from the kitchen, her tight blonde curls bouncing erratically around her head. "Dudders, sweetums, make sure you've got your toys you want to take to show all your friends!" her gaze turned frosty as it laid on Harry. "Take Dudley's toys to the car and don't break anything. Then you can come back in here and get the lunch sack."
"Yes Aunt Petunia." Harry moved his slight frame as Dudley dumped toys in his arms. He knew as well as anyone that Dudley did not need to take any toys to the park, he and his 'gang' would more or less walk around and terrorize smaller children. Their favourite game was to take another person's toy and throw it around or even up in a tree. When Aunt Petunia first began to take the two boys to the park, it was made clear that Harry was not to bother Dudley during his playtime. She herself would be off by the other mothers, doing her favourite thing, gossiping. Harry usually wound up wandering around by himself, since Dudley would threaten anyone who even dared come near him.
"Don't spill anything in there!" Petunia said shrilly as Harry lifted the large basket from the countertop. For a moment it seemed like he would drop it as the weight of it made him stagger backwards, but Harry finally managed to catch his balance. He had always been rather on the short side, while most boys his age were hitting growth spurts, he had stayed somewhat small.
Harry barely managed to heave the basket in the back of the car, and stood for a moment gasping for breath. Dudley ate as much as a small army; he knew all he'd find in that basket for himself was a bottle of water, a piece of cheese and a single slice of bread. The cupcakes, cookies, pies, and extra large sandwiches made with several different kinds of meat were for Dudley, and Dudley alone. Petunia rarely ate anything at all in public; she wanted the other mothers to admire her pencil thin figure.
"Ready Dudders? Are you excited to go play with all your friends?" Petunia's voice preceded her through the front door.
"Yes Mummy." Dudley's voice was perfectly sweet. He came out of the house like a good little boy, and Harry rolled his eyes in the other direction and hitched at the waist of his too large pants. Dudley clambered into the car and Harry followed, sliding as far as he could to one side.
Petunia lectured Harry the entire way there, as always, and Harry always had to nod and act like he understood everything she was scolding him for, while Dudley smirked at him across the seat.
"Yes Aunt Petunia, I promise I'll leave Dudley and his friends alone and I will not get into trouble." Harry recited as she pulled the car into a spot and they got out.
"Piers!!" Dudley called out loudly as he ran, well, chugged himself along. Petunia glared at Harry, who was slowly getting out of the car.
"Get everything out and set it over there." She said, pointing to a shady spot on the grass. So Harry had to lug every toy and the basket out again over to where the other mothers were bringing their children's toys and food. He deposited everything carefully on the ground so his aunt wouldn't find anything wrong, and then headed off deep into the park away from everyone else.
Harry loved going to the park. He certainly didn't mind being by himself, he was used to it by now. It was an extremely large park, and all he had to remember to do was to find his way back when he was hungry and when they were leaving for the day. He walked around back by the heavily wooded area where he could be out of sight from Dudley and from Aunt Petunia.
He found a spot that he had occupied some weeks ago, he'd put some pine needles there that made the ground softer, and now Harry stretched out on top of them, closing his eyes and enjoying the peacefulness that surrounded him now. He was almost asleep when a girl's voice cut through his haze.
"Give it back!" she sounded upset and on the verge of tears. Not wanting to be discovered, Harry slid back behind the tree, but peeked out to see what was going on.
"No." Harry was not surprised to hear his cousin's taunting voice. "You'll never get this book back."
"Awww, little Granger, teacher's pet!" one of the young girls in the crowd cried out. "Nobody here to tattle to, is there?"
"That's mine!" the girl said, this time Harry could see two fat tears roll down her cheeks. The other people in the crowd sniggered and jeered as Dudley held the book high over his head. She hopped up, her bushy brown hair flying out around her as she tried to reach the book.
"Not anymore it's not." Dudley said again, looking back over his shoulder to make sure his mother could not see him. "I think I'll drop this book in a nice mud puddle."
"NO!" the girl cried out, now in hysterics. She began to cry in earnest and Harry could no longer hold himself back.
"Give it to her Dudley." He made his voice sound as strong as he could. Dudley sneered at him.
"Why should I?" he asked. "You going to hit me Potter? Go tell on me?"
"I can tell Aunt Petunia about that big chocolate stain on your carpet." Harry said, folding his skinny arms across his chest. Dudley's eyes showed a moment of panic, and then he smiled.
"Go ahead. I'll just blame it on you." He said smugly. Harry smiled coolly back and shook his head.
"Well your parents don't allow me in your room, and they don't give me any sweets, you know that Dudley. How would I make a chocolate stain on your rug when you always eat it all, and when I've never been in your room?" Harry asked.
Dudley's hand clenched around the book, and the whole group was silent except for the choked sobs of the girl. Slowly, Dudley brought his arm down and shoved the book at the girl so hard she staggered back. Without a word, he glared once more at Harry and turned away, his followers behind him.
"Thank you." The soft voice of the girl made him turn. "I normally wouldn't make such a big deal except my grandmother gave me this book, I suppose I should know better than to bring it to a park but it's so good and I'm right in the middle of reading it and—"
"No problem." Harry said, trying to get her to stop rambling. He turned to go back into the trees and resume his nap, but she followed.
"That was the first time anyone's stuck up for me." Her voice rose slightly. She looked poised to run at him and Harry hoped she wasn't going to hug him or anything embarrassing. He simply nodded at her and turned away again, yet she still followed him and actually sat down on his nest of pine needles.
"I'm Hermione Granger." She said, holding out her hand. Harry reluctantly took it and shook it once.
"Harry Potter." He replied, sitting down next to her. They were silent for a long moment. "Do you come here a lot?" he asked.
"Sometimes." She answered. "Usually only if I've finished my homework."
"Homework?" Harry asked, perplexed. "But term's just ended, why would you have homework?"
"Well I like to ask my teachers for extra reading assignments during the summer holiday." Hermione replied. "It gives me a head start for next term."
Harry blinked. He'd never heard of anyone who actually liked doing homework, much less doing homework over the holiday.
"I've just finished about half of it, and I can do the rest later this summer." Hermione said, she loved talking about reading it was her favourite thing to do.
"Oh." Harry couldn't think of anything else to say. He leaned back against the tree and closed his eyes again. After a moment he heard a crackling noise and looked to find Hermione digging in her pockets.
"Want a piece of candy?" she asked, holding one out to him. No one ever offered him candy.
"Sure." He said, sitting back up straight and accepting it. He unwrapped it and popped it into his mouth, and a warm spicy taste filled his mouth. He looked at her in surprise. "Pumpkin pie flavoured candy?" he asked. He'd never heard of such a thing, but then again, candy was mostly forbidden to him.
"Yes, my mum gets it from time to time." Hermione said, sticking a piece in her own mouth. It was hard candy; if they sucked on it it'd last for quite awhile.
"Thank you." Harry said. He leaned back again, unsure of what to say. She was being awfully nice to him, but he'd never had anyone take any sort of interest in him before and didn't know how to respond.
A few more awkward moments later, Hermione stood up. "Well…um…I suppose I should go."
"Okay…" Harry said. "See you later."
Hermione turned and strode off rather quickly, so he couldn't see the tears build up in her eyes. She had thought for a few minutes there, maybe, that this boy Harry could be her friend. Especially after she had given him the piece of candy, but then he'd gone back to lying down and not saying anything.
Harry watched her retreating figure, and felt bad. He realized he could have been nicer to her; she had even given him the candy. Getting up to go after her, he saw that she was now nowhere in sight. He supposed that tomorrow he'd try again; perhaps she could be his first friend.
*** The Next Day***
"Dudley give them back! Piers!!" Harry was desperate, Dudley's friend Piers had grabbed his glasses as soon as Harry had put their toys down and ran. His vision was so blurred he couldn't tell who was who. Now the two boys were playing a game of catch, Harry knew they hoped the glasses would break.
"Hahaha!!" Dudley was laughing so hard his body was shaking uncontrollably. He caught the glasses as Piers threw them over, and he slipped them on, the frames nearly cracking because they weren't wide enough for his face. "Look at me, I'm Harry Potter!" Piers flung himself on the ground, laughing. "Give me my glasses!" he said in a high-pitched tone of voice. He pushed them up higher on his nose and then SNAP!
"Oh no!" Harry knew perfectly well what that snap was, his glasses were now broken. He dropped to his hands and knees and began to feel around for them, the world was one big blur still.
"Hahaha!" Dudley was still laughing when CRACK! A large rock hit him in the middle of his wide forehead.
"Go away!" Hermione yelled, holding another rock back and letting it fly, this time hitting Piers. "You big fat bully! Go away and pick on someone else!" She let two more rocks hurl in the direction of Dudley and Piers, she had quite a good arm. The two boys got up (Dudley much slower than Piers) and lumbered away, turning to glare back at her with an anger that ran deeper than a seven year old should have.
"Are you okay?" Hermione asked, coming forward and picking up the two halves of the glasses. She handed them to Harry, who held them up to his eyes and was thankful the lenses hadn't broken.
"I think so." Harry muttered. He was embarrassed that he had been saved by a girl, but that feeling was replaced by one of gratitude almost immediately. He looked at her and smiled. "You have really good aim."
"Thanks." She replied, smiling back at him. "Here, let me go take those to my mum I think she's got some tape that will hold them together."
"Really?" Harry asked. He took them away from his eyes and handed them to her. "I'll stay here, I can't see anything."
"Okay." She hurried over to her mother and just a few minutes later, hurried back with the glasses held together in the bridge with a white cloth like tape. "Good as new, sort of." Hermione handed them to him and he fit them neatly back onto his nose.
"Thanks." Harry said again, and scuffed a little at the dirt. "Hey listen, do you want to go back to where we were sitting yesterday?"
"I thought that was your private place." Hermione said. "I didn't think you wanted me there."
"Well really…" Harry went red in the face as they began to walk towards the grove of trees. "I'm not used to people being nice to me."
"Why?" Hermione asked, a bit astonished.
"Well I live with my aunt and uncle, and Dudley's my cousin." Harry said. "My parents died in a car crash when I was a baby."
"I'm sorry." Hermione said quietly.
"It's okay." Harry said. "But I have this weird scar, see?" he lifted his bangs and showed her the lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead.
"That's interesting." She said. "Can I touch it?"
Harry dropped his hand. "What?"
"Can I touch it?" she repeated. He nodded after a moment and lifted his hair back up. She took her small index finger and touched it gently at first, unaware that his bright green eyes were boring into hers.
"It's a cool scar." Hermione said. She pulled her hand away and he once again let his bangs drop over his forehead.
"No book today?" Harry asked, changing the subject. His scar felt a bit tingly where she had touched it.
"No, I didn't want to take any chances of anyone taking it again." She replied. Another awkward silence fell between them as they sat down on the pine needles.
"I'm sorry about being so mean yesterday." Harry said finally.
"You weren't that mean, not as mean as Dudley." Hermione said.
"Well no, but I could have been nicer to you, especially after you gave me candy." Harry paused. "It's just that…I've never really had any friends before, so…"
"Really?" Hermione asked. "Me…either."
"Well how about we, you know, us, being friends?" Harry asked, almost timidly.
Hermione nodded. "Okay." She said. She stuck her hand out again and Harry this time, grasped it a little more firmly and shook it.
"Friends." He said, grinning at her.
"Friends." She repeated, smiling back.