Harry looked around the Gringott’s suite that he had been staying in for the last time. Today was the day that he would leave for Hogwarts.
Ted had already explained that even though he was emancipated, he still needed to attend Hogwarts. He needed to complete his magical education, at the very least, if he wanted to be taken seriously.
His physical training was going well, and Merlin told him he would be ready for more advanced magical and occlumency training soon.
Harry picked up his trunk, placing it in his pocket and left for King’s Cross Station.
It was still early when he arrived, so there were only a few families there. He was just about to step onto the train when he saw them. James, Lily, and Glory Potter, the three people that he had hoped to avoid for a while longer.
“Harry, wait!” Lily shouted, dashing any hope he had of getting on the train before they noticed him.
Harry stopped and looked at each of them in turn.
Lily had a smile on her face, looking for all the world like the doting mother ready to see her son off to Hogwarts.
James had a neutral expression on his face, doing his best to present a good public image. After the article in the French newspaper, Harry was not surprised. He was likely on thin ice with most of his allies and needed to avoid any kind of bad publicity.
Last was Glory. She was glaring openly at him, but surprisingly didn’t say a word. She was behaving herself, most likely at the pleading of James and Lily, but she was clearly angry that the spotlight had shifted from her.
He idly wondered what James and Lily had to promise her to even get this much out of her, as he imagined what Potter Manor must have been like after they found out about the Vault.
Harry let out a deep sigh as he stepped back from the train, preparing himself. “What do you want?”
“Harry, that is no way to speak to your family,” Lily admonished lightly as they walked up to him. “We’re obviously here to see you off to Hogwarts,” she said as she leaned forward to give him a hug.
Harry shook his head, taking a step back from her. “No, that’s not why you’re here.”
“What?” Lily asked, stopping short. “Don’t be silly. Of course, that’s the reason we’re here. We love you,” she said, keeping the smile plastered on her face.
Harry felt his eyes sting, the emotions warring inside of him. How long had he waited to hear those words from her? How long had he dreamed of finally being accepted by them? He had tried so hard to be the son that they wanted, only to be ridiculed and called worthless.
It was all right there in front of him, everything he had ever wanted, but when he looked at them now, the all-encompassing need to be accepted and loved by them wasn’t there anymore.
The urge was still there, but muted, and tempered by everything he had gone through over the last few weeks. It gave him a clarity that he didn’t have before. It was like he could truly see them for who they were.
“We were so proud when we read about you in the Prophet Harry,” Lily tried again to get things back on track.
“…” Harry just stared at them, not saying a word.
“What’s the matter, Harry?” Lily asked, getting annoyed. This wasn’t the way he was supposed to act. Couldn’t he see they were welcoming him back with open arms? “Why aren’t you saying anything?”
There was an anger, deep in the pit of Harry’s stomach, that slowly bubbled to the surface. “I have nothing I want to say to you,” Harry replied, doing his best to keep his tone even.
Lily faltered, not sure what to say. This wasn’t going how she expected it to. Harry was supposed to be happy to see them. He should have been ecstatic when she said they were proud of him, that they loved him.
“Still ungrateful I see,” James muttered. “Even after everything we’ve done for you.”
Lily tried her best to shush James. “Remember what we talked about,” she whispered to him, but it was too late. The look on Harry’s face said it all.
“What exactly did you do for me?” Harry asked, noting the fear he had long held for his father had faded since the last time he saw him.
“I put a roof over your head, fed you, clothed you.” James retorted. “And this is how you repay me?”
“Shh, James,” Lily said insistently, still hoping to salvage the situation. “I’ll handle this.”
“I’m sorry about your father Harry,” Lily said. “He’s just been under a lot of stress recently. He didn’t mean that. You understand, right?” Lily asked.
“Would that stress have anything to do with the article in the French newspaper?” Harry goaded.
“How do you know about that?” James demanded.
“I saw the article, and the pictures,” Harry answered.
“Fudge is just trying to discredit me!” James denied. “When I talk to the Wizengamot, I’ll straighten everything out.”
‘Now it’s all making sense,’ Harry thought. “And that’s why you’re here now, right? You want me to put in a good word for you? Maybe give an interview in the Prophet about what a great father you are? How all of it was just some horrible misunderstanding?” Harry asked sarcastically.
“We’re family Harry, that’s what we’re supposed to do, take care of each other,” Lily said, as she stepped between them. The last thing they needed now was for James to lose his temper, especially in front of all these people.
Harry looked at his mother, incensed. “Take care of each other? Is that what we do?” He demanded. “Maybe you can remind me. How exactly, did you take care of me? Where were you when I was sick? Where were you on my birthdays, or Christmas?”
Lily huffed in frustration. The boy was causing a scene, likely on purpose, just to make them look bad, and as she looked at the faces of the people watching them now, it was working. “Why don’t we talk about this somewhere more private, dear?” She said, trying to take control of the situation.
“No,” Harry shook his head. “I’ve said all I need to,” he said, turning to board the train.
“Don’t turn your back on me, boy,” James stopped him. “I’ve had enough of this temper tantrum of yours. You’re going to do your duty to this family.”
“Why? We both know that everything they printed in that article was the truth, and the last thing I’m going to do is lie for you,” Harry replied.
“I’ve had enough of this attitude of yours,” James said as he pushed past Lily. “We both know that you just got lucky with the Vault! You’re not smart enough to do something like that. You’re the same thing you’ve always been. A weak, pathetic, little brat, and you’re not fooling anyone, least of all me,” James sneered. “You’re going to do what I tell you, just like you always have, and always will.”
Harry looked at James, not surprised in the least by what he said. It certainly wasn’t anything new, but after everything he had been through, his words just didn’t have the same bite they used to. He knew it wasn’t true, at least anymore.
He could see now that the man he had feared for so long wasn’t a giant towering over him, frothing at the mouth, ready to tear him limb from limb. He was just a man, and not much of one at that.
Lily slumped her shoulders in defeat. James had let his temper get the better of him, and pushed Harry even further away from them, exactly when they needed him the most.
Glory stared gleefully at Harry after her father finished speaking. Now he was definitely going to get it, and everything was going to go back to normal.
“No,” Harry shook his head. “I’m not your punching bag anymore, and I will not help you get out of the mess you made for yourself!”
A dark look crossed James’s face as he stalked forward, ready to knock some sense into the damn brat. The boy was too full of himself. He curled his hands into fists as he stepped forward.
He solved a few puzzles. So what? Was everyone supposed to believe that he was the second coming of Merlin now? The boy needed to be taken down a few pegs.
Harry flicked his wrist, releasing his wand, and snapped his arm forward. “Protego!”
James was completely unprepared for the shield spell that expanded out to cover Harry. It slammed into him, knocking him off his feet and onto the hard cement of the train station.
The next spell hit him just as fast, leaving James no time to react. “Incarcerous!” Harry shouted, tieing James up with the conjured ropes.
Lily’s and Glory’s jaws dropped open in shock. They had never expected Harry to defend himself, let alone as definitely as he had.
James groaned. He hit his head when he landed on the ground. ‘What happened?’ he thought, in a daze as he tried to move.
“Look at me,” Harry said as he stared down at his father. “I said look at me,” Harry said as he kicked James’s legs angrily when he didn’t respond.
James came to his senses, looking up to see the boy staring down at him, wand in hand. As he realized the situation he was in, he felt a tingle of fear involuntarily crawl down his spine.
“I’m done with you,” Harry said as he glared down at James. “I’m done being afraid of you. I’m done caring about what you think of me, and I’m most certainly done with doing what you tell me to do.”
“You spent my whole life telling me I was nothing, that I wasn’t good enough, and for the longest time, I believed your lies!” Harry shouted. “But now I see the truth. You’re the one that’s not good enough! You never have been.”
“All I had to do was spend a few weeks away from you to see it,” Harry said as he thought about Ben, Tom, Ted, Nimue, even the Minister.
“You are a cruel, spiteful, and petty man.” Harry glared down at James. “You don’t deserve my respect, or anyone else’s.”
James couldn’t bring himself to look into the face of his son, embarrassed by how easily Harry had beaten him, and how similar his words were to the last conversation he had with his father.
“I see you now for what you are. You called me weak, but look at you, beaten by an eleven-year-old!”
“You called me pathetic, but you’ve done nothing with your life, not even with all the opportunities that you got!”
“You called me a brat, but you’re the one that stamps his feet like a child and throws temper tantrums when you don’t get your way!”
“You are everything you have ever accused me of being.” Harry glared down at his father.
James’s face went red with anger as he shouted incoherently, struggling in futility to escape the ropes.
“Shut up, Harry!” Glory shouted, not able to hold back her anger and frustration any longer. “I’m the special one, not you! I’m the famous one. It should have been me that opened Merlin’s Vault, and you stole it from me!” Glory accused murderously. “I hate you!”
Harry looked at his sister as she continued to rant, not even caring what she had to say, then the struggling form of his father, and finally at his mother, who was trying her best to hide her face in embarrassment.
A small crowd had gathered around them. How could they not, after all that? Some were clearly enjoying the show, others looked on in concern, but no one stepped forward to free James Potter.
Harry turned on his heel and stepped onto the train.
Harry sat in his train compartment with the curtains drawn. He was still early enough to get a compartment to himself, and it was almost time for the train to depart. He didn’t know how many people saw what happened.
He had surprised even himself with how he acted. Until today, until he saw them, he had never thought he would stand up to them, let alone everything else that happened.
The anger he felt was so foreign to him, but as soon as he started arguing with James, it all just came tumbling out.
When the anger faded and Harry could think clearly again, he couldn’t help but wonder how Ben would have handled it. Would he have even talked to them or just walked away after incapacitating James? Would he have shouted at them the way he had?
He didn’t feel bad about what he did. Was that wrong? Was he supposed to? He wished Ben was here now to help him figure out what he was feeling.
A knock at the door interrupted Harry’s thoughts, then a red head looked inside. “Do you mind if I sit here?”
Harry looked up at the boy, recognizing his face. “… I remember you. You were at the museum, Ron, right?”
“Yeah,” Ron smiled, glad that Harry remembered him. “I remember you too. Do you mind?” He asked as he gestured to the empty seat.
“Sure,” Harry nodded, glad for once to not be alone. “Plenty of room.”
Ron sat down, looking at the boy in front of him, the boy that solved Merlin’s cypher. He had searched up and down the train to find him. There were so many things he wanted to ask, but now that he was sitting in front of him, he didn’t even know where to start.
After an uncomfortable silence, he said the first thing that popped into his head. “What house you think you’ll be in?”
“… I’m not really sure,” Harry said as he thought about it for the first time. When he was younger, he had dreamed of going to Hogwarts, just to get away from his family. It had never mattered to him what house he ended up in. “What about you? Which house do you want?”
“My whole family’s been in Gryffindor,” Ron answered.
“… So that’s where you want to go, too?” Harry asked.
“Yeah, of course it is,” Ron answered, but he didn’t feel about it as strongly as he thought he would. Could he step out of his older brother’s shadows if he did everything they did? Would going to a different house be better?
Harry nodded. “I suppose I’ll figure out which house I want when we get there.”
They lapsed into uncomfortable silence as the train pulled out of the station. Harry didn’t have much experience speaking to people his own age, so he wasn’t really sure how to keep the conversation going.
Ron was racking his brain, trying to figure out a way to ask what he really wanted to know. Would he just tell him, or would he laugh at him?
“What is it?” Harry asked when he noticed Ron staring at him.
“… Can I ask you something, Harry?” Ron asked, deciding just to go for it.
“Sure,” Harry said, shrugging his shoulders.
“I watched you… when you opened Merlin’s vault. How did you know you could do it?” Ron asked.
Harry exhaled slowly, thinking about what to say. “… To be honest with you, I didn’t. I read about it in the newspaper and I just wanted to see if I could do it. Wasn’t it the same for you?”
“Not really,” Ron admitted. “It was mostly my mum’s idea. I wanted to go to Fortescue’s…”
“Oh,” Harry replied. “Why didn’t you want to?” He asked curiously.
“… I didn’t think I could do it,” Ron admitted, looking down.
“What does it matter if you can do it or not?” Harry asked.
“I have five older brothers,” Ron explained. “Everything I’ve ever wanted to do, at least one of them has already done it. When I don’t get things right, they make fun of me.”
Harry nodded in understanding. “So if you don’t try, they can’t make fun of you?”
“Yeah,” Ron agreed.
“What you said just now, it made me realize something,” Harry said as thought about his confrontation with his family in a new light.
“The people that discourage us don’t do it because we’re not good enough, or even because they could do it better. They do it because as long as there’s someone they can point to that’s not as smart, or as strong, or as talented as them, and they can feel superior. They want you to stay exactly the way you are, because that way they don’t have to get better either.”
Ron sat there thinking about what Harry said. He hadn’t really thought about it that way, but he couldn’t deny Harry had at least had a point. What had he achieved by not trying, by giving up before he had even started? Sure, he had saved himself some potential embarrassment, but he also stayed exactly where he was.
“I want to do what you did,” Ron realized. “I don’t want to be just another in a long line of Weasley’s, but everything I can think of doing, one of my brothers already did,” Ron explained. “So, what am I supposed to do?”
“Someone I care about told me something I’ll never forget. Study harder than everyone else, work harder than everyone else, and try harder than everyone else. If you can do all that, even if someone else did it before you, you’ll find a way,” Harry replied.
“Thanks Harry, I’ll think about what you said,” Ron said, deep in thought now. He didn’t think his brothers were trying to hold him back, at least on purpose. They probably had to deal with the same thing he was now. Is that what they did as well?
After another long silence, Ron started another conversation. “What’s your favorite quidditch team?” Ron asked. “Mine’s the Chudley Cannons,” He said proudly.
Now this was a topic that Harry was at least familiar with. James had been a quidditch fanatic. So even though he had never been to a game in person, he at least knew some of the team’s names, and what their general standings were.
An hour passed as they warmed up to each other, drifting from one topic to another. Chocolate frog cards, exploding snap, and chess. They were so engrossed in what they were talking about, it caught them by surprise when the door banged open.
“Have any of you seen a toad? There’s a boy that’s lost one,” a girl with bushy brown hair said as she stepped inside.
Harry looked at the girl, recognizing her, but he wasn’t sure from where.
“I’m Harry Potter… and you are?” Harry asked.
“I’m Hermione Granger,” she said as she crossed her arms in front of her, recognizing exactly where she had met him.
“Um… What’s going on?” Ron asked, picking up on the obvious tension between Harry and Hermione.
“… I saw her when I went to Gringott’s. She was standing in line,” Harry explained, remembering the girl from the bank.
Hermione looked like she wanted to say more, but held her tongue.
“Oh… ok.” Ron replied, not sure what to make of the glare Hermione was giving Harry.
“We haven’t seen any toads, sorry,” Harry answered.
Just as Hermione was about to say something else, another boy popped his head into the compartment. “Sorry to bother you….” He said, trailing off as he recognized Harry immediately.
“Come on, Neville,” Hermione said as she turned to leave. “They said they haven’t seen your toad.”
“Wait!” Neville said, forgetting entirely about his toad. “You’re him… you’re Harry Potter. I read about you in the Prophet!”
“What?” Hermione asked. Why would the rude boy from the bank be in a newspaper?
“Yeah, it was brilliant,” Neville explained. “He solved Merlin’s Cypher.”
“What’s that?” Hermione asked, even more confused. She had obviously heard about Merlin. Everyone had. But she didn’t know anything about this vault he was talking about.
“Merlin created a vault a long time ago… maybe 1000 years ago. No one really knows for sure, and to get inside, you had to solve these puzzles,” Ron explained. “Loads of people have tried it over the years and no one could figure it out… until Harry did.”
“Yeah,” Neville agreed. “They broadcast it live on the WWN too. There were a bunch of books and magical artifacts from Merlin’s time in there. Did the Ministry let you keep any of it, Harry?”
“No,” Harry shook his head. “They said I’m only allowed to have the prize money.”
“Prize money?” Hermione asked.
“500,000 galleons,” Ron answered.
Hermione’s eyes widened as she did the math in her head for how much that would be in pounds. Each galleon was worth about 21 pounds, so that was 10.5 million pounds! That at least explained how he acted at the bank.
“… What about your toad Neville?” Hermione changed the subject. “Are we still looking for it?”
“Oh right,” Neville blanched. “I totally forgot… Do you know any spells that could help Harry?”
“Sorry, I only read the first year spell book so far. I haven’t learned any spells yet that would help,” Harry replied.
‘I knew it!’ Hermione thought, feeling vindicated. Harry Potter wasn’t anything special. He couldn’t even be bothered to read ahead. It must have just been a fluke when he opened the vault. When they got to Hogwarts, she would run circles around him. She just knew it.
“Well, I just finished reading all the second year text books a week ago,” Hermione bragged. “And I’m about halfway through the third year’s texts now.”
“Come on, Neville,” Hermione said, dragging the boy out with her. “Let’s keep looking.”
Neville looked for a moment like he wanted to stay, but slumped his shoulders and followed Hermione out.
Harry and Ron were looking out of the window as the train continued to make its way to Hogwarts. Other than the woman selling candy, they hadn’t had any more visitors. They were just dozing off when the compartment door slid open.
“Everyone up and down the train is saying that this is Harry Potter’s compartment. Are you him?” A pale, blonde-haired boy asked as he marched in and pointed at Harry.
Harry recognized the boy immediately. He was the one from Madam Malkin’s that reminded him of Glory. “Yes, and you are?” Harry asked.
“I’m Draco, Draco Malfoy,” he said, holding his hand out for Harry to shake.
Harry looked down at his hand as he wondered what to do. Was it fair to judge Draco on the one interaction he had with him?
The decision was taken out of his hands when he heard a snicker from behind him.
“Think my name is funny, do you?” Draco rounded on Ron. “Well, I don’t have to guess who you are. Red hair, freckles, hand-me-down robes. You must be a Weasley,” he said derisively.
Ron flushed angrily at Draco’s words, ready to step forward and wipe the smirk off the smug prat’s face when two other boys lumbered into the compartment behind him. They were both a full head taller than him and looked like they were ready for a fight.
“Malfoy… that name sounds familiar,” Ron replied, changing tact. “Remind me again? What was your family up to during the war?”
Now it was Draco’s turn to flush with anger as he glared daggers at Weasley. How dare this blood traitor insult his family?
Draco fought the urge to march up to the weasel and set him straight. He took a breath, reminding himself that he was here for a reason. Harry Potter was the most famous boy in the Wizarding World, and his fame and influence would only grow as he got older. If he could strike up a friendship with him now, it would be extremely useful for his future.
“Harry, as you well know, there are some families in the Wizarding World that are better than others,” Draco glared at Ron before turning back to Harry. “I think you’ll find a lot more doors open to you with a friend like me,” he said as he held out his hand.
“Thank you for that, Draco,” Harry said, not taking his hand. “I will give it some thought.”
Draco was disappointed, Potter didn’t take his hand in friendship, but it wasn’t an outright denial either. He had to remind himself that Potter was not like Crabbe or Goyle, who would fall in line just because he said so. “It was nice to meet you. Crabbe, Goyle, let’s go.”
After they left, Ron turned to Harry. “People say his father was a Death Eater in the war, you know? He only avoided Azkaban by making up a story about being under the Imperius.”
“I know, I’ve heard the rumors too,” Harry agreed.
“Then why-” Ron started to ask.
“Why didn’t I insult him? Maybe even accuse him of being a Death Eater, too?”
“Yeah,” Ron nodded, curious why his friend would want anything to do with someone like Malfoy.
“I wouldn’t want to be judged by someone else’s actions. Would you?” Harry asked as he thought about how Fudge treated him, how he didn’t just assume he was a carbon copy of James Potter.
Ron stopped as he thought about what Harry said. What was so bad about that? The Malfoy’s were supporters of the Dark Lord, everyone knew it.
Then he realized what Harry was trying to say. What if everyone judged him by what his brothers did? The exact thing that he was afraid would happen to him. “Alright,” Ron acknowledged with a sigh, “I don’t like it, but I get your point.”
“I think we’re here,” Harry said as felt the train slowing down.
“You’re right,” Ron agreed as he looked out the window. “I can see Hogwarts.”
A few minutes later, the train came to a stop, and they got off with the rest of the first years. The sky was cloudy, covering up the moon, and the only light they could see was from the lanterns attached to the boats.
“Alright, first years to the boats,” a giant of a man bellowed. “No more than two to a boat. The rest of you, make your way to the carriages.”
Harry got into a boat with Ron, watching as the rest of the first years paired up as well. Hermione and Neville took the boat beside them. Further down, Draco got in a boat with a dark-haired girl. Crabbe and Goyle also got in a boat together and they were off.
As the clouds parted, they got their first view of the sprawling castle of Hogwarts up close. “Wicked,” Ron smiled.
Harry wished he could share Ron’s enthusiasm, but this was not his first visit to the castle. He had only escaped by the skin of his teeth the last time, and now he was going back voluntarily. Hopefully Ted had come through for him, or he would be in serious trouble.
The boat ride took about twenty minutes, but all too soon for Harry, they arrived at the Hogwarts grounds and met by the Deputy Headmistress, Minerva McGonagall.
“The first year’s Professor,” the giant smiled.
“Thank you Hagrid,” The Professor replied. “I am Deputy Headmistress McGonagall, Head of Gryffindor House, and Transfiguration Professor. Welcome to Hogwarts,” she addressed the students.
“Come this way and we will get you sorted into your houses,” she said as she led the students to the castle and into the main hall.
“We will have you sorted you into one of the four Hogwarts houses,” she explained. “Hufflepuff, Slytherin, Gryffindor, or Ravenclaw. Each house has a rich and storied history and produced excellent witches and wizards.”
“Your triumphs will earn you house points, and any misbehaving will cost you house points. At the end of the year, we will award the house with the most points the house cup.”
“Your houses will be like your families. You will eat together, share dormitories, and a common room,” she said as they entered the great hall to find the other students already there, waiting for them.
“When I call your names, step forward,” she instructed.
Harry looked around the hall, noting that the older students were already there and seated at their tables. When he looked at the head table, he could see the headmaster. He was talking to a professor dressed in black with greasy hair.
“They spelled the ceiling to look like the night sky,” Hermione whispered to the students standing next to her as they looked up. “I read it in Hogwarts, A History.”
“Hannah Abbot,” Professor McGonagall called.
Harry watched as the blonde-haired girl nervously walked up to the professor and sat down on the stool.
When the Professor placed the hat on her head, he saw a mouth appear. “Better be Hufflepuff.” It shouted after a moment’s pause.
A cheer went up at the Hufflepuff table as Hannah quickly made her way to her house table and sat down.
The sorting continued in much the same way. After a few seconds, the hat would declare a house and the student would join their house table.
Next to put on the hat was Hermione Granger. Harry watched as the hat deliberated for a few moments before shouting, “Gryffindor!”
Hermione happily pulled off the hat and joined her new house.
A few students later, Harry took notice of the next name, Wayne Hopkins. He was one of the students he sponsored. The brown-haired boy walked up to the hat with a smile on his face. The hat was on his head only for a moment before it shouted, “Hufflepuff!”
Next was Draco Malfoy, the hat wasn’t even fully placed on his head before it shouted, “Slytherin.”
Harry watched as Sally Perks was called and sorted into Slytherin as well. Then it was his turn. “Harry Potter,” Professor McGonagall called.
The whispers and pointing started immediately after they announced his name. Harry walked up to the stool, sitting down. When the hat landed on his head, he heard a voice in his mind.
“Well, this is certainly interesting… not one mind, but two.”
“That is not your concern hat,” Merlin interrupted. “Perform your duties.”
“Merlin… now that is even more unexpected,” the hat replied.
Harry began to worry. Would the hat tell the headmaster? What would he say about Merlin?
“Calm yourself lad,” the hat said. “I can’t share anything we talk about with anyone else.”
“Plenty of courage I see, not a bad mind either… With goals like yours, you are certainly not lacking in ambition. Where to put you, though? Difficult. Very, very difficult.”
“You would do well in any house, really. Your passenger will certainly see to that. You cannot achieve your goals on your own, you will need others, ones that share the same courage as you, better be…”
“Gryffindor!” the hat shouted.
An even larger cheer broke out amongst the Gryffindor table as Harry sat down, and his new housemates patted him on the back, congratulating him.
Oliver Rivers got sorted into Ravenclaw next. Then it was Ron’s turn. Unlike the other students, it looked like Ron was actually arguing with the hat. A few moments later, the hat decided. “Gryffindor!”
Ron smiled as he took off the hat and joined Harry at the Gryffindor table.
After all the students were sorted into their houses, Dumbledore stood up. “Welcome to Hogwarts!” He said as he opened his arms wide. “Welcome to a new year! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. Nitwit! Blubber! Tweak!”
As he finished speaking, the food appeared on the tables, and the students cheered as they dug into the food.
Harry watched the headmaster carefully. If he had not met him previously, he would assume, just like everyone else, that the headmaster was just a kind, if not eccentric, man.
“Alright, Harry?” Ron asked from beside him.
“Yeah,” Harry said, shaking his head as he piled some food on his plate. “… Just distracted, I guess.”
The feast continued on, with some of the students talking to the ghosts, and amongst themselves.
Harry answered a few questions about the vault, but mostly kept out of the conversations with the other students, too distracted by the thought of what Dumbledore had planned for him. He felt as if he was in the lion’s den, waiting to be pounced upon.
When everyone finished eating, the headmaster stood up to make the start of term announcements. “Now that we’ve all eaten, there are just a few start of term announcements to give you.”
“The forbidden forest is just that, forbidden for all students to enter. Mr. Filch, the caretaker, has asked me to remind you that magic used in the hallways between classes is strictly forbidden. Finally, Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of term, and anyone interested in trying out for their house teams should speak to Madam Hooch.”
“And now that we are all fed and watered, it is bedtime. Off you trot!”
The headmaster watched the students leave, then made his way to his office. It was clear from the looks Harry was giving him he had a lot of work to do if he wanted to win him over. The missteps he had made early on, listening to James, had certainly made things more difficult for him.
Attempting to obliviate the boy was, in retrospect, a mistake on his part as well. He had only intended to remove the memories of Gloria’s mishaps with the media, and their subsequent conversation, then try again with the foreknowledge of what Harry would say. It had worked countless times in the past, after all.
He had never dreamed that Harry would have been able to escape, and in such dramatic fashion as well.
The letter he had received from Ted Tonks, Harry’s apparent solicitor, had only made things worse. He had never intended to go to the ministry with his suspicions about Harry’s wand. He only planned to use it as the proverbial stick to get him into line. Harry had overreacted and sought legal counsel, which effectively tied his hands.
He needed to regain Harry’s confidence, some kind of assistance that he could only provide, then a suitable apology, and finally an explanation for his actions that would cast the blame back upon James.
An opportunity would present itself, it always did.
A lot happened in this chapter, Harry finally meets Ron, Hermione, and Draco.
Starting with Ron, I know he’s out of character, and this is largely due to Harry himself. Unlike the books where Ron saw Harry as important because of something out of his control, he sees Harry as someone that understands what it is to live in someone else’s shadow, and crucially someone that made something of himself due to his own direct actions.
Hermione is also different because of this as well. They got off on the wrong foot because Harry was able to break the rules by skipping ahead of everyone in line at Gringott’s.
The big change in this story vs the original version is Harry’s house. I gave this a lot of thought, and it basically comes down to the fact that I didn’t have a very strong reason to put Harry in Hufflepuff originally. I thought it would lead to a more interesting dynamic between the characters because they were all in different houses but in reality it just made it harder to write because there always had to be a manufactured reason for them to interact with each other.
What do you think about Harry’s confrontation with his family? It’s basically just the opening salvo at this point, and James is too proud to let this go.
This is also the end of the pre-hogwarts arc of the story, the next chapter will still be out in two weeks and kick off the year zero arc.
To give you an idea what to expect I’ve planned it out to be about 40 chapters give or take. We are still behind the events of the books by one year. Those events will follow Glory as she is the girl-who lived. I promise this will not be a boring year for Harry though, he will have a lot on his plate.
Thank you very much for reading, reviewing, and supporting me on this story. For anyone that read the original story it was about 57k words, and so far this version is about 64k words and climbing and we still haven’t moved past the timeline of the original story. I hope you enjoy what comes next, and please review, let me know what’s working and what needs to be improved or fixed.