Chapter 4

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.

It had been a little over a week since Harry had arrived at Hogwarts. His first few days he had used to familiarise himself with his new surroundings, exulting in his new found freedom. The castle and its grounds were much larger than the children's wing of Waltham's psychiatric hospital. When not in class, he took to roaming the corridors, adapting to the strange behaviour of the moving staircases, noting the numerous half-alive portraits, creating a virtual map of Hogwarts within his own mind.

At night he would use a handy spell he had found in one of his books, a charm that alerted him to the presence of others, allowing him to move through the castle at night and avoid detection. If he was particularly bored, he had fun sneaking into classrooms and pilfering random objects – a fancy golden quill from McGonagall, a rare book of charms left carelessly on Flitwick's desk, whatever he fancied at the time. Of course, he was smart enough to hide these objects in a safe place. One of his first acts when he arrived at Hogwarts was to find a hiding place for his collectables. He'd chosen a specific wall near the Hufflepuff common room, magicked lose a piece of the wall, and crated his own little incognito safe. Just in case anyone came asking, and they did, he made sure they couldn't prove anything.

It was only his second day at Hogwarts when he was summoned to the Headmaster's office. The old wizard who had "rescued" him from the mental hospital reminded him of the promise he had made Harry make before giving him his Hogwarts letter – that Harry must never steal again. Harry lied and played up his innocence and with no proof, Dumbledore was forced to allow him to go, albeit grudgingly.

By the end of the third night, Harry had a pretty complete map of Hogwarts in his head, or at least, a complete map of all the obvious locations. An old castle like this, Harry was sure held some secrets, and he was determined to find them all.

By far the most intriguing thing to happen to him all week was his first meeting with his Potions Master – Severus Snape. The wizard picked him out from all of the students during their very first lesson, asking him some basic, and some not so basic, questions regarding Potions. Harry had done lots of studying prior to arriving at Hogwarts, so he was more than prepared, answering all three correctly. Snape made no acknowledgement of his accomplishment, but simply moved on, his face betraying no emotion. And yet Harry sensed something. Severus Snape was definitely assessing him. Why? He did not know. Yet. Snape may have some kind of interest in him, Harry decided, but now Harry had an interest in his Potions Master.

The rest of the week was like a chess match between the two, silent, subtle and totally unrecognisable to others, but it was there. Snape often asked him specifically for answers to questions during Potions, as if trying to catch him in checkmate, yet Harry always had the way out. Snape would watch him surreptitiously, but Harry was always aware. He could feel the wizards eyes on him. When Snape looked away, Harry would look up and scrutinise his head of house in return.

The question, of course, was why? Why did this particular wizard have so much interest in him? It couldn't just be the fact that he was supposedly famous. No one else looked at him so intently, questioned him so rigorously. People looked, they whispered, but none of them took it to the level this Severus Snape took. So why? Unanswered questions infuriated Harry, so he vowed to find the answer.

It was a fine Sunday evening and most of the Hogwarts students had taken to roaming the grounds, some of the older ones playing a game called Quidditch, others just lounging in the sun, the younger students running around and exploring. Harry was one of the few that remained inside that day. He was looking for someone. Someone who was most definitely not outside with the others. She was the brown haired girl he had met on the train. He had learnt her name during the first class they shared – Potions – when Snape called her name and she raised her hand meekly. Snape had called her name again, and when he got no response, he looked up, saw her hand, scowled, and then moved on. Her name?

Hermione Granger. Harry smiled just thinking it. She was perhaps the most damaged person in Hogwarts, next to him of course, and he was determined to befriend her.

Harry found her in the library, tucked away in the back. She was bent over a piece of parchment; energetically scribbling away with her quill, scratch scratch scratch without a pause. Harry watched her for several minutes, hidden in the stacks, peering between the gaps in the bookshelves. All alone, she seemed so relaxed and at peace. She was even smiling as she worked. It was a nice sight, and he almost hated to break it, but he wasn't going to make her trust him by stalking her from the shadows.

'Hi,' Harry said, appearing from behind the stacks and walking slowly towards her.

Hermione gave a little squeak and looked up like a startled little rabbit, eyes wide. She stared at him apprehensively.

Harry smiled in what he hoped was a soothing way and continued his slow approach. 'It's okay,' he said, 'I just saw you studying and thought I'd come over and sit with you. You don't mind, do you? I've got plenty of homework I need to do as well.'

Hermione said not a word, but Harry didn't expect her to. She watched him as he pulled out a chair across the table from her. He didn't want to sit too close. She obviously valued her personal space. He pulled out his books, parchment and quill while she stared, then gave her one last reassuring smile before lowering his head and getting to work. Or at least, he pretended to work, but he was actually sneakily watching Hermione watch him. He occasionally hummed, flipped a page, scribbled a note, but he kept one eye on the nervous girl across from him. After about five minutes, she seemed to relax a little, and lowered her own head to her books.

Harry smiled and got to work for real. They studied together for nearly three hours, neither saying a word the entire time. It was nearly time for the afternoon feast when Harry finally put away his books and stood up.

'Bye Hermione,' he said, giving her a little wave as he left.

Hermione only looked up and watched him leave.

It was the first of many study sessions they had over the following months.

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