Categories > Books > Harry Potter > I, Alone
Chapter 11 - Letters
Hermione Granger sat upon the edge of her bed and went through her books, deciding which she would need for the study session and which she could leave behind. It had been agreed that they would all meet in the library to go over the assignments for their double potions class tomorrow as well as to work on the report for Astronomy that Professor Sinistra had assigned them. Really, only a third of a scroll? She could have made it a bit longer I should think.
Directly after lunch she had attended Charms class where they finished practicing the levitation charm, Wingardium Leviosa, and had moved onto the wand-lighting charm, Lumos. Though she had been rather disappointed that she could get little more than a flicker from her wand, she also knew she would just need to practice more. The best part of the class was sitting with her new friends. Harry had sat next to her with Daphne next to him and Tracey on the end.
Today was a good day, she mused silently to herself as she took the rest of her books from her backpack. The fact that she had History of Magic with Ravenclaws after Charms did very little to lessen the smile she'd worn for most the afternoon. I have friends, she silently squealed within the confines of her own mind. "I'll have to write Mum and Dad about it," she stated aloud. It was already Thursday and she had as yet to send a single letter home, she realized with some chagrin.
Never being a witch who liked to put off until later what she could do right away, revise and do again, Hermione quickly found a clean bit of parchment, quill and her ink well before seating herself at the small writing desk next to her bed.
Sorry I haven't written sooner than this however there is just so much to do here. You simply must come sometime and visit. Hogwarts is a castle with nearly more rooms and towers than I can count! The number of stairways alone is huge! I'm not exactly certain how many as yet, but I will find out and let you know.
There are four divisions within the school called Houses. The one I'm in is called Gryffindor. They used a magical hat to determine who is sorted to which house. We had to sit upon a stool in front of the entire school. Iconfess I was a little nervous but managed to get through it. I'm uncertain why it placed me in Gryffindor as the House is known for bravery. Personally Ithink I should have been sorted to Ravenclaw, the House known for learning. Iguess I still have a lot to learn about magic. My housemates are all wonderful and friendly so no need for you to worry in that regard.
My classes are going very well. Not to sound full of myself but Ithink I am a fairly good witch. Surprising isn't it? I believe that Transfiguration is my favorite subject so far. Tomorrow is a full day of brewing potions for us. Thankfully it is nothing like cooking. You know how Iam at that. Honestly I think Dad still cringes any time I step within a few feet of the stove. It was just a small fire. Not as if I burnt down the entire house!
Last night we had Astronomy for the first time and it was nice. You wouldn't believe the view from the top of the tower out here. Professor Sinistra, our teacher, said it was due to there be no city lights to obscure the view. I guess she would know as that is her area of expertise after all, so I shall have to believe her.
I've made a few friends already since the term started. I think you would like them. Daphne is an extreme pretty girl with blonde hair that is almost too perfect to be true. I wonder if she uses magic to get it that way? I guess I shall have to ask her. Tracey is Daphne's friend. They've been friends since they were both very little. Tracey is great and knows how to make you laugh. I think she would get on smashingly well with Dad in that regard. I can just imagine them both together in the same room, none of us would be safe from their relentless teasing.
I met a boy named Harry Potter. He apparently is famous within the Wizarding world. From what I have been able to gather he defeated a bad wizard before he was even two years old. Apparently this was enough to make him acelebrity of sorts. I can't understand why everyone is so thrilled with the fact as I heard that at the same time he lost both his parents. It is all rather sad actually. I couldn't imagine not growing up with you and Dad in my life. Fortunately he has an aunt and uncle to take care of him, however I'm certain it's not the same as having one's own parents.
Harry is very sweet though also a little socially inept. Before you ask, he is nothing like those boys from my primary school. Harry actually came to my rescue earlier today when another boy was speaking badly of me. It was very gallant of him. I think that's the first time a friend has ever stood up for me. I think I'm really going to like it here, especially now that I have a few friends.
Harry doesn't seem to have a great deal of experience interacting with other people. He's rather shy and withdrawn as I mentioned. Perhaps he's led a sheltered life? Daphne, Tracey and I have decided to take him in hand so the four of us have taken to studying together in the library. The library here as multiple floors to it! The first time I was in it, a Housemate had to come drag me out or I might have been late for the evening meal. I'm quite certain Ishall be spending a great deal of time there!
As I am on my way there now to meet for our study group I had better end this here. I am doing well, eating well and sleeping well so please do not worry. I miss you and Dad exceedingly much. Make sure Dad doesn't eat too many sweets. I swear you'd think with being a dentist he would know better!
PS Don't forget to give a few treats to the owl.
Hermione waited for the ink to dry before rolling up the parchment and turning to place it in her backpack so she could take it to the Owlery before joining the others in the library. As she was doing this, two other first year girls entered the dorm room, whispering to each other excitedly. The young witch turned upon hearing her name spoken hesitantly behind her.
"H-Hermione? Hi I'm Sally-Anne Perks," a slender brunette witch wearing the Gryffindor House colors offered. "This is Lily Moon," she indicated to the Asian girl with her who smiled in way of greeting. "Can we talk to you?"
"Sure," Hermione instantly replied. This is a different school, she reminded herself. It hadn't take the bright girl overly long in Primary school to determine that those who professed to be her friends usually did so to either make fun of her or to coerce her into doing their homework for them."I'm supposed to meet some others in the library shortly but I have some time," she added and she stood. She would have offered them seats on her bed however it was currently covered with her books.
"Do you know him?" Lily was quick to ask, an element of excitement barely contained within the sound of her voice.
"What's he like?" Sally-Anne quickly followed with, leaning slightly towards the confused bushy haired witch.
"Do I know who? What's who like?" Hermione asked as her brow creased in confusion. While it was clear to her that the two girls wanted to know about someone and they thought she might know, Hermione found herself at a loss as to who they were referring to.
Both witches looked at each other before turning back towards Hermione and answering at the same time, "Harry Potter!"
"Harry?" Hermione asked, still confused though her answer only had the two other witches smiling all the wider. To them she clearly knew the boy if she referred to him by his first name.
"So, you do know him," Lily asked but continued before the queried girl could formulate a response. "Is he as wonderful as the books say he is?"
"Do his eyes truly glow when you look into them?" Sally-Anne enquired.
"Yes, I do know him," Hermione answered Lily's first question, "though we've only just recently become friends." Her words brought a giggle from the petite Asian girl with long black hair. "Why would his eyes glow?" Hermione next asked as she looked towards Sally-Anne, more curious than anything.
"You know, from the books," Sally-Anne replied in a tone that clearly indicated she thought it was common knowledge. "It was from his fight with the vampire king when he was five. Surely you've read the book?"
"I thought it was the ghouls attack on his village that caused his eyes to blaze with an inner fire of injustice and left them that way even after he drove them all off?" Lily offered as she chewed on her bottom lip in thought trying to recall exactly which book it actually came from.
Hermione could do little more than shake her head, not having the slightest clue as to what they were speaking about. Did Harry really defeat a vampire king at the age of five, she wondered. "I'm sorry but I haven't any idea as to what you're talking about."
Sally-Anne just gapped at Hermione in disbelief for a long moment before her eyes widened slightly. It was almost like you could see a light come on inside her head. "You're Muggle-born?"
"Yes, my parents are dentists and both are non-magicals," Hermione replied, disliking the term Muggle, especially when applied to her parents.
"No wonder she doesn't know about The-Boy-Who-Lived!" Lily exclaimed in understanding. "We're both what's called Half-bloods so my Dad is a muggle-born wizard and Sally-Anne's mum is a muggle-born witch."
"There are entire series of books about The-Boy-Who-Lived and the many adventures he had after defeating You-Know-Who." Both girls glanced about nervously as if fearing some dark shadow was suddenly going to spring to life and pounce on them.
"Really?" Hermione found herself asking in disbelief."What else has he done?" she enquired, suddenly feeling like maybe she had misjudged Harry and he was some famous persona that wouldn't have the time to waste with the likes of her.
"Well, "Lily started ticking off events on her fingers,"there were the ghoul attack and vampire king we already mentioned. He subdued a dragon and then flew on it when he was nine. The time he battled an enraged giant to a standstill when he was six to keep the orphanage safe. He also saved a herd of Unicorn when he was four from being stolen from the Forbidden Forest."
"My personal favorite," Sally-Anne piped in with a large dreamy smile, "was when he out-swam the Mermen at age seven to save the young Merprincess from having to marry the old mean wizard."
"H…Harry did all that?" Hermione asked to clarify, finding it more than a little difficult to believe what she was hearing. Both witches nodded in way of answering.
"We both grew up on bedtime stories about Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, and all the wonderful things he's done for the Wizarding world," Sally-Anne replied. "I've always wanted to meet him!"
"Can you introduce us to him, Hermione?" Lily pleaded.
"I…I guess so," Hermione stammered only to hear both witches squeal in glee and jump about as they hugged each other. "However, let me talk to Harry about it first. It would be terribly rude to just suddenly introduce you out of the blue."
"Thanks Hermione! We won't forget this!" Sally-Anne said.
"You're simply the best!" Lily agreed. "We'll let you get back to what you were doing then. See you later," the Asian girl said as she and Sally-Anne made to leave.
Well that was certainly strange, Hermione thought as she quickly threw the stuff she would need into her backpack and ran from the room, slinging the bag over her shoulder. As she stepped through the door and started down the stairs voices floated up to her from below echoing up the circular stairwell.
"See I told you she'd do it."
"Who knew all you had to do was show the know-it-all a little kindness to get her to do something you wanted?"
"I bet we can get her to do our homework for us if we tried. What do you think?"
"I'm not sure I want to be that friendly with the book-worm."
"Yeah you're probably right."
Hermione leaned against the wall, fighting back the tears as she listened to the two girls giggle at her expense. It was her primary school all over again. Why? I thought it would be different here. I was so certain that here would be different because they would be the same as me!
Try as she might the tears finally trickled down her cheeks. What did I do wrong? She wracked her brain to see how she could have possibly offended either girl, certain she must have done something to warrant such treatment. Hearing someone starting up the stairs the young witch hastily wiped at the tears on her face before adjusting her backpack and dashing down the stairs, through the commons room and out the portal before anyone could see her red and puffy eyes.
It was while she was returning from the Owlery, having ran all the way there so no one could see her tear streaked face, that the little voice inside her head wondered if Harry and the others were the same as her two housemates that had approached her. Maybe Harry and the others aren't really my friends? Maybe they're just waiting to get me to do things for them as well. A part of her didn't want to believe it but the other part, the larger part, had already been hurt so many times that she couldn't just dismiss the possibility. Adjusting the strap over her shoulder once more, the backpack suddenly feeling a great deal heavier than it had been previously that day, the confused and hurting witch headed towards the library.
"Oi! Crabbe, Goyle, make certain you cut those correctly," the young Malfoy scion barked heatedly from his seat as he watched the other two work. Draco had not been pleased at all when his head of House, Professor Snape, had appeared and informed him that he would be serving detention that evening for having been on his broom the previous day. The young wizard's mood had not improved any when he discovered he would be preparing potions ingredients. After receiving his instruction Draco had waited for the Professor to leave before calling in the two other boys and put them to work in his stead.
"My father will hear about this!" Draco fumed loud enough for Crabbe and Goyle to hear him. "I think it is time to let my father know exactly what is happening here!" The other boys grinned knowing that if the head of the Malfoy family became involved, then someone was sure to be sacked. The blonde wizard pulled parchment and writing utensils from his pack and began to write.
School goes well. The work is simple and I am at the head of all my courses, of course. The only thing more disappointing than what passes for classes here is what they are accepting as students these days. It pains me to see how far Hogwarts has fallen after listening to your stories of when you attended these hallowed halls. Half-bloods and mud-bloods all over the place mixing freely with Purebloods as if they had a right to or something. I can't believe I have to breathe the same air as them! You always did say that with Dumbledore as Headmaster things would only go from bad to worse. I see now just how right you were.
I am writing with news that Harry Potter has indeed come to Hogwarts this year. Surprisingly though, the half-blood was sorted into Slytherin. From what I can tell he is a subpar wizard at best, just barely above squib. He must have some leverage over Professor Snape though. I say this due to the fact that Potter can barely sit a broom and yet Snape made him the Seeker for the House Quidditch team this year. I told him that I could have made the team if I had wanted to and that you would have bought me the best broom available should I have but asked. You would, would you not?
Tell my mother that I am well and I send my regards.
PS Anything regarding the Greengrass matter?
Draco read the letter over before rolling the parchment up and slipping it into his pocket. "I need to go send this to my father before curfew. Finish what you're doing and then leave before Professor Snape returns," he told Crabbe and Goyle before walking from the room, confident that even two lowbrows, such as they were, couldn't mess that up.
The young Malfoy was lost in angry thoughts as he strode along. Why did Snape wait till now to give me detention for what I did yesterday? He could have easily of dragged me in with Potter when he was right there with us both. "Potter," the young heir cursed aloud vehemently. "He must have ratted me out to Snape so that he wouldn't be the only one in trouble." Draco cracked asmall crooked grin as he thought about it a bit more. "How very Slytherin of you, Potter," he begrudgingly offered aloud seeing the cunning of the other boy. "So that is how he got out of detention himself and I find myself in it? I guess this means war," he chuckled to himself in a very cruel fashion, relishing the coming challenge.
Daphne Greengrass bit down on the end of her quill and read over the letter to her parents for the third time. She always felt like she never knew what to say when writing her mother and father. It wasn't like writing her sister after all, which was much easier, given their close relationship.
Father, you will be pleased to know that, like yourself when you attended your first year at Hogwarts, I was sorted into Slytherin. The Sorting Hat could not at first decide where to place me, but as Tracey had previously been sorted to Slytherin I requested that it sort me the same. Some may think that would be enough to see me in Hufflepuff, but apparently not. Perhaps we do have some say in the matter of our sorting. Maybe we can have Astoria test that hypothesis when she arrives her first year?
Classes are going rather well and I dare say that I actually enjoy them. While I find the work challenging, it is a muggle born witch who seems rather bent on performing better than myself in almost every class that is truly the challenge. As you can well imagine, we've become friends of a sort. It has raised more than one eyebrow as she is a Gryffindor of all things. Ibelieve that Hermione Granger will certainly force me to do my best, and then some perhaps. I am looking forward to seeing just which of us will be at the head of the class by end of term.
Tracey asked that I send along her regards. She certainly makes being here a great deal easier. I just wish that she would take a greater interest in her studies. She could do so much better if she put forth just abit more effort. Still, I guess that is Tracey and it is too late for her to change now.
Granger, Davis and I have formed a study group along with two other boys who are from Slytherin. I'm not bragging but I believe we may be the brightest in our year. Speaking of which, I am due to meet them in the library so I had best end this for now.
I am well so please do not worry about me. I do miss all of you very much though. Please keep a close watch on Astoria as you know how dark her moods can get when we are separated. I would hate for the poor dear to become ill as she did last time I went away. I was only at Tracey's for a week that time, so I can only imagine how bad she will become with us being apart for months at a time. I do so worry about her.
The blonde witch sighed, scanning the letter once more. Using her wand she quickly erased /Parents/at the beginning and replaced it with Mother& Father, feeling it would be less formal and a warmer greeting. After waiting a moment to let the new ink dry, she rolled up the letter and set it aside. "I guess that shall have to do. They shouldn't expect too much as it is only the fifth day since I left after all," she reasoned aloud to herself. Taking a fresh bit of parchment she dipped her quill and started on the second letter she would need to send.
Hello my Sweet. How are you fairing? It has been only five days since I left, yet I still miss you greatly. I hope you are not giving Mother or Father a difficult time of it. Are you? I know it is difficult to be apart, but the holidays will be here before you know it and I will be back home so please do not fret or you shall make yourself ill like last time.
I will tell you now about Hogwarts as I promised. I was sorted into Father's old House of Slytherin, just as we suspected. The Sorting Hat talks to you and it seems as if you can actually persuade it to place you in the House you wish. Perhaps we should test this when you arrive and see if you can get into one of the other houses. You are certainly bright enough to be in Ravenclaw, my Sweet!
The castle here is enormous. Far grander than I thought it would be. I know we used to think of it like a fairy tale princess's castle, but it is so much larger and far too different to be that. I think you will enjoy the Grande Staircase due to its mischievous nature that reminds me so often of you. The stairs have the habit of moving while you are traversing them, delivering you at a landing you did not intend to reach. It can be rather frustrating when you are rushing to reach class on time.
Classes are interesting. We had our first flying lesson and despite your rather ungenerous prediction, no, I did not fall off my broom! It was actually rather exhilarating while managing to be utterly terrifying at the same time. I somehow think you shall find it all of the former and none of the latter when it is your turn. You always have been the more reckless of the two of us. A fact that has caused me no end of worry where you are concerned sister mine.
I simply must tell you what happened on the way to school but you must not tell anyone. I have not even told this to Tracey. Sisters pact and that's a fact! For reasons I shall not go into at this time, I was forced to flee my compartment and seek shelter elsewhere. A boy with black hair came to my rescue. He was sitting atop the train car of all places! I joined him there and when he saw I was chilled he took his own robes off and placed them around me. It truly must have been cold for him yet he seemed not to mind. When Ifinally made to return to my compartment he helped me down the ladder using his own body to shield me should I fall. It was very chivalrous of him.
Later that evening he was sorted into Slytherin House along with Tracey and me. You're not going to believe this, but the boy is Harry Potter!The Harry Potter! Remember to breathe, my Sweet! We were all so certain that Harry would have been sorted into Gryffindor, but the sorting hat placed him in Slytherin. You can well imagine that this caused more than one brow to rise in confusion. Even the Headmaster appeared a bit shocked.
If you are good and do not give Father or Mother a difficult time perhaps I will introduce you to him at the end of the school year. Breathe, my Sweet. Breathe! I fear though that I must tell you that he is not the boy your books make him out to be. Rather than the dashing Prince of a hero he is much more real…yes I guess real would be the best word to describe him.
Harry is rather quiet and shy but also very sweet. He doesn't seem to have had many friends growing up, which is hard to imagine. I simply can't fathom what my life would be like without you and Tracey in it. He's the savior of the Wizarding world, yet he seems to know hardly anything about it. I can't go into details, but his childhood is certainly nothing like in the books. It is all so very sad and very tragic. There are certainly a great many things concerning Harry that just do not add up. He is a mystery for certain.
Tracey and I, along with a Gryffindor witch named Hermione Granger, have befriended Harry and the four of us study together. We may add another boy to our group, but for now it is just the four of us. I'm certain that when you get here I can introduce you so that you might become Harry's friend as well. You can come and study with us. Maybe Harry will even help you with your homework, hm? Breathe, my Sweet! Remember to breathe!
Well, My Sweet, I am due in the library to meet Harry and the others to go over homework. Do try to stay out of trouble. Watch after Father and Mother, especially the former as you know how he can get when he works too much.
Loving you more than should be legal,
Reading the letter over once again Daphne smiled fondly at the Sister pact and that's a fact, trying to ignore the pain in her chest she felt due to missing Astoria. Sister Pact and that's a fact was a sing-song promise they had used since they were both tiny. It was an agreement akin to a sacred vow between the two of them that anything offered was held in the strictest of confidence never to be divulged to another soul. The Slytherin witch well knew of her sister's near hero worship of The-Boy-Who-Lived and couldn't wait to see Astoria's reaction when she actually met Harry. I wouldn't be surprised if the poor dear fainted right on the spot!For the time being she planned on teasing the younger girl as much as one could through owl post.
"I wonder if I should warn him a head of time?" she pondered aloud, thinking it might be just as comical to see Harry's reaction to Astoria.
"Warn who of what?" Tracey queried from behind her, having heard the comment as she approached her friend where she was seated at her writing desk.
"I wrote Astoria and told her that I met Harry," Daphne replied with a grin as she quickly rolled the letter up before the other girl could read any of it.
"Don't you mean Her Harry Potter?" Tracey asked with a humorous snort and an eye roll, well aware of the younger Greengrass girl's near obsession for The-Boy-Who-Lived.
"Just because she claims she's going to marry Harry someday doesn't mean it isn't going to happen," Daphne chortled. "Please refrain from laughing at my sister's dreams," the blonde witch said, masking her own humor with a mock stern countenance. "Harry could do far worse than my little sister actually."
"I don't argue the fact," Tracey replied, holding up her hands as if surrendering. "Still, you might want to give him a bit of awarning before he sports an Astoria growing from his hip. Given how clingy she is with you I can only imagine what she will be like with Harry."
"Thankfully that is still two years away," Daphne replied with a grin. "Ready to go to the library and meet up with Hermione?"
The two Slytherin witches made their way up from the Dungeons to the third floor via the Grande Stairway and spotted a familiar bushy haired witch making her way up the stairs as well and so decided to wait for her after reaching the correct floor.
"Fancy meeting you here," Tracey quipped playfully upon seeing the Gryffindor witch with her head down lost in thought.
"Oh, hi," Hermione replied, a bit startled not having realized either witch was standing there waiting for her.
"Alright there, Granger?" Daphne asked, sensing that the fellow first year witch was not herself.
Hermione forced a smile on her face and squared her shoulders. There was no way that she could tell them that she was doubting their friendship. What if I'm wrong? What if they really want to be friends? It would be unforgiveable to say something like that to them. "Just sent a letter home," she offered. "A bit of home sickness I guess." The little voice in her head told her to prepare for the worse and that she was just setting herself up to be hurt yet again.
Nodding in understanding, Daphne replied, "I did the same. Had to write my Father and Mother as well as my sister. It's hard being away from her," she confessed with a sad little sigh.
"It's a little unreal just how close you and Astoria are, you know that right?" Tracey said. "Siblings are supposed to fight and argue, not get along like the best of friends. Right?" Tracey asked looking towards Hermione for support.
"Only child here so I wouldn't know," Hermione offered with an apologetic shrug of her shoulders.
"Well, I would much rather be close to the little brat," Daphne replied in an attempt to hide just how much she loved her little sister,"then have to fight and argue with her."
"Shall we?" Tracey asked gesturing towards the library hallway, deciding not to pursue the previous topic any further. The auburn haired witch well knew just how much Daphne loved her younger sibling and if she were to be honest with herself, she knew she would find that she was a little jealous of their closeness. "That Astronomy scroll isn't going to write itself."
"Shouldn't we wait for Harry?" Hermione asked in asurprised tone as the other two girl turned to head for the library.
"I doubt we'll see him till tomorrow," Tracey told her matter-of-factly as they started down the hallway together once Hermione fell into step with the two Slytherins. "He received a new broom today so he's out showing it off just like any other boy his age would be doing. Remember how everyone at lunch was clamoring for a chance to ride it?"
"Tracey has the right of it," Daphne offered in way of agreement as they entered the library and headed to the group tables adjacent to the bookshelves were Harry had transfigured the books into pins. It had somehow, through silent agreement, become their place to meet and study. It was also possible that it was simply because it was the one place within the library they all were familiar with. "We'll be lucky if Harry doesn't get himself hurt on that broom. Boys will be boys after all," she added.
"And Harry will be Harry," Hermione said over her shoulder as she was walking in front and so was the first to see the emerald eye wizard already seated at a table and working diligently on his school work. A brief smile touched the Gryffindor's lips for the first time since leaving her dorm room till once more the small voice told her not to get her hopes up. Just as quickly as it appeared the smile slipped from her face.
Harry looked up as the witches took seats at the table. Tracey slipped into the seat next to him while Hermione the one across from him and Daphne next to her. "Hi, guys," he offered with a big smile upon seeing them.
"Honestly Potter, how many time must I tell you we're not guys," Tracey quipped playfully. The auburn haired witch couldn't help but laugh as the young wizard tried to stammer out an apology. "It's alright, Harry. We know what you meant. I was just having a go at you is all, honestly."
"Pay her no mind, Harry," Daphne said with a warm smile in way of greeting. "She's like that with everyone. Surprising as it may sound you do eventually get used to it."
"I'll take your word for it, Daphne," Harry offered only to grin upon seeing the offended look on Tracey's face at her friend's words."Hi Hermione," Harry offered turning to watch as the witch across from him set her stuff out to begin working on the class assignment.
"Hi Harry," Hermione replied keeping her head down and not looking at the boy across from her. "How was your Defense Against the Dark Arts class?" she asked off handedly as she opened her ink well and dipped her quill, apparently not paying a great deal of attention to his response. The young witch was afraid that if she were to look at any of them that they would see her thoughts and fears in her eyes and know that she suspected that they were simply using her like the others had. It would hurt so much to discover for sure that they are just playing with me.
"It was fairly good. We discussed The Curse of the Bogies," Harry replied excitedly. He rather enjoyed the class and had been looking forward to talking about it with his friends, especially the Gryffindor witch as she had not been in his class as Slytherins had Defense Against the Dark Arts with Ravenclaws.
"Well that's good," Hermione replied as she started to work on her essay. Focusing on the parchment before her she failed to see the wizard look at the two other witches or to see their answering shrug of not knowing.
The four of them worked in silence for the most part though every now and then one of them would pose a question and another would offer an opinion or suggestion. Through this all Hermione remained suspiciously silent and detached. Not surprisingly, as he had arrived first and started working on his essay before the others, Harry was the first to complete his report. Earlier that evening he had seen several housemates writing letters to their parents and had decided that he should do the same. Slipping a clean piece of parchment out of his bag he dipped his quill and began to write.
Dear Aunt & Uncle,
School is very exciting and I am enjoy it very much. There is so much to see and do. I promise that I will try my best and stay out of trouble as I know how you dislike that. As much as I like it here I fear you would not as you can well imagine there is a great deal of freakishness that happens here. Do not worry for I shall not mention any of that to you. Hogwarts is ahuge castle that is incredibly old.
Well, I just wanted to let you know that I had arrived here fine and that I was getting on in my studies. Tell Dudley I said hello and I hope to see you for the holidays.
The young wizard looked over the letter finding it extremely short. What exactly can you write about when they don't want to hear about anything magical? he thought to himself. Guess it can't be helped, he reasoned as he rolled it up and set it aside.
"Harry," Tracey suddenly spoke into the silence,"weren't you going to fly your broom after dinner?"
"I gave it to Zabini," Harry replied as if it was no major thing, as he pulled his potions book from his backpack and opened it to the lesson for tomorrow.
"WHAT!" all three witches exclaimed in unison.
"Harry, you should have been the first one to ride it," Hermione said, suddenly feeling guilty about having stopped him from riding it at lunch time.
"I'll have loads of time to ride it once everyone is done," Harry replied, finding the reactions of the three girls to be mildly amusing, considering it was his broom.
"Everyone?" Daphne asked, fearing the answer.
"I did promise everyone at lunch they could have aturn," Harry responded with calmly. "I meant that when I said it so Blaise said he'd take care of it. Honestly, it's not that big of a deal."
"It is a big deal!" Tracey protested. "It's aNimbus 2000! Even I know how big of a deal that is! You should have been the first to ride it at least!"
Harry shrugged dismissively before mumbling a reply. "I had something more important to do."
"What could have been so important that it couldn't have waited till after you rode your new broom for the first time?" Daphne asked in disbelief.
Harry looked from face to face to face and then down at his book, his face reddening slightly. "Look," he suddenly said in a slightly defensive tone, "It's just a broom. Being here with you three is far more important than some bloody broom, alright!"
"Language," all three witches said at the same instant with rapidly reddening cheeks due to the boy's words.
"Sorry," Harry mumbled, dutifully chastised.
Silenced reigned for a long moment before the young Gryffindor witch broke it with a heavy sigh. "I'm not feeling well so I think I'm going to go back early tonight," Hermione said as she began putting her stuff away. The three others at the table shot each other worried looks.
"I…I'll walk you back," Harry said, rising to his feet.
"That's alright, you don't have to," Hermione said without meeting his eyes. "I'm certain I can find my own way.
"Please, Hermione?" Harry asked in a soft voice. "I really want to, even though I know I don't need to." Seeing no way around it, the young witch gave a slight nod of acceptance with her head. "I'll come back for my stuff," Harry said with a glance towards Daphne and Tracey who both nodded in understanding. Reaching over Harry took Hermione's backpack from her, slipping the strap over his shoulder before she could protest and offered her his arm remembering that Tracey had said it was the proper way to escort a lady home. "Shall we?
Hermione's head hurt from thinking so much and yet no matter how much she pondered it she still could not come to a conclusion. All through the time in the library she knew she was being rude, more or less ignoring the others there and focusing only on her work. The longer I continue to be their friend the more it's going to hurt when they turn on me, she told herself. Yet, she couldn't bring herself to just leave. It wasn't until Harry said that being there with them, with her, was more important than some broom that she knew she had to leave. The pain and hurt were just too great for her young heart to take. It was only through asheer force of will that she had managed to keep from breaking down crying right then and there in front of them all.
"Thank you, Harry, but you really don't have to do this," Hermione said as she slipped her hand into the crook of his elbow and allowed herself to be led away. Is he just doing this so that I'll trust him? Is it all just a part of their game?
"I know," Harry assured her, "but I wanted to," he added as he led her through the rows of book cases and headed for the main entrance to the Library. "Hermione?"
Here it comes. He's going to ask that I do his homework or help him with something else. "Hmm," she replied with her head down watching her shoes.
"I…I'm sorry," Harry said in a woeful tone starring at his own shoes and thus missing the witch's head snap up and look towards him sharply. "I don't know what I did, but whatever it was I want you to know that I'm sorry for it."
"Harry, what makes you think you did something wrong?" Hermione asked, wondering if he was feeling guilty for leading her on and was apologizing for his duplicity.
The young wizard gave a lopsided, disheartened shrug of his shoulders, "I don't know. Why else would you be mad at me? I must have done something terribly wrong."
"No, Harry," Hermione replied, her chest aching at the dejected tone of the boy's voice. "I'm not mad at you. Really," she quickly added upon seeing Harry glance towards her, a look of disbelief on his face. "I…I just have something on my mind is all."
"Is it something I can help with?" Harry asked, anxious to help his friend in any way possible.
"No," she responded with slowly, drawing the word out."It's just something I think I need to work through on my own."
Harry pondered her words for a long moment as they left the library and walked towards the Grande Stairway. "I know! Hermione, will you come with me?"
"I'm really tired, Harry," Hermione replied trying to keep from going with the boy.
"I read someplace that it helps to take your mind off of a matter for a bit," Harry replied. "Maybe this will help with whatever you're thinking about."
"Where to, Harry?" she asked in a curious tone of voice, having heard similar logic before. I might as well enjoy the friendship while it lasts.
"There's someone I would like for you to meet!" Harry replied, a smile blossoming upon his face. "It won't take long, I promise." Only slightly reluctant, the young witch agreed, and soon found herself once again at the Owlery. Once inside Harry held out his arm and called, "Come here girl!"
Hermione gasped as white form dropped out of nowhere to alight upon the young man's arm. "Oh Harry, she's gorgeous!" Hermione exclaimed, forgetting all else, upon seeing the stunning snowy owl.
Harry beamed proudly till his ear was nipped by the owl on his arm. "Ouch! That hurt!" he said accusingly while looking at the bird sternly as it fussed and made noises at him. "I know, I know and I am sorry," he offered reaching up to gently rub the soft feathers behind one eye ridge. "You'll have to pardon her, she a bit cross that I haven't come to see her sooner," Harry explained. "This is the first time I've made it out here since we arrived."
"Then she is rightly so for being cross with you, Harry," Hermione scolded in a disapproving tone of voice.
"Hermione, this is Hedwig," Harry introduced her to his owl. "Hedwig, this is Hermione Granger, my first friend ever."
Hermione's breathe hitched in her throat at his words and it took her a moment to reply due to the lump in her throat. "It's a pleasure to meet you Hedwig. You're an extremely beautiful Owl."
Hedwig tilted her head to one side and eyed the young witch up and down before suddenly leaping from Harry's arm to Hermione's and promptly nuzzling the young girl under her chin with the top of her head.
"I think she likes me!" Hermione exclaimed, enjoying the feel of the soft feathers against the underside of her chin.
"What's not to like?" Harry offered without a thought."I couldn't ask for a better friend than you, Hermione."
The young witch could feel the blush creeping up her cheeks at his words. "I think you'd best take her back before I become too attached to her and won't want to give her back," she said with a nervous chuckle.
Harry accepted his familiar back before setting her on a nearby perch. As he spoke he removed the letter to his Aunt and uncle from his pocket and fastened it to the owl's leg. "Hedwig, now I need you to listen to me." Hedwig paused and cocked her head to one side, listening intently."If Hermione here ever needs to send a letter, would you be willing to take it for her?" Hedwig bobbed her head up and down, a clear answer to his request.
"Oh Harry I could never do that," Hermione protested, truly touched by the generous offer. "Hedwig is your beautiful owl, Icould never…"
"Nonsense," Harry replied stopping the girl's denial of the use of his owl. "She's far faster and a great deal smarter than the school owl's I'll wager." Hedwig seemed to stand straighter and puff out her chest a bit more. "She loves to fly so it will be good for her as well. You're the first person I've introduced her to and she's taken an instant liking to you. I'm sure she would be happy to deliver your letters, Hermione."
"Why…why would you do this for me, Harry?" Hermione asked, once again trying to hold back tears at the generous actions of the boy before her.
"Cause you're my friend," Harry replied, becoming confused by the sorrowful note in the witch's voice. With a slight motion of his arm he sent Hedwig on her way to deliver his letter.
Hermione shook her head and turned away, unable to look at the boy as the first tears slipped free of her eyes and made a slow lazy trail down her cheeks. "I…I don't deserve your friendship, Harry," she manage to stammer out realizing that she had been a fool to have ever doubted, to have every thought such terrible things about Harry, Daphne and Tracey.
"Hermione, I don't understand," Harry said, starting to panic. "Did I do something wrong again? If I did I'm sorry for it." Emotionally upset girls were not something he had a great deal of experience with. The fact of the matter was he really didn't have any experience with girls at all except for what he had gained the past few days. Harry felt terribly inadequate to deal with the girl before him.
The bushy head in front of the wizard almost violently shook back and forth at his words. "No, it's nothing you did, Harry. I've done something so terrible. I was angry and hurt and mad at all of you. I…I thought you were simply using me to get what you wanted. I…I…" the young witches shoulders shook with not so silent sobs for a long moment before she could continue. "I didn't trust you at all. I was mean to you and certainly not behaving how a friend should have been." There was a long moment of silence behind her and she just knew he was going to turn and walk away from her. How could I ever hope they would still be my friend after the way I treated them? she reasoned.
"How about now," came Harry's soft voice when he finally spoke. "Do you trust me now?"
"I…I do," she stammered out between sobs. "But I don't deserve you're friendship or that of the others. How could I have been so stupid? I should-" her words were stopped by a pair of hands on her shoulders turning her about before drawing the into the forgiving warmth of ahug.
"It's alright," Harry said reassuringly while he hugged his friend as she cried on his shoulder. "You deserve a much better friend than me, Hermione," he told her as he awkwardly rubbed small circles on her back with his hand in an attempt to be supportive and reassuring. "You deserve loads of friends and they would all be very fortunate to have you. Just as I am."
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Harry," she sobbed into his shoulder feeling miserable about what she had done. The first time she had a real friend and she had been so quick, so ready to just toss him aside without even giving him a chance. In broken sobs and stammered words she slowly told him what had happened earlier with her housemates. Once she started talking she found that she couldn't stop and went on to tell him about how her classmates at primary school had feigned friendship so that she would do their homework or help them with their lessons.
"Well then, I'll meet them," Harry finally said.
"What?" Hermione exclaimed lifting her head from his shoulder as the tears had mostly stopped by then. "Why would you do something like that?"
"You're my friend. My very first friend, Hermione. If meeting them will make your life easier for you then I'll meet each and every Gryffindor member if that's what it takes," Harry told her with conviction.
"Oh, Harry!" Hermione exclaimed before pulling the startled wizard into a bone breaking hug. "You really are too sweet, Harry Potter," she said stepping back and releasing the boy once again."Oh, I probably look frightful," she said, wiping at her cheeks with both hands as she stepped away from the wizard with her.
The-Boy-Who-Lived was certain that sort of comment required an answer on his part though sadly he had no clue what a proper one would be."No different than normally," he finally replied, believing that it was safe to say she looked as nice as she always did rather than agreeing that she looked frightful.
"Prat!" Hermione said swatting his shoulder a bit playfully. "You're supposed to say I look beautiful," she chided.
"I see," Harry said thoughtfully for a moment."Rule number twenty-seven. After a girl cries tell her she looks beautiful."
"Exactly!" Hermione quipped in agreement.
"Right. Good to know," Harry stated a bit nervously, wondering how he was going to remember all these rules when dealing with girls and perhaps more importantly, was there going to be a test on them?
Reaching into his pocket Harry pulled out a threadbare handkerchief from within it. It was old and dingy from years of use by his uncle, but his aunt had packed it in with his school stuff. So far he had been afraid to use it but he figured now was as good a time as ever. Stepping forward slightly he reached up and wiped away the tears from her cheeks."Hermione, the reason I said you looked as you always do is because you always look beautiful."
The now blushing witch stared at the boy for a long intense moment before she replied. "Nice recovery, Potter."
"There, I think that's all of it," Harry said, slipping the bit of cloth back into his pocket. "Shall we?" he asked, offering his arm to her once again.
Hermione smiled and slipped her hand once again into the crook of his elbow, pulling his arm up close to her side. The two of them left the Owlery and proceeded back to the castle and up to the seventh floor before either broke the silence.
"Harry?" the brunette girl finally voiced as they neared the portrait of the Fat Lady.
"Hm?" the boy asked absently, having been pondering the fate of his broom, content to enjoy the comfortable silence and suspecting that the witch with him might be a little embarrassed from crying.
"Thank you," she said, turning to give him a hug and leave a tender kiss on his cheek before slipping through the portal into Gryffindor tower.
Harry turned about with a small smile on his face, wondering just how his life had gone from being lonely to having friends, receiving hugs and light kisses on the cheek in such a short amount of time. Being here was far different than his primary school where he had always needed to be on his guard from his cousin and the kids that hang out with Dudley. I think I might just come too really like it here, he mused silently.
"Oi, what are you doing up here, snake?" asked a boy with flaming red hair who Harry recognized as the youngest Weasley Gryffindor."Shouldn't your kind be down in the Dungeons with the other least likeable and often despised sorts?"
"Hermione was not feeling well so I offered to escort her home is all, Weasley," Harry explained simply. This is one of Hermione's friends, he reminded himself.
"You should stick to your own kind, Potter," the boy said getting up into Harry's face in the threatening manner. "Snakes and Lions don't mix in case no one has told you. Stay away from my housemates, Potter."
Harry paused long enough to lick his lips before he replied in apolite tone. "I would think that is a choice Hermione can make for herself, mate."
"I'm not your mate, have never been your mate and will never be your mate," Ron spat out like the very thought of it tasted wrong on his tongue. "Granger may be enamored with your fame as The-Boy-Who-Lived, but sooner or later she will come to her senses and realize that you're nothing more than a snake. She's a bright witch and when she realizes her mistake she'll cut her friendship with you faster than a Snitch sprouts wings! Stay away from Granger!" Ron threatened before angrily pushing past the dark haired wizard and entering the Gryffindor tower through the portal.
Harry could do little more than watch the angry young wizard leave, absently rubbing his shoulder where it hurt from the rough handling, confused by the redhead's unwarranted hostilities. As he retraced his steps to the library he couldn't help but think over the boy's words and the accusations he had made. Is she really only here because of my fame? Harry just couldn't picture Hermione being that way, especially after the events in the Owlery just a bit earlier. No, he thought, emphasizing it with a shake of his head, Hermione is my friend. Like the witch in question, there was a small voice at the back of his mind that whispered to him about what had happened with the last 'friend' he had. Harry knew that in this case, where Hermione was concerned, he could ignore the small voice trying to cause him doubt.
Upon reaching the library he quickly made his way over to the tables they had been seated at previously. The young wizard was not surprised to find the table now empty as his trip with Hermione had taken longer than he had thought that it would. He honestly hadn't counted on the trip to the Owlery with her. With a resigned sigh he began to retrace his steps and headed for the Dungeon, believing that would be where he would find his backpack. As Harry reached the bottom of the stairs he was stopped by a familiar voice.
"Perfect timing, Mr. Potter," Madam Pomfrey said upon seeing the young boy. "Let us head to the hospital so that we can start your treatment."
Realizing that it was almost the time he had agreed upon to meet with the head nurse, Harry could do little more than nod and fall into step beside the older woman. Once in the hospital wing she directed him to ascreened off bed and instructed him to change into the waiting sleep ware and climb into the bed.
"Nasty business growing bones," the medical witch told him as she walked back into the small enclosed area around the bed carrying two small vials. "This one will help your bones grow," she said, holding up one vial with a brownish colored liquid in it. "This one will help relax your muscles," she stated holding the other vial up which was filled with a milky blue substance. "I'd advise taking both as once as neither taste particularly good I fear."
Harry did as instructed, downing both at the same time, only to have his face scrunch up at the awful taste. Upon seeing his face Poppy couldn't help but chuckle. "It would seem terribly wrong to say thank you after having had to taste something like that," Harry intoned once he could speak.
"Well, I did warn you that its taste was none to pleasant did I not? Try to get some rest Mr. Potter. I'll be by to check on you in a little while," Poppy said as she lowered the lights with a wave of her wand before stepping out, only after making certain the boy was lying down in bed now and attempting to rest.
Harry had been lying there for several minutes and could just start to feel a tingling sensation within his bones when there came a soft clearing of the throat just outside his screened off area. "Harry? Can Icome in?" asked a soft female voice in a hushed whisper.
"I wonder what's up with her?" Tracey asked once Harry and Hermione were out of sight.
"Not sure," Daphne replied in a thoughtful tone as if pondering the matter. "She certainly wasn't her usually perky self was she?"
The two Slytherin witches continued to work for another hour before deciding that Harry may not be coming back. Through mutual agreement they gathered their things up and headed back to the Slytherin commons room, after Tracey picked up Harry's backpack to bring with them. Upon reaching the Slytherin House they were greeted by a group of boys laughing and talking loudly all of them gathered around Blaise Zabini who was holding Harry's broom.
"Merlin's beard, Blaise! What have you done?" Tracey exclaimed upon seeing the broom.
"What?" Blaise replied glancing down at the broom and its bent and broken twigs and scraped handle.
"What happened to Harry's Nimbus?" the irate witch asked as her temper mounted.
"Oh a few blokes couldn't handle the speed and managed to run into a few things," Blaise replied as if it was not an issue. "That git Malfoy even managed to fly it into a tree! It was a pain in the arse to get it down too. I think it broke a twig or two."
"That was a gift to Harry and he entrusted you with it!" Daphne snapped, her face flushed with anger at the clear disregard for her friend's property.
"What? It's not like it can't be fixed," Blaise replied a bit defensively, not appreciating the anger he was receiving from the two young witches. "No need to throw a wobbler. It's not like it's your broom after all. Potter will understand."
"How would you like it if you received a new broom and before you could even ride it the thing was brought back to you with bent and broken twigs and a scratched up handle?" Tracey snapped, trying to make the boy understand.
"I would have made certain I had rode it first," Blaise quipped without thinking. The scream of sheer frustration which issued from the blonde witch before him actually frightened him as well as caused everyone present to take several steps away from the dark skinned boy, fearing that the hexes were about to start flying. Baffled, Blaise watched as Daphne grabbed abackpack from the witch next to her while handing hers over in its place and then stormed from the room after shooting the boy a fiery glare that could have boiled water…while melting the table it sat upon.
Tracey slung her friend's backpack over her shoulder with her own as she watched Daphne storm from the Slytherin common room and back out into the dungeon before she turned to regard the boy they were now both thoroughly upset with. "You had best see that it is fixed before you give it back to Harry!" Not waiting for a response the auburn haired witch stormed off to the girl's dormitory muttering under her breath about clueless boys and why they couldn't be more like Harry.
The blonde witch stormed through the passageways with Harry's backpack over her right shoulder. I can't believe that he would be so irresponsibly, she fumed silently as she reached the Grande Stairway and turned down the hospital hallways. Harry trusted him to take care of the broom! In short order she found herself within the hospital and suddenly had to pause and gather her thoughts.
"I'll just do a bit of studying," she said aloud before making her way to Madam Pomfrey's office only to find it empty. It was only after she had taken a seat, slung the backpack off her shoulder and opened it that she realized that it was Harry's and not her own. With a slight shrug she slipped the potions book out and opened it to the next day's lesson.
She had only been reading for a short time when she heard the medical witch come in and instruct someone to go change and climb into bed. Daphne looked up from the book on the desk as the older witch entered the office, pausing only slightly upon seeing the girl seated at her desk with her nose in a book. "Sorry for just barging in, Madam Pomfrey," Daphne offered apologetically.
"That's alright," the Nurse said, waving one hand in adismissing manner. "I did tell you that you could come study any time." Having said that the school Nurse proceeded over to a cabinet and removed two vials. "I may have need of you here in a bit anyways so I'm rather glad you're here, actually."
"Need of me, Ma`am?" Daphne asked with a slightly perplexed expression.
"We'll see if you truly have your mother's healing touch or not, Child," the nurse replied before slipping out of the office and disappearing into a curtained off area in the back corner of the hospital wing. In short order the nurse returned with the two now empty vials. "Why don't you wait a few minutes and then go check on our patient, Mr. Potter," Poppy said with a slight grin at the look of surprise on the young witches face.
Barely able to wait the prescribed time Daphne hesitantly approached the curtained off area and cleared her throat softly. "Harry?Can I come in?" she asked.
"Daphne?" Harry's puzzled voice replied. "Yes, please do," the young wizard hastily said once he had gotten over the surprise of hearing her voice.
"Hi," she offered with a small smile and hand wave as she stuck her head into the area and then stepped further in. "I hope I'm not disturbing you?"
"No, not at all," Harry replied with a slight shake of his head to emphasize his words. "I'm just trying to get the nasty taste of those potions out of my mouth."
"Would you like a drink of water?" the young girl asked. Seeing the boy nod she quickly went and gathered one, pausing to make certain with Poppy that it was alright that he have it. "Here," she said handing him the glass as she took a seat on the edge of his bed as he sat up and accepted the refreshing liquid.
"Thanks. That's loads better," Harry said after taking along pull from the glass before setting it aside and laying back down with awince as a sharp pain shot up one leg and along an arm.
"Does it hurt," Daphne asked seeing his eye scrunch slightly.
"A bit," he admitted as he situated himself. "I suspect it will hurt more in a little while as it is just starting," he added as an afterthought.
The bright witch seemed to come to some decision and then stood up rather abruptly. "Budge up a bit, Harry," she told him.
"What?" Harry responded in confusion as she stepped to the head of the bed and motioned for him to make room for her. "You don't have to do anything, really," he objected, moving over none the less as he could clearly see, even in the dim lighting, that she was not going to take no for an answer. In short order The-Boy-Who-Lived soon found himself laying on his side, his head cradled in the blonde witch's lap.
"When I was a very little girl, a long time ago," she said as she got comfortable leaning against the head of the bed, "my mother used to do this for me whenever I didn't feel well. When my sister was smaller I would do it for her whenever she had a bad night. You can NOT tell her that I did this! She would be ever so terribly jealous of you," Daphne said aloud. As well as jealous of me for doing this to her Harry, no doubt.
"Alright," Harry said shakily, not even certain just what was going to be done as yet. Before he could say more he felt the girl's fingers begin to comb through his hair. At first he froze, unused to such physical attention. Hugs were one thing but to have someone that close to his head where they could inflict bodily harm, he just couldn't stop himself from flinching from her initial touch.
"It's alright Harry," Daphne said to reassure him, having felt as well as seen him flinch from her touch. "I promise I won't do anything else."
Harry nodded slightly in acceptance and fought within himself to keep from pulling away. After the first few minutes he slowly began to relax under her ministrations. The gentle trail of her nails across his scalp was rather soothing. He found that he rather enjoyed having his hair played with in this fashion. I wonder if my mother would have done the same for me when I felt ill?
"Did you get things sorted with Hermione?" Daphne asked after some time and upon seeing that the boy in her lap had relaxed considerably.
"I believe so," he responded with in a contented tone."It was just a bit of a misunderstanding was all. She asked me to meet afew of her housemates."
"Anything Tracey and I need to be aware of?" Daphne asked, not wishing to intrude upon their privacy but curious none the less.
"I don't believe so," Harry said thoughtfully as if honestly considering her words. "I think it is her choice to tell you or not though so I can't really say anything."
The two remained silent for a long time as she continued to massage his head and generally play with his unruly strands. Sometimes she would use her other hand and other times she'd use both. Every so often she could see his body stiffen as a particularly painful tremor went through him his frame.
"Daphne?" Harry asked in a tired voice.
"Hm?" the witch, who truth be told had been nodding off herself, replied softly.
"I'm glad you're my friend," the prone boy said using his hand that was tucked under her leg, which was acting as his pillow, agently squeeze of gratitude.
"Me too," Daphne replied with a happy smile. "Me too, Harry," she repeated as she ran her fingers through his unruly locks.
"Can I get you to do this every time I'm in here?" the dark-haired boy asked.
Daphne chuckled softly before replying. "Don't push your luck, Potter!"
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