- Character Bashing
- Discussion-Child Abuse
- Canon Divergent
- Fix It
Chapter 2 – On the Train
Harry explained what he had meant by the remark the twins overheard. Padma looked thoughtful for a minute. “It’s a nice thought. But the likelihood of the five of us or even just the three of you being in the same House isn’t high. Frankly, our family is fairly sure, based on what my mother has said about Hogwarts and the Houses, that Parvati and I will be in different Houses. We really are quite different in personality.”
Parvarti nodded. “Our mother went to Hogwarts but our father didn’t. He’s from India and came here in the 1970s. Mom was in Ravenclaw. And she thinks that Padma might follow in her footsteps but it really wouldn’t be a good fit for me. I’m not stupid but I don’t really focus on books and learning things, you know?”
Blaise nodded. “Yeah. I suppose sorting Ravenclaw wouldn’t surprise me too much, but I’m not really a fit for Hufflepuff or Gryffindor. Most people I know think I’ll go Slytherin.”
Neville bit his lip and then spoke. “M-my parents were both in Gryffindor and everyone wants me to go there but they all say I’ll probably sort Hufflepuff. My Gran says she doesn’t care since I got a letter and have enough magic to come. My family thought I was a squib or too low magically to go for ages. And I’d like to be in Gryffindor, everyone would be so happy, but I don’t think I’m very brave.”
Harry shook his head. “You came in here and asked if you could stay even though it was occupied. You could have kept going until you found an empty compartment. Bravery isn’t just running off and hitting people or shooting spells, I guess. It’s being scared or worried but not letting it stop you.”
Neville smiled and his cheeks reddened. “Thanks, Harry.”
Parvati looked at Harry and caught his eye. “Where do you think you’ll sort, Harry? I mean, I know what everyone expects of you and all but you were right, you’re just a normal kid, so what do you think?”
Harry smiled widely, happy that she understood. “Well, I don’t know much about the Houses. I was told that my parents were in Gryffindor and that people think that Hufflepuffs are all duffers and that there isn’t a wizard or witch who went bad that wasn’t in Slytherin. But I don’t know that I believe that. The person who told me wasn’t exactly, um, reliable. And may have been a bit drunk.”
“Was that the person you were talking about who gave you your letter and took you to Diagon Alley? The one that was overly familiar with your name?” Blaise asked.
Padma gasped. “A professor said that about the Houses?”
Harry shook his head. “He wasn’t a professor. He said he was the Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts. He brought me my letter and took me to get my supplies. His name’s Hagrid.”
Neville frowned. “A gamekeeper introduced you to the wizarding world? You said you were raised by muggles. And that you didn’t know about magic until this Hagrid told you? Is that right?”
Harry nodded. “Yeah. I mean fre – odd stuff happened around me sometimes but I never knew what it was. And then my letters came and it was crazy.”
Blaise blinked several times. “Letters? Plural?”
“Well, my relatives didn’t want me to know about being a wizard so they kept destroying them. And then the next day there would be more and they would come in weird ways. Like, after a few days, my uncle boarded up the mail slot in the door and so some letter came through a crack in the window and inside some eggs and down the chimney. It drove my uncle a bit mad and we left and he tried to outrun them but the first motel we stayed at, at breakfast the clerk brought over one and said there were about a hundred at the front desk.
“And then we ended up on this little hut on a tiny rocky island in the middle of a storm and Hagrid showed up at midnight with my letter and told me I was a wizard. The next day he took me to London and we went shopping. But we rode the Gringott’s cart and it made him sick, so he went to have a few drinks in the pub while I shopped for my robes.”
Neville frowned. “That is just so wrong.”
Padma nodded her head emphatically. “For one, sending so many letters in weird ways was a breach of the Statute of Secrecy. And for another, coming at midnight? That is rude.”
“Well, it was my birthday and he gave me a cake and gave my cousin a pig’s tail when my uncle was rude about Professor Dumbledore and called him a crackpot.”
The four wizarding born children stared at Harry in amazement and horror. “He g-gave your cousin a pig’s tail? Your muggle cousin?”
Harry nodded. “He said he meant to turn him into a pig but he wasn’t very good at magic.”
Blaise huffed. “Good thing. That was blatant muggle baiting. That’s illegal and not to mention it wasn’t even your cousin who insulted Dumbledore. This Hagrid is lucky it wore off because if it didn’t -“
“It didn’t go away. My aunt and uncle took him to a surgeon to get it removed today before he starts school,” Harry interrupted.
“Surgeon?” Asked Parvati.
“Oh. A surgeon is a doctor who specializes in surgery, um, cutting people open to fix their insides or outsides.”
Parvati winced. “Gross.”
“That’s another breach of the Statute. Even more blatant than the letters which could have been played off as a prank,” said Blaise. “This Hagrid isn’t just irresponsible with his duty to you, he’s irresponsible with our way of life.”
“I don’t think he meant to expose magic or whatever. I mean, my aunt and uncle already knew, they didn’t tell me but they knew. My cousin found out when I did, when Hagrid showed up.”
“But the surgeon?” Neville questioned.
“The surgeon didn’t know. And a muggle boy with a pig’s tail isn’t normal. Is it?”
Harry shook his head. “No. But it isn’t like they were going to tell the surgeon it was a magical pig’s tail. They were going to say it was an oddly shaped mole or something.”
Padma interjected, “It still is odd and if this surgeon person sees weird moles a lot, he could recognize that it wasn’t one and tell someone and take pictures and who knows what from there.”
“I get it. It was dumb of Hagrid and I don’t disagree. But I don’t think he thought it through. He didn’t strike me as very bright. But he has a temper.”
Blaise sighed. “This goes back to what I was trying to explain to you earlier about formality and forced informality, Harry. You agree that it was wrong, you agree that it was dangerous for several reasons, but you can’t seem to not make excuses for the man. Was he formal with you at all?”
“No. He introduced himself by his full name and job title but told me to call just call him Hagrid, which come to think of it was his last name, not his first. And he never called me anything but Harry.”
“And he created a false sense of intimacy with you. You feel a connection to a strange man but there is no real foundation to build on. You should actually feel more antagonistic to him after what he did to your cousin.”
Harry shrugged. “I found it funny. At the time. My cousin and I aren’t close. It’s actually the opposite. He’s a bully and I’m one of his favorite targets. And Hagrid knew me as a baby.”
Parvati huffed out a loud breath. “And you only know that because this man told you that, right? You don’t remember him from before your parents died? Um, I mean, he didn’t visit you in the decade since, right?”
Harry smiled at her softly. “It’s alright. I don’t even remember my parents, who I presume were my primary caregivers every day, let alone some other adult I saw more infrequently as a baby. And I have to get used to hearing people refer to them being dead. Every time someone uses that stupid nickname it is all I can think of, anyway. And I doubt people will stop using it any time soon.”
“Stupid nickname?” Asked Parvati.
“The hyphenated idiocy, you know, The-Boy-Who-Lived. It says it right there. Or implies it, The Boy Whose Parents Were Murdered And Then The Murderer Bolloxed It Up And Couldn’t Kill Him.”
Neville choked on a laugh. “Sorry.”
Harry waved it away. “I was going for the dark humor of it. No problem. And I guess Hagrid’s informality was off. I mean, even the mob in the Leaky Cauldron called me Mister Potter after the first whisper of my full name, which only happened, now that I think on it when Hagrid announced to the barkeep that he was helping ‘Harry here’ get his school things. And Hagrid’s voice is very loud even when he’s trying to be quiet and he wasn’t then.”
“So, you see,” Blaise explained, “ that is more reason for you to distrust him. He drew attention to you and his responsibility to you and used your first name to an entire pub to make it seem like he was close to you when you’d only just met.”
Harry frowned, “Okay, first off, I’m not trying to defend him with what I’m about to say. I see the issue and what I was doing earlier and this isn’t that.”
The other kids nodded.
“Alright, so, if he was – I mean, he was using informality, in private and in public, that’s just a fact. And I could be wrong in this but he really, really did not come off as that smart. Unless he is a really good actor, it was either inadvertent on his part or someone else suggested the idea.”
“Well,” Neville said, “adults can be good actors and you only just met him, he could have played the fool as a way to connect with you more. Especially after his temper tantrum with your cousin.”
Harry made a face, unsure. “Possibly. But a boy I met in the robe shop saw him outside and when I explained who he was, the boy said he had heard of him. Hagrid has a reputation of getting drunk and setting fire to his cottage trying to do magic. He’s not supposed to because his wand was snapped. But he kept the pieces.”
“Well, regardless of whether it was his idea or someone else’s or just his personality in general,” said Blaise, “you see the falseness in the relationship that was established.”
“Yeah. I was kind of considering him my first friend, he told me I was a wizard, rescued me from the Dursleys, and even bought me the first birthday present I remember getting, and the first birthday cake. But, that was weird, huh. A grown man bringing a young boy a cake and buying him an owl. I just got a shiver thinking about it objectively.”
The others nodded. Neville tilted his head and then put a tentative hand on Harry’s arm. “You can see it now. Whether it was was benign or deliberate, he won’t fool you again. If he is just a sweet man who is kind of, um, not bright, then fine. If he’s acting and has an agenda, you’re aware to be wary. But either way, he’s a grown man and you’re only 11. You shouldn’t consider him a friend. Not – not like that.”
Harry nodded, “Right. Thanks, Neville. I hope I wasn’t reading him completely wrong but I will treat him like the adult he is and not the kid he acted like.”
Parvati smiled. “Good. Now, let’s lighten things up a bit. We’ve hours to go before the train reaches Scotland and Padma and I came prepared. Who wants to play Exploding Snap for a while?”
“Exploding Snap?” Asked Harry.
The others smiled. “Don’t worry, we’ll teach you.”
The five kids spent a couple of hours playing cards, both Snap, and games that Harry taught them that muggles play, with twists due to the wizarding deck they used to play. The conversation was light and touched on differences in customs of greeting, popular trends in music and fiction and fashion, and anecdotes from everyone’s lives. Granted some of the things that Harry and Neville related as lighthearted to them looking back, were not as sweet to their companions, even each other, but by common consensus, nothing heavy was tackled again. But things were remembered for a later time.
Padma had just shuffled the deck to start the latest hand of cards when the compartment door slammed open with a bang. A lanky, red-haired boy in faded plain black school robes stood in the doorway. His eyes flicked around the compartment until they settled on Harry where they stared at his bag-covered forehead, narrowed. “I’m looking for Harry Potter. He’s supposed to be a first-year this year. We’re the same age.”
Harry bit his tongue to hold back a scathing reply and stayed silent. Blaise leaned down and reached out, catching Trevor as he tried to escape out of the opened door.
“Th-thanks, Blaise.” Neville took the toad in his hands.
The redhead sneered at Neville. “You brought a toad? That is the stupidest pet on the list. But you’re nearly a squib, Longbottom, so it doesn’t matter, I guess.”
Harry narrowed his eyes, hearing Dudley’s voice overlay the rude boy’s voice as he continued on. “And you called him Blaise? I’ve heard of a Blaise before, he’s a Zabini. I didn’t think even a worthless squib like you would sit with an evil snake like a Zabini, Longbottom. His mother’s a murdering evil black widow. And you couldn’t find a better class of people? I mean, really, soon-to-be Slytherins and foreigners?”
Harry leaned into Neville’s side and the other boy took a deep breath. “No one asked you, Weasley. I’m happy with the company I’ve got.”
Weasley snorted, “Whatever.” He turned to Harry. “So, are you him? Harry Potter? Have you got the scar? You look like the descriptions and illustrations in the books and newspapers. You’re the Boy-Who-Lived, aren’t you?”
“Why do you care?” Harry glared.
“Come on, mate. You don’t want to be in this company. Longbottom is bad enough, he’s got almost no magic. And Zabini is evil like his family. He’s gonna be a slimy snake. And the girls, I guess they’re pretty but they’re probably muggleborns. Come with me, Harry, mate, and we can have fun and I can show you the right way.”
Harry heard Dudley’s voice echoing ever louder. This Weasley boy was rude and a bully. He was sucking up to Harry because he was famous. He’d seen Dudley act that way around clients of Vernon’s when there was a dinner party at Privet Drive.
“No thanks. I don’t think you know the right way. At least not my right way. I’m not your mate. I don’t know you and I don’t want to. Go away and leave us alone.”
“You think you’re too good for me, Potter?”
Harry nodded. “Yes. I’m too good for you. And Neville’s too good for you, and so are Blaise, Padma, and Parvati. Who are all purebloods, by the way. Not that there is anything wrong with being a muggleborn. My mother was a muggleborn, you arse. You’re just a loudmouth bully suck up. Go. Away.”
“You’ll see how wrong you are soon, and you’ll be begging to be my friend, Potter.”
“Not if we were the only students at Hogwarts. I don’t like bullies.”
Weasley glared at everyone in the compartment before he slammed the door on his way out.
Harry slumped back against the seat, he wasn’t used to standing up to bullies that way. His normal behavior was to run. Then again, he wasn’t going to get punished for telling off the redhead the way he would if it was Dudley.
Neville blinked and sat back, placing Trevor back on the seat next to him. “I really hope I don’t end up in the same House as him.”
Harry shook his head. “My luck, I will. What was his problem, other than being a bully and wanting to be friends with someone ‘famous’?”
Neville sighed. “The Weasleys have a huge family. That was Ron. I’ve met him a few times at events and parties. He’s the youngest boy in the family and has five older brothers and one little sister. I think three of his brothers are still in school. And his sister will start either next year or the one after, I’m not sure when her birthday is.”
“What does her birthday, other than her age, have to do with it?”
Padma explained, “If you are born after September 1, you can’t start Hogwarts until the next year. To be a first year, you have to be 11 on or before September 1. So, some of the kids in our year will actually be 12 for a lot of the year, if they have an autumn birthday.”
“Oh. Okay. It is sort of like that in the muggle world but the cut-off date is like early October or late September, I think. But, seriously, he has a big family, why is that a problem?”
Blaise snorted. “It isn’t that. Though I think he feels overshadowed by them, they are all pretty well known, sort of. The ones out of school are already making names for themselves in their fields. And his brother Charlie was scouted for professional Quidditch teams, though he turned them down.
“But Weasley’s problem is his family is poor. His father has a job at the Ministry but it isn’t a great one and he doesn’t move up the ladder at all. And he doesn’t have a position where people would bribe him much. And the Weasleys are well-known as being really Light. He likely wouldn’t take any bribes offered anyway. So, with so many kids and not a lot of money coming in, they don’t get much and the youngest Weasley seems to have a chip on his shoulder about it.”
“Not having stuff isn’t something to be ashamed of. It isn’t his fault, he can’t do anything about it, and he’s got a big family to support him. He’s just a bully. Maybe he’ll grow up and get over himself but I don’t want anything to do with him.”
“No problem with me,” said Blaise.
“Fine with me,” said Neville. “I don’t want to be around him either if I can avoid it.”
“Same here,” said Padma and Parvati echoed a second behind her sister.
“Good, let’s get back to our game.”
The five preteens managed to get another two rounds in before there was a polite tap at the door and a brief glance showed it was the food trolley lady. Neville slipped Trevor into his pocket as they each purchased a few things and explained the sweets to Harry.
After some thought, Harry bought two Chocolate Frogs, a box of Bertie Bott’s Every
Flavor Beans, a cauldron cake, and a bottle of butterbeer. He had not eaten much of a breakfast at the Dursleys and it was still at least three hours until they reached Hogwarts. He made a mental note to bring a packed lunch next time to help tide him over.
The new friends settled in to have their snacks and chatted more about sweets in the wizarding world. Harry opened his first Chocolate Frog and was treated to a listing of the cards his friends were missing. His first card turned out to be Morgan le Fay and his second card was Ignatia Wildsmith.
Padma handed Harry the card from her pack. “I already have eight Dumbledore cards. I think it’s one of the most common. Along with Merlin and Morgan le Fay and all of the Founders.”
Blaise nodded. “But some of the cards are really rare. I’ve been collecting since I was 5 or so and of the 101 main cards, not counting special editions and limited runs, I am missing 7. Including, I am embarrassed to admit, the Harry Potter card. It has a drawing of you as a baby being held by your parents on it. I’ve seen it but never gotten it myself.”
Harry rolled his eyes. But Padma said, “My cousin has one. The illustration is based on the statue in Godric’s Hollow.”
“There’s a statue of me as a baby somewhere?” Asked Harry, incredulous.
Parvati nodded sadly. “In Godric’s Hollow, in Wales. It’s part of the tour, the statue, your parent’s graves, and the destroyed house left as a monument to your destroyed family.”
“Parvati!” Padma snapped at her sister.
“Sorry, but that’s what the sign says. We went on the tour two years ago.”
Blaise sighed. “I went with someone when I was 7. It was kind of boring for a kid.”
Harry shook, angry beyond belief. “My parents’ graves and the house where they died are a bloody tourist attraction? Ugh. I thought the fact that I was famous because I didn’t die as a baby was insane, that – that is callous, like really, horrible.”
Neville put his hand on Harry’s arm as Trevor squirmed out of his pocket and onto the bench. “People don’t get it, Harry. To them, that day was something to be celebrated, the end of a horrific civil war. And your parents and you are the heroes involved in ending it and bringing peace. Not many people even knew your parents personally. They were too young to have made a big mark on the world.”
“Other than with their deaths,” Harry spoke bitterly.
Neville nodded. “Yes. And people as a whole are obliviously callous and uncaring unless they are directly affected by something. That’s just how it is.”
Blaise nodded. “Not to mention the entire mythos created around you and your unexplainable survival. And all of the Adventures of Harry Potter books don’t help. They come out about twice a year and build up the legend. The Harry Potter in those books has fought nundus and befriended and tamed dragons. He didn’t grow up in the muggle world not knowing about magic until he was invited to Hogwarts. He isn’t essentially a muggleborn, like you are. And you should be prepared. Lots of kids in our year and even the older kids are going to be expecting things from you because of the character in those books.”
Harry slumped in his seat. “Great. Just great. There’s no way I can live up to that. That’s straight fiction. Crack fiction at that. I’m real and I don’t even know what a nundu is, let alone how to kill it.”
The others sat in awkward silence, looks of embarrassment on their faces. And as everyone waited for someone else to break the silence, there was a polite knock at the door.
Neville scooped Trevor into his arms and Blaise slid the door open. Three boys in plain black robes stood in the hallway. Harry recognized the one in the center from Madam Malkin’s. The blond boy took a step forward just across the threshold of the compartment and nodded at Blaise.
“Zabini.” The boy turned to Neville. “Longbottom.”
His eyes met Harry’s and they widened, “You’re the boy from the robe shop.” He took a deep breath. “I need to apologize. I realized after we parted that even with all of the talking I was doing at our first meeting that I was rude and failed to introduce myself. Allow me to redeem my manners at our second meeting.”
The boy waved his hand at the large framed boy to his right, “This is Vincent Crabbe,” he waved to the rounder boy on his left, “and Gregory Goyle. And my name is Draco Malfoy.” He bowed his head shallowly.
Harry met Blaise’s eyes and Blaise nodded lightly and gestured with his chin. Harry stood up and nodded at Malfoy. He took a deep breath and tried to put his recent lessons on greeting to work, “Malfoy, I thank you for your courtesy. You appear to already know some of my companions but for manners’ sake, may I introduce Blaise Zabini and Neville Longbottom. And these lovely ladies are Padma and Parvati Patil. And my name is Harry Potter.”
Malfoy’s mask actually slipped and he gasped for a long moment. “I knew that Harry Potter was my age. I don’t know why I didn’t really consider that you would be here on the train. It is a pleasure to meet you, Potter. Miss Patil, Miss Patil, I am charmed. I hope we can further our acquaintance at a more appropriate time and place.”
Malfoy extended his hand towards Harry and Harry grasped it. “I look forward to further conversations, Malfoy.” Harry nodded to the two silent boys bookending Malfoy. “Crabbe, Goyle, well met.”
Two grunts that could have been an echo of the greeting came from the large boys. Harry forced himself to not roll his eyes as he dropped Malfoy’s hand. The blond shook the hands of everyone else in the compartment before he bid them farewell and returned to the hallway, closing the door as he went.
Harry flopped back onto his seat. “Wow, that was weirdly intense.”
Blaise chuckled, “You handled it well. Malfoy is a bit of a stuffed shirt in public settings. His parents are fairly strict with the pureblood manners thing. But he’s not so bad in a more informal setting. You shocked him badly, I have to say. I haven’t seen him lose his perfect pureblood mask since he was 8.”
“Well, I don’t know if I’ll ever see him without it, though I hope to. I can’t judge whether I want to be friends with someone if they are just pretending all the time. I mean, I know manners are a thing and that’s fine and I don’t mean secrets but just being real. I don’t know how to explain it.”
Padma smiled, “I think we get it, Harry. And maybe Malfoy will relax when he isn’t on the back foot due to his shock.”
“Yeah. Hopefully. Now, can we talk about something more fun, by my watch we have an hour or so to go before we need to get off the train.”
“Sure,” said Blaise. “Have you heard about Quidditch, yet?”