Disclaimer - When carrying out DIY, it isn't always about saving money. To me, being able to stand back and say 'I did that' is equally as important. That is why the first person to click on my latest chapter is also the first person, other than me, to read it. I realise this might not be everyone's cup of tea and can only suggest they get the professionals in. I can heartily recommend J K Rowling's early works, she really makes the character of Harry Potter her own. ( Her Dumbledore confuses the hell out of me though! )
Hermione Granger was different, she'd always known that. It would be hard not to when the children that you attended school with went out of their way to point this fact out to you every single day. Having really bushy hair and rather large front teeth were obvious targets for her main antagonists, being top of every class didn't help the situation any either. Her continual lack of friendship had led Hermione to seek her escape in the printed word, always having a book in her hand though was just more ammunition for the various groups of Hermione haters. She may have heard variations of the terms buck-toothed bushy-haired bookworm hundreds of times, that didn't mean those words didn't hurt on each and every one of those occasions.
Then, almost a year ago, an event happened that explained why she was different - Hermione Granger was a witch! While her mum and dad had taken some convincing of this fact, the instant Professor McGonagall had spoken those special words Hermione had known deep within herself this was indeed true. The preceeding months had been some of the best of her young life. Schoolyard taunts no longer had the power to hurt, she was different and would be leaving for a special school where things would be so, so different.
Hermione Granger was done with being an outsider, she was going to a place where everyone would be the same as her - a place where she could finally have friends. This had been her shield and armour against the taunts and jibes that had viciously escalated as the bullies attempted to get a reaction from their favourite target. It was perhaps somewhat understandable then that the young witch was near to tears since those dreams were beginning to appear to be mere fantasy, and she wasn't even on the bloody train yet.
The day had started so well too, up at the crack of dawn so she could be fully prepared for her new adventure. A breakfast where she never seemed to stop talking was followed by the car ride to Kings Cross - bright and early of course. Saying goodby to her parents at the barrier had been hard, but a new life awaited her and she was quite prepared to run through a brick wall to get there. Hermione did just that, and then things started going downhill.
On her first sight of platform nine and three quarters, it wasn't the bright red Hogwarts Express that caught the young witch's attention. It was the group of four witches already in their green-trimmed Hogwarts robes that drew Hermione like a moth to a flame. Unfortunately, just like said moth, she got burned. Deciding to introduce herself, Hermione was met with looks of disgust and derision - it wasn't supposed to be this way. Confidence severely dented, she then discovered another problem.
Her trunk, loaded of course with extra books, that her dad had easily lifted onto the trolley was proving impossible for Hermione to physically place on the train. As she struggled with the trunk, sniggering laughter almost had her in tears.
A kind voice cut through her frustration and mounting despair. "Can I help you Miss?"
Hermione raised her head and had trouble believing the person standing there could possibly exist, far less be speaking to her. If Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet ever had a son, he was standing right in front of Hermione Granger and offering his assistance. The boy was even dressed as if he'd just stepped out of the pages of Pride and Prejudice, Hermione's favourite book.
His black frock coat had silk lapels, it also had to be wide at the shoulders to accommodate the body it clothed. Being fitted to accentuate a slim waist was also an effect that the young witch appreciated. The grey waistcoat just visible under the coat matched his trousers, with button up black boots being a nice touch. The ascot knotted cravat, with a diamond cravat pin being a fitting finish to this very nice ensemble. His jet- black wavy hair hung down to his shoulders and framed what Hermione would consider a kind face, but those wonderfully expressive almond shaped green eyes melted her heart. If it wouldn't be considered blasphemy, Hermione reckoned this boy was too gorgeous even for Jane Austen to do justice.
She must have muttered some kind of answer to his question because he smiled and lifted her trunk clean into the compartment. With that smile, Hermione knew she was gone. Her mother had sat Hermione down for a talk about boys before she headed off to Hogwarts, the young witch had foolishly thought most of it would never apply to her. Hermione had never understood her classmates' devotion to the latest boy bands, who cared what 'new kids on the block' were doing offstage, or on stage for that matter! She had though her first crush would be on some handsome author or, heaven forbid, a teacher. In the space of a few seconds the boy in front of her had just shattered that illusion into a gazillion pieces.
She had to say something, he couldn't leave here thinking she was some drivelling drooling moronic fan girl, she didn't even know his name. "Thank you, that was very kind. You're welcome to share this compartment, if you want?"
The words were out before Hermione realised what she'd said, she was berating herself for once more providing an opportunity to be hurt when his wide smile surprised the hell out of her.
"I'd like that, very much."
Not believing her luck, she offered her hand for shaking. "I'm Hermione Granger..."
The boy didn't shake her hand. He took it by her fingertips and very gently turned her hand around before bending down and lightly brushing his lips over the back of her knuckles. There was no longer room for any doubt, Hermione Granger was well and truly smitten.
"Very pleased to meet your acquaintance Miss Granger, my name is Harry Crow."
Hermione just started to babble as the words poured from her mouth. "Nobody in my family's magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it's the very best school of witchcraft there is, I've heard — I've learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough..."
The laughter coming from Harry certainly couldn't be classed as sarcastic, it seemed almost friendly in nature. "Relax Hermione, and breathe occasionally. We've a long train journey ahead of us, plenty of time to get to know each other and become friends."
Hermione couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Friends?"
"Oh, sorry if I'm being a bit presumptuous here, my main reason for attending Hogwarts is to hopefully make friends."
"Me too, and I would love to be your friend."
Both then sat and began their journey, not only to Hogwarts but the much more important destination of friendship.
Albus paced up and down his office, as jumpy as the proverbial cat on a hot tin roof. Harry Potter had been missing from the wizarding world for almost a decade, today would see his return. The goblins had kept a very close eye on the boy but this evening he would come back into Albus Dumbledore's domain, it only remained to see how much damage he would have to undo from the boy's unorthodox upbringing.
Albus intended to permanently wrench the boy away from the goblins, and had a scheme in place to achieve this at the first available opportunity. Tonight the boy would learn who the real power in magical Britain was, and it wasn't any goblin.
As the express sped them away from London, Harry was trying to make sure his new friend wasn't pulling his leg. "So your parents are a type of healer, but they only heal inside their patient's mouth?"
Hermione could hardly contain her laughter at Harry's disbelieving look. "Yes, that's what dentists do. I'll make a deal with you, you can ask me anything about muggles if I can do the same with you regarding purebloods?"
"I'm sorry but I can't do that, I'm not a pureblood Hermione."
"Oh, I just took it from the way you're dressed that's what purebloods wore."
Harry was looking wary at his new friend, he still wasn't sure whether this was some kind of wind-up. "I'm supposed to be dressed as a muggle, are you telling me this isn't right?"
This time Hermione couldn't hold her laughter, that was until she saw Harry's crestfallen appearance. "I'm sorry Harry, I thought you were making a joke there. Muggles used to wear clothes like that, but not for the best part of a century." She was desperate for more information but didn't want to push anything, Harry seemed really upset at her revelation.
"This is great, instead of blending in with one group of students I'm going to stand out like a sore thumb. The tailors made exact copies of the styles in the muggle studies books, how could they be wrong?"
Hermione had an idea what had gone wrong but needed to make sure. "Did they get those books from Diagon Alley?" Harry's nod was all the conformation she needed. "My mother thought that would at least be one subject she could understand so bought a few of the books, mum said they were some of the funniest things she'd ever read. All of the information in them is about a century out of date, and even then some of it was wrong. She reckoned that the authors had never actually met someone without magic."
"Well, that's just great. Director Ragnok named me Old Crow, he would probably have been better calling me Bertie Bott!" He saw the questioning look on Hermione's face before remembering she knew a lot less about the magical community than he did, it was time to tell her the story.
"Bertie Bott's is a type of sweet that comes in every flavour, that describes me perfectly. My mum was like you, muggleborn while my dad was a pureblood. Both gave their lives to save mine when I was just a toddler. I can't remember anything about them and now my adoptive father is a goblin. As I said, the goblin leader named me Old Crow, due to the way I ended up in Gringotts. My father calls me Harry Crow but my mum and dad named their new born baby Harry James Potter..." He couldn't miss the gasp that came from Hermione at that revelation.
"So, as you can imagine, I have a foot in many camps but don't know which one I belong to... I had hoped to honour my mother's memory by dressing like this today but it looks like that's gone now."
Hermione couldn't help herself, without even thinking about her actions, she had moved across the carriage to sit beside Harry and already had him in a hug. "Oh Harry, you know I'll help you any way I can."
He was as stiff as a board, goblins didn't do hugs. As Hermione offered her assurance of assistance, Harry began to relax and think that the goblins had got at least one thing wrong - this was nice. For some reason he trusted this girl, his first real friend, and began to tell her more than he'd intended to reveal.
"When my parents were murdered, I was dumped on the doorstep of my mother's muggle sister. They didn't want me so did a deal with Gringotts where the goblins will look after me until I'm old enough to take up the responsibilities of heading House Potter. I have this weird mixed heritage and soon I'll be forced to make a decision, just where does my future lie."
Hermione was holding him close and thinking this was something she could get used to. She needed to help her first friend. "I read accounts of Harry Potter in a few reference books, all of them speculated on what had happened to you after that Halloween. Looks like none of them were even close."
This drew a slight laugh from Harry, and allowed Hermione to release her hug before it became embarrassing. She still continued to sit closely beside him though.
"You should have seen some of the Harry Potter books they tried to publish as true stories of my life, they would certainly have entertained your mum as much as those history books. My father soon put a stop to it, making it illegal for anyone to make a profit off my name."
Hermione was puzzled about a million different things concerning Harry but didn't want to push, she hoped he would tell her in his own time. One thing in particular bothered her though, and she thought it wouldn't cause any major secrets to be revealed, so asked Harry about it. "I started getting the wizarding newspaper, to try and prepare myself for Hogwarts, and they have been promoting the boy-who-lives going to Hogwarts angle for months. The drawings they published of Harry Potter look nothing like you though, you've no scar or glasses."
"Apparently I had a scar when I first went to Gringotts but the healers dealt with it. As for the glasses, I can only assume they thought because my dad wore them that I would need them too. The books featured the same type of drawings, and also had my father asking where they got their information. None of them would say anything."
Just then, they endured the first of many visits from people wanting to know if they'd seen Harry Potter. Boy-who-lived fever was breaking out all over the express, with search parties hunting along the train for a sight of their elusive prey. Hermione noticed Harry's personality would change anytime someone else entered the compartment, quickly reverting back as soon as they were alone again. She didn't want to ask him about it and ended up biting her bottom lip so as not to blurt something out. Harry must have seen the question in her expression though and answered her.
"The goblins claim to have three faces, the one the public sees, and then there is their true self. Their true self is reserved for family and friends."
Harry smiled at her to ensure she knew he now counted her in this group. "The final face is the last thing their enemies see just before they die. They may be bankers now but goblins are really warriors at heart."
Hermione's curiosity got the better of her and another question slipped out before she could catch it. "What was it like growing up with the goblins?"
Harry was enjoying talking about his life with someone else, this was not something usually available to him. "I actually grew up as a goblin, though clearly I knew I was different. That goblins and wizards barely tolerate each other didn't help me any, I got into a lot of fights when I was younger." Hermione had her arms around him again, encouraging Harry to speak of things he never had before.
"Some of the adults weren't too pleased about the situation either, my dad is a powerful goblin who legally adopted me as his son. There were a couple of goblins who strongly objected, my father fought two duels to the death over me."
Harry was drawing comfort from being held in his friend's arms, he found that once he began talking about this that he couldn't stop. He'd never had anyone to talk to about his life before. "Had my father been defeated, I really don't know what would have happened to me. I needed to learn to stand on my own two feet as quickly as possible, and my father provided me with all the training I could handle. Being different actually worked in my favour for once. By the time I was six, I towered over all of the children in my classes. Now I'm taller than my father, though he can still kick my arse when we duel."
"He sounds like a wonderful man - sorry, goblin."
That slip had Harry smiling again, allowing Hermione to reluctantly end their latest hug. "I just call him father, and I'm sorry for unloading all this onto you. We've only just met today yet I feel I can trust you, please don't ask me to explain why."
Hermione understood the amount of trust Harry was placing in her, and decided to reciprocate with some revelations of her own. "I understand about being different Harry, I've been bullied since my first day of school because I was seen as different. I thought it was because I was a witch, only to discover today that I'm still different. Those witches that I spoke to wanted nothing to do with me, I'll be twelve in a few weeks and you are the first person whose ever wanted to be friends with me."
Harry now had first hand experience of how a hug could make you feel better, he decided his friend needed one so that's what he did.
Hermione couldn't believe it, in the space of a few hundred miles she'd travelled from despair to being hugged by the most famous boy in her new world. That this went via crushing on a stranger to now having a best friend made the entire trip really magical. She was also struggling to comprehend just what he'd had to endure. Her dad had called down to her primary school a few times when the bullying got really bad but Harry's father had risked his life twice to protect his adopted son. Hermione didn't ever want to think about anything happening to her parents, yet Harry had already lost both of his and knew his adoptive father was fighting duels to the death to keep him safe.
There and then Hermione decided that her new mission in life was to be the best friend she could to Harry, the first boy ever to hug her. They chatted for hours, growing closer and closer the further from home they got. As they finally approached their destination, the pair took turns at waiting outside the carriage while the other changed into their Hogwarts robes.
Harry had one last word of warning for his new friend. "Hermione, I'm half expecting trouble when I get to Hogwarts. perhaps it would be better if..."
Hermione put an end to that avenue of thought in an instant. "No Harry, whatever you were going to say there is no chance I'm going back to the way I was before getting on this train. You're my friend and that's more important than any school."
The wide smile he gave her after this declaration did funny things to her stomach, Harry offering his arm saw her sporting a matching wide smile of her own.
"Shall we Miss Granger?"
It was time for the public face. "Delighted Mr Crow."
Hogsmead station hardly deserved the name, it had a platform to allow people access to and from the train and that was it. It also appeared to be in the middle of nowhere, with the few lit lamps fighting a losing battle against the rapidly encroaching darkness as evening fell. It was to be expected that the temperature in the Scottish Highlands would be considerably lower than that of London, a fact that saw most of the older students pull their robes tighter around them and head directly to the waiting carriages.
Harry and Hermione were halted from following their example by the appearance of a hairy man-mountain holding a lantern aloft. "Firs' years! Firs' years over here!"
The towering figure was soon surrounded by all the first years. He appeared to be looking for someone in particular, it was also obvious from his expression that he didn't find who he was looking for. "C'mon, follow me — any more firs' years? Mind yer step, now! Firs' years follow me!"
They stumbled and slipped down a steep dark path that had Hermione mumbling a question to Harry, "Have they never heard of Health and Safety?"
They soon found the ground levelling off as they approached the shore of a dark body of water, it was the magnificent castle that seemed to grow out the mountain on the other side that demanded all their attention though. The castle was huge and had many turrets and towers, all sparkling with lights shining from the countless windows. Hogwarts was something straight out of the pages of a fairy tale.
It was only the large man shouting that drew their attention to the fleet of little boats sitting on the shore, Hermione thought they were coracles.
"No more'n four to a boat!"
Harry helped Hermione into the boat before also offering his assistance to the twin sisters who had approached with the hope of sharing.
The large man obviously had an entire boat to himself. He quickly checked that everyone was sitting in a boat before an order of 'forward' saw the little craft slip fully onto the water and begin to make their way toward the castle.
Parvati introduced both herself and her twin sister Padma Patil before proceeding to talk their ears off all the way across the lake. She appeared to have the annoying habit of asking a question and then providing her own answer. Her sister just sat quietly, probably immune to her twin's rantings by now. "What house do you think you'll be in? I don't really mind since we're the first of our family to attend a British magical school. Have you any idea how we get sorted? I heard it was some sort of test, though one boy was claiming we had to wrestle a troll..."
Harry could see Hermione starting to slip into panic mode at this onslaught of questions, probably because she didn't have any answers. He literally couldn't move any closer so placed a comforting hand on her knee. "My father told me an ancient magical artefact will decide which house we belong in. No tests, and certainly no trolls."
Parvati now appeared much more interested in Harry's hand resting on Hermione's knee. This resulted in a barrage of personal questions, questions that neither of the two had any intention of answering.
Only the boats entering a dark tunnel appeared to halt the verbal onslaught and soon they were disembarking onto a shingle beach. Harry was again a gentleman and helped all three girls out the boat. A long flight of stone steps ended at a massive oak door, anything less than oak would surely have disintegrated when the enormous man pounded on it with his fist.
The door was then opened by a black-haired witch in dark green robes, her entire demeanour screamed 'don't mess with me.'
"The firs' years, Professor McGonagall, and he ain' amongst 'em!"
The big man appeared ready to burst into tears before the stern professor pulled him aside. Everyone could still hear their conversation though.
"Pull yourself together Hagrid, did you count them?"
The man they now knew was named Hagrid seemed affronted by this. "O' course I did, all present an' accounted fer professor." It was only then that what McGonagall was implying hit Hagrid, they were all here so the person he was looking for must be amongst them.
"We'll just let the sorting ceremony answer that question."
Hagrid went away happy while McGonagall began giving them a brief introduction to the Hogwarts Houses, and what they stood for. Harry and Hermione hardly heard a word, it was clear to both of them just who the staff were looking for.
As McGonagall left them for a moment to check how things were progressing, Harry took the opportunity to whisper to Hermione. "Just remember, I can look after myself..."
He didn't get to say anymore as the blond boy, who'd been one of the students looking for Harry Potter on the train, decided to hold court. "Harry Potter doesn't come to Hogwarts and they're all wetting themselves, pathetic. Do you know why he's not at Hogwarts? It's because he's dead! Do you really think a toddler could defeat the dark lord?"
Hermione saw this boy's words were making an impression and was desperate to intervene, especially as one or two of the girls appeared close to tears. This was not her secret to reveal though so once more she bit her bottom lip, Hermione reckoned this was something she was going to have to get used to.
"You're nothing but a liar Malfoy..."
"Well, where is he Bones? Your aunt is the head of the aurors, has she ever seen him? No one has seen hide or hair of Harry Potter since that night. My father often has the minister of magic over for dinner, and even the head of our ministry has never seen Harry Potter. If it wasn't for that oaf Hagrid spouting stories in the pub every time he gets drunk, no one would know anything about that night."
One of the redheads, who'd also been looking for Harry on the train, reacted rabidly to Malfoy's claims. "Dumbledore has seen the boy-who-lived, he's kept him safe from evil creeps like your father."
Malfoy was more than a match for this verbal attack, he immediately taunted right back. "Perhaps the great Dumbledore dropped him off at your hovel weasel, what's one more kid amongst your tribe. Does your mother even remember all your names? Harry Potter isn't here because he's dead, and dead people don't come to Hogwarts."
This was met by screams, not against Malfoy but for the irrefutable proof he was wrong. A bunch of ghosts had just passed through the wall, and a few prospective first years. By the time the group had recovered from this shock, Professor McGonagall had returned to lead them into the great hall.
Harry was now in full public face mode so Hermione tried to match his confident poise, the trouble was she felt anything but confident. Another downside to this was that both now stood out amongst their oh-ing and ah-ing peers. When the tattered old hat began its song, Hermione was left to wonder just how strange this new world was.
A girl called Hannah Abbot was called forward first and sorted into Hufflepuff, it was soon clear the process was being carried out alphabetically by surname. When Vincent Crabbe headed off to join the green-trimmed robes of Hermione's earlier tormentors, both expected Harry to be next. When Tracey Davis name was called, they knew something was up.
Harry continually whispered reassurances that he could handle this but still had to practically push Hermione in the direction of the hat after her name was called. It didn't take long for the hat to place her in Ravenclaw. It was only after she was joined there by Padma Patil that the fun really started.
McGonagall called for Harry Potter, and no one moved. You could feel the mood in the hall drop as none of the remaining students stepped forward. McGonagall, knowing that the number of students she started the sorting with corresponded to the total names on her list, called his name again - with the exact same lack of results.
Hermione was gripping the wooden table hard enough to leave marks when Padma whispered a question to her. "Why wasn't Harry's name called?"
She really could reply honestly. "I don't know Padma, he should have been sorted before both of us. I just hope he gets into Ravenclaw, sorry you got separated from your sister."
"I'm not!" was the last thing said before the Deputy Headmistress continued with the sorting.
They were now down to just two boys left standing awaiting their turn under the hat. When McGonagall called on Blaise Zabini, there was finally only one. As Blaise headed off to Slytherin, all eyes were now focused on Harry.
"What is your name son?"
"Harry Crow professor."
McGonagall checked her list again to confirm what she already knew, there was only one name there she hadn't yet ticked. "I don't seem to have you down here Harry."
"My father confirmed I would be attending, and the circumstances surrounding my attendance..."
This was Dumbledore's moment, he would force the boy to choose in front of the entire hall. Once that initial choice had been made, there would be no going back to this goblin nonsense.
Dumbledore stood and waited until he had everyone's attention before speaking. "Perhaps I can shed some light on the matter Professor McGonagall. I did indeed receive Mr Crow's letter, and read the special circumstances he's alluding to. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to comply with those circumstances. This is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, we have no accord or charter to accept a goblin into our school."
The headmaster was noted for his quirkiness, one might even go as far as to suggest he was a touch mad. His comments had certainly shed no light on this matter as the boy left standing there was clearly not a goblin. Dumbledore wasn't finished though.
"If young Harry here wants to attend Hogwarts, it will need to be under the name his birth parents gave him. Harry James Potter."
A/N thanks for reading
A/N 2 Harry Crow was not meant to be my next story. HC wasn't even in my mind until Inannacat sent me a pm listing a story I might like. Defending Sirius Black has Vernon being proactive and Harry Crow was born before I had finished reading the first chapter. I never read any of the rest - not wanting to use any more ideas from Luiz4200 - though I do intend to go back and read it after completing this. When something inspires you, I believe it's important to say so and give credit where it's due.