Why Three-Quarters? – penumbria – Chapter Three

Content Rating:
  • PG-13
Warning(s):
  • Character Bashing
  • Discussion-Child Abuse
  • Discussion-Murder
  • Racism
  • Violence-Canon-Level
Genre(s):
  • Canon Divergent
  • Fantasy
  • Fix It
Relationship(s):
Harry Potter & Blaise Zabini, Harry Potter & Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter & Padma Patil, Harry Potter & Parvati Patil

Word Count:
4,192/11,469/25,000

Author's Note:
The discussions of child abuse and murder are for canon events/history and the racism is for pureblood vs muggleborn. JK Rowling admitted that King's Cross has no barriers between platforms 9 and 10 but she didn't know that when she wrote it. So, we accept this and I ignore the reality as well.

Summary:
Why exactly is it Platform 9 & 3/4? Harry Potter questions this on his first trip to King's Cross and everything changes.

Chapter 3

Harry stood in the Great Hall surrounded by his new friends and all of the other first-years and waited to discover how the sorting would work. He was nervous but determined to do his best in whatever House he ended up in. He still had no clue where he would best fit, even after learning a lot more on the train ride about what the Houses were all about. 

And then the Hat on the stool began singing about the school and the Houses. It made Harry even more confused and a bit more worried.

Harry didn’t think he was very smart or bookish, though he did like to read sometimes. The library was an escape from Dudley and when he could smuggle a book into his cupboard, it was an escape from boredom. And he guessed he was kind of smart, not that he could ever show it without being accused of cheating by doing better than his thick cousin.

And he supposed he was cunning, he did survive ten years with his relatives without breaking and killing them or himself. But he wasn’t very ambitious. He just wanted to live his own life, a normal life for a wizard boy.

Harry knew that he was able to work hard, his upbringing certainly saw to that. He didn’t have any other choice but to learn if he wanted to eat and not be locked away for days or weeks at a time. He didn’t know how loyal he was though. He never had an opportunity to be loyal to anyone. Definitely not the Dursleys and he had no one else, until the train ride, to show loyalty to.

And Gryffindor, bravery? Chivalry? Daring? Harry didn’t think he really understood chivalry. Maybe he was brave for believing Hagrid and coming to this new world. But that would make every single muggleborn eligible for Gryffindor which he thought was wrong. He didn’t feel very daring. But Harry supposed he sometimes was when he taunted Dudley or when he had tried to get one of his letters but trod on Uncle Vernon’s face.

Harry shrugged internally. He’d just go where the Hat put him. That was evidently it’s only job.

He watched silently as kids he didn’t know were sorted, interspersed with some he did know. Crabbe, Goyle, and Malfoy all went to Slytherin, the first two after twenty seconds or so, the latter before the Hat even settled on his head. Neville was sorted into Gryffindor and almost forgot to take the Hat off before going to his table, he was two steps from the stool when he stopped and took it off with a sheepish smile. Padma went to Ravenclaw after a brief few seven seconds, as she and her mother had predicted for her. And then Parvati sat under the Hat for nearly a minute before it called out for her to go to Gryffindor.

Then Professor McGonagall called out his name. He walked calmly to the stool, hiding his nervousness as whispers broke out around the hall. He sat on the stool and the Hat lowered onto his head and began to speak in his mind.

“Well, interesting, interesting indeed. Quite humble, Mister Potter, I see the thoughts you’ve had on my job. You’ve a good mind, a loyal heart, hardworking by nature as well as nurture – such as it was, cunning and sly when appropriate, and sometimes when not, courageous and chance-taking, sometimes too often for your health. Have you a preference, Mister Potter? I don’t guarantee you’ll get it but I am curious.”

Harry gave a moment’s thought. “I’d like to be with my friends. I’ve never had them before and I’d like to keep them, if I can. So, I don’t know where Blaise will go, as he hasn’t been sorted yet, but either Gryffindor or Ravenclaw, I suppose.”

The Hat hummed. “Well, you would do well in either. And you would make new friends in Hufflepuff and have a good chance at keeping your currents ones, as well. But not Slytherin?”

“I know some of the Slytherins, though not well, and Blaise thought it was a good possibility for him to end up there. So, I could live with it.”

“It could help you on your way to greatness.”

Harry frowned. “I don’t think I really want to be great. Great seems to lead to fame. And I’ve got quite enough of that, unwanted.”

“True. True. Still, Harry Potter in Slytherin would be quite the clever twist. Twist some people’s beards, it would. Alas, the more we talk and I see your mind, and wishes, the better it is for you to go and enjoy your time in – GRYFFINDOR!”

Harry heard the last word with his ears and opened his eyes as Professor McGonagall took the Hat off his head. He stood and walked to the table as his robes changed to show a red and gold trim, with a lion on his crest. Two red-haired twins began chanting, “We got Potter! We got Potter!” And Harry slid onto the bench beside Neville, who had Parvati across from him.

The rest of the sorting proceeded and a boy named Dean Thomas took a seat next to Harry and Harry grimaced when Ron Weasley was sorted and sat next to Dean. Then he sighed when Blaise was sent to Slytherin. At least he had Neville and Parvati. 

The Headmaster called for the food and it was amazing to Harry. So many platters filled to the brim with so many different choices. He had heard some of the older years call this the Opening Feast or the Sorting Feast and he had to agree with the terminology. Harry concentrated on his food and talking with his new classmates as they ate.

After eating a decent sized meal and even some pudding, the Headmaster gave a speech which called into question his sanity in Harry’s mind but then again, the man was sitting on a golden throne and wearing robes with some kind of animated things prancing around on it. But to tell kids they shouldn’t go somewhere unless they wanted to die? Without explaining the threat? 

Harry knew Dudley would just take it as an instruction to go at the earliest opportunity. And so would his gang and most of the kids he went to primary with. The only ones who wouldn’t at least think about it were the teacher’s pets and the complete scaredy cats. 

Even Harry was giving it more than a passing thought. But he was too tired to do anything right now. It had been a long day and he was stuffed full of good food. Not to mention, he had no idea where the third floor even was. And he wasn’t sure that he wanted to risk his life just when it was going so well for him for the first time ever.

Two of the prefects, who didn’t introduce themselves or anything, though one bearded a striking resemblance to Weasley and the red-haired twins who had been so excited at Harry’s sorting. Harry guessed the male prefect was a Weasley, probably one of the infamous brothers five.

A long walk up lots of staircases, some of which moved, got them to a portrait of a heavyset woman in the middle of a hallway. The likely-Weasley prefect turned to them and told them this was the entrance to the common room and required them to give the portrait the password to enter. 

“Caput Draconis.”

The probably-Weasley prefect instructed them which side of the staircase was for girls and which for boys and didn’t even show them their dorm room or tell them any rules or the schedule for meals or anything. And the girl prefect never said a word the entire time as the perhaps-Weasley chivied them up the stairs.

Harry’s trunk was at the foot of a bed and Neville’s was next to him on the right. On his left was Dean and the other two were across the room. Harry hurried to the bathroom with his things and got ready for bed. Within five minutes of entering the dorm, he mumbled goodnight to his dorm mates and closed his curtains – feeling cozy like his old cupboard – and fell asleep. If he dreamed, he didn’t remember.

The next morning, Harry woke up early, his body clock used to the Dursleys schedule. The other boys weren’t even stirring and the clock Harry found on a wall said it was just gone six. He knew he would not be able to get back to sleep so he got ready for the day, putting his uniform on and packing his school bag. 

Harry didn’t have any idea what classes he had, if he would have them all today and have a locker to use nearer to the classrooms then the dorm or if they would have different classes on different days. And if that was so, he didn’t know which one would start that day and which another. And he had too many textbooks to take them all, it would make the bag too heavy to lift and he didn’t know the charm that Cedric’s dad had used on his trunk.

Harry decided to pack some parchment, a few quills, an ink bottle which he wrapped in a piece of cloth so it wouldn’t break, and two random books. He closed his eyes and his hands fell on “The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1” and “Magical Drafts and Potions”. He slid them into his bag and grabbed “A History of Magic” to read to pass some time while he waited for his roommates to wake or it got closer to seven, whichever came first.

After nearly forty minutes of reading, about an hour since he had woken up, another male prefect, not the likely-Weasley one, entered the room and set off an alarm. It was like an alarm clock ringing and most of the other boys stirred and began to rise. All except the definite-Weasley, Ron. He grumbled and rolled over, mumbling about Fred and George and ghouls and pulled his pillow over his head.

The prefect walked over to Ron’s bed and set off the alarm again, this time right by his head. He sat up straight, his arms swinging out. The prefect stepped back and the redhead blinked. 

The older boy walked to the door and faced them. “My name is Randophic Harrington. I am the Gryffindor sixth year male prefect. It is currently seven, breakfast begins being served at quarter after this hour and will be served until thirty minutes after eight. Normally, breakfast begins at seven on weekdays but not the day after the Opening Feast. On weekends, breakfast begins at half-past seven until nine. 

“It will be your responsibility after today to get yourselves up and ready on time in order to get breakfast before classes begin at three quarters past eight. I will teach you a spell that can set an alarm to wake you after dinner this evening. I will escort you down to the Great Hall in ten minutes. Professor McGonagall will distribute your schedules then.”

Harry rose to his feet, already prepared to go and slipped the book he had been reading back into his trunk. The other boys all rushed to the bathroom and Harry could hear them cursing as they got in each other’s way.

Harrington smiled at him. “Early riser regularly or just nerves and bad sleep?”

Harry smiled back. “Early riser. Had to get up early for chores at my relatives’ house. But I’ve only been up an hour.”

“Well, it’s a good habit to keep. Go to bed at a reasonable hour and get up a bit early so you aren’t in a rush. Or falling over your dorm mates as you all try to get ready at the same time.”

Harry nodded. “I have a question.”

Harrington waved his hands wide. “Answering questions for the younger years is at least part of what my job is.”

“Okay, then, a couple of questions. First, how does the class schedule work here? You said we’d get ours at breakfast but I mean, do we have all of our classes every day or otherwise? And which are most likely today if not?”

“Muggleborn or raised?”

Harry nodded. “Raised.”

He smiled. “Well, you’ll have three or four classes a day in your first year. One or two before lunch, and one or two after. Except Wednesday nights when you have Astronomy at night after dinner. And other than that class which stays consistent with day and time every year for the first years, the others change. So, I don’t know what you will have before lunch today.”

“Thanks. Okay, second, who were the prefects who showed us to the common room last night? They didn’t introduce themselves and the girl never even spoke at all, at least, not unless she did after the girls went to their dorm.”

Harrington rolled his eyes. “Percival Weasley, more commonly called Percy, and Rebekah Standish are the fifth year prefects for Gryffindor. My sixth-year female counterpart is Trista Brandice. And the seventh year prefects are Mark Gilles and Fiona Smythe.”

Harry smiled. “Thanks.”

The other boys had begun leaving the bathroom during the explanation and soon they were on their way. The girls were waiting in the common room with Prefect Brandice and they headed down to the Great Hall, pointing out stationary landmarks on the way and warning of trick stairs and doorways.

They arrive at the Great Hall and it is about half full. The Gryffindor table is the least filled and Harry and the rest of the first years sit at the end nearest the Head Table. 

Harry slid onto the bench and Neville sat to his right. Parvati was talking to her sister by the Ravenclaw table and Ron Weasley slid next to Harry on the left. 

Harry grimaced but decided to give the redhead a second chance. First impressions weren’t always the best and Weasley was just 11. And just look at Malfoy. When they met in Diagon Alley, Harry had felt he was a lot like Dudley: a spoiled, arrogant, and entitled brat. But when they met again things went much better and they were at worst neutral acquaintances.

Unfortunately for Weasley, his second impression didn’t start any better than his first. “Harry, mate, see you made it into Gryffindor. And that slimy snake you were sitting with is where he belongs. After class, the squib can switch beds with me so we can be next to each other. I told you you’d regret what you said.”

Harry stiffened and his eyes narrowed in anger. “Blaise was sorted into Slytherin. I don’t care. It is a House in school so he can be with others who have the same type of mind as he does. Or focus on similar things. Prejudice is stupidity in action. Neville isn’t a squib and the beds are fine the way they are. If you take it upon yourself to touch Neville’s things or mine, I will report you for attempted theft.”

Weasley’s ears turned red along with his cheeks. “You’re a stuck up prat. You think you’re so much better than me. Rather hang with slimy snakes then your own housemates.”

“You’re a brown noser of the first degree. If I wasn’t famous for something so stupid, you wouldn’t care about me in the least. When we first met you came looking for the Boy-Who-Lived. Not me. You want to be ‘mates’ with someone who doesn’t exist. Maybe someday you’ll grow up and be a better person, but unless that happens, I don’t care to have any more to do with you than I have to by being Housemates and living in the same dorm room.”

Weasley’s second impression just worsened as breakfast continued. As they had been arguing, the redhead had filled his plate with bacon and eggs and toast and sausages and potatoes and tomatoes and by the time Harry finished his quiet rant, Weasley’s plate was mounded high.

The boy stuffed his face with a mouthful of eggs and shoved a piece of bacon in before he even began to chew. Harry shuddered and instinctively scooted closer to Neville. When he realized what he had done, Harry realized he had unconsciously been making room for Dudley or someone his size, at least. The more he interacted with the entitled redhead, the more Harry’s mind imposed Dudley’s face on him. 

Weasley began chewing and opened his mouth to continue his insanity, not quiet in the least. Food sprayed from his mouth across the table and fell from his fork as he gestured with it. “You’re going to regret being a slimy snake lover. You’ll die like you should have as a baby.”

Harry sighed and shook his head. “You’re a prejudiced git. And for your information, snakes aren’t slimy at all unless they’ve been swimming in unclean water. They’re dry and smooth. Neville, can we move down the table. I don’t want to have to change my uniform because Weasley spits food on it.”

Neville nodded, hiding a grin and they picked up their plates and moved to the very end of the table, leaving Weasley to his fuming and eating.

Harry put a decent sized breakfast on his plate, a fried egg on toast, a spoonful of stewed tomatoes and two slices of bacon. He poured himself some of the pumpkin juice but found it too sweet for breakfast. Looking around, he couldn’t see a different drink and he turned to Neville.

“Why is pumpkin juice the only thing served to drink?”

Neville shrugged, “I dunno. Most kids like it. I drink it but don’t love it. My Gran wouldn’t let me have it except on special occasions at home.”

“Huh. Well, I never had it before last night and it was good enough then but it’s too sweet for so early in the morning for me. I’d much rather have milk or water or maybe apple or orange juice.”

Within seconds of Harry’s reaching the end of his sentence, a pitcher of milk, a pitcher of water, and a pitcher of apple juice appeared on the table along with a dozen fresh glasses. Harry chuckled, “Magic is brilliant. Wonder why no orange juice, though.”

Neville frowned. “Well, pumpkin juice is orangey. Kind of. Brownish-orangish. Orangey-brownish? Maybe the house elves figured that qualified close enough.”

Harry laughed, “No, orange juice not the color, the juice of the fruit, oranges. It’s sort of popular in the muggle world. And you’ll have to explain house elves to me.”

“Uh, they’re like servants, their species has a, uh, oh, symbiotic relationship with wizards. And Hogwarts has a lot of them. They do most of the cooking and cleaning and washing and stuff. They must have heard you ask about other drinks and had no orders against it. They might not have known what orange juice was any more than I did, either that or they didn’t have any oranges. Or both. It’ll probably be on the table tomorrow.”

“Awesome. They are great at their job, for sure. Are they invisible or just really fast?”

“They are good at not being seen but the juice was just using their magic like with the food dishes.”

A slightly grating voice piped up from across the table, “Do you think they could provide tea? A good English breakfast tea? I usually have a hot drink with my breakfast at home. Usually tea though occasionally once in a while coffee.”

Harry looked across the table and saw his Housemate, he couldn’t remember her name, she had talked about reading “Hogwarts, a History” when they entered the Great Hall the night before and her name came before Neville but after the Irish kid, Seamus. He knew her first name was odd and her last name made him think of a farm in passing when he heard it the first time.

Neville nodded, “They probably,” a teapot and teacups appeared on the table by the girl, “can. I guess it took a few seconds more because it is hot and that is an extra step.”

The girl nodded as she poured herself a steaming cup of tea. “I wouldn’t want to cause them more work.”

“House elves live to work, they get joy from a job well done and the magic a happy wizard or witch gives off just by existing is kind of like food for them. Not exactly, but sort of in a way, I think. It had to do with how they are bound to wizards.”

The girl frowned. “Bound? They – they aren’t slaves?”

Neville shook his head violently. “No. Not bound like slaves, um, bound like tied or, um, tethered to a place or a person or a family. House elves who aren’t, uh, tethered by the time they reach maturity get really sick and gradually go mad. Like, evil insane kind of mad. That’s where gremlins come from. Or came from originally and still can come from, I guess. Though most now are descendants of untethered house elves from centuries ago.”

“Oh. Well, as long as it isn’t slavery, that’s alright.” She took a sip of tea. “Hmm, just perfect. Oh, I’m Hermione Granger.”

“Neville Longbottom, pleasure.”

“Harry Potter.”

Granger’s eyes widened. “I know. I’ve read all about you. You were in – ”

Harry interrupted her. “I’m sure you have but other than facts leading up to that night it’s all speculation. As far as I know, other than a fifteen-month-old baby, no one survived to tell what happened and I doubt I was speaking well enough to explain what I saw even if I understood any of it at the time. So, those books are speculative at best and lies at worst. The facts are as follows: You-Know-Who came to the house where my parents and I were on October 31, 1981. My father and mother died, he vanished – no body but his robes were there but not his wand – and I got a cut that scarred in the shape of a sort of lightning bolt on my forehead. The end.”

Granger’s eyes widened and she jerked back. “You didn’t need to be rude. You’re famous and should be used to people having read about you by now.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “I wasn’t being rude. I was informing you that your statement about having read all about me was blatantly false. And you just confirmed it yourself. There is no way I could be accustomed to my idiotic ‘fame’.”

Granger huffed. “Just because you were raised in isolation by a wizarding family who used glamours when you went out is -“

Neville interrupted her, “You j-just proved his point, again. You don’t know anything about him. Other than what he said were the facts earlier.”

Harry smiled, “Thanks, Neville.” 

Harry turned to Granger as he finished some of his egg on toast. “I’ve only know that magic exists for 33 days. I found out I was a wizard on my birthday when Hagrid – the man who brought us across the lake in the boats last night – found me with my muggle relatives and gave me my letter and took me shopping on July 31. Up until then, I’d always been told, very adamantly, that there was no such thing as magic. So, you very obviously have read and heard very faulty information.”

Granger opened her mouth to presumably retort when Professor McGonagall appeared behind her and handed her a piece of paper. She reached across the table to hand papers to Neville and Harry as well. “Your schedules, Miss Granger, Mister Longbottom, Mister Potter. Finish your breakfasts, classes start in less than half an hour.”

Harry nodded and looked over his schedule. The first class of the day was Herbology, followed by History of Magic, then lunch. He turned to Neville. “I’ve got the wrong book. I’ve got to go back to the dorms. You good or should I wait?” 

Harry took the last bite of bacon and downed the last of his milk. Neville looked at his schedule and then in his bag. “I need my history book. I’ll be done in a minute.”

As Neville turned back to his nearly empty plate, Harry smiled and his lips twisted in thought. As Neville stood with his bag, Harry nodded to himself. He put his hands together and gave a little bow to the actual table before standing. “Thanks for a delicious breakfast. If you can’t provide orange juice, the milk and apple juice is great.”

Neville paused and tilted his head, biting his lip. After a second, he shrugged. “Thank you for the wonderful breakfast, it is a great start to the day.”

As the boys hurried out of the Great Hall, they heard Granger copying them and thanking the table – and hopefully heard by the house elves – for breakfast and just before they were out of earshot, they heard a little thanks from an Irish voice and a London one, as well.



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About penumbria

Avid reader of fan-fiction, self-published writer of a fantasy novel on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and other distributors under a pen name entitled Chill Breeze. I post on AO3: http://archiveofourown.org/users/penumbria/works Live Journal: http://penumbria-fics.livejournal.com/ (LJ handle penumbria_fics). WordPress site for fic: https://penumbriafic.wordpress.com/ WordPress for fanfic recs: https://penumbriarecs.wordpress.com/ FB for fics: https://www.facebook.com/penumbriafanficwriter Email for fic: penumbria_fics@outlook.com

17 Comments

  1. Lovely ending to this chapter.

  2. Source criticism, Hermione, it’s a thing… Not every word that gets printed is true.

    I love how you are writing a more curious Harry and how that changes everything.

  3. I’m glad that Harry is sticking close to Neville and speaking up rather than letting things slide when he’s faced with something unpleasant. Fingers crossed that Hermione can accept this new information and start questioning what she finds in books as this has clearly demonstrated that they are not an unimpeachable source of facts.

    I completely understand why Harry associates Ron with his cousin. I think gratitude the first time around and then fear of losing what little he had made him accept things in canon he would otherwise have preferred not.

    Thanks for posting!

  4. Thanks for your great update!

  5. I have a soft spot for Harry and Neville being close. Great update.

  6. Good part, thanks so much!

  7. Great chapter. I like the relationship you are building between Neville and Harry.

  8. He’s not being rude about things, he is very calmly explaining how things are really and asking questions as he goes along. Hermione and Ron are probably not going to be his friends in this and I don’t see the problem with it. The Patil’s, Blaise and Neville actually make really good friends for him. The Patil twins are from India, I can see Parsel tongue as being very prominent there.

  9. Harry and Neville are my faves.

    Bowing to the table is adorable!

  10. Great update. Love stories where Harry is closer to Neville

  11. I love them thanking the house elves! So very cute!
    This story is fabulous! It gets even better with every update.

  12. Loved this update! This chapter also made me realize how much wasn’t explained the muggle-borns and -raised in canon.

  13. Great update. Nice to see Harry and Neville being friends and Harry having other friends in other houses.

  14. Such a fantastic chapter! This story is great, and I love the Harry & Neville friendship :D

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