Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter franchise or any of its characters. JKR and a few others have that privilege. I make no money from this fic, it is a labor of love and mental curiosity.
A/N- I feel I should explain where this fic came from. I read three different time travel fics in which Harry and Hermione went back in time from after the defeat of Voldemort in a row. They went back in time to return to their third, fourth, and fifth years respectively. Then I read robst's 'In this World and the Next' in which a married H/H went all the way back to first year. First, I LOVE that story. But the thing that caught me was how Harry said to Hermione that their introduction to the 'red menace' was planned on some level.
I found myself hung up on that passage, and the more I thought about it the more it made sense. Robst said it best- How did Molly, who attended for 7 years and had been sending 6 children (2 of whom had graduated already) forget the platform number? It doesn't change.
This story came from the thought that the Weasley introduction was a setup. This is NOT a time-travel story. The premise is that the Dursleys got him there very early and Hermione, being the perfectionist that she is, also arrived very early. Thus they meet and the glory of H/Hr begins.
Harry Potter looked around the platform. How was he supposed to get onto it? "I'm glad that Professor McGonagall told me what to do," he heard a female voice say.
He recognized that name. It was on his letter from Hogwarts. Harry turned his head to look at the girl that had spoken. She had bushy brown hair and warm brown eyes. He walked over to her, "Excuse me, are you going to Hogwarts?"
"Yes," she nodded, "you too?"
"Yeah but the thing is…the thing is…I don't know how to get onto the platform. And you mentioned Professor McGonagall but someone else came for me and he didn't tell me."
"Oh it's easy," she smiled at him. "I'm Hermione Granger, and these are my parents Doctors Dan and Emma Granger. They're dentists."
"I'm Harry Potter," he responded. "It's nice to meet you both," he nodded to her parents.
"Likewise Harry," Dan said, shaking his hand. "We can't go, but the professor said that you just walk through that barrier. We'll stay here until you both go through."
Hermione looked at it, "We should be able to go together. It's very early to go, yes, but Professor McGonagall said that it was better to go early."
"My relatives dropped me off," Harry said, his ears turning red.
"It's okay Harry. Come on, we can go through together," she smiled gently. Harry decided he liked this girl. She also came from the muggle world, and while she looked confident her eyes betrayed her nervousness.
They crossed through the barrier and stared, wide-eyed, at the train. "Wow," he breathed.
"That was cool," she smiled. She looked at him, "Harry, do you want to get a compartment together? It'd be nice to have someone to talk to."
Harry nodded, smiling at her. They realized they had their pick. They were the only ones there. Harry helped her get her trunk up and then she helped him. They sat down and Hermione smiled at him. "Your parents seem nice," he said. "Thanks for telling me how to get onto the platform. Hagrid didn't tell me."
"You're welcome. But why didn't you know?"
"Well my parents are dead and I live with my aunt and uncle and cousin. They're muggles."
Her eyes grew wide, "You're the Harry Potter, aren't you?"
Harry nodded, "Yeah but why does that matter?"
"Oh I got plenty of extra books so that I could try to understand the wizarding world," she got up and opened her trunk to pull out a couple of them, "This one is supposedly about you."
"What do you mean by 'supposedly'?" Harry asked, accepting the book from her and skimming the summary on the inside of the dust jacket.
"Well you're only 11 and if you've lived with muggles until now how could anyone claim to know your life story? Plus they don't mention abuse and I can clearly see you have been Harry." She smiled sadly at him, "If that upsets you I'm sorry."
Harry ran his hand through his hair, "No I guess it's easy to tell. I'm wearing my obese cousin's clothes. They only ever give me his hand-me-downs."
"Maybe we should talk to someone at the school. They could help you."
That was not a bad idea, in Harry's mind. "I guess we could try it. No one's ever believed me before. The Dursleys just tell people I'm violent."
She sat down next to him and squeezed his hand, "I was bullied in my primary school Harry. I understand what that's like."
Harry squeezed his hand, "Thanks. I got picked on at school too." Harry continued talking about his past. It felt good to get it out to a girl who had also been bullied, "I've always liked learning. I could never get good grades, though, because if I did better than Dudley I'd get punished."
"That's terrible! No one ever wanted to be my friend. I'd be picked on and if anyone was nice to me they'd be picked on too."
"Me too!" Harry couldn't help the smile. He had someone who else who understood being bullied and who was looking for a fresh start, free from those social constraints. Hermione smiled back at him and she showed him the book Hogwarts: A History, "Is this your favorite book?"
"So far, yes," she nodded, "I've read it twice." Harry looked at her in surprise, "My birthday is September 17th, so I got my letter last year. Professor McGonagall came and I was able to go to Diagon Alley. I didn't get my schoolbooks right away, but I got some other ones and my wand. Then in June I went and got my schoolbooks."
Harry and Hermione chatted happily together as they passed the time. Harry realized that the students would also be as enamored with him as the Leaky Cauldron crowd was. He looked at her, "Are we friends now? I've never had one before."
"I haven't either," she smiled, "I'd like to be friends." They shared a bashful smile and noticed that people were starting to come into the station. "I think real friends won't care about your scar or you being 'The-Boy-Who-Lived', Harry. I don't care about those things."
"Guess we should watch to see if other people feel the same," he said. "I'm glad I met you, Hermione."
"Me too," she squeezed his hand. "I feel much better about going to Hogwarts now. Hopefully we'll be in the same house."
"That would be cool," he nodded eagerly, "Let's read about them again." Harry was glad Hermione liked books. He did too, but no one had ever really noticed before. Or embraced that fact; in the Dursley household studying was a horrible word and reading was even worse unless it was the newspaper. The number of books they had could be counted on one hand. Hermione flipped to the chapter about the houses and leaned against him so that they could read it together. Harry slipped an arm around her to make it easier for her to rest against him and they sat together in companionable silence.
The train filled up quickly but their compartment door stayed closed. Harry and Hermione were fine with this. Hermione had other books as well and she and Harry went over them together. Harry learned a great deal thanks to Hermione's very apparent thirst for knowledge. They were just going over the Ministry of Magic when the door to their compartment opened and two tall redheaded boys appeared. "We heard Harry Potter is on the train. Is that you?"
Hermione tensed next to him. Harry appreciated her protectiveness. "Nope not me," he said, "now if you'll excuse us we're trying to have some privacy." He shut the compartment door and then turned back to her, "How could they even know I'm on the train? We haven't left the compartment once."
"It is suspicious. Maybe we can add that to the list of things to tell someone about?" Harry nodded. He liked this course of action.
When the food cart came by Harry was starving and bought a little of everything. He and Hermione shared a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Jelly Beans, then he became fascinated by the chocolate frogs. "We should probably change soon, don't you think?"
"How about I turn the other way, then you turn the other way?"
"That sounds okay," she smiled. Hermione changed first, then kept her head turned while Harry changed. When he finished he sat back down with her. While they were alone in the compartment, Harry still was sitting next to her. Neither minded in the least.
When they entered the castle with all the other first years Harry felt the stares. He didn't particularly like them, but he stayed close to Hermione. "Whichever house you get in I'll just ask to go into that one," he whispered into her ear.
She smiled at him, "I'd like that Harry," she whispered back. She took his hand and squeezed it in thanks. He squeezed back and Hermione felt her heart speed up again. Every time Harry was close to her she felt her heart rate increase. Well, he was really cute.
As Hermione put on the Sorting Hat Harry crossed his fingers for her. According to Hogwarts: A History you could influence the Sorting Hat in its decision. He just hoped that he could manage that feat. He really liked Hermione. She was his very first friend. And admittedly she was cute. "RAVENCLAW!" Harry clapped for her, smiling as she walked to the table. He noticed that she was clearly saving him a seat and he grinned.
Eventually they came to him, "Harry Potter."
Immediately as he walked up to the stool he heard the whispers, "Harry Potter? The Harry Potter? Really?" Why couldn't he just be Harry?
He sat down on the stool and put the hat over his head. He could hear the hat thinking to him, "Well you have an interesting mind here. What's this? Ravenclaw hmm? Ahh yes Miss Granger. You want to be in the same house as her. Well I can understand that. Not much of a childhood for you, sir. She's a good match for you; very sweet girl. Likes you a great deal. Don't worry I'll tell Professor Flitwick to talk to you. You can share your many concerns. Don't trust the Headmaster; his motives are his own and he cares not for your welfare. Miss Granger, though…I know she's eager to help you. Truly a lovely girl. Well then, better be," Harry could hear the last word being shouted into the hall, "RAVENCLAW!"
Harry noticed indignation from the red-headed twins at the Gryffindor table. There was applause from the Ravenclaw table, but it was not louder than any other student had received. All Harry cared about was getting to Hermione, who was smiling at him. When he sat down she took his hand and squeezed it.
"Hey," he smiled.
"Hey," she said back. "I'm glad you could make it."
"Me too," he squeezed her hand and settled next to her. "I'm starved. Feels like all those sweets were hours ago."
"Well some of them were," she teased him. Harry grinned in response.
Minerva McGonagall had been quite stunned to see Harry Potter go into Ravenclaw instead of Gryffindor, "What do you think, Albus?"
"He should have been a Gryffindor. Perhaps the hat made a mistake. I thought for sure the knowledge that the Weasleys were in Gryffindor would have him joining them. He didn't even acknowledge young Ronald even though they spent the train ride together." Albus made a note to ask Molly Weasley if their plan had failed. He didn't see how that was possible, though. Potter should be desperate for a friend and young Ronald could fill that need.
One look at Harry Potter and Snape was sneering at the headmaster. Flitwick, though delighted to have the boy in his house, was not pleased. "The boy is malnourished Filius," Snape snarled, "I'd bet he's being abused. We should stop them when they leave."
"My office," he whispered, "Pomona will join us and you get some potions to help him. I won't let him hurt that boy anymore. I will contact the goblin nation if that's what it takes." Snape nodded in understanding. The goblins would have far more pull than anyone else.
After the feast they were following behind their year when Flitwick stopped them, "Mr. Potter, Miss Granger. I understand you need to speak with me. This way please, children," he led them to his office and indicated for them to sit down. "Can I interest you in some hot cocoa?"
They nodded and he had some brought up before hearing a knock on the door. He smiled and let two other people enter. "I'm Pomona Sprout. Head of Hufflepuff and Herbology professor," the woman said to the children.
"I'm Severus Snape, head of Slytherin and Potions professor," the black haired man looked them over before sitting in a chair.
"Now, how can we help you?"
Hermione looked at Harry, who nodded that she could tell them. "Harry's being abused by those mean relatives of his."
Severus Snape walked around the desk and knelt next to him, "If you look into my eyes, son, I can enter your mind and see what has happened to you. Just think about those memories and I will find them."
Harry nodded and looked into Snape's eyes, thinking about the punishments and beatings. When the other man pulled out he snarled, "When I get my hands on those filthy muggles…"
Pomona didn't want to ask the question but had to, "Is it that bad, Severus?"
"Murder wouldn't do them justice," he growled.
Filius sighed sadly, "We all said he shouldn't be placed there. His refusal to listen means my colleagues at Gringotts will be forced to act."
Harry was used to being talked about like he wasn't there, but Hermione clearly wasn't, "What do you mean?"
Snape explained, "The Headmaster has his own goals with Harry. I wish I'd never told him the dark lord was targeting your parents in the first place," he growled. "I thought it would save lives, not lead to a malnourished, abused boy sitting in front of me."
"It's hardly your fault, Severus," Pomona said, "just tell us how bad it was."
"They were starving him," Snape looked somewhere between sick and murderous. "I have potions we can use to negate the effects of malnutrition and being locked in a cupboard for eleven years. I brought them with me. We can't leave them in your dorm, but if you stay after each of our three classes you'd be able to take a vial of it. It will enable your body to play catch up, and remove the signs of abuse."
"You will not be returning to the Dursleys," Filius said. "Gringotts will see to that. I will contact Stoneslay and he will help us."
Harry brightened at the thought of no more Dursleys. "I could also use some real muggle clothes, sir. Everything I have was my fat cousin's."
Filius and Severus both nodded at this, "We can arrange something through Gringotts."
"What about my parents?" Hermione asked. "They're muggles and they know about fashion. They could buy Harry some clothes and send them to me."
"At the very least a goblin could arrive at the Grangers and take the clothes, as well as pay for them. They could then get them to you Filius," Pomona said.
"I like that idea," Severus nodded. "That way Harry here has a proper wardrobe and the goblins can exchange money to cover any of the Grangers' expenses."
Harry liked this. No more Dursleys, new clothes, and a friend. Hogwarts was rapidly improving his life. Filius noticed the boy looked like he had something else to say, "What is it, Harry?"
The two children looked at one another before Harry spoke, "Well I don't know if it matters but it was weird. And not magic-weird. I got onto the platform with Hermione early this morning. We were the only two there. So we entered a compartment and sat and talked; she even showed me her books about the wizarding world and we learned about it together. Even read Hogwarts: A History together. When the train took off we were the only ones in the compartment. No one ever came by our compartment so the door stayed closed; then after awhile our door suddenly opens and the redheaded twins entered and asked if I was Harry Potter because they'd heard that I was on the train. I said I wasn't. But how could they have heard that? We never left our compartment, not even to change into our robes."
"The Weasley twins," Snape sighed. "Your age is not exactly a secret, Harry."
Hermione read between the lines, "So you think they wanted to just get close to Harry because his name is Harry Potter?"
"They won't be the last," Pomona shook her head. "The Weasleys are a poor family; more children than they can really afford. I'm sure they see Harry as a pot of money. They're also allies of the headmaster."
Instinctively Hermione squeezed Harry's hand. He smiled, "Well I've already got a great friend."
"Don't limit your socialization to one another, but at the same time make your own choices," Filius smiled at them, "We all knew your mother and father, Harry. If you ever wish to learn about them just ask. Severus knew your mother when he was young and she was one of the best students I ever taught."
"What house were they in?"
"Gryffindor," Pomona answered, "but none in this room trust Minerva or Albus. They are both stubborn and Minerva will agree to whatever Albus says."
Snape nodded, "Never look him in the eye. He's even better at reading minds than I am. This summer I will teach you both, if you want it, Occlumency. But more on that later. Our doors will always be open to you two."
Filius nodded and saw their tired eyes, "Now it's getting late and you two need your rest. Come I'll take you up to the dorms. Each Ravenclaw student gets their own bedroom, which I think you'll both enjoy."
At first Harry and Hermione struggled to find their classes; the moving staircases made things very difficult sometimes. But they both enjoyed them, and they worked on their homework together. It was their first potions class that proved to be confusing. Professor Snape was mean, even vicious to them. They stayed after class. "Sir? Why are you being so cold to us? You've been really nice helping me with those potions and that picture of my mum."
Snape warded the classroom and sat down on his desk, "Voldemort still has many supporters, and many are certain he will return. I once fell for the Dark Lord's charms," he raised his sleeve to show them the Dark Mark, "I corrected my mistake though, and became a spy for the Light. The Death Eaters that escaped punishment, which were many, believe I was a spy for Voldemort on Dumbledore. I intend to keep up that charade. There is no out for being a Death Eater; once you take the mark you are his."
Hermione's intelligence rapidly worked out what he was saying. She'd read a book about the Dark Lord as well. "So you have to treat Harry with disdain because he vanquished Voldemort and me because I'm a muggleborn."
"Correct, Miss Granger. Ten points to Ravenclaw."
Harry processed this. "So the pureblood wizards are arrogant bullies?"
"Not all of them. Mr. Boot certainly doesn't qualify for that title and he is a pureblood wizard."
"We have to make our own decisions and observations Harry. Obviously Malfoy is a bully, but Terry is nice. That Weasley boy, Ron, he's rather obtuse and clearly jealous of you." She looked at Severus, "All the Weasleys keep trying to get close to Harry. Ron sneers at him all the time when he sees us together but when we're not he tries to suck up to Harry."
"Yes well that's to be expected. Be glad you have a true friend in each other. Oh, Filius wanted me to give you this. We contacted a good friend of your parents, Harry, and he sent us this." Severus Snape handed Harry a white album. Harry opened it to see it was his parents' wedding album. "Look in the back, Harry."
He flipped it to the back to see his mother standing there, visibly pregnant. Then he saw pictures of a newborn Harry, his mother holding him close to her chest as she looked at him with adoring eyes, "This is great." Harry thanked the older man before he and Hermione left to get to their next class.