yeah, ditto on calling the manufacturer to see if there's any warranty left.
Your PC likely came with an OEM license for windows when you bought it. check the bottom and see if you have a windows license sticker. If it's there then the good news is that you are licensed. The bad news is that you have to have the manufacturer install cd/dvd in order to use the OEM license.
HP usually has the install files on a separate partition on the hard drive, so based on what you're describing it's probably toast as well. So, you'd need to get an external CD/DVD that you can hook up and get ahold of an HP windows installation DVD/CD.
If you find yourself having to hire somebody (geek squad, etc...) then I would strongly recommend just looking at investing in another laptop, because you will likely spend about the same amount of money.
the computer is about 2 - 3 years old. I ahve to call HP tomorrow to see about the disks. I'm sure it has a license for windows since it was brand new when we got it.
I'm trying to do it all myself, I used to play with hardware instalation / repais when in high school, but it was much easier back then using XT 386 with DOS Operations System, booting the computer with a 5 1/4 disk.