Chapter One: King's Crossing

Harry was quite convinced his stomach was going to evacuate itself through his mouth. Vernon and Petunia Dursley, punctual and loving guardians they were, had just dropped the now eleven-year-old Harry Potter off at Kings Cross Station at precisely nine in the morning, and told him in no uncertain terms, that he is to never return to their home.

So now here Harry stands, having just watched their car depart, and thinks about what on Earth he is supposed to do. Harry is aware that his concern now should be finding the mythical platform Nine and Three Quarters, but this is the start of a new opportunity for him.

Having learned he was a wizard on his eleventh birthday had been quite a shock, after all the man who had told him that was shocking enough in his appearance as it is. Harry had used to believe that Vernon Dursley was about as big as a man could be, given that he was roughly 2 meters tall and nearly one hundred ninety kilograms but the giant of a man who had introduced himself as Rubeus Hagrid made even Vernon seem small.

Hagrid had been quite unlike Vernon in every other way though, where Vernon was very mean, and liked to bully those around him, Hagrid seemed to be almost too gentle. Hagrid even with his low gruff voice seemed to speak in such a soft and caring way to Harry, that it wasn't very hard for him to accept his offer to come with him and discover the world of the wizards anyway.

That had been an experience in and of itself, the trip that Hagrid had taken Harry on to what was supposedly called Diagon Alley had been very interesting. Their first stop was at a bank run by goblins of all things, which were mildly different from the green creatures he overheard some of his classmates slaying in video games. They had been short in stature, and had large ears and pointed noses, but otherwise seemed just like anyone else, if perhaps a little untrusting. That had just been a small handful of goblins that he had met, perhaps others were more welcoming. From there, Harry had done some shopping with Hagrid for his necessary school supplies. Hagrid's suggestion of getting a cauldron first to carry his other supplies in had been a very good idea, but had worn him out quickly, being unused to carrying such heavy loads. Hagrid had even purchased him what he believed was his first ever birthday present a beautiful snowy owl named Hedwig who was currently sitting in her cage staring at her new owner as he dumbfoundedly thinks of the events of the past month and a half. Her gentle hoot reminds Harry of where, and when he is, and he shakes his head and looks around.

In front of him is Kings Cross Station, one of the busiest train stations in London, although thankfully it was early on Sunday morning, so the crowds were thinner than they would normally be. Harry is exceedingly glad for that, large crowds had always been very uncomfortable for him; the many sights and sounds and smells that flooded through crowds had a tendency to overwhelm him, which is why Harry tended to spend his free time in as isolated as spots as he could manage. Mustering up what courage he had and knowing that even if he had any desire to return to living with his adopted family the Dursleys he was entirely unable to, Harry pushed himself into the station, and began to look for his platform.

Harry had never been on a train platform like this and was immediately becoming overwhelmed by the various stimuli that flooded through the air in the station. From the smells of the food and the people, to the sounds of luggage, conversations and trains echoing through the stone and brickworks of the station. Harry re-centers himself by grabbing onto his luggage cart and tapping his fingers one at a time on the handle, trying to drown out every sensation from that one. Re-centered, Harry looks around once more and finds a station worker. Harry asks him where the location of this platform nine and three quarters is, and the worker laughs off Harry's supposed joke.

"I don't know anything about a nine and three quarters kid, but platform nine and ten are down that way." The officer says, pointing down deeper into the depths of the station. Harry thanks the worker and begins moving himself in that direction. The Dursleys would have staunchly prevented Harry from ever speaking to someone, so asking for directions was the first in what Harry hopes will be many acts of rebellion against his tormentors now that he is no longer under their thumb.

Making his way to the midpoint between platforms nine and ten Harry sets himself down on a nearby bench and begins to scan the crowd. Hagrid had tried his best to be informative whenever Harry asked him any questions during their brief time together, but Hagrid's apparent lack of understanding of what a non-magical person would need to know about entering Hogwarts, and Harry's lack of knowledge of what questions to properly ask had led to a bit of an impasse. Harry is aware that he is to go to platform nine and three quarters at Kings Cross Station, to board the train to head to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to learn how to become a wizard, like his mother and father supposedly did when they were his age. His problem is that Hagrid had neglected to mention how to get to said platform.

Harry was however a reasonably clever and intelligent young man, or so he thought at least. Given that Hagrid had said that ALL Hogwarts students had to board this train at this station to get to school, that meant that he was likely to see at least one other person trying to find the platforms themselves. He hoped that they might have received some better instruction or have had family who had gone through this before.

Harry then began to think about what would give away a similar prospective student from the general riff-raff whose footfalls flooded the floor of the station. He himself had a large trunk, but anyone could be carrying one of those for any reason. The cauldron that took up a non-insignificant amount of space on his cart though, that would be something relatively unique. While there could perhaps be several reasons to own such a cauldron, someone his age owning one and being at this station at this time, likely implied they needed it for the same reason.

Harry scans the crowd for the next twenty minutes before he sees someone with a cauldron like his own, although he is taken by surprise initially to see that it isn't a child his age pushing the cart, but a man in his mid-thirties. Harry perhaps until recently would have called him tall, but upon meeting Hagrid, that word has taken on a new meaning, so instead he's simply taller than average. His hair is light brown and wavy, and he is wearing what appears to be a comfortable t-shirt with a picture of a skull on it, with one side being red, one side being blue, and a lightning bolt down the center. Next to him is a pretty woman of similar age, who has very bushy brown hair, although it is quite a bit darker than her compatriots. Standing with them however is a young girl around his age, who Harry presumes is their daughter, as well as the actual owner of the cauldron. She has the same bushy hair as her presumed mother, although in the lighter color of her father, and is wearing a t-shirt and jeans. She seems to be holding a very in-depth conversation with her parents about something and doesn't seem to notice Harry watching on.

Harry seizes this opportunity and tries to subtly follow them in hopes that they know how to properly board the platform. This plan immediately fails however when Hedwig lets out a loud hoot, and the girl's attention is turned towards the owl.

"Oh! Such a pretty owl!" The girl says, making her way over to Harry. "What's their name?" She asks, eyes sparkling with curiosity.

"H-her name is Hedwig, she was a birthday present," Harry says, stumbling over his words slightly.

"Oh! Well hello Hedwig, you are a very pretty girl. Oh, and where are my manners? Hi! I'm Hermione Granger, what's your name?" The girl, now identified as Hermione, says, holding out her hand for a handshake.

"Oh, I'm Harry, Harry Potter." Harry says, trying his best to shake her hand. Her eyes widened when he said his full name, as though she recognized it, although how she would Harry was unsure.

"It's nice to meet you, Harry. I guess you're going to Hogwarts too?" She says, pointing to the cauldron on his cart. Seems she had the same idea about scouting out other students.

"Yeah, I'm a bit nervous honestly. This is all so new," Harry says, feeling vulnerable. All the effort he'd been making over the past hour to be confident seems to have drained Harry more than he realized, as soon as there was an outlet for this nervousness, it seems it escaped from him like air in a balloon.

"Oh, me too. My parents aren't magical, so we had no idea I was until my letter came. Then Professor McGonagall came and told us that I was a witch and took me to Diagon Alley to get my school supplies. She answered all sorts of questions for me, and even told me about some other books I should get beyond the required readings. I've really liked Hogwarts: A History, which talks about the school and everything about it," Hermione tears off speaking incredibly quickly. Thankfully Harry doesn't have much trouble keeping up, but begins to suspect that this might be her coping mechanism for her worries. Maybe if they stick together they'll both be less nervous.

"Hermione! Slow down! You're going to overload the kid!" The man says, smiling brightly at his daughter. "At least introduce him to us before his head explodes."

"Oh, sorry. I'm just so excited, Mom, Dad, this is Harry. Harry these are my parents David and Rose Granger," Hermione says, blushing a deep red before motioning to the two adults.

"Pleasure to meet you both," Harry says, trying his best to put on a normal smile. His nerves were really starting to get to him, and while Hermione's brief information dump had been a welcome reprieve from his anxieties about the situation, it was not enough for him to truly relax.

"If you don't mind me asking, where are your parents? Surely they'd want to see you off." David asks, looking around.

"Well, my aunt and uncle brought me here, but they're honestly just excited that I'm leaving," Harry says honestly, slumping down. His excitement at leaving the Dursleys had hidden one terrifying reality from his mind. If he didn't have them to go back to once the school year was over… where would he go?

"Well, that's not good at all! I'd give them a piece of my mind if they were here." David says. "Regardless, I believe you two need to get to your platform. Now… how do we get there again?"

Hermione perks up at what Harry figures is an obvious ploy to get her to explain something. "Oh! We have to get to Platform Nine and Three Quarters, to do that we need to walk through that pillar there. It's been charmed so that only magical people can make their way through, so I'll be alone from this point on. Well, I guess I'll have Harry with me until we get ON the train, but that's not quite the same," Hermione says, losing her momentum, and a good deal of her excitement once she realizes her parents can't come through.
Rose wraps her daughter in a hug and says: "I know we can't go any further, and maybe that's just what you need right now. Your father and I love you very much, and we know you're going to do great. This is going to be your first steps as your own woman, and your father and I are so absolutely proud of you. Now, you're going to go to this big fancy wizard school and puff your chest out and say 'I'm Hermione Granger! I'm the Best!' Can you do that for me honey?"

"Yeah, yeah I can Mom." Hermione says into her mothers chest. Harry takes a moment to ground himself after seeing this, an unfamiliar tightness in his chest appearing seeing the exchange.

"Now then, you and Harry here need to get to the train. It wouldn't do for you both to show up two hours early and not get the best seats! Harry, would you be a dear and stay with Hermione for the trip? I imagine you'll both feel better if you have a friend to ease your worries." Rose says, releasing her daughter from her grasp.

"I'd be happy to Mrs. Granger; wouldn't have even found the platform without Hermione here anyway, it's the least I can do." Harry says, excited that he has possibly made his first ever friend.

"Alright! Davie! Line up Hermione's cart for her. We'll have her go first, and then Harry." Rose says, looking at her husband.

"One thing first!" David says, before picking up Hermione into a bear hug, and swinging her in a circle. Hermione let out a squeak of surprise, embarrassment or excitement, Harry is unsure which. "You're going to do great my little Queen of Sicily, now go on before I decide you're too young to leave me and your mother."

"I'll try to write as often as I can! Maybe I'll find a wizarding family who lives close by, and we can have them pick up an owl for you so you can write to me too!" Hermione says, eyes starting to fill up with tears.

"I'll hold you to that, now off! You've got a big day ahead of you! We expect a letter by Friday at the latest!" David says, before giving her a quick push and sending her through the pillar.

Harry feels a small smile creep to his face, as he waves goodbye to the Grangers and makes his own way through the pillar.

From there he sees a most glorious sight: a bright red steam locomotive with the words "Hogwarts Express" written in gold letters on the side of the engine. A few other students with carts are seen milling about and Harry is pleased to see that he doesn't stand out quite as much as he feared he would, as many faces seemed in awe of the train, and also portrayed the same nervous excitement that Harry felt to his very core.

Harry however took this moment to internalize something that Rose has said to Hermione, and under his breath he whispers: "Hello wizarding world, I'm Harry Potter, and I'm the best."

AN: Hello! Thank you for reading the first chapter Harry Potter and the Sphinx Club, this story is heavily inspired by fantasy1290's The Study Group, as well as too many other fanfics to properly list. As of writing this author's note, the first five chapters of the story are written, and should be published once a week for your reading pleasure. Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions in the reviews, I read every single one! See you next week for Chapter 2: Railcar Run-Ins