Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
"Are you sure you can get to the train yourself?" Hagrid asked worriedly.
As much as he didn't want to return to the Dursley's, that wasn't his goal at this point. He had no doubt that this Dumbledore would find out and drag him kicking and screaming to his hated relatives if need be. No, he had something else in mind. One way or another, he will enjoy the rest of his summer.
"Sure, muggles my age do it all the time." Harry lied easily. "My relatives don't like me relying on them too much." Harry grimaced. That was true at least.
Hagrid's eyes darkened in anger. "Send me an owl if yer have a problem with the Dursley's. Here is yer ticket for Hogwarts fer the first." he left after Harry asked him how to get on the platform. Walking through a wall at a busy train station, really?
After saying good bye, Harry told his beautiful snowy owl that Hagrid kindly bought for him to fly to the Dursley's. The smart owl even understood him when he said that she needed to be quiet around his relatives. The last thing he wanted was for Vernon to hurt her. Now he just needed to name the girl.
After making sure that Hagrid left, he activated his one purchase that Hagrid didn't see when he was having a pint. It was a chain that was meant to carry his Gringotts key that he found at an odds and ends store near the bank. Besides the security charms that only he could remove, willingly at that, Harry paid for two other enchantments placed on fake keys that would be invaluable to him. During the summer, the muggle repelling charm would force the Dursley's to leave him alone while the notice me not charm will allow him some privacy when needed in the wizarding world, like now.
Harry casually walked back through the alley without a problem so that he could purchase what he needed such as books that explained the wizarding world and the recent war. He also felt he needed additional reading materials that would explain his classes better like ingredient preparation in his potions class. First, he needed to upgrade his trunk. Hagrid only allowed him to get the basics.
Before he approached the shopkeeper, Harry read what options he had and their prices in a pamphlet displayed in front of the store. As tempting as some of them were, he didn't think it was wise to spend too much money. Besides, there were not many things that could be added to a standard trunk anyway.
"Sir," Harry said politely.
Like the muggle repelling charm, a notice me not cannot be overcome easily unless he called attention to himself. Harry was warned earlier that the enchantment would not hold up well against a wizard that was powerful and skilled. It was far from perfect, but it was still very useful for him, especially with the muggles. He figured that Hogwarts professors would be some of the most powerful and knowledgeable wizards out there so he would not risk having them notice it. He'd have to hide it just in case it was less than legal to use such a thing in a muggle neighborhood for long. Considering it wouldn't trigger what detects the under-aged magic alarm called the trace, he should be safe.
"Ah, I didn't see you lad. What can I do for you?" the kindly older man asked.
"I would like featherweight and sizing charms on this trunk. I'd also like a hidden password protected compartment added. The closet sized one with shelves please." Harry requested.
"Sure, I can do that in a jiffy" he said cheerfully while charming his trunk. "Would you like an Owl Order form for 1 gallon? The form includes all the shops in Diagon and Hogsmeade. It is useful for when you can't make it to the alley lad." The man clearly assumed that he was entering his first year, which he was, and he wouldn't be able to shop while in school. He was pleased that he could make the rest of his purchases in Surrey via owl. He didn't want to tempt fate since he wasn't supposed to be here on his own. It didn't take long, nearly thirty minutes, for the trunk to be ready. After paying the man 11 gallons, most of the cost went towards the small hidden compartment; Harry thanked the worker and left the store.
Not wanting to linger too long, Harry quickly made his way to the train station paying for the first train home he could get after buying a prepackaged snack for later. When he arrived, he noticed that his relatives made it home to his dismay. Was it too much to hope for that they were stranded a while longer? Apparently it was. He quietly let himself in with the spare key thankful that the charm worked as promised as he went up the stairs to his room undisturbed.
The rest of the summer flew by. Harry ordered plenty of books, such as customs and laws, history and legends, and references for his classes. He also purchased other things. Harry now had well-made tailored clothes including pajamas and undergarments that he loved as well as other things he wanted without going overboard. The seamstress used his measurements taken when he had his fitting done for his uniforms. It felt wonderful to wear new clothing for once. No more second hand things for him. While he is not a snob, Harry figured that he needed to make a good first impression and keep it since apparently everyone will be watching and judging him much to his chagrin. Also, not wanting to risk being noticed by his relatives while making lunch and dinner for himself, he ordered a magical take away box popular with working class bachelors that provided him with food and drink whenever he wanted. It was simple fare only which was fine with him. While they no longer starved him, he didn't want to take any unnecessary chances. It wasn't expensive either.
The Dursley's finally realized just how much Harry did around the house when they realized the 'freak' was gone. Not that they would ever admit it to his face. His ungrateful relatives, not used to doing any real work around the house, not even Petunia, were far from happy now that he wasn't there to keep the house in order. Then again, they are not any happier when he was there. Petunia wasn't pleased that she couldn't be lazy anymore while Vernon and Dudley complained loudly about her lack of cooking skills much to her ire. It's not surprising since she had not cooked in years! Sandwiches don't count. They tended to order in a lot more as a result. Whatever, it is not like he cared what they did. Harry was just relieved to not have to deal with his relatives and was left alone for once.
Over the past month, Harry kept up with his morning routine running five days a week at 5am followed by taking a hot shower and enjoying a healthy breakfast before his relatives woke up and started their day. Unknown to Harry, this allowed Mrs. Figg to see him enough that she didn't report anything out of the usual. He studied his magical subjects before lunch and customs and traditions before dinner. He didn't want to show up ignorant when he stepped foot in Hogwarts. The last thing he did before bed was meditate like he had for years thanks to his second grade teacher suggesting it for his night terrors. It had the effect of keeping him fairly calm as well. Thanks to this habit, the nightmares of the screaming woman and the green light, which he now knew was the attack on his parents and himself, were a thing of the past.
Harry found the name of his owl in his History of Magic book, which he found interesting, Hedwig. Not only was she a famous witch, Hedwig was also considered a patron saint for orphans and children. The Snowy Owl approved of her name with a happy bark. The boy grew attached to her quickly. Besides being smart, she was affectionate with him as well. Harry always wanted to have a pet, not that Hedwig was a mere pet. She would surely show her displeasure if he would dare say such a thing he thought fondly.
The day finally came for him to leave for Hogwarts! Harry couldn't wait to learn magic and see the castle he read about. The boy was also excited to see what he could find out by merely observing wizarding raised children and what they considered common knowledge. Something told him that many things he wanted to know wouldn't be in books much like in the muggle world, authors probably assumed that 'everyone knew' some things that were considered common knowledge without realizing that muggle raised and born didn't. He'll keep his head down and see what's what in the beginning not wanting to risk making enemies by offending people on accident. On his calendar, he marked off the days over the last month until today, September 1, he would leave for school. He quietly got ready early in the morning and left through the back door while the Dursley's were eating their breakfast. Considering how much noise Vernon and Dudley made while eating, he had no problem leaving.
Using the Knight Bus that he read about the week before, he arrived at Kings Cross at 9:30 which gave him plenty of time to find a place to sit. He immediately pulled out Hogwarts a History that he was half way finished with curious about his new school. Engrossed in his book, the door to the compartment opened abruptly over an hour later revealing a red headed boy with freckles and a black smudge on his nose.
"Anyone sitting here?" he asked pointing out to the seat across from him. "Everywhere else is full."
Harry didn't believe that, but he saw no reason to be rude to the boy. Perhaps he didn't want to sit with too many people. He surely didn't. "Sure, have a seat." Harry said politely.
"Hey, Ron." Twin red heads poked their heads in. "Listen, we're going down the middle of the train- Lee Jordan got a giant tarantula down there."
"Right." Ron paled.
"Oh, we didn't introduce ourselves." The twins grinned at Harry. "Fred and George Weasley at your service."
"Harry Potter, pleased to meet you." Harry smiled.
Ron gawked, but the twins took it in stride thankfully. Before they could say anything, the younger red head couldn't control his excitement. "Are you really Harry Potter? He pointed at his forehead that showed his faded lightning bolt scar. I thought your scar would be more impressive, everyone says so. So that's where you know who.."
Harry clenched his teeth. What an insensitive prat! Didn't he realize that he lost everything that night? He despised this fame nonsense that was forced on him. One thing he was not looking forward to at Hogwarts was being the center of attention.
The twins sighed shaking their heads. "Ronniekins, Ronniekins." said the twin on the left.
"Where did we go wrong with you?" the one on the right chimed in.
"Subtlety is an art form." they continued going back and forth.
"One that you lack."
"Don't worry Harrikins."
"We the Weasley twins."
"Will save the savior from insensitive prats!" they finished posing grandly making him laugh. Harry liked them and their sense of humor.
"Come on Ron, we will take you with us to visit Lee and his companion." Ron's brother said with an evil grin.
"It will be a brotherly bonding moment." The other boy proclaimed. Harry noticed that they looked darkly amused while Ron looked horrified protesting as they dragged him and his luggage out. Right then and there, Harry swore to never get on their bad sides.
The rest of the train ride was enjoyable with hardly any interruptions. A boy named Neville stopped by briefly. He seemed nice enough, just extremely shy. An older lady asked if he wanted to buy snacks that he turned down since he had a large lunch. Maybe next time. Other than that, there was a brief confrontation that occurred outside his compartment. He thought back briefly over meeting Neville and the fight.
There was a soft knock on the door. A blonde pudgy boy came in looking like he had been crying. Harry placed his book on his lap giving the boy his attention.
"Sorry for bothering you." he said, "have you seen a toad at all?"
When he said that he didn't, he complained "I've lost him! He keeps getting away from me!"
Feeling sympathetic, he always liked animals; Harry contemplated how to find the boys pet. Perhaps there is a magical way? It wouldn't make sense if there wasn't. "Have you asked an older student? I'm sure they would know a spell to find your toad."
"Why didn't I think of that? Thanks, I'm sorry I didn't introduce myself." he said sheepishly. "I'm Neville Longbottom, and you are?" the boy asked shyly.
"Harry Potter, It's nice to meet you" he responded with a nod. He hoped that this boy would have more tact than Weasley. Fortunately for Harry, Neville took it in stride much like the twins.
Eyes widening with a quick glance at his forehead, he restrained himself which he appreciated. "It is nice to meet you too." Neville stuttered slightly. "Thank you for your help." The boy excused himself quickly to presumably find an older student.
Nothing else happened during the trip until shortly before they arrived at school. After deciding to change into his uniform, Harry locked the door for privacy. Not a moment too soon, someone tried forcing their way in. "Open up!" A boy with an irritating drawling voice, Malfoy he thinks from the robe shop, demanded loudly.
Before he could respond to the rude boy, someone else got into a confrontation with the blonde after literally running into him with a thud.
"Sorry, my brother's set a spider on me as a joke." Ron whined. Harry being used to spiders in his cupboard didn't see the big deal, but it is a common fear. Perhaps the twins took it a bit too far.
"Apologize properly you uncouth barbarian. Then again, a blood traitor like you wouldn't be civilized. No need to ask who you are. My father told me all Weasley's have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford." The snobby boy said snidely.
"Say that again!" Ron shouted back. Peeking out the window, Harry shook his head as the squabble escalated into a fist fight with a couple other boys who he later found out were Crabbe and Goyle, joined the fray. It didn't take long for the Head Boy to intervene giving all four of them a week of detentions with a loss of twenty points each from wherever they will be sorted. Apparently that is a record according to the upperclassman. The older boy sounded furious. Harry promised himself to keep his distance from the four boys. They seemed like trouble. Not the fun kind either.
When the students exited the train, Hagrid called for the first years and greeted Harry. Smiling and waving at the jolly man, he stepped into a boat shared by Neville and two other boys, Terry Boot and Theodore Nott, who sat quietly after quick introductions were made. Other than asking Neville if he found his toad, which he did, Harry sat silently as well wondering how they would be sorted. Unfortunately, Hogwarts a History did not say how it was done. The castle was magnificent as if it was from fairy tale come to life. It practically glowed with magic leaving no doubt that the castle itself was magical. Harry was in awe. Wizard and muggle raised kids alike were enraptured at the sight. They left the boats in a procession following the ground keeper to a large heavy looking door.
Said door swung open revealing an older woman wearing emerald robes and a pointy hat. She is tall with her dark hair styled in a severe bun. It was the stern expression on her face and sharp eyes that warned Harry that she was not someone to cross.
"The firs' years, Professor McGonagall," said Hagrid.
"Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here."
The professor opened a door widely gesturing for the students to follow her. The entrance hall was quite large. The Dursley home could fit in it twice over. Flaming Torches were lit showing an impressive marble staircase that the students carefully walked down following the professor.
Reaching the stone floor at the end of the stairs, they continued to follow Professor McGonagall into a small empty chamber where he could hear hundreds of voices from a doorway to his right. It was a bit intimidating that the entire school was waiting for them to be sorted. Standing close together, Harry noticed that the others also looked nervous, some more than others.
"Welcome to Hogwarts," said Professor McGonagall.
"The start of term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family in Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room." Harry frowned at that. It didn't sound like inter house friendships would be easy.
"The four houses are called Griffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin." Harry noticed that her tone showed dislike for Slytherin House much like Hagrid's did. With the kind of reputation that said house has, especially in recent years, he did not understand how anyone with cunning would want to be sorted there. Why when everyone would suspect you? Then again, he doubted there was much choice.
"Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rule-breaking will lose house points." she continued. "At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded with the house cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours. The sorting will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you smarten yourself up as much as you can while you are waiting." She gave Neville, who had his cloak fastened under his left ear a pointed stare. Ron and Draco on the other hand, who sported a bloody nose and a black eye respectively while the two large boys only looked slightly ruffled, received a furious glare with her lips pursed angrily. Apparently the professor was already informed of what had happened between them by the Head Boy. The boys looked away quickly.
Besides being thankful for not facing her wrath before he was even sorted, Harry was pleased that he found out about the Sleekeazy Potion in a Potions Text that had a section on modern inventions. Fleamont Potter, his grandfather, had created it to tame his own unmanageable hair, a Potter Family trait apparently. His dad, James Potter, must have liked his hair the way it was according to the picture he saw of his parents in Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts. Harry ordered a good supply knowing he would need it. It now lay neatly on his head for the first time in his life to his joy. He had no doubt that he would be uselessly trying to flatten his messy mop after receiving the same stare that Neville did.
"I shall return when we are ready for you," said Professor McGonagall. "Please wait quietly." She said giving one last glare at the four boys.
Harry observed the other students while they were waiting. Weasley was muttering about fighting a troll. It had to be his brothers again. The boy was very gullible to believe that. A bushy haired girl was muttering various spells she knew thinking it was some kind of test. The girls spell knowledge was impressive. The general atmosphere was tense. He tried his best not to be too worried, but it was useless. What if he hated his house? What is they didn't like him? Harry didn't want to deal with a lot of drama. No, he wanted to learn as much magic as he could and maybe make a few friends. Taking deep breaths to calm down, Harry tried not to think about what the sorting entailed.
All of a sudden he became alert when he heard frightened screams which caused him to tense. Was someone attacked? No, it was ghosts! Slightly see through with a pearly sheen, the ghosts floated around the students without a care arguing with one another. "Forgive and forget, I say, we ought to give him a second chance." said a hefty looking monk.
"My dear Friar, haven't we given Peeves all the chances he deserves? He gives us all a bad name you know, he's not really even a ghost. I say, what are you all doing here?" a ghost wearing tights noticed them.
No one answered him. Harry shrugged.
"New students!" said the Fat Friar, smiling at them all. "About to be Sorted, I suppose?"
A few people, including him, nodded hesitantly.
"Hope to see you in Hufflepuff!" said the ghost. "My old house, you know." From what he read, it seems like a nice enough house, but he didn't think he would be sorted there. Hard working he may be, but loyal? He never really had anyone to be loyal to so he was unsure.
"Move along now. The Sorting Ceremony's about to start." The professor announced. The ghosts left one by one after having their fun spooking the first years he supposed.
"Now, form a line," Professor McGonagall told the first years, "and follow me."
Feeling out of his depth, Harry got in line behind a girl with wavy blonde hair who looked excited to be here. Following along, they entered through double doors into the Great Hall.
Harry was in awe. There were four long tables with golden plates and goblets before hundreds of students and professors watching them in curiosity. The professors were situated by another long table on the opposite side of the hall. There were thousands of floating candles floating above the tables that were stunning, but it was the enchanted ceiling that looked just like the sky outside that was most impressive to him. It was the most magical. A bushy haired girl whispered about reading about it like he did. Despite knowing about it, nothing compared to actually seeing it firsthand.
He felt uneasy with so many people looking at them. Harry felt much more comfortable in the shadows, not being noticed. He knew that would not happen here. He'd adapt like he always did. Distracting himself, he enjoyed watching the night sky. He wondered how it would look during a storm.
Harry noticed Professor McGonagall place a small four legged stool in front of them with a pointed wizards hat on top of it. 'Do they want us to pull a rabbit out of it?' He thought sarcastically. Then everyone stared at the hat in complete silence. This was weird. Then the hat twitched causing him to do the same funnily enough. The brim opened up and began to sing of all things. He raised an eyebrow.
Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me,
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be
You might belong in Griffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Griffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands though I have none
For I'm a thinking cap!
The whole hall clapped enthusiastically while the hat bowed to all for tables. Harry stood their stunned and more than a little agitated. His mind was his private place, not something to be looked into on a whim. What if the hat told his secrets? Surely the founders did something to prevent it. Doing his best to keep calm, Harry watched his classmates get sorted.
Professor McGonagall stepped forward with her list of students. "When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted," she said.
A blushing blonde haired girl in pigtails hesitantly walked up to the stool and placed the hat on her head. It didn't take long. "HUFFLEPUFF!" The hat shouted. The Hufflepuffs, the table on the right, happily greeted their first new member, even the Fat Friar, their house ghost.
"Bones, Susan!" "HUFFLEPUFF!" This sorting also did not take long. The table cheered as she sat next to Hannah.
"Boot, Terry!" "RAVENCLAW!" The table second to the left cheered this time. They shook his hand welcoming their first addition warmly.
"Brocklehurst, Mandy!" went Ravenclaw as well.
"Brown, Lavender!" The wavy haired blonde ahead of him took her seat and placed the hat on her head.
"GRIFFINDOR" As the first new Griffindor, the table on the far left roared like their mascot. The twins he met earlier were catcalling.
"Bulstrode, Millicent!" was the first new Slytherin. Despite all he heard about them, he did not want to judge them too quickly. He'd observe for now.
"Finch-Fletchley, Justin!" "HUFFLEPUFF" after a moment's pause, he sat at his table.
"Finnigan, Seamus!" "GRIFFINDOR!" It took the hat nearly a full minute to decide which was the longest so far.
"Granger, Hermione!" the girl with the bushy hair ran up to the hat placing it eagerly on her head.
"GRIFFINDOR" shouted the hat much to Harry's surprise. He had her pegged for Ravenclaw with her knowledge.
Neville Longbottom, the shy boy he talked to briefly on the train, fell over on the way to the stool. He winced in sympathy. It took a long time to decide with him. Was he arguing with that hat? Is that possible?
"GRIFFINDOR!" Neville took off for his table still wearing the hat. Like with Granger, he didn't expect him to join the Lions. Embarrassed, he handed the hat to the next person in line.
Draco Malfoy strutted to the hat with a superior smirk like he owned the place. Harry personally found this funny considering he had a nice shiner. Most people couldn't help but snicker either much to the blondes fury. Say what you will about Ron Weasley, he knew how to pack a punch.
"SLYTHERIN!" the hat barely touched his head before he was sorted with the snakes. That surprised Harry as well. Weren't Slytherin's supposed to be cunning? He thought as he watched him strolling towards his friends looking impressed with himself. Harry rolled his eyes.
Most people have already been sorted. "Moon," "Nott," "and Parkinson" all went to Slytherin.
"Patil" and "Patil" a pair of twins went into Griffindor and Ravenclaw respectively.
"Perks, Sally-Ann" went to Hufflepuff.
"Potter, did she say?"
"The Harry Potter?"
"Wasn't he supposed to have glasses?" Harry frowned at the last one. He knew that people would have preconceived notions about him, but this is ridiculous. Why would he need glasses because his father did? Didn't they realize he had two parents? He was grateful he didn't need them since Vernon and Dudley would no doubt have broken them many times.
After taking a deep breath, Harry unseeingly continued walking to the stool ignoring the whispers and stares that were overwhelming him and put the hat on.
"Hmm, said a male voice in his head. "Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage I see, but not the kind that Godric was known for. Your pragmatism wouldn't be appreciated there." The hat said bluntly.
Harry had to agree. Despite his parents having been sorted there, he wasn't them. He didn't think his parents who died for him would want him to pretend to be something he wasn't. At least he hoped not.
"While you would be good for Slytherin, they would not be good for you. It's a shame, you could be great there. No matter, you have the drive to be great no matter the house." The hat observed.
Harry sighed in relief. While he had nothing against Slytherin per say, besides exposing his cunning nature, Harry didn't think it would be a good idea for him to go into the snake pit. Quite a few of the students would be difficult to deal with since out of all houses, they had more relatives, even parents, imprisoned in Azkaban or disgraced. It is highly likely that he would be blamed for their woes much like light sided families praised him for how the war ended. However, it was the Slytherin Head of House, Severus Snape that would be the real problem. Hagrid let it slip that his father and his friends bullied him when they were in school with a warning to be on his best behavior with him. While he was far from impressed with his father's behavior back then, it wasn't Harry's fault. As a precaution, he studied potions more than any other subject just in case he tried humiliating him.
That hat gave a sad sigh. "Salazar would not be happy with his house. Very few fit his ideals these days. Hufflepuff is out. Hard working you may be, but loyal…You don't trust anyone, even the few who have shown you some kindness. Albus is a fool for placing you with your relatives. He is old and set in his ways believing that family would love one another." Harry narrowed his eyes. While he didn't trust the headmaster, at least he didn't intend for him to be treated the way he was. That's something at least. There is nothing he could do concerning him and his control over his life at this point in time. As powerful as he is politically and magically, it would be foolish to make an enemy out of headmaster.
"Your plan to improve your situation with those enchantments was inspired. Not enough claws think outside the box these days, enjoy your stay in "RAVENCLAW!"
A/N: I've finally been inspired to write again. I write and enjoy AU fics so please don't complain about this not being like canon. This is not a bashing fic though. By the way, Harry is not a horcrux in this. If Harry was one on accident, there would have been more accidental horcruxes since Riddle wasn't shy with killing. With that out of the way, this Harry is a very jaded young boy for good reason and it is in his POV, remember that. Harry has plenty of flaws, just different ones from the books. While I'm not completely happy with this chapter, I like it enough to post it if that makes sense.