Harry was just about to walk out of the room when Darius called his name. Harry was wearing the same clothes he had had on all week—he didn’t have anything else to wear. Luckily, he had been able to wash them in the machine on the main floor, so he didn’t stink too badly. He turned around and looked at Darius. He was surprised that Darius was up—it wasn’t that it was really early in the morning (it was just before 9 in the morning), but on all the previous days none of his roommates had been awake. He watched carefully as Darius got up off his bed and walked over to where Harry was standing. Harry was still wary around other people—a side effect of his childhood with the Dursleys.
“Is it alright if I come with you today?” That was not the question that Harry had been expecting. A “Where are you going?” type question was more like what he had in mind.
“Um…” Harry didn’t really know what to say. He wasn’t particularly comfortable having another person come with him—what would Hedwig do?—but on the other hand he didn’t want to be rude and he had enjoyed the card game he’d played last night with Darius and his friends. “Sure.”
“Just give me a few minutes to get dressed, okay?” Darius asked. Harry nodded. He waited in the hallway until Darius walked out of their room and they walked together down the stairs and out the door onto the street. Darius looked both ways and then at Harry, wondering which way he’d go. He briefly wondered whether he should have left a note for his friends, or told them what he was going to do, but then he shrugged. He couldn’t do anything about it now because Harry was already walking away, up the street to the downtown area, and he didn’t think that Randy and Kris would be that worried.
He caught up with Harry in a few long strides, his 15 year old legs easily out pacing those of an 11 year old. They walked in silence for a few blocks, but it was a comfortable silence. They didn’t have anything in particular to say to each other, and they both didn’t feel the need to jabber on about nothing.
Darius was beginning to wonder if all Harry did all day was wander the streets when a large snowy owl startled him. Her shadow passed over his head, momentarily blocking the sun, and she landed on Harry’s shoulder, biting Harry’s earlobe off—or at least that’s what she appeared to be doing to Darius. In reality, she was nibbling softly on Harry’s earlobe, showing her affection for her master. Harry raised his hand and softly rubbed the bird behind her head, where her neck would have been had she been human. Hedwig opened her wings—Darius was astonished by how large they were—and shook her feathers.
Darius, acting on a protective impulse, moved closer to Harry, and Hedwig’s head swiveled. Her unblinking gaze caught his eyes and he stopped. They were cold, threatening, and she didn’t look away until Harry petted her again.
“Harry, what’s an owl doing sitting on your shoulder?” Darius sputtered. Even though she had taken her gaze off him, he still wasn’t too sure about moving near her. Harry turned his eyes to look at Darius. “She’s my pet. Her name is Hedwig.” Harry said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to have an owl as a pet. In her short time with him, Hedwig had become a permanent fixture in his life. At her name, Hedwig turned to look questioningly at her master. “I’m just introducing you,” Harry told her. Darius thought he was a little mad to be talking to an owl like she could understand him.
Harry turned around and continued to walk up the street. Darius shook his head and started to follow him. Harry sure is a strange kid. But at the same time as he thought this, he felt that he could understand Harry, even though Harry hadn’t told him much about himself. Harry was just a kid without friends. He followed Harry, watching Hedwig sit on his shoulder, until Harry stopped in front of a large, marble building with huge white columns lining the door. At the top of the columns there was a huge archway. There were several steps leading up from the sidewalk to the door.
Harry whispered something to Hedwig and watched as she flew off into the distance. He turned to Darius, who was watching him, and, with a rare spark of drama, gestured grandly at the building and announced, “Welcome to the library, home to all the information you could possibly need and more.”
They then both proceeded up the stairs and into a large, high-ceilinged hall with numerous shelves of books. Harry knew what he was doing and immediately headed off to his favourite section—the fantasy section. Darius followed him and stood nearby as Harry started glancing at the bindings of books and occasionally pulling one off the shelf to read the summary on the back.
After a few minutes, Harry paused and said quietly, “I kinda get lost in the search. I’ll be doing this all day, so if you want you can just wander to check out the other sections of the library.” Harry looked at Darius as if to check for confirmation, and then turned back to his books.
Harry liked reading the books in the fantasy section because they showed him worlds where there were happy endings—where everything worked out fine in the end and the villains were punished. For him, it was a good break from real life. Even when he had lived with the Dursleys and hadn’t had much time to read, he would hide in the library during lunch and recess and read. In fact, that was how he first discovered his love of reading: he was young, second grade or so, and had just had another strange occurrence happen that morning. Dudley had cornered him in the school yard and had started to taunt Harry about his dead parents, calling him a freak. Then, so quickly that Harry could have blinked and missed it, Dudley’s feet were out from under him and he fell hard onto the pavement. Though no one except for Dudley’s gang had been around to witness it, Dudley had been burning with embarrassment and was currently trying to take it out on the nearest target—Harry. Harry was running through the halls of the school and he burst into the library to receive a ‘shush’ and a warning glare from the resident librarian, an older woman with thick brown hair twisted into a knot on the back of her head. He’d caught his breath and started to wander between the shelves, knowing that he was safe here because Dudley would never come into the library willingly. He said it was for nerds and people without friends. Well, Harry had thought, that fits my description. He had picked a random book and sat at a nearby table. After that day, Harry had spent any free time in school at the library, and by the time he was ten and graduating from the school, he had read every book that interested him.
Now, as he searched through the books, he sub-consciously avoided all books that had to do with wizards, witches and magic. He plucked a book off the shelf, read the back of the book and the stellar reviews from famous authors and newspapers, and decided to read it. He exited the rows of shelves that seemed to sprout from the walls and walked towards the center of the room where large comfy chairs were set about. He chose a particularly comfortable-looking one and started to read. He had to hold the book close to his face and scrunch his eyes in order to be able to read the words, but the good feelings reading created outweighed the headache it created. He knew he should get new glasses, but he didn’t have the money needed.
Darius had been watching Harry as he completed the process of choosing a book and now he set out to explore the library that Harry was so fond of.
Another week went by and Harry settled into routine. Every day he would wake up and walk to the library with Darius where they would spend the day, walking home just before dusk to have supper, do their chores and play card games before they went to bed. It was a pleasant routine; one Harry could get used to. Darius had found out about Harry’s situation with his glasses, but currently wasn’t able to do anything about it. You needed money to get a prescription and buy the glasses, and that was something he didn’t have.
The previous day on the way to the library Darius had told Harry about his childhood. It hadn’t been pleasant—but then again if it had, then why would he run away? Harry didn’t know what had brought Darius to tell him this, but after Darius had finished his tale Harry had told him about his own childhood. It had been a relief to tell someone after all those years, and Darius didn’t pity him or feel sorry for him—he just understood and Harry was grateful for that. Harry disliked attention of that sort—or of any sort, really. He much preferred standing on the sidelines.
Darius’ dad had left him and his mom when he was young and his mom had neglected her son. Darius had finally had enough at the beginning of the summer and had moved into the shelter. His mom hadn’t come to pick him up yet and he doubted that she would. It was here at the shelter that he met Randy and Kris, who he had immediately become friends with. However, he hadn’t told them anything close to this. “It just hasn’t felt right.” Darius told Harry, who nodded. He understood.
Today, however, Darius wasn’t accompanying Harry to the library. Yesterday evening Randy and Kris had asked him to stay during the next day, using the excuse that they hadn’t seen too much of him in a while. He had told them yes aloud, while hoping inside that their excuse was all they wanted to talk to him about. Kris was known to get jealous, especially when to his eyes he was losing something, or someone, that he thought of as his.
Darius still got up to say good morning to Harry and to walk him to the door, but after that he had gone back to bed. He hadn’t seen a point in waiting for his friends to wake up when he could be sleeping. However, once in bed he hadn’t been able to get back to sleep. One thought kept crossing his mind—his friendship with Harry. He knew it was unusual for a boy of fifteen to be friends with a boy four years younger, but then again both of them had not led lives deemed “normal” by social standards.
He was also aware that their friendship had grown stronger in the week and a half that they had been going to the library together. Unfortunately, he had noticed that his friends, Kris especially, had been growing colder towards Harry. Consequently, Harry had been retreating into himself, even when he was alone with Darius. Darius had tried to counteract this and to show his trust and friendship to him, Darius had told Harry about his own childhood. He hadn’t expected Harry to respond by sharing his, but he was glad that he had. It had given him the chance to get to better understand his new friend.
He rolled over in his bed. Kris and Randy wouldn’t be awake until past noon—he knew this from past experience. They always stayed up late and then tried to catch up on sleep the next morning, unlike Harry who was usually up with the rest of the world. Knowing he still had a while until his friends awake, he closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep. This time, unlike the last, he was successful and fell asleep until he was shaken awake by his friends a few hours later.
She had been in Hogwarts for only a few weeks, had known of the existence of magic for only a few months, and already she could not imagine her life without it. She was always studying, learning something new about this magical world. She had already written home to her parents many times, exclaiming over something new. She loved her classes, even though no one else, not even her roommates, seemed to like as more than an acquaintance. Oh well, these things take time, and she always had her books.
Hermione was a very smart person, and she rarely had a problem that she couldn’t find a solution to, especially when it was academic-related. However, something had been nagging at her for the few weeks she’d been at Hogwarts. She’d already read all of her school books, and read Hogwarts, A History twice. If she’d gotten her facts right—and she knew she had—then Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, would be eleven and so should be at Hogwarts. She had been excited to meet him—a legend her own age! But she hadn’t heard his name called out at the sorting ceremony and she’d been listening carefully for it. Later, in the privacy of her dorm, she’d pulled out some of her extra books, titled Modern Magical History, The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century, to look up his story once more.
She was curious, but not the dangerously, incautious type of curiosity that most boys seemed to exhibit. Just now she had plucked up the courage to finally ask Professor McGonagall about him and was standing outside her office door, having just knocked. She heard a firm 'Come in' and opened the door.
The office was a very good representation of Professor McGonagall’s personality. It was sparsely furnished, with a trunk in the corner and a large desk near the back wall. It was very much in evidence that this was the office of a Gryffindor—the walls were painted a deep red and the carpeting on the floor was a beautiful gold colour. There was a large red chair in front of the desk, and Professor McGonagall sat on another chair behind it. The room wasn’t decorated, aside from one large painting on the wall of a pride of lions. The desk itself was covered in neatly placed piles of paper.
“Miss Granger, please sit down. What can I do for you?” Professor McGonagall asked.
“Um…” Hermione hadn’t thought past opening the door. This was highly unusual, but then again it wasn’t often that she couldn’t find her own solution to a problem. Her parents had always complimented her on this. “Well, I was doing some extra reading for fun-” Professor McGonagall smiled. “- and while I was reading I read about Harry Potter.” Professor McGonagall’s smile was frozen in place. “I was fascinated by his story and learned that he was born in the year 1981, which would mean that he would be 11 this year.”
Professor McGonagall knew what was coming, but what could she say in response? She couldn’t very well say that she had no idea where Harry Potter was—that he was missing! She nodded her head at Hermione, who took this as a gesture to continue. “Professor, I was just wondering why he isn’t at Hogwarts?”
There. She had said it. Professor McGonagall didn’t know what to say. “Well, Miss Granger, you are very observant. I don’t think that there’s one other student in this school who has noticed this fact.” Hermione almost seem to preen at the praise. Professor McGonagall paused—could she tell Hermione a half-truth? Would she be satisfied with that? “Professor Dumbledore has not seen fit to tell me of Mister Potter’s whereabouts.” Nor does he know them himself. “Will that be all?”
Hermione nodded and left the office. So even the teachers didn’t know where Harry was. Could she ask Professor Dumbledore? No, she thought, Harry Potter probably isn’t in school for a reason. With that thought in mind, she walked back to the Gryffindor common room and started on her Potions essay.