Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Book 1: The Fracturing of Foundations
Chapter 2: Finding the Path
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Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Year 1: The Fracturing of Foundations
Chapter 2: Finding the Path
September 1, 1991
King’s Cross Station
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary on the morning of September first. Nothing even seemed particularly interesting or exciting, if truth was to be told.
The sky was a deep, dull grey; casting a gloomy veil across Great Britain. It personified the moods of the many muggle children who would soon be returning to school. The clouds seemed to lament the fast-approaching start of a new week; along with the country’s older population as well, who would, come Monday, be returning to the uniform drone of work.
It wasn’t even as though the clouds brought with them the promise of a storm, the existence of which would have at least been far less dull than the pointless sense of gloom currently presiding over the nation. All they brought was the promise of a dull, dreary day that would likely be draining for any residing far beneath them.
This is what a casual observer would have believed.
It was actually what the vast majority of the population thought, but a small, select group of beings thought quite differently about this day — despite the seemingly dreary monotony of the sky.
For this very select group of rather abnormal individuals, this day meant the start of something truly special, no matter what the heavens might have reflected, particularly for those who hadn’t yet experienced the majesty of this day.
Even more so in the case of a small, thin boy pushing a trolley that looked altogether too heavy for him as he did his best to discreetly weave through the whirring masses that occupied London’s major train station.
For Harry Potter, this day not only meant the start of a magical journey that he would never have imagined five weeks ago; it also meant the escape from a far less than magical prison, one he had dreamed of escaping since he had first understood what dreams even were.
He wasn’t actually sure which delighted him more. The thought of learning the awe-inspiring things he had spent most of his waking moments reading about over the last month, or escaping a hellacious life that he had always believed to have been inescapable.
That life had been slightly less hellacious over the month that had just died a peaceful death, but it was still one he very much wanted to escape from.
Harry had returned from Diagon Alley late in the evening on his birthday to some unexpected changes at his relatives’ home.
Uncle Vernon had not been furiously awaiting his arrival, as Harry had feared might be the case. In fact, he barely even saw his uncle or his aunt over the next month. They hadn’t retracted their decision to give him Dudley’s spare bedroom, much to their son’s displeasure. They had even allowed their estranged nephew to spend as much time as he wanted in his new room, only interrupting his solitude to pass him meagre amounts of whatever meal they had eaten.
Many eleven-year-old boys would have been disheartened by this lack of human interaction, but Harry found himself in awe at his sudden dose of good fortune. No interaction with the Dursley family had ever been a positive one, and he was more than happy to be left completely to his own devices — not to mention they had lifted the preposterously long list of chores off his shoulders.
Harry wasn’t given anything special to pass the time, but he’d hardly needed more than he had. He’d made excellent use of the quiet and spent much of his days nose deep in textbooks. He wasn’t one of those child prodigies from the news who could immediately devour tomes as if they were crumpets; but by the time September the first had come around, he thought he had a strong grasp on the first-year material.
More so in Transfiguration and especially in Defence Against the Dark Arts. Those were the subjects that interested him most and they were the subjects he poured the most time into. History was another one he frequented, both to hopefully cure his vast ignorance of the magical world and because he found it genuinely interesting.
When he wasn’t reading, he had been writing to Draco and Diana.
The latter often recommended him more books to read, which he would owl order from Flourish and Blotts — after being informed that was indeed a thing that wizards did. All of the books Diana recommended were more culturally-centred. They would be the books that would hopefully help him better adapt to the world he was entering.
He found the absurd amount of etiquette exhausting and he knew there was no hope he would ever have it all memorized by September 1st. Diana had been a great help there, pointing him in the direction of the more essential bits he needed to get down and informing him which passages could be left for a much later date.
She had been exceedingly helpful, and she very well may have saved him from a particularly embarrassing spot of trouble that might have otherwise arisen at King’s Cross Station.
Harry had asked Uncle Vernon for a drive into London only days before he was set to catch the Hogwarts Express. His uncle had grunted in compliance and asked to see exactly which platform Harry would be using to board the train. He’d then taken savage pleasure in ruthlessly mocking the idiocy of wizards, pointing out that there was no such thing as a platform numbered ‘nine and three quarters.’
Harry had been forced to grudgingly concede he had a point and hurriedly wrote to Diana. She was a Hogwarts third year — as she had told him in a previous bit of correspondence — so this wouldn’t be her first time through the process.
Her return letter made Harry equal parts relieved and nervous.
Relieved because he had indeed gotten the answer he’d so desperately needed, and nervous because Diana was asking him to walk face-first into a stone wall.
That did not sound at all appealing, even if it was supposed to allow him to pass straight through. What would happen if the enchantment failed? Harry had no idea if an enchantment could even fail, but it had been a concern that had quickly risen to the forefront of his mind.
Diana seemed to have found his concerns quite amusing, but she had sent him a book to dissuade his worries, as well as where in the book to look. According to Hogwarts, A History, the platform had been fully operational for centuries. It mentioned no occasions on which it had ever failed, something that came as a small relief to Harry.
Not that it made walking straight into a wall any less daunting, but he supposed he would just have to manage.
His letters to Draco had been far more casual.
The youngest Malfoy had happily explained to Harry exactly what Quidditch was, and he had even sent him a copy of a book on the subject — Quidditch Through the Ages. He had raved about not only flying, but other magical things in the wizarding world that he couldn’t wait to introduce Harry to as well. He had also spoken very briefly about a few of his friends, but hadn’t given Harry a whole lot of details.
In his last letter, there had been a request for Harry to meet him on the platform. Draco said that he, his sister, and his parents would be waiting near the front of the Hogwarts Express, and he had warned Harry that the platform could be a bit of a madhouse if one waited until the last possible moment to arrive.
Harry had feared his uncle’s spite might lead him to drop him off with just enough time to make it onto the Hogwarts Express. What he ended up finding quite amusing was that his uncle’s unearthly desire to forever be punctual seemed more powerful than his dislike of Harry. The youth in question was dropped off with more than enough time to make it onto the platform, even while hauling the damned trolley that was far too heavy for his rather slight form.
Now, he stood just a short distance away from the barrier which was directly in front of him. To Harry, it did not look as though his path was unobstructed, though it very much was. His mind — still hesitant to willingly walk head-first into a wall — was playing tricks on him. It felt as though he stood at the foot of a towering precipice, one that was as steep as it was dangerous.
He closed his eyes and took a deep, centring breath, trying his best to ignore the way his own heart seemed to try and beat straight out of his chest, like a particularly rambunctious monkey pounding and rattling against the sides of the cage which held it captive.
Once his breath was finally under control, Harry opened his eyes with the air of one who had just come to terms with their fast-approaching execution after living in denial for many years. He marched forward quickly and got about halfway to the barrier before his walk became a run, so desperate he was to get the experience over with as fast as his short, knobby legs could carry him.
His heart rate quickened as the wall approached faster and faster, seeming to defy logic, for Harry could not imagine how the muscle’s pounding could grow faster. There was a split-second when he’d traversed about two-thirds of the distance to the period in which he considered turning, slowing down, or coming to a full stop. The thought was brief though, and Harry marched on, shutting his eyes and praying to any higher deity that might exist that he didn’t split his skull on the solid wall he would run into at any moment…
To his relief, he never did.
Passing through it felt odd, but not uncomfortable. Yet Harry knew at once that he had indeed passed through it. His stomach dropped oddly as if he were in a speeding car racing down a steep incline.
His eyes snapped open as soon as he was sure he’d crossed to the other side, and what he saw made his jaw hang slack until he managed to compose himself. He then proceeded to grin like a mad scientist whose latest experiment had yielded amusingly explosive results.
The platform was vast and open-aired, filled with people moving this way and that. Most of them appeared to be wearing what Harry thought looked to be traditional wizard robes, but there were more than a fair number donned in muggle attire that he found far more recognizable. A scarlet steam engine dominated the platform, standing proudly in the centre and drawing the attention of all, aided by the words Hogwarts Express emblazoned flamboyantly in gold upon its side.
Harry cast his eyes around the platform as he walked — with no small bit of apprehension — towards the front of the train, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Malfoy family.
They weren’t exactly difficult to find.
Their features were distinct and their pale hair was quite eye-catching. Draco and Diana were already in robes, as were their parents.
One was a slim, beautiful woman with long, silky blonde hair that perfectly matched her daughter’s. Harry imagined the blue hue in Diana’s eyes came from this woman, for her eyes were a dark blue instead of the stormy grey of her son’s and husband’s. The man beside her had the stormy grey eyes that have already been mentioned and they only added to his imposing figure. He was tall and looked much like his son, but his hair was significantly longer.
It didn’t take away from the intimidating image that was greatly aided by the serpentine cane he leaned on quite lazily. His relaxed demeanour only added to the air of power and danger that seemed to surround him. Everything about this man screamed power, but it did so nonchalantly and in a way that implied that he didn’t need to go out of his way to be powerful, nor did he require effort to be dangerous. He was both of those things without effort, and that more than anything else was what did his image wonders.
The four of them were resplendent in royal-looking robes that were unmistakeably of the highest quality money could buy, and all four sets of eyes belonging to the figures in question loomed ominously on Harry before he’d even seen them; though he did not know this, of course.
“Harry,” Draco greeted pompously and with a small smile when the shorter boy slowly and cautiously crept his way into speaking range. “How was the rest of your summer?”
“Not as exciting as yours, by the sound of it.”
Draco’s lips twitched upwards. “Yes, well, not everyone can be me, I suppose.” He turned towards the older figures, who were most certainly his parents, before looking back to Harry. “Harry, this is my mother and father. The lord and lady of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Malfoy.”
Harry waited for Lucius to greet him first. It was the proper decorum when meeting one who outranked you; to let them extend the offer of conversation, or to decide against doing just that.
From a hierarchical standpoint, the Potters and Malfoys were actually on even footing. They were both Ancient and Most Noble Houses, the second-highest rung of Magical Britain’s complex political ladder.
The only rung higher was that belonging to the Founding Twelve families who were responsible for the founding of the Wizengamot nearly a thousand years ago, but most of those families were extinct or no longer relevant. Only a select few still remained.
Below them were Ancient and Most Noble Houses, which themselves were a rung above Ancient and Noble Houses, which sat atop both Ancient Houses and mere houses.
A house was a family on the Wizengamot that didn’t meet any of the prerequisites for a higher designation. Any family could technically gain a seat, but they would need to pay the annual Wizengamot fees that were quite exorbitant, and they would need to do that for five years to prove that they could reliably do so before their seat was granted.
Ancient Houses were families that had done this, but that had also lived within the borders of Great Britain for thirteen generations, equating to roughly four-hundred years. The two rungs above were for families who met this designation, but also ones who had a particular number of Order of Merlin recipients, Chief Warlocks, or Hogwarts Headmasters in their history. The number of any of these or a combination of the three could elevate an otherwise Ancient House to one of the next two rungs if the number itself was significant enough.
The Potters and Malfoys may technically have had equal status, but Lucius was a lord and Harry was only an heir. This was something that had confused him, but Diana had cleared it up in a letter. He was too young to be a lord, despite being the only remaining Potter alive. One day, when he inevitably took his seat on the Wizengamot, he and Lord Malfoy would be looked upon as equals, but that day had not yet come.
Lord Malfoy waited a moment before stepping forward, extending a hand to Harry, who took it cautiously, mildly taken aback by the man’s exceedingly firm grip.
“Heir Potter,” he greeted in a polished voice that seemed smoother than silk. “It is such a great honour to meet you after all these years. Many of our kind have waited long and patiently for this opportunity.”
Harry very nearly stumbled on his reply, but just managed to prevent it. He hardly imagined that would have gone far in making a positive first impression on one of the most important men in the country, not to mention one who intimidated him more than he would ever admit.
“Thank you, Lord Malfoy. It’s nice to meet you.”
There was an odd spark in the man’s eye, but Harry couldn’t quite place it. “It is a great pleasure to meet you as well,” said Lord Malfoy, turning to his wife. “I present to you my wife, the lady of our house.”
Narcissa’s hand was far softer to shake than her husband’s, though her grip was just as firm. Her eyes seemed more searching than even those of Lucius, and she studied Harry in a way that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.
“Lady Malfoy,” he greeted with the utmost politeness.
Narcissa smiled a warm smile that had the effect of putting most subjected to it at ease. “There’s no need to be so formal, dear. We’re family, after all.”
When she saw Harry’s blank, puzzled expression, she suddenly looked solemn.
“Didn’t you know?” He shook his head, looking rather dejected. Narcissa tutted. “It’s hardly your fault, from what I’ve heard. No matter — we will have to remedy that in time. Your grandmother was Dorea Black, who just so happened to be my favourite aunt.”
Harry felt his heart leap as too many butterflies for such a confined space seemed to try and force their way into his innards. “Did-did you know my parents, too?”
Narcissa frowned deeply. “Not nearly as well,” she admitted. “I knew your father some, but we more so knew of each other than anything else. I know more about them than I knew them.” She didn’t fail to miss the way Harry’s expression had begun to fall before suddenly lighting up at that last revelation. “I would be happy to write you about them if you’d like. I don’t know a great deal, but I can tell you what I know.”
“That… yes, I’d like that.” Harry found speaking quite difficult, as his throat seemed oddly obstructed, but he managed to croak out those words nevertheless.
Narcissa smiled. “Consider it done, and please do call me Narcissa. I hope you won’t mind if I call you Harry, in return.” He shook his head frantically, so dazed by the interaction that he hardly noticed her parting smile.
“You three had best make haste,” Lord Malfoy told Harry, Draco and Diana. “If you doddle for too long, there won’t be any decent seats left. I won’t have my heiress, son and their friend forced to sit with the common riff-raff.”
Draco and Diana nodded, so Harry thought it likely a good idea to nod along. Lord Malfoy returned the gesture with his own, curt variant of it.
“Good. Write to us often and behave.” His eyes were fixed mostly on Draco, who nodded quickly to show he understood. “Represent the Malfoy family with dignity and proper decorum at all times.” His stare suddenly flicked towards Harry. “If you require any assistance, Heir Potter, I am always welcoming owls from the likes of you.”
“Th-thank you, sir.”
Lucius beckoned them all off and Harry struggled behind Draco and Diana, lugging his heavy trunk along with him. “You didn’t get one with a Featherlight Charm?” Draco asked, clearly appalled by the very idea.
“A what?” asked Harry, having never heard of such things in his life.
“Battered old thing, too,” noted Diana, even though Harry thought the trunk looked quite pristine. “We can help him get a better one when we’re at Hogwarts,” she told Draco. “No doubt Hagrid never explained the right sort of things to get.”
“There are different sorts of trunks?”
“All kinds,” Draco said with a wave of his hand. “You’ll want the best of the best, of course. Money shouldn’t be an issue, being a Potter. You’ll want the trunk with a password, Featherlight Charm, and Spatial Expansion Charm. You couldn’t live in it or anything ridiculous, but it will give you plenty more room than that.” He said the last word with noticeable distaste, and Harry suddenly felt far out of his depths compared to these two.
Diana discreetly withdrew her wand and tapped it on Harry’s trunk. She muttered something in what sounded like Latin and the trunk really did become as light as a feather.
“It’s a third-year spell?” asked Draco.
“No, but Charms is by far my best subject.” Diana offered Harry a kind smile. “Don’t let it bother you, Harry. It’s not your fault you weren’t properly informed. It will just be up to people like us to fix that.”
“Yes,” said Draco, sounding rather smug about the whole thing. “We’ll make sure you get on with the right sort.”
“The… right sort?”
“Mhm, the right sort, yes. You’ll learn pretty quickly that some families are much better than others.”
This made perfect sense to Harry, for he had lived with the worst family imaginable. It was true that he didn’t think at all fondly of muggles in general, and thought most of them likely not worth a bronze knut next to wizards as obviously kind as the Malfoys, but he knew some families to be better than the Dursleys. He could understand better than most that some folk were just far superior to others.
“I’ll stop in to see you two later,” promised Diana when the three of them came to an empty compartment near the back, and the older girl gestured for the two younger boys to move inside. “I’m going to go see if any of my friends have arrived yet and save them a compartment if not.”
“Best of luck,” Draco said as Harry hurriedly thanked her, listening to her fast-retreating footsteps as he and Draco took seats in the compartment after easily lifting their featherlight trunks into the overhead storage rack above.
“I am not looking forward to this train ride,” moaned Draco. “It’s going to be terribly long.”
“At least Hogwarts is at the end of it,” said Harry.
“True. Small mercy, that. I don’t think I would be able to stand it otherwise.” A silence stretched between them before the blond dared to ask a particularly bold question. “Is it really true you’ve been living with muggles?”
Harry had told him so in one of his letters, but it seemed so unbelievable to Draco that he had to ask in person.
Harry sighed. “Yeah, my aunt, uncle and cousin on my mum’s side.”
Draco looked suddenly sympathetic. “That must have been awful.”
“You have no idea,” Harry muttered darkly.
“Is that why you’d never heard of Quidditch or Featherlight Charms?” Harry nodded sorrowfully. Draco sneered. “Leave it up to a bunch of worthless muggles to keep the heir of an Ancient and Most Noble House from knowing a thing about the world he belongs to. Scum, the lot of them.”
Harry felt as though the morally proper thing was to disagree, but he couldn’t find it within himself to do that, so he said and did nothing.
“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you get all caught up. So will my friends once you meet them.”
“Thanks,” said Harry, looking anywhere in the compartment but at Draco. “They… won’t think badly of me for not knowing these sorts of things or anything?”
Draco hesitated for a fraction of a second too long. “I’m sure it will be fine,” he said after that very brief pause. “While we’re waiting though, it might not hurt to make sure you… have a few things straight.”
Draco made sure Harry knew the definitions of muggleborn, halfblood, and pureblood before quizzing him on the basics of the four Hogwarts houses. Harry had answered all of this quickly, and then Draco went over a very brief summary of the political system that was earlier spoken upon before he, at last, seemed satisfied.
“That should do,” he decided with no small bit of satisfaction. “Anything else, we can talk about later.” His pale, pointed face curved into a rather broad smile. “Care to see how wizard’s chess works?”
Harry was in awe of the magical pieces that moved on command without the need for their commander to lift so much as a finger. He hadn’t had much experience with chess, so Draco beat him easily, but he found he was enjoying the game nevertheless.
Roughly ten minutes after the train had rolled out of Platform Nine and Three Quarters, there came a knock on the door from two children who stood outside, both appearing to be about their age.
There was a boy and a girl. The boy was taller than Harry but shorter than Draco. He wasn’t quite as pale as the youngest Malfoy and had very dark eyes and medium-length brown hair. He had a guarded look about him and a more athletic-looking frame than either Harry or Draco. The girl beside him was a couple of inches shorter with shiny black hair, deep brown eyes, and a face that Harry cynically compared to that of a pug.
“Pansy, Theodore,” Draco greeted with a fond-looking smile.
“Draco!” exclaimed the girl whose name must have been Pansy. “How was your summer? It’s been ages since we’ve last talked!”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Pansy, it hasn’t been that long. We spent most of the day together on my birthday and the solstice.”
“Yes, but you’ve been gone all of August and we never met up in July!”
“How was France?” asked the boy called Theodore, whose dark eyes left Harry for the first time since entering the compartment. It was a relief they had since they had practically been burning a hole into his face.
“Well enough,” said Draco. “Not the first time I’ve been there, of course. Mother is very fond of Paris.”
“Paris is wonderful,” Pansy said dreamily. “My parents took me for my birthday last year. They always told me when I turned eleven, they’d take me anywhere I wanted.”
“Never been,” said Theodore. “Father has never been much of a traveller.”
“I don’t reckon you have either, Harry?” asked Draco, effectively drawing all attention onto the quietest of the gathered quartet.
Harry would have scoffed had the new pairs of eyes not made him so self-conscious. “Never been out of Britain,” he admitted quietly.
“Who’s this, Draco?” asked Theodore, seeming to ignore the fact Harry was right in front of him and in a perfect position to be asked.
“Oh, have I forgotten to introduce him?” It was very clear to even Harry that was not the case at all.
Even he could tell Draco had intentionally left this for the most opportune moment, better to get a reaction. This annoyed Harry, who really didn’t want the attention, but he said nothing. He didn’t want to upset Draco or to ruin his fun. It was harmless, really. It just made him uncomfortable — which he was quite adept at dealing with — so he remained quiet.
“You have,” said the boy with narrowed eyes and obvious suspicion.
Draco looked sheepish. “Sorry, I must have gotten distracted.”
Even without piecing together Draco’s intentions moments earlier, Harry knew it was a lie. He could almost always tell when somebody was lying. It was one of the many strange things about him. People just couldn’t seem to lie to him and get away with it. He could just… feel when they were hiding something and he usually had a good indication as to whether or not they were trustworthy.
“Theodore, Pansy,” Draco continued, and it was obvious by now he was exercising a great deal of effort not to grin like a fool. “I’d like you to meet Harry Potter, Heir of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Potter.”
Nott’s eyes widened as his jaw loosened and Pansy let out a loud, rather undignified squeak of surprise.
“Harry,” continued Draco, “meet Pansy Parkinson, Heiress of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Parkinson.”
“So nice to meet you,” the girl gushed hastily, all at once appearing to recover from the state of awe Draco had befallen upon her as she smiled broadly and extended her hand to Harry, who took it clumsily.
“And Theodore Nott,” Draco went on. “Heir of the Founding House of Nott.”
The Notts were one of the few remaining Founding Houses in Magical Britain, along with the Greengrasses, Longbottoms, Selwyns, and the Blacks. There were technically members of the Founding House of Lestrange still alive, but they currently called Azkaban prison home, and were set to do just that until their final days had elapsed.
Theodore Nott didn’t immediately extend a heartfelt greeting as Parkinson had a moment earlier. “Why is he here?” he asked Draco. “Surely, th… he’s one of Dumbledore’s?”
Harry had no idea what that meant, nor what he’d originally been intending to say. It confused him greatly, but he stayed silent and trusted Draco to better speak on his behalf.
“Relax, Nott. I met him in the alley and we’ve been talking ever since. Harry’s a good sort; he just has a lot of catching up to do.”
Draco sneered. “One of the reasons I doubt he’ll have any love for Dumbledore. He was raised by muggles — no doubt it was the old fool’s idea.”
“MUGGLES!?” screeched Pansy.
Draco just nodded solemnly. “You can ask him yourself if you don’t believe me. He is right there, you know.”
“Were you really raised by muggles?” Nott asked with an interesting mix of disgust, skepticism, and something that Harry couldn’t place. He nodded, and Nott’s eyes narrowed once more. “What did you think of them?”
“They were horrible. Worst people I’ve ever met.”
“Just the ones who raised you, or others you met?”
Harry thought about that. “I’ve never met a good one.” For a reason he couldn’t entirely work out, Nott seemed to relax before offering his hand at last.
“Theodore Nott, like Draco said. Heir of the Founding House of Nott. I’m not sure if you know what that means because of… muggles, but I’m sure we can catch you up if you don’t.”
“I do,” Harry said, taking his hand and inclining his head.
Nott’s eyebrows knit together. “So you do know about our world?”
“Not really,” Harry admitted with a sigh. “I only just found out I was a wizard in July. I’ve just been reading all I can ever since. I’m still miles behind.” He suddenly looked down towards the floor as a horrible thought crossed his mind for not the first time in the past number of hours, days or weeks. “I have so much catching up to do. I always did pretty well in school, and I’ve read over a lot of the first-year textbooks, but I’ll probably be so far behind that I’ll be one of the worst in the year.”
“Rubbish,” dismissed Draco. “You might start out a bit behind some of the purebloods, but you’ll catch up. None of the muggleborns have ever used magic in their lives, and a lot of the halfbloods haven’t either.”
“Even some pureblood families don’t let their kids use magic,” put in Pansy with obvious distaste.
“Not any of our families, though,” said Nott. “We all know a bit, even if we haven’t had much time to practice. If you’re the right sort like Draco says, we’ll help you catch up.”
“If you’ve read a lot of the first-year books, I’m sure you’ll do fine,” said Pansy. “Even we don’t know that much magic.” Nott cleared his throat and she rolled her eyes. “Okay, well Theodore’s father showed him more than most purebloods learn, but I don’t know very much magic at all. Just the theory and all about the world.”
“The same goes for me,” agreed Draco. “Father has taught me a few useful spells and Diana has shown me quite a few of them, but we all only just got wands back in July, too. Even if we know more magic, it doesn’t mean we’ve actually had enough time to practice it.”
“Point is,” summarized Nott, “you’ll do fine, as long as you stick with the right sort.”
Harry couldn’t help but notice how often “the right sort” had been mentioned, and he didn’t quite understand what it meant. He didn’t much care though, for he was just relieved that all seemed to be going well.
He might just have found friends at long last, and friends who might even help him.
Perhaps all of this would go much better than he had ever imagined.
It was sometime later that the two final members of Draco’s group joined them. These were the largest boys their age that Harry had ever seen. They would have made Dudley whimper and cower in fear. Their names were Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle; though they normally just went by Crabbe and Goyle, according to Draco. They were the friends Harry had heard about in the youngest Malfoy’s letters, as they were the ones who joined him quite often in the sky on broomsticks for games of Quidditch, a sport that sounded so magnificent Harry couldn’t wait to see it.
After an hour or so had passed, the constant sprawl of buildings had vanished and the skyline had suddenly cleared. Now, they were speeding past vast fields that were blanketed haphazardly in a myriad of brilliant autumn colours. From out the window of the speeding Hogwarts Express, it appeared as though the train was racing past immense and vibrantly painted patches of earth. The sight was made all the more lurid by the otherwise dreary look of the world brought on by the thick clouds high above, making the bright yellows and oranges stand out even more than they would have otherwise.
This all would have been quite breathtaking to Harry, but he was altogether more distracted by the conversation in the compartment. They talked endlessly of a great number of things, some of which he knew and some of which he didn’t.
By the time their stomachs began to rumble, they had started playing poker, which Harry had absolutely no idea how to play.
Pansy was teaching him while Draco and Theodore played, and Crabbe and Goyle partook in a different, more enjoyable-looking game called exploding snap. Harry had been eager up until Draco had told him it was rather undignified, at which point he’d sorrowfully given it up and began listening intently to Pansy explaining the rules of poker.
Apparently, some of the more illustrious families taught their heirs the game at a young age. It helped teach them to bluff, was how Theodore had explained it. Supposedly, bluffing was a major part of politics, not that Harry would have known such things.
The door slid open not long after this practice had begun and a rather plump woman with a kind-looking face stuck her head inside. “Anything off the trolley, dears?”
Crabbe and Goyle practically leapt to their feet and they were the first out the door. The other purebloods moved more carefully, with Harry bringing up the rear. For the first time in his life, he had actual money; and a fair amount of it, at that. He intended to buy as many Mars Bars as he could carry.
But they didn’t have Mars Bars, and he found himself immensely confused by the perplexing collection of sweets that the trolly did carry.
“Oh, I guess you’ve never seen any of this, have you?” Pansy asked as all the others crowded around the trolley and loaded their pockets with a bit — or in the case of Crabbe and Goyle — a lot of everything. Harry just shook his head. “Here,” said Pansy, “I’ll help you.”
And so she did, explaining to Harry what everything was. He ended up taking a pile of chocolate frogs and some cauldron cakes, as they seemed most like the Mars Bars he had been craving.
When he opened the chocolate frog, deftly snatching it from the air and consuming it in one bite, he eagerly withdrew the card that Pansy had told him would be inside.
The picture was of an ancient-looking man with long, silvery hair and beard, as well as deep blue eyes behind distinctive half-moon spectacles. As Pansy had told him, the small portrait was moving, which greatly fascinated Harry. What caught his eye just as quickly was the man’s name, as he’d heard it uttered by Draco and Theodore several times.
Intrigued, Harry read the short description below Dumbledore’s twinkly-eyed portrait.
Considered by many the greatest wizard of modern times, Albus Dumbledore is particularly famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, and for his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel. Professor Dumbledore enjoys chamber music and ten-pin bowling.
So this was the Dumbledore Draco and Theodore spoke of. Odd how they seemed to speak so poorly of a man who seemed to be regarded so highly and who had seemingly done a number of great deeds.
But he had no doubt they knew far more than he, so Harry didn’t ponder the matter long. He quickly went back to his mountain of chocolate and impromptu lesson in the art of poker.
The only other real thing of note that happened during the rest of the journey did not take place until several hours after Harry had learned of Albus Dumbledore.
It happened when the door burst open yet again, admitting a girl who was already dressed in her Hogwarts robes. One with perhaps the bushiest brown hair Harry had ever seen, as well as very distinctive teeth, some of which were too large and out of alignment.
“Has anyone seen a toad? A boy named Neville’s lost one.”
Pansy seemed to cringe at the mere idea of a toad, and Nott sneered. Harry noticed that Nott sneered quite a bit.
When none of Harry’s new friends seemed inclined to answer, he did so himself. Somehow, he didn’t find this girl nearly as intimidating as anyone else he’d met that day.
“We haven’t seen one, sorry.”
The girl deflated, but then her eyes fell on the chessboard still laid out and they lit up. “Is that a magical chessboard? I’ve heard they move on their own? Have any of you been doing any magic?”
“No,” Nott bit out tersely.
“Oh, well, I’ve tried a few simple spells just for practice and it’s all worked for me. Nobody in my family’s magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it’s the very best school of witchcraft there is, I’ve heard — I’ve learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough — I’m Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?”
Dear Go — wait! No… Merlin; magicals apparently said Merlin, Diana had told him.
Dear Merlin, this girl was… something.
Something Harry wasn’t entirely sure he liked, but something nonetheless. He saw no need to flaunt the fact she had read some books. He supposed it was impressive if she really had memorized all of them, but it wasn’t as if she had done something incredible.
“People who don’t want your company,” Draco drawled in a tone that was shockingly condescending for an eleven-year-old.
She flushed pink and suddenly looked rather upset. “There’s no need to be rude—”
“Says the one who doesn’t know how to knock,” sniped Nott. He had a point. Did nobody in this damned world of magic knock? First Hagrid and now Hermione Granger. “What’s the matter, Granger? Too busy memorizing textbooks to learn some manners?”
That might have been a bit harsh, and Harry did feel a definite pang of guilt at the stricken look on Hermione Granger’s face as she rushed from the compartment, but he didn’t want to say that to his new friends, and she had been quite annoying.
Really, it was perhaps only right after she’d barged into their compartment without warning and started flaunting how fast she could read, of all things.
“That, Potter,” said Nott, “is exactly what the wrong sort looks like.”
It wasn’t long after their confrontation with Hermione Granger that a voice came over the speaker and said they would be arriving at Hogwarts in five minutes. They all decided to use that time to change. Harry bowed out to do so in the bathroom; though he didn’t say that exactly.
He had actually just said he’d needed to use it for a while now. He was wearing robes, after all, just not his Hogwarts ones. He wanted to ensure they stayed pristine for the night’s events, but he hadn’t been willing to show off his usual attire. Thus, he had slipped on some basic wizarding robes in one of the train station’s bathrooms. Underneath were his battered, second-hand rags. He didn’t want his friends seeing those, and it terrified him to think how they might react to them. Especially after Draco’s reaction to his trunk all those hours ago.
By the time he returned to their compartment, Pansy was back as well. All of them had been instructed to leave their luggage on board, so they were now just waiting for the train to come to a halt.
“What house are you hoping for, Potter?” asked Nott, catching Harry a bit off guard.
He hesitated, not quite knowing how to answer, but Draco beat him to it.
“He’ll be a Slytherin, of course.”
Nott snorted. “A Potter in Slytherin? That would be something to see.”
“No Potter has been sorted into Slytherin for centuries,” Pansy explained when she saw the puzzled expression on Harry’s face. “They’ve nearly all been in Gryffindor.”
“You don’t want to be in Gryffindor,” said Draco matter of factly. “They’re all a bunch of reckless slobs who try and get themselves killed just so they can go brag about it to their friends.”
Harry frowned. “But my parents must have been Gryffindors.”
This made Draco come up short, but it was Pansy who made the save. “What Draco means is that almost all of them are like that. There are obviously a few here and there who have some sense, but most of them are rowdy simpletons.”
“Not to mention mudbloods and blood traitors,” muttered Nott. Harry had no idea what either of those things meant, so he stayed quiet, thinking of all the things his new friends had told him.
He supposed the house of the brave could lend itself to recruiting some rather rambunctious individuals. He could see how an entire house of people like that could be problematic if they were all stuck together.
He shuddered at what that house might look like if Pansy and Draco were right. He also didn’t know the meaning of whatever Nott had said, but the word ‘traitor’ did not have positive connotations. He had already been betrayed by family in his opinion. The last thing he wanted was to be betrayed again.
And thus, Harry decided he didn’t want to be in Gryffindor House.
Soon, they had all exited the train.
The thick veil of clouds above had thinned; though it hardly mattered now, for it was by this point dark. The clouds that remained still did an excellent job of obstructing the moon, seeming to do their best to impede it every time it tried to beam its silvery light down onto the Earth below.
A booming voice called out to the first years, and they were all led to a fleet of boats by Hagrid, unmistakable and impossible to notice even in the dark gloom of this night. Harry could not help but notice the way Hagrid’s face had twisted into an obvious look of concern when his dark, beady eyes had fallen upon him, as well as Draco, Theodore, and Pansy.
The four of them piled into a boat, leaving Crabbe and Goyle to find one of their own. They sailed across the eerily smooth surface of the dark, vast lake which carried them down into a sort of underground docking station.
Before that could happen, they caught their first glimpse of Hogwarts. Harry didn’t even try to conceal his awe and wonder, he knew doing so would be fruitless.
The castle dominated the very sky, standing tall and imposing on the dark, high cliff they were about to sail straight under. In the velvety blackness, the castle was effectively camouflaged by the impenetrable night around it. It might have even gone relatively unnoticed that night — despite its size and grandeur — had it not been for the hundreds of lights shining from its many windows. Every one of them stood out on this dark, gloomy night, clashing with the darkness as starkly as a blinding supernova might against the all-consuming nothingness of a gaping black hole.
They drew the attention of all, casting the nearby bits of the castle into sharp relief so that they could make out its magnificent form, even on such a night.
Many of the first years thought the castle looked more like an impenetrable fortress built to stand against the sieges of vengeful dragons and vindictive deities as opposed to a boarding school built to house the best and the brightest witches and wizards of the United Kingdom. Not that the fact did nothing to dim their excitement. It seemed only to amplify it as the children practically scrambled up the sloping grounds to the castle’s towering, oak front doors.
Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked thunderously upon the door three times, prompting it to be opened not ten seconds later by a tall, thin woman in plain black robes. Harry thought she looked very stern and he immediately noted her as not being the type to cross if he could at all avoid it.
“The firs’ years, Professor McGonagall,” said Hagrid.
“Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here.”
The entrance hall was so big the whole of the Dursley’s house could have fit inside of it. The stone walls were lit with flaming torches like the ones at Gringotts, the ceiling was too high to make out, and a magnificent marble staircase that faced them led to the upper floors.
They followed Professor McGonagall across the flagged stone floor. Harry could hear the drone of hundreds of voices from a doorway to the right — the rest of the school must already have been present — but Professor McGonagall showed the first years into a small antechamber off the hall. They crowded in, standing rather closer together than they would usually have done, peering about nervously.
Professor McGonagall gave them all a rousing speech about the four Hogwarts houses and the mysterious sorting ceremony that awaited them.
Well, not so mysterious at all, since Draco quickly explained to Harry in a low whisper exactly how the students were sorted, which made a red-headed boy’s ramblings about fighting a troll several minutes later all the more amusing.
The Deputy Headmistress temporarily left them after a not-so-subtle hint to look sharp in a few minutes time. She had definitely been glaring at the same red-head who’d mentioned the troll, for he had an obvious smudge of… something on his long, distinct nose. Then again, that was better than the boy who had almost lost his toad. His cloak had been fastened under his ear. How he had ever accomplished such a thing, Harry would never know. It was oddly impressive, in a depressing sort of way.
Harry and many of the others got a horrible scare when numerous transparent beings, who were apparently ghosts, floated through the wall. Harry did think he remembered something about them in Hogwarts, A History, but he hadn’t read a terribly large amount of that book yet. Only the relevant section about the barrier Diana had indicated, and some other miscellaneous passages here and there.
It wasn’t long before Professor McGonagall returned and ushered the ghosts out of the antechamber. Harry tried hard not to gawk as they floated straight through the wall once more while he lined up and did his best to mentally prepare himself for what was to come.
He felt as though his legs had turned to lead as they walked out of the chamber, back across the hall, and through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall proper.
Harry had never even imagined such a strange and splendid place. It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles that were floating in midair over four long tables where the rest of the students were sitting. These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets. At the top of the hall was another long table clearly designated for the professors
Professor McGonagall led the first years up here so that they came to a halt in a line facing the other students, with the teachers behind them. The hundreds of faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the flickering candlelight. Dotted here and there among the students, the ghosts shone misty silver. Mainly to avoid all the staring eyes, Harry looked upward and saw a velvety black ceiling dotted with stars.
It was hard to believe there was a ceiling there at all and that the Great Hall didn’t simply open onto the heavens.
Harry quickly looked down again as Professor McGonagall silently placed a four-legged stool in front of the first years. On top of the stool, she positioned a pointed wizard’s hat. This hat was patched and frayed and extremely dirty. Aunt Petunia certainly would never have let it in the house.
Harry thought it looked too battered to do much of anything, let alone sort them all into one of the four houses.
As if to prove him wrong, a brim on the ancient hat opened wide, and it began to sing a song. A song describing the houses in more flamboyant terms than McGonagall had just moments earlier.
The hat preached their values before bowing to each of the four tables and falling still once more. The last thing Harry heard before Professor McGonagall called the first name was the tall, gangly red-head cursing under his breath and promising to kill the older brother who had somehow gotten him to believe they would be fighting a troll.
People really were thick. Harry had been in the magical world for all of a month and even he wouldn’t have fallen for that.
Harry became distracted when the first name was called.
A pink-faced girl with blonde pigtails stumbled out of line, put on the hat — which fell right down over her eyes — and sat down. A moment’s pause —
“HUFFLEPUFF!” the hat shouted.
The table on the right cheered and clapped as Hannah went to sit down at the Hufflepuff table.
“HUFFLEPUFF!” the hat shouted again, and Susan scuttled off to sit next to Hannah.
The table second from the left clapped this time; several Ravenclaws stood up to shake hands with Terry as he joined them.
“Brocklehurst, Mandy” went to Ravenclaw too, but “Brown, Lavender” became the first new Gryffindor, and the table on the far left exploded with cheers. Perhaps it was Harry’s imagination, or perhaps all Draco and Theodore had said about the Gryffindors was playing tricks on his mind, but they looked like an awfully loud and rowdy bunch — to the point of being overwhelming and borderline unbearable.
Harry shuddered; he liked his peace and quiet when he needed it.
“Bulstrode, Millicent” then became a Slytherin, and Harry noticed their reaction was very polite, but a whole lot more subdued. This seemed more like a place he wouldn’t mind staying, though much the same could be said for Ravenclaw, whose members had reacted in an equally acceptable way for their own new housemates.
He was definitely starting to feel sick now. He remembered being picked for teams during P.E at his old school. He had always been last to be chosen, not because he was no good, but because no one wanted Dudley to think they liked him.
And the sorting itself…
Merlin, what if he were sorted into Gryffindor? They didn’t look his type and he had the oddest feeling he would immediately lose his newly-formed friendships. He didn’t think he would be able to stand such a thing happening. It was the first time in many years he’d had friends at all, and he didn’t want to think how painful it would be to lose them so quickly and so suddenly.
He supposed Ravenclaw wouldn’t be too bad, but the Hufflepuff’s seemed to do a lot of hugging and touching to greet their new members. All of that was a very big no for Harry.
He began to notice the inconsistencies of the hat when it took several minutes to sort Hermione Granger into Gryffindor, yet Daphne Greengrass — quite a tall blonde girl with icy blue eyes and soft, angelic features — was sorted into Slytherin within thirty seconds of her donning the hat. Draco had gone to Slytherin before the hat had even touched his head, joining Crabbe and Goyle at the silver and green table, who had been sorted shortly before him.
Theodore was sorted almost as quickly as Draco, and Pansy didn’t take much time, either. A pair of twins — Patil and Patil — were sorted next and then, at long last…
As Harry stepped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like little hissing fires all over the hall.
“Potter, did she say?”
“The Harry Potter?”
“Better be Gryffindor!”
The last thing Harry saw before the hat dropped over his eyes was the hall full of people craning to get a good look at him. Next second he was looking at the black inside of the hat.
‘Hmm,’ said a small voice in his ear. ‘Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. Quite a great one, as a matter of fact, if it is just applied in the right way… yes, plenty of potential here. There’s talent, ah, my goodness, yes — and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that’s interesting… So where shall I put you?’
Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, ‘Not Gryffindor, not Gryffindor—’
‘Not Gryffindor?’ the hat asked in what seemed to be an utterly incredulous voice. ‘Now that is most interesting of all things. A Potter not wanting to go to Gryffindor? I would have never thought I would see the day. Hmm… this makes things difficult. Are you quite sure not Gryffindor? It is perhaps the most natural fit, and it is by far your safest option. You would do very well there; of that, I have no doubt.’
Harry thought about his parents very briefly and what they might think of him if he weren’t sorted into Gryffindor. He crushed that thought quickly. If they wouldn’t accept him no matter what house he landed in, they were no better than the Dursleys, which was a possibility he couldn’t bear to consider. He had to believe they would have been accepting of any option.
‘Oh yes, your parents would have been most happy no matter what, I assure you. Your father definitely didn’t love Slytherins in his younger years, but he grew out of such foolish notions in time. Your mother was actually great friends with a Slytherin for some time.’
That did it.
‘Slytherin?’ the hat asked through a chuckle. ‘My, my, you really do want to shake up the masses, don’t you? Hmm… Slytherin, quite the risk. Much could happen, but… hm… yes, You could be great, it’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that. Yes, a rather risky choice, but with great risk comes great rewards. Tread carefully, Harry Potter, and I wish you the best of luck in’ “SLYTHERIN!”
The games have begun and I think it is already apparent how a canon-ish Harry who is naive, vulnerable, and desperate for friendship reacts to the introduction of a new group of friends. I honestly believe this is pretty much how it would have gone if Harry had accepted Draco’s offer. He really did just latch onto the first people who showed him kindness. In this story, that just so happened to be the Malfoys and oh boy, will the ripple effects be something else…
Also, yes, I am using heirs, lords, and have a political system. I assure you that Harry won’t be dipping his toes into politics beyond maybe some very basic in-house stuff for many years. No eleven-year-old political masterminds here. That will be left to the adults.
Some portions of the sorting scene were taken directly from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It should go without saying I own none of these passages. They were simply used to add to the nostalgic feel, and it is very rare I pull directly from the books.
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A massive thank you is also extended to my first top-tier Patron, Κυρία της φωτιάς, Lily of Dreams, for her generous support on that platform! It continues to boggle my mind each and every day, and it is something for which I will be forever grateful!
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