In Progress...

Free Life Posted on 8/16/2014 1:03:46 AM
Chapter 7: 4000 words and counting
Hero Posted on 3/25/2012 7:32:33 PM
Chapter 6 Chance and Choice: 3,600 words and counting
Long Lost Brother Posted on 4/21/2010 2:57:30 PM
Chapter 5: 0 words and counting.

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Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling and Warner Bros. I in no way claim ownership of any rights to the Harry Potter Universe.

Author's Note: I've had the premise for this story bouncing around my head for a while now demanding to be written. I didn't want to start another chaptered story while TC/FL was still in progress, but the idea just wouldn't leave me, so I started writing it and was really happy with how things turned out. This will not be an epic like TC/FL. It will not cover every year in Hogwarts.

I don't have the whole story plotted out, and I intend only to work on it when I am struggling with FL. There is a decent chance I might never finish this story, so read at your own risk.

That said, for those that do choose to read on, I hope you enjoy it. Thank you to Maggie for her help and encouragement.

Chapter 1: Long Lost Brother
Harry was starting to panic. It was five minutes to eleven, and he had no idea where the bloody platform was. He looked down at his ticket for what felt like the hundredth time. Sure enough it read Platform 9 ¾. He looked up at the sign designating Platform 9 and then turned his gaze to Platform 10 and all in-between. Nothing. The Dursleys were right!

He wouldn’t be surprised if the whole thing was their idea. Let’s make the freak think he’s a wizard; he’s just dumb enough to believe it. Better still, let’s convince him he has a long lost brother waiting anxiously to meet him. And to top it all off, let’s give him a fake ticket to a train on a platform that doesn’t exist and dump him off at the station. The dumb sod will run himself around all frantic, and we can all have a good laugh when all his hopes and dreams come crashing down around him. Ha bloody ha!

He was well on his way to working himself into a silent, furious rage when he heard it. “Packed with Muggles, of course.”

His eyes darted to the source of the voice, a red-haired woman leading her similarly redheaded children through the crowds towards the barrier separating Platforms 9 and 10. The anger and despair that had gripped his heart faded away as hope blossomed once more. He hurriedly grabbed his trolley, earning himself an indignant hoot from his owl, and followed the obviously magical family. The mother had stopped in front of the barrier and sent the tallest, bespectacled boy ahead of her. To Harry’s utter shock, the boy walked straight into the brick barrier and disappeared! He gaped as a pair who appeared to be identical twins followed right after.

“Oh dear,” the woman stated, and Harry realized with a jolt that she was looking straight at him. Her eyes flicked to his side for a moment and softened in understanding. “Are you Muggle-born?”

He nodded his head even as he realized that he was not, in fact, Muggle-born. His mother and father were a witch and wizard. That would take some getting used to.

“Where are your parents, dear?” the woman asked as she approached him.

“Dead, ma’am,” Harry replied somberly. “My aunt and uncle dropped me off.”

“And just left you to your own devices?” she asked in a harsh tone.

Harry nodded, hoping the woman was not angry with him. Her face softened in an instant. “Not to worry, dear,” she said, giving his head an affectionate pat. “I’ll see you onto the train with the rest of my boys.”

Harry’s face lit up in a smile as he said, “Thanks!”

“Not a bother, now,” she turned back to her family and paused. “Where is Ronnie?”

“He followed Fred and George, Mum,” a red-haired girl replied.

The matronly woman tutted disapprovingly. “So eager to be like his brothers,” Harry strained to hear. “Hopefully Hogwarts will straighten him out. Won’t hurt to make his own friends.” She started and whirled back around to Harry. “I’m sorry, dear. I seem to have lost myself for a moment. What’s your name?”

“Harry,” he answered, smiling tentatively at the woman.

“A good name,” she praised. Harry beamed. “This is Ginny, my youngest and only daughter. She’s a year off from Hogwarts, but I dare say after seeing her brothers off every year she knows how to get through that barrier as well as anyone. There’s no trick to it; just walk straight through it as if it were a doorway, and you’ll find yourself on the platform. Why don’t you and Ginny walk through together?”

Harry looked at Ginny who seemed suddenly shy at the attention. “Come on, Ginny. Be a dear and help Harry through the barrier.”

“Okay, Mum,” she answered softly. She seemed to visibly get a hold of herself and straightened up, walking over and extending her hand to him. “Hi, I’m Ginny.”

“Harry,” he replied as he tentatively grasped her hand. She pumped his hand twice before releasing it.

“Is that your owl?” she suddenly asked, turning to the aforementioned bird in her cage.

Harry nodded. “Her name is Hedwig. I got her as a gift for my birthday.”

“She’s beautiful,” Ginny cooed, reaching her fingers through the cage to pet the owl. Hedwig preened under the attention.

“Hurry up now, dears, the train is set to leave any minute,” Ginny’s mum prompted them.

“Come on, then,” Ginny said as Harry took hold of his trolley.

He followed her to the barrier and stepped through. A gasp escaped him as he emerged on the other side. A large, scarlet train labeled the “Hogwarts Express” stood on the tracks. The platform was full of people dressed in robes as parents said goodbye to their children who disappeared onto the train trailing trunks and cages filled with owls or cats behind them.

Harry stood still for a moment taking it all in and subsequently was nearly trampled as Ginny’s mum followed them through the barrier. “Oh, I’m sorry, dear,” she apologized warmly as she brushed his shoulder warmly. “You mustn’t stand in front of the barrier now; you’re liable to be run right over.”

“Sorry,” Harry mumbled, firming his grip on the trolley as he began to weave towards the train.

“Nonsense, dear,” the woman assured him. “It’s a lot to take in your first time.”

“It’s brilliant!” Ginny agreed brightly before her expression fell. “Are you sure I can’t go to Hogwarts this year, Mum?”

“I’m sorry Ginny, dear,” her mother consoled, and Harry had the distinct impression they had gone over this before. “You know the rules.”

“I can’t go to Hogwarts until I’m eleven,” Ginny muttered miserably.

Her mum leaned down and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “My little girl,” she murmured. “You grow too quickly already. Don’t you go growing any faster on me.” Straightening herself up she attempted to look around the crowd. “Now where have your brothers gone off to…” After looking back and forth several times she huffed and seemed to give up and turned her attention back onto him. “Harry dear, you’ll be all right to get on the train now, won’t you?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied. “Thank you for your help.”

“It was nothing dear,” she responded, brushing her hand over his hair. Her eyes locked onto his forehead for a moment and Harry blushed as he brushed his fringe back over his scar. He hated that scar! When he looked back up at her, she was smiling warmly at him. “Off you go now, dear. Have a nice term.”

“Thanks again,” he said to her before turning to Ginny. “It was nice to meet you, Ginny. Thanks for helping me through the barrier.”

She smiled hesitantly back at him and responded, “Nice to meet you too, Harry. Watch out for my brothers, the twins; they like to prank people.”

“Thanks, I’ll do that.” He paused a moment before adding, “Maybe I’ll see you next year?”

Her smile turned brilliant as she replied, “Definitely!”

Harry turned and proceeded onto the train. As he stepped on it seemed to hit him all at once. He was on his way to a school of magic. He was a wizard, and he had a brother – a brother who was on that very train! He lugged his stuff on board, apologizing to Hedwig when he jostled her cage a little too much and counted his lucky stars when only the third compartment he passed was empty. He stowed his things quickly as the whistle sounded and the train began to leave the station.

He noticed Ginny and her mum standing at the edge of the platform waving at the train. He caught Ginny’s eyes for a moment and raised a hand in farewell as they faded out of sight. Turning around, Harry set his shoulders and re-entered the corridor to set off in search for his brother.

******

“Excuse me,” Harry stated for what felt like the hundredth time since boarding the train. The crowded compartment fell silent as everyone turned to stare at him. “Do you know where Thomas Potter is?”

Everyone turned to look at one of the boys seated next to the window at the far end of the compartment. The boy looked to be about Harry’s age with the same dark, messy hair. Hazel eyes peered back at Harry curiously. A surge of something like panic ran through Harry. He couldn’t have torn his gaze away from the other boy if he tried. He was certain without anything having been said. This was Thomas. This was his brother!

“I’m Tom,” the boy finally replied, still studying Harry as if trying to solve a puzzle. “You’re my brother, aren’t you?” he finally asked.

Harry nodded his head numbly. An awkward silence settled over the compartment as all the other occupants turned their gazes back and forth between the newly acquainted brothers. Finally, Tom spoke up again, “I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name.”

“Harry,” he hastily inserted. His voice sounded incredibly loud to his own ears.

“That’s it,” Tom crowed triumphantly. “I knew it started with an H.” Harry smiled uncertainly. After another short silence, Tom inquired, “You grew up with our mother’s sister, right?”

Harry nodded. “Aunt Petunia.”

“Petunia,” Tom repeated. “Lily and Petunia. Our grandparents must’ve had a thing for flowers, eh?”

“I guess so,” Harry agreed.

“What are they like?”

“Oh,” Harry startled and stumbled over his response. “They – uh – well, they’re Muggles. And – um – they don’t really like – um – magic.”

“Huh,” Tom responded idly. “Odd.”

Harry shrugged.

Tom looked around at the other occupants of the room who had to this point seemed content to let the brothers speak while they whispered quietly back and forth. “As you can see, we’re pretty full here. Maybe we can get caught up more at Hogwarts?” Tom asked. Harry opened his mouth, not quite sure what to say to that, but Tom continued talking. “It was nice to meet you, Harry.”

“Oh – er – it was nice to meet you too,” he quickly replied.

“Take it easy,” Tom bid and turned back to his friends.

“Bye,” Harry said as the door was closed in his face. Harry stood staring at it for a long moment before dazedly making his way back to his own empty compartment. By the time he threw himself down on the bench, he was berating himself for getting his hopes up so high. His relatives hated his guts, so why should he expect his brother to love him. At least he wasn’t mean, like the Dursleys. Maybe he just didn’t want to ditch his friends.

Harry didn’t know what to think anymore. He wanted a family more than anything in the world – a real family. The Dursleys did not count. He could never get his parents back, but the possibility of having a brother had been like a dream come true. His brother, Tom, had not quite lived up to his dreams, though he was not sure what he was expecting exactly. It’s not like they could just suddenly act as if they had grown up together the way brothers should. Maybe he just needed time to adjust. He didn’t seem like he was even expecting to see Harry, like he had forgotten Harry even existed.

He would just have to wait until they got to Hogwarts. Tom had said they could talk more there and catch up. Harry couldn’t help but smile as he imagined sitting down to dinner with his brother, learning about him and his life. Maybe if Tom really liked him then he could go live with him over the summers and never have to see the Dursleys again. Harry spent half the trip entertaining himself with fantasies of what such a life would be like before pulling himself back into reality. There was no sense wasting the entire trip daydreaming. He pulled out his trunk and dug through it before extracting one of his textbooks. Might as well prepare for his classes. It wouldn’t do to look like an idiot in front of his brother, after all.

******

Harry Potter, a voice spoke inside his head. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you. Terrible thing that happened to your parents. They must be rolling in their graves at the games being played with you and your brother, but that is not what we are here for. Harry frowned, wondering where the voice was coming from and what it was talking about.

I am the Sorting Hat, Mr. Potter, and I am speaking directly into your mind, the voice responded to his unvoiced question. I’m here to determine in which house you shall be spending your Hogwarts career. You’ve not a bad mind, but you lack the studious nature prized by those of Ravenclaw. You have a tremendous amount of courage but more often than not find yourself holding your tongue and doing your best to blend into the background. Not very Gryffindorish, I’m afraid.

Hufflepuffs pride themselves on loyalty and hard work. You’re no stranger to the latter, but you have yet to meet anyone who has engendered your loyalty. I suspect, though, that any friend you make will be a friend for life, one whom you would give your very life to protect.

I see here your thirst to succeed, your desire to prove yourself worthy of not only this school but also your family. You want to impress the brother you’ve only now just met and prove to your relatives how very wrong they were about you. Slytherin could help you on your way to greatness.

I do not do this often, Mr. Potter, but I will leave the choice up to you
, the hat finally declared. Will you join the loyal, hard working students of Hufflepuff in hopes of finding the companionship you have been denied your entire life? Or will you join the cunning Slytherins and show the world that you will not be trodden on, that you will not be brushed aside, and that you are every bit your parents’ son?

Harry sat frozen on the stool with the hat drawn over his eyes as he mulled over all the hat had said. How was he to know which house to pick? He didn’t know anything about them apart from what the hat just told him. How was he at eleven years old supposed to make a decision that, according to the hat, would affect the course of his entire life?

The offer of a place where he could finally make friends nearly made Harry choose Hufflepuff before the hat had even finished, but he found he could not turn down what Slytherin offered, a chance to become strong, someone his parents could be proud of. There was only one choice Harry could make.

I had a feeling. Remember this choice in the years to come. Your journey will not be easy, but the path to greatness never is. Make the best of your time in “SLYTHERIN!”

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