Disclaimer: I own nothing. Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling. Blah blah blah. should just put a blanket disclaimer on the site for all the idiots that could possibly believe we actually own these stories or make any kind of a profit.
The train to Hogwarts had departed already, yet Hermione Granger had yet to find a place to set her things and settle in for the journey. Some compartments overflowed with kids, others not so much, but Hermione didn't feel welcome in any of them, nor would she choose to sit in them if she did. She was what most would call a lonely child. As a young child she had never played with the other kids. In school she set herself apart from everyone and didn't make a single friend. On the playground, she would find a quiet spot and sit alone to read her books. Even her parents didn't know her that well. She spoke minimally to them and other adults, which some might consider a marked improvement over her absolute refusal to engage with others kids her age.
It wasn't that Hermione didn't want friends her own age. When people would call her a lonely child, they were spot on. She often cried silent tears at night, desperate for someone to reach out to and hold. Her need was strong, and yet when day came and she had the chance to connect with other kids, anybody, she just couldn't. Her father, whom she lived with, was often busy with work and didn't have much time for her. He also wasn't the cuddly, touchy feely type. Her mother saw her infrequently, once every two weeks, and sometimes she missed her scheduled appointments because she was hung over or passed out somewhere.
When Hermione had received her Hogwarts letter, she had been thrilled at this new avenue into which she could explore and learn, and so, despite her fathers apprehension, she had demanded to be allowed to go.
There was one final compartment she had left to check. Hoping this one was empty; Hermione opened the door a crack and peeked inside. She saw a pair of legs stretched out, and that was enough for her. Heart racing, she pulled the door closed as silently as possible and took a deep breath to calm her nerves.
'They're fourth year Slytherin's.' Hermione jumped when the person behind her spoke. She turned to face the speaker and clutched the handle of her trunk tightly. The speaker was a boy her own age, small, skinny, wearing scruffy looking trousers and shirt with the collar turned up. His glasses had been broken and repaired with tape. Dark unruly hair fell to cover his forehead and obscure his eyes. He was sat on the floor next to his trunk, spinning his wand in his hand. 'They don't want first years in their compartment. 'Speshly not me.'
Hermione looked at the boy and felt her throat go dry. She clutched her trunk even tighter.
'Are you Muggleborn? You are, aren't you?'
The boy spun his wand and flipped it in the air, catching it as it came back down and pointing it at her. The tip sparked and a small flame flickered to life. Hermione jumped again and looked nervously at the flame, transfixed. The boy noticed her anxiety and a look of recognition crossed his face. He flicked his wand and the flame guttered out. With a quick motion he was on his feet and stowing his wand behind his back. His raised his hands as he stepped towards her.
'Erm, sorry,' he said, brushing a hand across his fringe. Hermione saw a flash of startling emerald green eyes. 'My name's Harry Potter. What's yours?'
Hermione opened her mouth, but no sound came out. She had read about Harry Potter - the Boy-Who-Lived. He was in a few of the books she had picked up as extra curricular reading. In the older volumes he was spoken of in an admiring light, praised as the boy who had done what no other wizard could do, that being ridding the wizarding world of it's greatest threat – the Dark Lord Voldemort. However, in one volume she had, this one only a few years old, Harry was spoken of in a not so flattering way. This author raised doubts as to Harry's nature, and compared him to the very evil he was once praised for destroying. The book claimed that Harry had burned his relatives, his aunt, uncle and cousin, alive, and that since that day he had been held in a Muggle child psychiatric institution.
'What's wrong?' Harry asked. Hermione looked away from him, down at her feet. 'You don't know your name…?' This last part was said with a slightly teasing tone. Hermione kept her eyes on the tips of her shinny black shoes. 'Can't you speak?' When he got no reply, Harry cleared his throat. 'Oh. So you're a mute.'
Hermione glanced up at him. Her cheeks felt hot from the faint blush on her face.
'It's okay,' Harry said, and offered his hand.
Hermione looked at it, and then shook her head furiously.
Harry looked confused. 'I don't have a disease or anything.' When she made no move to take his hand, he retracted it and stuffed it safely away in his pocket, as if it were a lethal weapon. 'Okay, so you don't like to touch people either? Will you at least sit with me?'
Hermione had to think about it. This boy could be dangerous, as the book she had read indicated. He had supposedly burnt his family alive. He was confident, in a odd kind of way. Yet strangely, she did not feel that threatened by him. He seemed isolated from others around himself, because here he was, sitting alone, just like she did.
'I promise I won't try to touch you,' Harry said, smiling a smile that was so reassuring and kind that she couldn't help but nod and give in to his request. She did, however, strategically place her trunk between his body and hers, just in case.
Harry spoke to her, his voice soft, talking about the wizarding world, things he had read and seen, other wizards he had encountered. He kept up a steady stream of dialogue, not once asking her anything, just letting her listen. Hermione began to relax a little, and kept stealing little glances sideways at this boy who had done more to penetrate her walls so quickly than anyone her age ever had before. He was an enigma, so different from what she had imagined when she had read about him. Most children her own age, when faced with her absolutely silence and unwillingness to touch, simply gave her up as a lost cause, too difficult to deal with. Not Harry. Why did he try? Why would he want to try? She offered nothing, and yet he didn't seem to mind. He was still talking to her, as if they were having some kind of conversation. And he was smiling, a small smile, but a smile nonetheless.
Who was this boy? This Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, the Boy-Who-Burnt-His-Family-Alive, the Boy-Who-Tried-To-Befriend-Hermione-Granger.
Harry sat with her for the entire train journey, sat with her in the boat that took them to the magical school Hogwarts, and stayed close beside her (although not too close) as they made their way into the Great Hall and up to the front. Feeling the eyes of many of the older students on her, Hermione folded her arms across her chest and hunched down, hiding behind her long curly hair. She took deep, even breaths as she slowly made her way forward, counting the steps to distract herself - one, two, three, four. She knew coming here to this unknown place was going to be tough. She had expected it and prepared for it as best she could, but even so, the feeling was nearly overwhelming, far more than she could ever have expected.
'It's okay,' Harry whispered behind her, noticing her behaviour.
Hermione wasn't really reassured, but she appreciated the effort. The professor leading them, an old witch named McGonagall, instructed them to form a line in front of the other professors. Professor McGonagall placed a single stool before them, upon which she set a scruffy, old looking hat. Hermione came to the conclusion that this must be the Sorting ceremony she had read about, and as if to confirm her thoughts, Professor McGongall began to speak and explain how each child would come forth, sit on the stool and place the hat upon their head.
As the ceremony began, Hermione thought back to all she had read about Hogwarts and it's houses. Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Hufflepuff values hard work, patience, and loyalty. Gryffindor values bravery and chivalry. Ravenclaw values intelligence and wit – Hermiome suspected that would be were she would end up. Slytherin values ambition, cunning, and resourcefulness – it was also notable to mention that most Dark Wizards, such as Lord Voldemort, had been a member of Slytherin.
So soon, it was her turn to enter the spotlight and be sorted. Hermione steadied herself, and then, counting the steps again, she made her way forward to sit on the stool and place the hat on her head.
'Aaah, aren't you an interesting little bunny,' a voice whispered in her ear. 'Hmm. Yes, I sense a great deal of intelligence in you. It's clear to me that you could only belong in one house, and that would be RAVENCLAW!' This last was shouted out loud.
Hermione took the hat off as the Great Hall gave her a loud round of applause. She blushed as she rushed to quickly take a seat at the Ravenclaw table. She chose a seat as far away from the crowd as she could, so that no one could pat her on the back, and kept her eyes down on the table before her as the rest of the house welcomed her. Luckily, their attention was quickly caught up again as the Sorting ceremony resumed.
Hermione lost herself in her thoughts until, 'Potter, Harry!' was called and the Great Hall fell deathly silent. She raised her head just a little to sneak a glance at the scruffy boy who had done his best to befriend her on the train. He moved calmly up to the stool, ignoring the rest of the room. As he pulled the hat down onto his head, Hermione idly wondered which house Harry might end up in. She held her breath, like the rest of the Great Hall, as Harry sat on the stool for what felt like a very long time.
Finally, the silence was broken, and a deafening roar broke out in the room as the hat proclaimed: 'SLYTHERIN!'