As It Began

When Snape is sent to deliver Harry's Hogwarts letter on his 11th birthday, will he still be able to hate Harry after meeting the Dursleys? Harry is a first year at Hogwarts. HP & SS No slash!

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6. Chapter 6

    Harry woke with a start on the morning of September first. His scar prickled and he he rubbed it with his fist. He figured that it was nothing to worry about and his mind drifted to the day before him. Hogwarts! Today was the day they were leaving! He jumped up and shook Ron to wake him up. 

    “Ron,” he whined. “Get up!”

    Ron woke much quicker than usual and before long they were lugging their trunks down the stairs. Harry was happy that Professor Snape had insisted on a smaller trunk than the huge one he had been eyeing. It was made of a beautiful oak, for which Harry was glad; the hard wood resisted the dings of the stairs more than he had expected. He liked the decorative designs on the sides, and for someone who had gone most of his life with little or no possessions, Harry tried his best to keep his new belongings in nice shape. 

    Downstairs, Mrs. Weasley had prepared a hurried breakfast, then rushed off to help the twins who had just started packing.

    “We leave in an hour!” she called.

    They rushed through breakfast, then Harry repacked his trunk several times to make sure he had everything he needed. Ron ran frantically around the house grabbing random possessions and shoving them into his pockets. Meanwhile, Percy had a carefully packed trunk sitting next to him while he read a large textbook. He shot everyone passing looks of disdain, for he had been packed and ready to go for days. Harry thought that perhaps he was missing some of the excitement, and scurrying about for the last hour was just part of it.

    “Here, Harry, Ron, I made you some sandwiches,” Mrs. Weasley said as she pushed bags into their hands.

    “Thank you, ma’m,” Harry replied, slipping them into his pocket.

    “Oh,” she said, an affectionate look on her face. She patted his cheek. “Harry, I told you that you didn’t need to call me that.”

    She turned to the Weasleys that had assembled near the door.

    “Okay, into the car, you lot!” she commanded.

    Mr. Weasley apparated outside and pulled an old Ford Anglia out from behind the house. 

    “Cool,” Ron breathed.

    Harry recognized it as a strictly muggle car; he had spent many days watching the cars go down Privet Drive as he did yard work. Mr. Weasley gave them a hand with their trunks and Harry was shocked at how large the trunk was. He had never seen one up close, but it did not seem to have so much room from the outside. When he opened the door to get in and found all five Weasley children spread roomily across one bench seat, he realized that magic must be involved.

    “This is more spacious than I thought,” Mrs. Weasley commented. “I suppose those muggles do know what they’re doing.”

    The others stifled a laugh as Mr. Weasley nodded solemnly. Harry marveled that Mrs. Weasley did not realize that this was not a normal muggle’s car. When at last they pulled up at King’s Cross station, the car was buzzing with excitement. Only Ginny looked a little down; she had another year before she started at Hogwarts. They each got a trolley and Mrs. Weasley passed out the tickets. Harry draped his cloak over Carmax’s cage, causing him to hoot in protest. As they wheeled along, Harry glanced at his ticket.

    “Hang on, there’s no such thing as a Platform 9 and 3/4,” Harry said, confused.

    “Sure there is,” Fred affirmed.

    “Just need to know where to look,” George explained. 

    This left Harry even more confused than before, but he merely scowled and kept walking.    

    When they reached Platform 9, Mrs. Weasley stopped them before a thick column of brick.

    “Fred and George, why don’t you go first?” she suggested.

    They grinned and ran full tilt at the wall. Harry braced for a sickening crash, but they simply vanished through the wall as if it were a curtain of water. When Harry and Ron were urged to go next, Harry hesitated.

    “Best take it at a run as well, Harry,” Mr. Weasley suggested.

    He nodded, but didn’t quite fancy the idea. Harry’s every instinct fought against him as he ran straight toward the wall which looked quite solid. He closed his eyes and turned away slightly, just before impact. He felt nothing. When Harry reopened his eyes, he found himself in an identical station to the one from which he came. The only notable difference was the people. They were dressed in long robes and large hats. Trunks, cages and bags littered the ground as parents hugged their children goodbye. Harry felt strangely lonely as he stepped to the side to join George, Fred and Ron. He watched as Mrs. Weasley and Ginny appeared, then Percy and his father.

    The train was set to pull out in exactly ten minutes, so they rolled their trollies over to the train and stopped for goodbyes. Mrs. Weasley’s eyes watered as she looked at the row of them.

    “I’ll miss you all so much,” she said.

    Harry looked down, feeling as if he was intruding on a private moment.

    “You too, Harry,” she said softly.

    He looked up and could tell that she meant it. They each received a hug and kiss and then boarded the train, Ginny still pleading to go with them. Harry and Ron found an empty compartment and settled in. Ron waved out the window as the train pulled from the station and left the remaining Weasleys behind. 

    Before long, the compartment door opened.

    “Harry,” the blonde greeted as he stepped inside.

    “Hello Draco,” Harry said cheerily, for he was in a good mood. “This is my friend Ron.”

    Draco gave Ron a look of slight disgust, then held out a hand. “Draco Malfoy.”

    Ron accepted the handshake without a word, looking slightly puzzled.

    “You have dirt on your nose.”

    “Pardon me?” Ron replied.

    “I said, you have dirt on your nose,” Draco replied slowly, as if talking to a child.

    “Oh,” Ron sighed and wiped his nose.

    “I should be going, I just wanted to stop in and say hello. I do hope you are in Slytherin, Harry. Nice to see you again,” Draco said in parting. “And you,” he added as an after thought, nodding at Ron. He didn’t quite sound sincere.

    After he had gone, Ron spoke up.

    “So how’d you meet him?” Ron asked, eyes narrowing.

    “In Diagon Alley, on my first trip with Professor Snape. He seemed okay,” Harry considered Ron’s expression. “What’s wrong?”

    Ron shook his head. “He’ll be in Slytherin.”

    “Yeah, he said as much the first time I met him,” Harry agreed, not connecting the dots.

    “Not a wizard went bad that wasn’t in Slytherin. I’ve heard some things about the Malfoys...”

    Harry grew quiet. After a long moment he said, “What did you hear about me before I met you?” 

    “Oh, nothing bad of course-”

    Harry shook his head and looked down. “That’s not what I meant. I’ll bet you didn’t hear that I was raised by muggles and didn’t even know what I had done as a baby. Or that I was practically a servant for the Dursleys. You heard things about me, but that wasn’t the whole story.”

    Ron said nothing.

    Harry looked him in the eye. “We should give him a chance. Of all people, I should know about being given a chance. Hogwarts is the first one I’ve ever gotten.”

    Ron nodded slowly, deciding that he would, if only for Harry’s sake.

    “Besides, even if he is in Slytherin, maybe we will be the ones to stop him from going bad,” Harry stated sagely.

    This deep conversation was interrupted by the reopening of the compartment door.

    “Have you seen a toad?” a girl with very bushy brown hair and large teeth asked.

    “Er, yeah, of course,” Ron replied. “They live in the swamp near our house.”

    The girl rolled her eyes. “I mean here,” she said impatiently. “Neville over there lost one.” She pointed down the aisle.

    “Oh.”

    “No, we haven’t seen one,” Harry answered for his embarrassed friend. “Is this your first year?”

    “Yes. And you?”

    “The same. I’m Harry,” he offered. Her eyes narrowed.

    “Harry Potter?”

    “Erm, yes,” he replied, feeling like he would have this conversation many many times.

    “I’m from a Muggle family, so I didn’t learn about you until a few weeks ago,” she said, talking very fast. “But I read through all of my books and you are already in a few of them.”

    “I am?” Harry asked, mortified.

    She nodded.

    “I’m Hermione Granger,” she said. “And who are you?” she asked Ron.

    “Ron Weasley.”

    “You’ve got dirt on your nose.”

    He groaned and tried to rub it off again with a little more success.

    “I’m from a muggle...” Harry struggled over what to call them, “er, family too.”

    “Really? That is surprising.”

    “I know,” Harry said, thinking that perhaps he wouldn’t be so behind after all. Or at least others would be behind with him.

    “Well, I’ve got a toad to look for. See you at the Sorting!” she waved goodbye and disappeared down the corridor. 

    Before too long, a witch pushing a cart full of candy and snacks came shuffling down the aisle. For this Harry was glad; he was hungry and his sandwiches had gotten smashed. 

    “Anything from the cart, dears?” she asked.    

    “No-” Ron began, but Harry interrupted him.

    “We’ll take the lot!”

    Minutes later, piles of treats littered the compartment. Harry picked up a small blue and gold box in the shape of a pentagon. 

    “Chocolate Frog,” he read and opened the box.

    As soon as he did so, a frog leapt from the package onto the window. 

    “I thought it said chocolate!” Harry exclaimed.

    Ron snorted. “It is chocolate! It’s just enchanted. They usually only have one good jump in them, you can probably catch it now.”

    Harry did so and bit off its leg, glad that it had stopped moving. Once he had finished the whole frog, he went to toss the box away.

    “Hold on, aren’t you going to get the card out?” Ron asked.

    “What card?” Harry replied, looking inside the box.

    “They come with collectible cards with famous witches and wizards on them,” Ron explained as Harry drew one such card out of his box. “Who’d you get?”

    “Albus Dumbledore,” He said and read aloud the biography. The Dumbledore on the card moved and smiled, like Harry had seen the people in the wizarding photographs do at the Weasleys’. 

    “Brilliant,” Harry breathed, as the tiny man exited the card.

    “We ought to get our robes on,” Ron pointed out. “We’re almost there I think.”

    Sure enough, when Harry looked out the window, he could see the outline of a small castle in the distance. They still had a ways to go, so Harry figured it was nowhere near as small as it looked from here.

    After what seemed like an eternity, the train finally pulled to a stop. They were instructed to leave their luggage behind, and Harry wondered idly how it would get to the castle. They disembarked and stood on a platform swarming with students.

    “Firs’ years! Over ‘ere!” A mildly familiar voice called. Harry looked toward the sound and found Hagrid holding a giant lantern and towering over the eleven year olds gathered around him.

    “To the boats,” he directed.

    The nervous children followed obediently as he lead the way to a dock filled with rowboats. Three students got in each, Harry was led to a boat with Ron and Draco. As soon as they were seated, the boat began to move, without instruction and without paddling. 

    “Wicked,” Ron said with a grin. It was pitch black across the water as Harry gazed into the distance. He thought he saw a tentacle rise above the water, then sink below again, but dismissed it as a trick of the eyes. No tentacle could be that large. Not for the first time, Harry had difficulty grasping the fact that he was really here, going to a school for magic. The thought made him smile, and he turned to gaze at the massive castle that loomed above them, sparkling with lights. The boats docked themselves and the students climbed out onto dry land. Hagrid reappeared, lantern leading the way into the castle.

    As Harry entered the great mahogany doors, he let out a gasp at the sheer size of the entrance hall that they were in. He had never been in a room so big and marveled at the high ceilings. They stopped before another set of doors and a stern looking witch with her hair in a tight bun stepped forward from the shadows.

    “I am Professor McGonagall. In a few moments, you will enter the Great Hall for the sorting. Here, we will place the Sorting Hat on each of your heads and it will tell us whether you are to be in Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin. Once you have been sorted, you will join your table for the welcoming feast. Are there any questions?” she asked.

    There was silence throughout the group.

    “Very well, we shall begin.” She turned on her heel and pushed open the great double doors. 

    They followed her onto a raised platform in a hall that was at least three times the size of the one they had just been in. The platform held a long table, at which the professors were seated, a podium and a stool with an old tattered hat sporting a rim along the brim on top. Perpendicular to the platform were four very large tables, each with banners of different colors above them. Harry spotted the Weasley twins at the nearest table, with the red and gold banner. They winked at Harry and grinned.

    The rip in the Sorting Hat’s brim opened like a mouth and it sang a song which described each house. Harry listened with interest, and decided he would be happy with any house.

    “When I call your name, come to the stool and I will place the hat upon your head,” the Professor said. “Abbot, Hannah.”

    A small girl nervously approached the stool. The hat sat for a moment on her head, then announced, “Hufflepuff!”

    She sighed with relief and went to join the yellow and black table that was clapping loudly. Harry became lost in his thoughts of which house he would be in until “Granger, Hermione” was called.

    The hat sat on her head for a long minute. Hermione had a concentrated look on her face as if she were having a conversation with it. Finally, it shouted, “Gryffindor!”

    She gave a nervous smile as the table erupted in claps and the twins gave a loud whistle. More students were sorted until “Malfoy, Draco” was up.

    “Slytherin!” the hat decided, after a few seconds of deliberation.

    “Nott, Theodore” was sorted into Slytherin so quickly that the hat barely touched his head. He had a superior smirk on his face as he slid onto the bench beside Draco.

    Finally, he heard the words “Potter, Harry.”

    Silence fell in the Great Hall. All conversation had stopped as the people who had long since stopped paying attention looked to the front. Harry nervously walked to the stool, shaking slightly.

    “Hmm...” a voice whispered in his ear after the hat descended on his head. “You are a difficult one. Brave, daring, but not a bad mind either. Quick thinking. You would be great in Slytherin.” Harry just wished for a place where he could belong. He secretly wanted to be in Gryffindor though, if only for his already established friendship with the Weasleys. But then there was Draco in Slytherin. “Gryffindor, eh? Fitting indeed. well, what’ll it be? Better be...GRYFFINDOR!”

    Harry let his breath out in a sigh of relief and went to join the Gryffindor table. 

    “We got Potter! We got Potter!” the twins chanted as people clapped and cheered.

    For the first time, Harry noticed Professor Snape at the head table. Their eyes met and Harry was shocked at the hatred he found in the Professor’s glare. He looked away quickly, hoping that he did not show his surprise.

    Ron joined them at the Gryffindor table along with Neville Longbottom, Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan and a few others. Dumbledore, a tall, elderly man with warm eyes and a long white beard, gave a quick speech that consisted of words such as “Nitwit, blubber, oddement and tweak” and left Harry wondering if he was entirely sane. Nevertheless, Harry had never seen so much food in his life and eagerly dug in. It was so delicious, that he had seconds of almost everything, and even thirds of treacle tart. He was enjoying himself so much that he did not notice the black eyes that were trying to pierce through his back.

 

 

---{}-{}-{}---

 

 

    Snape’s eyes narrowed as he stared at the little brat at the Gryffindor table. He should have known that he would’ve been sorted there just like his father. And mother, he reminded himself. Still, some small part of him hoped that he had been put in Slytherin, just to see how everyone would react to their little hero being a Slytherin. He despised the prejudice. That was the only reason for the wish; or so he had convinced himself. Now, in Gryffindor, he would become just like the rest, just like his father. Arrogant, irritating and a bully. He could see it in the making. Disgusted he turned to his food and thought about his first Gryffindor potions lesson... 

 

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