Before I begin, I'll give a big thanks to everyone who followed/favourited this story, and an even bigger thanks to those who reviewed.
-A few professors may notice.
-You'll see for the house. It's not exactly surprising though.
-Do rune clusters require a wand?
Also, please don't expect regular updates. I don't have a schedule; if I have something worth posting, I'll post it – whether that's a month or a day after the last chapter.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, or any of the concepts found within.
1) A Journey and a Few Wild Encounters – All We Need Now is a Gym (or 8)
A train was moving through the English countryside at a relaxed pace. On the front, it read 'Hogwarts Express', and was coloured red and gold, showing the clear bias of the current headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry towards his old house at said school: Gryffindor. Coincidentally, this headmaster was Albus Dumbledore, a man cited by many to be the greatest wizard of the modern age. Many loved him; some hated him. Very few people saw the truth of him: that he's a good man, but just a man like any other, capable of making mistakes – and his mistakes often had greater impact than others' because of the entirely-too-large amount of power he had (both political and magical).
One of such few people was our focal point for this story; a boy like no other; a boy excellent at seeing the truth of things. A boy called Harry Potter. Also referred to (by himself, of course) as the boy-who-apparently-no-one-knew-existed, or, alternatively, the brother-of-the-boy-who-lived.
Damn, Harry hated hyphens. They were the bane of his existence.
Well, not really. That honour would go to his brother, Anthony Potter. Alternatively known as the boy-who-lived by the media and masses, or simply 'the peacock' or 'the boy-who-has-a-hyphenated-nickname' by Harry and his friends. So basically just Harry.
Damn, Harry hated his brother. He was the bane of his existence. In Harry's opinion, Anthony was quite simply an arrogant prick with more fame than he could ever deserve – and more influence than any 11 year old should ever really have. Harry's dislike of his brother was made even worse by the fact that Harry was a prodigy of magic (as far as he knew, anyway – no-one had ever seen him practising), and Anthony was a scrub, yet the latter of the two was the one who had everything. It was infuriating.
Harry looked out of the window of his compartment, and saw many children and teenagers excitedly making their way around the platform, discussing their holidays with friends or trying to catch a glimpse of the famous boy-who-didn't-die.
Harry really didn't think this was difficult, or that in should be such a drawn-out task. He wouldn't be surprised if his brother was a peacock animagus – it would suit him well, what with the pretty face, the showing off and the overall uselessness. This idle thought led Harry onto considering becoming an animagus this year. If someone like his father could do it in fifth year, then surely he could easily do it now? The decision would, however, be a moot point if he couldn't find somewhere to practise his skills away from prying eyes. He quickly added that to the top of his mental to-do list.
Harry sat alone in his compartment for quite a while, lost in thought. Pretty soon, everybody was on the train and it started moving. A harsh glare caused most people who opened the door to turn away immediately, but one blonde boy with what seemed like an entire bottle of hair gel dumped on his head seemed unaffected when he opened the door of the compartment, flanked by what appeared to be two boy-gorillas.
"I'm looking for the boy-who-lived, is it you? My name's Draco Malfoy, by the way," said the boy, in a tone that belied his superiority complex. As soon as he heard the name, Harry smirked. "Think my name's funny, do you? You must be a mudblood!"
"Yeah, I do. And no, I'm not, monsieur dragon of bad faith," deadpanned Harry, still with that insufferable smirk on his face. "If you're looking for a boy-who-lived then you've found one. I also don't understand why you're looking – clearly the three of you are still alive?" Draco looked at Harry with a befuddled expression on his face.
Harry slapped his palm to his face, and then shut the door in Malfoy's face before locking It with a quick, wandless colloportus spell. Malfoy banged on the door for a couple of seconds before getting bored and wandering off.
Harry sat down and sighed. This was going to be a long day.
Much later, another knock was heard on Harry's door. He lazily waved his hand in the general direction of the door from the position he sat reading, and the door clicked. A sandy-haired boy who looked to be around his age came in.
"Are you Harry Potter?" the boy asked with a distinctly Irish accent. Harry's right eyebrow raised. The boy evidently took this as confirmation, as he continued: "I've got a message from your brother." Harry's right eyebrow fell.
"Well hurry it up then, I am actually busy unlike you," replied Harry, gesturing with his right hand to the book he still held in his left hand. The boy glowered.
"What was that supposed to mean!?"
"Well, you're acting as my brother's errand boy. What kind of person becomes an errand boy for an 11 year old if they have better things to do? As far as I'm concerned, anything else to do would be a better thing to do."
"Are you insulting the boy-who-lived!?"
"Not really, just pointing out that he's a boy. Please can we get to the point now?"
"I came..." started the boy.
"What!?" Harry interrupted, acting startled. This boy seemed like one of his brother's sycophants, so he thought he'd mess with him for a bit.
"...To this compartment..." The boy soldiered on, oblivious.
"Oh." Harry responded, keeping up the act just in case the boy realised.
"...To give you a message." Nope, it seemed that the boy was actually stupid. "Your brother says to stay out of his way."
"What, do I 'cramp his style' or something? Can he not be seen with someone smart, lest people actually start believing that he might have a hint of intelligence?" Harry was highly amused; someone he considered an ant under his shoe didn't want to be seen with him. The Irish fanboy was visibly angered.
"Don't talk about my friend that way! He's probably way smarter than you anyway!"
"What evidence do you have to base that statement off of? I live with him and so can tell you the only thing above average about him is his irksomeness. I'm sitting here, reading a book on advanced magical theory," at this, Harry held up his book (which was entitled Magic: The Secret Science), "whilst Anthony is no doubt sitting on his arse being pandered to by hordes of fangirls – and evidently fanboys. Now you tell me: who seems more intelligent?"
"He killed You Know Who, what did you do?"
"He killed who, sorry?" This was Harry's favourite joke. His hate for hyphens extended to ambiguous nicknames in general, so an opportunity to rip into one was always welcome.
"You Know Who. He-who-must-not-be-named."
"What, is his name 'Avada Kedavra' or something?"
"No, the Dark Lord!"
"Well, that would be an appropriate name for a dark lord...oh, do you refer to the one who calls himself 'Lord Flight From Death'? 'Cause I don't see any evidence that he's dead, or that my brother did that."
The boy looked at him blankly. Very blankly. "Aww, come on – does no British wizard but me or that Crouch guy speak another language other than English? Voldemort." The boy shrieked, and quivered in fear. "It's just a name. He's not gonna pop out from behind you and abduct you, before forcing you to have his kids with a spell he invented for the purposes of some weird slash fanfiction!"
The boy stared at Harry as though he was insane.
"What?" Harry asked irritably. The boy held out his hands and backed away slowly. As soon as he was out of the compartment, he quickly shut the door and bolted away. "Well, that was effective. Impromptu experiment 'Intimidation Via Insanity' was a resounding success!" Harry noted aloud. He suddenly realised that he forgot to ask for the boy's name. How impolite. 'Ah, well,' he thought, 'I'll find out at the sorting ceremony anyway.'
The sorting ceremony. That was a good topic. He'd searched through all of the books pertaining to Hogwarts that he could find, with no mention of the sorting ceremony being found beyond that of it's existence. He knew that it wouldn't be any kind of test of magical ability – after all, Dumbledore was a fan of positive discrimination towards muggle-borns, not negative – but that didn't stop him hoping for some sort magical aptitude test in which he could publicly one-up his brother.
The thought of it possibly being a free choice passed through his mind for a moment, before he realised that then there'd be no need whatsoever for secrecy or a ceremony. If he had free choice, Harry thought that he'd probably go for Hufflepuff – after all, no-one suspected the badgers of doing anything. Except spreading TB. But most wizards have probably never heard of that.
On the subject of houses, Harry personally thought that the entire concept of the Slytherin house was ridiculous. It was just another way of controlling the masses: anyone likely to be capable of committing acts that are (as decided by authority) of questionable morality are immediately grouped publicly so that if any such act is committed, they're the prime suspects for the sole reason that they exist. Well, he supposed it wasn't necessarily ridiculous, but the whole thing left a bad taste in his mouth. Like beer.
Firewhiskey is much better.
Eventually, the train slowed to a stop. And Harry's train of thought stopped flowing off in completely random directions, creating completely convoluted thought patterns. Not really – as if that would ever happen. But the train did stop.
Harry stepped out of his compartment, his now-shrunken book in his pocket. He winced immediately – there were so many children!
Damn, Harry hated crowds. And children. Even worse were crowds of children; it was just his luck that he currently found himself in one. Or, alternatively, it could be that he was going to a school. Some people, of course, would object to Harry not including himself in this group labelled 'children'. Harry, of course, would object to such objections.
And now he had a headache. Great. Just great. He quickly clapped his hands to his ears in a futile attempt to block any more noise from reaching his sensitive eardrums. Why did he subject himself to the tender mercies of the young, again?
Oh yeah, the library. He heard the food was pretty good, too.
Harry watched as all of the other first years followed an obscenely large man, like some deformed pied piper of hamelin that had an accident with HGH. It was probably Rubeus Hagrid, from what he'd overheard his parents telling his brother. He seemed like a nice guy, at least.
Nice guys don't last. Not in this world.
Idle, fleeting thoughts aside, Harry decided he might as well go with the crowd on this one. Conformity was good for some things. SOME things.
The sight of the castle prompted quite a reaction from the crowd. Most of them, anyway. Harry – as usual – couldn't care less; he could also see his brother (surrounded by a group of admirers, of course – amusingly enough, most of them male) looking at his fingernails boredly, and Draco Malfoy appeared fairly unimpressed.
Eventually they reached a lake – he heard an annoying girl whisper that it was called the black lake, but he really didn't care. He couldn't see a reason for the name anyway – the lake was clearly blue, like all large bodies of water. Mind you, he really didn't see where the red sea or the dead sea got their names either.
"No more'n four to a boat!" called Hagrid. Harry scoffed, prompting stares from people nearby. As if they wouldn't have reinforced them with magic. There were scions to some families that Dumbledore really didn't want pissed off at him amongst the first years, after all.
Harry got into a boat on his own. No-one followed him in, at first. However, a few minutes later, a small, cute Chinese girl stepped up to his boat.
"Excuse me, do you mind if I sit with you?" she asked shyly. In fact, Harry didn't mind. This was someone who he hadn't seen expressing over-the-top adulation for his brother (which was a big plus in Harry's mind for any impressionable young girl growing up with stories about the boy-who-lived), and didn't seem particularly boisterous. In fact, she seemed rather quiet and withdrawn. Like him. That was good.
Maybe he'd make a few friends here after all. If she went to the same house as him, at least – segregation was rampant among magical society, after all. Especially in Hogwarts. Why they thought that grouping children in with other children who have similar personality traits – and only children with those personality traits – whilst simultaneously discouraging involvement with children from other houses was a good idea, he didn't know. Sure, that promoted the growth of that particular trait – but the problem was that it also stagnated the growth of all of the other traits. That's probably why every adult witch or wizard he'd met was so mentally unbalanced.
Harry realised that he'd rudely ignored the girl for close to 30 seconds, and promptly apologised.
"Sorry, I zoned out for a minute there. That happens a lot. To answer your question: not at all, although may I ask for your name, please?" he smoothly said. The girl seemed taken aback slightly by his sudden change in demeanour.
"Su Li; what about you?" she responded, as she stepped into the boat. With a shout from Hagrid, the boats started moving. Mysteriously, it appeared that no-one else was going to get in a boat with them. Maybe people thought he looked intimidating. No? A boy can dream, can't he?
"I'm Harry Potter," he stated, plainly. Her eyes widened slightly.
"That must be fun," she dryly stated. The clear irony caused Harry to become the one who was taken aback, and his eyebrows rose. He liked this girl.
"His most annoying fans are our parents." Su winced.
"I feel sorry for you."
"Don't; I'm used to it. It's better this way; I'm a better person for it." Her eyebrows rose.
"I guess so," she said timidly, "we wouldn't want another Anthony Potter." Harry laughed uproariously. He really, really liked this girl.
They both fell quiet, simply enjoying each other's companionship for the rest of the short journey. This continued as they all disembarked and Harry and Su joined the back of the crowd, following Hagrid up to the large, wooden doors upon which he knocked loudly.
The door swung open, revealing a tall, dark-haired, strict-looking witch in emerald green robes. Her lips were pursed as she gazed over the crowd of new students, although their corners edged upwards slightly to form the ghost of a smile as her eyes passed over his brother, and surprisingly, him.
This must be the strict but fair Professor McGonagall, cited by his father (to Anthony, of course) as the person he and his gang of misfits tried to annoy most back when they were in school. He'd thought that she'd favour Anthony over him, but now he wasn't so sure.
Meh. Anthony was a shoe-in for Gryffindor anyway, and him joining his brother being something that he personally planned to avoid at any cost would probably cause McGonagall to favour the famed twin anyway.
"I'll take them from here."
Anyone who reviews and guesses any of the references I intentionally made (as I may have made a few about which I have no idea) in this chapter wins an honourable mention in the next.
You may have noticed that there are a few direct quotes from Philosopher's Stone – I'm lazy, so what?
Point out any mistakes and I'll promptly correct them.
Also, feel free to flame.