Categories > Books > Harry Potter > I, Alone
Chapter 2– The Sorting Hat
Why does this always happen to me? Hermione glanced about the empty compartment, her brown eyes tinged with more than ahint of sadness. After discovering that Neville had located Trevor, his missing toad, she had found a vacant seat in the first compartment of the last car with three other first year girls and had asked to join them.
"Megan Jones," the girl seated next to Hermione offered with an infectious grin as the bushy haired young witch seated herself.
"Lisa Turpin," offered a rather thin girl with cracked glasses and a hesitant smile who was seated across from Megan. "I can't wait for classes to start!" she added with an excited little squeak to her voice.
"Pay her no mind, she's a bit of a bookworm," the third and final girl stated with a chuckle to show she was only teasing Lisa. "Lavender Brown," the girl introduced herself to Hermione with a warm welcoming smile that made her brown eyes sparkle in an inviting manner. Lavender extended her hand toward Hermione.
"Granger," Hermione responded accepting the warm hand into hers and shaking it gladly. "Hermione Granger. Pleased to meet all of you," Hermione added politely as her parents had taught her. I'm doing it! I'm actually making friends! The young brunette quickly admonished herself so as not to get ahead of herself once again. I've only just met them after all. They may not even like me, she suddenly thought, becoming worried by that possibility as she released the other girl's hand.
"I wonder how long it will take to get to Hogwarts," Lavender asked, returning her hand to her lap and turning to look out the window at the rows of houses that were passing by. The young girl's hair was perfectly brushed and seemed to shimmer as she moved where it flowed down across her shoulders and onto her chest.
Hermione watched the girl across from her, finding her very cute and far more mature appearing than her mere eleven years ought to have done. Afact she noted with a small amount of jealousy as she herself could never pull off that sort of look. "I suspect a fair amount of time," Hermione finally replied, turning to look out the window as well suddenly. "It's near Dufftown in Banffshire county which is up in the Scottish Highlands," she explained. "I would be surprised if it isn't dark by the time we arrive there given the distance and the speed at which this train travels."
"I didn't know that," chimed in Megan. "Was that in the student handbook?" she asked, referring to the location of Hogwarts.
"No, though it should have been," Hermione replied in amatter-of-fact tone of voice. "You would think that it would be important for a student to know where exactly they were going to be attending school. If for no other reason other than to inform their parents." Hermione's brow creased in thought for a moment. "I may just have to mention that fact to the Headmaster or whoever is responsible for the printing of the school handbook."
"Wait, I think I read that in the beginning of Hogwarts: a History," offered Lisa with a furrowed brow as she tried to recall. While the studious girl had started reading the book on her own she hadn't as yet progressed very far into it.
"First chapter, second page, third paragraph," Hermione offered helpfully with a bright smile. "The first page mostly talks about the founders Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin and how they decided on where to build the school. Apparently one of them had a dream concerning a warthog standing upon a hill overlooking alake," the smart witch rattled on to the others.
All three girls suddenly stared at her with their mouths opened to varying degrees and looks of disbelief upon their faces. Lavender Brown was the first who managed to give voice to what they were all thinking. "I'm amazed that you could recall all that, Hermione!"
"Well I had time before school started and I wanted to know about the place I would be attending classes," she tried to explain, suddenly getting embarrassed and dropping her gaze to her lap. "So I might have read it a time or three," she finished with, in little more than awhisper.
"You didn't read all of your books that many times did you?" enquired Megan suddenly with a look of utter disbelief. "That would just be mental!"
"I only managed to make it half way through Hogwarts: a History," Lisa said, shocked that Hermione had read the large book three times.
"No. No," Hermione turned and looked towards Megan before she answered her fellow first year's question. "There wasn't nearly enough time to read all the books three times," Hermione assured the girl."I only read each of them once, though I would have loved to given them aonce over again," she confessed in a secretive voice as if admitting to some guilty pleasure.
"Wait," Lavender exclaimed excitedly, "do you recall any of the spells that we'll be learning this year?" Seeing the bushy-haired girl nod once slightly, Lavender pressed on with her request."Can you show us some magic?"
"We're not allowed to use magic at home but it should be alright here on the train," Hermione replied after a thoughtful pause."What would be an easy one?" she pondered as she drew her wand out from inside her robes. Looking about the compartment for a moment she saw the perfect thing. There was a small crack in the lens of Lisa's glasses."Hold still," she instructed the bespectacled girl. "Oculus Reparo," Hermione intoned with a wave of her wand before Lisa could move. The crack in the lens of the glasses seemed to shrivel up and then suddenly disappear with asoft little popping noise. "I'm glad that worked. I tried to modify the Reparo charm to make it work with your glasses," she told the three gobsmacked girls as if it was the most normal of things to do.
"Wicked!" Lavender exclaimed excitedly as she clapped her hands before her chest once. "You modified the charm all on your own," she added in an amazed tone. Lavender couldn't help but feel that even though she was a first year herself, she was far behind Hermione as far as magical abilities went.
"Thanks," Lisa offered softly as she removed her glasses and inspected them. "I was wondering how I was going to explain breaking my new glasses to my folks." Having read through the list of spells they would be learning, the studious girl knew that the Reparo charm wouldn't be taught till much later in the year. The fact that Hermione had not only cast it on her first try but had also modified it, left her feeling more than a little lacking.
Hermione waved her hand in a dismissing gesture. "I'm sure any of you could have done that and much more," she said with a soft chuckle, certain that what she had done would be child's play to the other three. "My parents are both non-magical so I've never done magic before," she explained. "I'm sure you've done it loads of times? No?" she asked upon seeing their blank stares. Hermione listed off several spells she had read about and knew they would be learning that year. If I can do them then they certainly can, she thought silently to herself. "None of them?" she enquired in a disbelieving tone upon seeing all three girls shake their heads.
"I think I'll go find the sweets cart," Megan suddenly said, breaking the awkward silence that had reigned for several long minutes in the compartment after Hermione's display of magic. Megan found it more than alittle daunting the fact that a muggle-born witch who had only just discovered magic to be able to perform charms at that level. She had tried a few simple spells and hadn't met with any degree of success as yet.
"I'll go with you," Lavender offered as the other girl stood. "They may have something I want."
"I'll go too," Lisa stated, rising rather quickly so as not to be left behind. "I want some chocolate frogs before they're all sold out." The three girls quickly left the compartment, disappearing down the narrow aisle way and leaving Hermione there by herself.
After they had left Hermione looked about and realized that they had taken all of their possessions with them. A clear indication that they wouldn't be returning, she realized sadly. The bushy-haired witch sighed resignedly to herself. "Why is it always so difficult to make friends?" she asked aloud with a hint of frustration in her voice. Several more minutes passed while she sat there growing increasingly depressed.
Suddenly a boy stuck his head in the room, his eyes lighting up upon seeing who was seated there. "Have you seen Trevor," Neville Longbottom asked in an exasperated tone. "He's run off once again," Neville explained upon realizing it was Hermione.
"I'll help you look for him…Neville wasn't it?" Hermione asked with a slightly arched brow as she stood and faced the boy who nodded in answer to her question. Once Neville stepped back from the doorway so she could step out of the compartment, Hermione wistfully glanced down the aisle way towards the front of the train where the three girls had headed to. "Why don't we start at the rear of the car and make our way forward," she suggested to the dark haired boy.
"Thanks, Hermione," Neville offered with a relieved expression and a small thankful smile. "I don't know what happened," he continued with as he turned and followed the shorter girl towards the back of the train car. "We were sitting in the compartment here," he told her as he indicated a vacant room they just passed. Each train car had four compartments on each side for a total of eight per car. Neville had apparently been seated in the second one from the front on the opposite side of the train from the one Hermione had been seated in. "I set him down on the seat next to me so I could have a bit to eat and when I turned back he was gone!"
"Unless he's learned to open doors he couldn't have gone far," Hermione said over her shoulder in an attempt to be reassuring."He would almost certainly have to be in this car somewhere," she added for good measure. Moving further down the aisle way the young witch had to use one hand to steady herself as the car rocked and swayed as it sped along the tracks.
Hermione stopped at the last compartment and knocked on the door, drawing the attention of the two boys seated within who were in the middle of aconversation. Opening the door she offered them an apologetic smile for the intrusion. "Have either of you seen a toad? A boy named Neville has lost his."
The redheaded boy seated on the left looked to the other occupant of the compartment seated across from him and then back towards her before shaking his head that they hadn't. Both boys were already dressed in their Hogwarts uniforms but were missing their robes at the moment.
"Are you doing magic?" Hermione suddenly asked as she noticed that the redheaded boy had his wand out with it pointed at a rat that was seated in his lap, happily eating what appeared to be part of a cornbeef sandwich. Stepping into the compartment she seated herself on the edge of the seat across from the boy and the rat. "I'm Hermione Granger," she introduced herself to the two of them. "This is Neville Longbottom, the owner of the escaped toad," she informed them while pointing towards Neville who had moved to stand in the doorway before offering them a small wave and a friendly smile.
"Seamus Finnigan," the boy next to Hermione said with abit of an Irish lit to his words. "Me dad's a muggle and me mam's a witch. She didn't tell him till after they were wed," Seamus said with a wide grin. "A bit of a nasty shock for him it was when he found out."
"I can imagine," Hermione replied softly before turning to regard the redheaded boy seated across from them expectantly.
"Ron Weasley," the redhead stammered as his blue eyes shifted about nervously in an attempt to look anywhere but at Hermione. It wasn't that he disliked girls; he did have a younger sister after all. It was more that he wasn't used to any girls other than his sister and mother. Having been home schooled up to this point he had very little direct interaction with girls in general. Given that, he wasn't certain just how he should act around them. "This is Scabbers," he nervously added indicating the rat in his lap more in an attempt to shift the focus of attention away from himself.
"Charmed," Hermione replied matter-of-factly. "Well then, let's see it," she instructed him, indicating he should perform the spell.
"Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow!" Ron repeated the words he had learned and tapped his wand against his rat once more but nothing happened. "I don't understand. I said it just the way George and Fred told me to," he divulged to them, looking up with pleading eyes, hoping that they would believe him as he was telling them the truth.
"Are you sure that's a spell?" Hermione asked. "If it is it isn't a very good one," she continued with before Ron could muster a reply to her question. "Perhaps you did the gesture wrong," she offered helpfully. "If you'd like, once we're at school I can help you find a real charm to turn your rat yellow? Though why anyone would want ayellow rat is certainly beyond me!"
Ron just sat there and stared at Hermione, torn between the desire to learn a charm to turn Scabbers yellow and an unexplainable desire to stay away from the girl offering to help him. Her manner and brisk way of speaking all alluding to the fact that she might be one of those 'know-it-all' girls he had heard often resided in Ravenclaw. "Thanks," the confused redhead finally managed to mumble.
"Have you seen him yet?" Seamus asked, coming to the rescue of his new friend and drawing everyone's attention to himself in the process. Not that he minded one bit. Seamus prided himself on being both jovial as well as friendly and he enjoyed being in the middle of everything, even if he was a little loud and boisterous at times. It's all part of being Irish, he often told himself. If the young Irish lad found himself the center of attention it was quite alright with him.
"Seen whom?" Hermione asked, momentarily distracted from the annoying redhead who had been staring at her, slack jawed and with agrowing frightened expression upon his paling complexion. Whatever is with that look?Hermione huffed to herself as she turned to regard Seamus.
"Why The-Boy-Who-Lived, Harry Potter of course!" Seamus exclaimed a bit excitedly unable to believe they hadn't heard. "He's on the train they're saying."
"Who?" Hermione asked in a puzzled tone as Neville slipped into the compartment and took the seat next to Ron. "My parents are dentists…non-magical," she offered in way of explanation of her ignorance. The bushy-haired young witch didn't appreciate the look of sympathetic understanding she received from Ron. Not one bit!
"No wonder," Ron said upon hearing her words. "That explains a lot," he added a little smugly only to receive a silencing glare from the only female present in the compartment.
"Do you know about the last Wizarding war," Seamus asked coming to Ron's rescue once again. The Irish boy paused, only continuing after seeing Hermione's nod that she knew of it. "Well there were those who stood up to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, among them were the Potters. You-Know-Who came for them and killed the Dad and the Mum but when he tried to kill their baby something happened."
"What?" Hermione asked shooting a quick glance to the other two boys and noticing a sad thoughtful look upon Neville's face as he stared at his hands in his lap. Before she could ponder that though, Seamus's voice drew her attention once more.
"That's just it, no one knows what happened," the Irish boy informed her. "He lived and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was defeated. That's why he's called The-Boy-Who-Lived. He survived one of the unforgivable curses. Harry Potter is the only one ever known to have done so."
"How tragic," Hermione breathed as she stared out the window, feeling sorry for the boy in the story. To lose both your parents in a single night, she thought, a small chill running down her spine as she imagined if it had been her parents who had been killed. What a dreadful way to start one's life! Hermione's eyes stared out the window and suddenly noticed the shadow of the train car cast by the late afternoon sunlight. "What's that?" she asked pointing out the window.
All three boys quickly turned and looked out the window she was pointing at. Along the top of the shadow, plain for all to see was a lump of ashadow that contrasted with the smooth horizontal line of the car top."Blimey! It looks like someone is sitting on top of the car." Seamus offered in disbelief.
"Or some thing," Ron offered, trying to hide the slight note of uneasiness in his voice.
"Why would someone be up there?" Neville's soft voice asked from where he had stood up to see past Ron. All of their thoughts were still upon the story they had just heard about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named so perhaps they allowed their fears to get the better of them. Without a word to each other they all moved closer together, huddled before the window. Unconsciously feeling safer as a group rather than as separate individuals.
As the four of them watched the disjointed lump of a shadow they took to be a seated person suddenly seemed to become elongated and grow in size and shape. As they stared in disbelief it became clear that whoever or whatever it was had stood up. A few moments pass while they all held their breaths before the shadow moved in the direction of the rear of the train, eventually passing from their field of view.
"Do you think they heard us?" Ron asked in a slightly frighten tone of voice as he turned his head to regard the other three questioningly, forgetting that there was a sturdy ceiling between them and whatever had been up there.
Hermione gave Ron an incredulous look for a long moment upon hearing the redhead's question. "Really, Ronald?" was all she said as she settled back into her seat lost in her own thoughts just as the others present appeared to be.
Harry lay upon the top of the car and gazed up at the clear blue sky. He had enjoyed the brief conversation with the girl who had introduced herself as Daphne. It had been the first time he had actually been able to just sit and carry on a conversation with someone who didn't hate him. Even when Hagrid had come to fetch him from the Dursley's on his eleventh birthday they hadn't spent a great deal of time talking. Their trip through the tube should have afford them an opportunity to speak, however when he had attempted to strike up a conversation about the Wizarding world Hagrid had warned him to be careful about what he said in front of Muggles.
Harry grinned as he recalled his first meeting with the half-giant. 'You're a Wizard, Harry' he had been told that night in the large bearded man's deep and excited voice that seemed to bounce off the surrounding walls when he spoke. Harry remembered pinching his leg, where no one could see, just to make certain he wasn't having some sort of strange dream. The remainder of that night and the next day were both rather unforgettable. It's not every day that a half giant knocks down your front door to wish you a happy birthday after all!
"So I'm a Wizard," he said aloud softly only to have his words torn away by the rushing wind as he lay upon the roof of the train car with his hands folded behind his head. Just what does that mean? It was that question, more than anything else that drove him to begin reading his school books. Where most boys his age would have found any reason at all to weasel out of doing school work, Harry looked forward to it. He had questions and he hoped he would find the answers within the pages of his new books. Not only that, he also had a passion for reading!
Early on in his young life he had learned that the best way to avoid being in trouble was not to be available for it to find him. He had discovered that not far from Number Four Privet Drive, where he lived with the Dursleys, there was a public Library. Within the pages of dusty old books the young boy could, for a short while, free himself from relatives that hated him and a life of indentured servitude. His childhood imagination combined with the words written on the pages allowed him to travel to foreign lands and far off distant worlds. Until he had boarded the Hogwarts Express that morning, only when his nose was buried in a book had he ever felt free.
In the month between his birthday and the start of school on the first of September, Harry spent every spare moment reading over the books that he had acquired for his first year, with the help of Hagrid after their trip to Gringotts. Harry knew that Dudley would just love the chance to run to his father to get Harry in trouble should the chubby boy see the books. He kept the books out of sight of the Dursleys as he feared what would happen should his uncle Vernon see them. The heavy set man would likely box his ears or might take them away. Even worse yet, he might destroy them!
The book by Adalbert Waffling titled Magical Theory and The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protectionwritten by Quentin Trimble, were two of his favorites, directly behind Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them penned by Newt Scamander. He especially enjoyed Magical Drafts and Potionsby Aresenius Jigger, but that could have been because he had just finished A History of Magicauthored by Bathilda Bagshot which had proven to be a constant struggle to stay awake while reading.
While the books were all very informative and would be a great help concerning the classes he would sit his first year, they did not answer any of the questions that echoed inside his young head. What was he doing here?What really happened to his parents? Why was he only now finding out that not only was he a wizard but that there was an entire Wizarding world out there of which he knew next to nothing about?
At least at the Dursleys I knew what to expect, he told himself as he sat up and drew his knees close to his chest, huddling beneath his robes. I thought I knew who I was. My parents had died in a car accident leaving me to be raised by my aunt and her family. Apparently that isn't the truth, he thought with a frown. It had taken some doing but he had finally managed to get Hagrid to tell him the truth concerning his folks, or at least more of the truth than he had previously known. The half-giant had felt that he had the right to know but that he himself really wasn't the best person to be telling him all the details.
My Mother and Father died because of me. Just thinking of them, even though he couldn't recall what they looked like nor any memory of them still caused his chest to hurt. If V…Voldemort, his silent monologue continued, stumbling over the name slightly as he thought it, hadn't been trying to kill me they would never have died. Harry sighed, feeling his emotions and thoughts begin to swirl about in his head as they always did when he thought of these things. This was not the first time, since finding out the truth, he had thought of his parents and their fate.
After leaving Hagrid and returning to his cupboard under the stairs he had lain there depressed for several days. Harry's apparent depression was something that the Dursleys took great delight in, even if they didn't know the reason for it. Maybe it would have been better off if I'd never been born? He recalled thinking to himself at the time. He still wasn't to certain if that wouldn't have been better. At least my parents would both still be alive.
Harry sat with his arms wrapped around his knees as the sun crossed the sky and slowly started to dip towards the horizon. Like all the previous times over the course of the last month when his thoughts had traveled their present course, he was no closer to an answer than he had been before. With a resigned sigh The-Boy-Who-Lived got to his feet and slowly made his way towards the last car of the train, recklessly leaping across the opened space that separated the two cars.
Quickly walking across the top of the car he climbed down the ladder on the back of the train and seated himself upon the small platform there. As Harry watched the rails stretch out behind the train he thought back to the events that had started this day's adventure as well as the reason for his self-imposed isolation.
Earlier that morning when he had reach King's Cross Station; he had been dropped off by his uncle Vernon who had thrown Harry's stuff from the car with reckless abandon. Vernon had informed him in his typical whiny tone that he would be happy if he never saw Harry again, just before driving off as quickly as traffic would allow.
Harry was in the process of piling his belongings upon a trolley when he was fortunate enough to see a family of redheads pass by and overhear their mother mention the word 'muggles'. He quickly gathered the remainder of his things and gave chase, staying what he believed to be a discrete distance behind them. It was only through following them and observing what they did that he managed to make it onto platform Nine and Three-Quarters at all. It had taken a considerable amount of courage on his part to run at the apparently solid looking wall. It was only the fact that he had just seen the others run through it that allowed him to have the belief that he too would make it through as they had.
He figured that for his own wellbeing he should probably be the furthest away from everyone else so he had pushed the trolley with his school items on it to the very end of the train only to discover that the last car was only for luggage. If Uncle Vernon was here I'm certain he'd want me to ride in the baggage car just so there would be no 'funny business/'/. While he stood there wondering if he should try that or find an actual compartment, twin redheaded boys came up pushing their own trolleys and introduced themselves as Fred and George.
"This must be your first year," Fred said as he pulled his trolley to a stop next to Harry's.
"He looks a bit lost he does, George," George added as he brought his trolley to a stop on the other side of Harry's. The twins moved to stand together so that Harry wouldn't have to look back and forth between them.
"That he does, Fred. It near breaks my heart to see him like this!" Fred responded with dramatically but with a tint of humor in his tone. "What with this being his first year and all."
Harry looked in disbelief from one to the other quickly."You…you're-"
"Weasleys! George and Fred at your service," the brothers said in unison with matching grins before Harry could continue.
Harry shook his head slightly as he finished what he had been about to say, "No, I was going to say twins."
"He's a right sharp one he is, George," George said as he nudged Fred with his elbow.
"Fred, I think we'll need to keep a close eye on this one," Fred replied with a thoughtful nod of his head.
"He just might need some special attention, he might," George answered sagely.
"Do you think he has a name?" Fred pondered aloud to his twin.
George shrugged slightly as they both turned to stare at Harry."If he does he hasn't said it as yet."
"I'm sorry," Harry stammered completely off kilter by their unexpected behavior. "Harry. Harry Potter," he supplied as he offered his hand to one of them, though he wasn't certain if it was Fred of George.
"Blimey, he has a right good sense of humor, he does!" George proclaimed with a hearty chuckle.
"We may have to take him under our wing," Fred responded with. "We can always use a good sense of humor."
Harry looked from one twin to the other with a confused look as he slowly lowered his offered hand. "I'm sorry but I don't understand what was funny," he finally confessed.
"Go on with you now," Fred chuckled as he patted Harry's shoulder and then gave it a slight shake playfully. "You nearly had us going there for a bit."
"You pulled one over on us, you did," chimed in George still chuckling at the fact that they had been pranked. "It wasn't a very good one mind you, but more than worthy of a Firstie, it was mate."
Fred suddenly looked thoughtful. "Here now, we can't let it get out that we were done in by a Firstie."
"It would be bad for business, it would," George agreed with a serious nod of his head.
"I think that's the first time this year someone's had at us and it's worked though," Fred confessed with a note of admiration in his voice.
"Not since our brother Bill placed that family of garden gnomes in our bed last fall, he did," George supplied with a huge grin at the look of disbelief on Harry's face.
"Oy were they ever flummoxed to see us climbing into the covers," Fred supplied chuckling.
"It didn't help none that all I had on were me knickers at the time. Nasty buggers can bite, they can," George said, his smile dipping slightly upon recalling the incident. He had sported bite marks up and down his legs, and various other places, for several weeks.
"Seriously mate, you need to think a bit simpler though, you do," George said as he stepped up and slipped an arm around Harry's shoulder as one would when offering a bit of sage advice. "It's not likely that someone is going to believe that you're The-Boy-Who-Lived and all. People will find that a bit hard to swallow, they will."
Fred stepped up to Harry's other side so that the smaller boy was trapped between them. "I mean you don't even have the-," Fred's words died in his throat. He had reached out while speaking and lifted Harry's bangs out of the way and there, as bold as brass, was the infamous lightning bolt scare for both the twins to see.
"Harry Potter," the twins breathed at the same time in utter disbelief. In sputtering embarrassment they apologized and even helped him store his trunk and Hedwig's cage into the baggage car. Harry had let the snow owl out prior to leaving the house. He had read in the school handbook that this should be done and that the owls would find their way to Hogwarts. Harry had been certain at the time that it was also to minimize the amount of cleanup required on the train from owl droppings. Something he had become intimately familiar with over the last month.
"Wait right here, Mate" Fred said as the last of their things were stowed away. "The rest of the family has to meet you."
"Ron and Gin will think we're having a go at them, they will," George piped up with; the grin on his face clearly indicating her couldn't wait to prove them wrong.
Harry stood there flustered with embarrassment as memories of his brief venture to Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron came to mind. His entire life people hadn't wanted to speak to him unless it was to yell at him or tell him to fetch something or cook breakfast. All of a sudden since his eleventh birthday it seemed that in a blink of an eye people wanted to shake his hand as if he was some famous person or high ranking government official. Harry recalled thinking how unnatural all the attention had felt to him. People had gathered around him, touching him and saying how honored they were to be fortunate enough to have met The-Boy-Who-Lived. He realized shortly thereafter that it wasn't him they wanted to see but rather this 'The-Boy-Who-Lived' persona. Even now just thinking about it made his stomach feel queasy.
I'm not sure I can go through that again, he thought as he stood there watching the twins hurry off while chatting back and forth excitedly about meeting him. As soon as they were lost in the crowd Harry walked to the back of the train and it was there that he saw the metal ladder that led to the roof of the baggage car. It only took a moment for him to decide on what to do. Once he was up the ladder he carefully made his way to the second to last car and then simply stretched out upon the top of the car and waited for the train to move. In this manner he figured he could make it all the way to Hogwarts, without having to deal with the hassle of not being what or who everyone thought he was.
Harry grimaced, thinking about the twins and hoping that they wouldn't be too mad with him. Even if they are it's not like I'm not used to people hating my very existence already anyways. If my own relatives can't stand the sight of me how can Iexpect others to feel any different? "I never wanted to be The-Boy-Who-Lived," he said aloud, frustrated by the entire ordeal which had been thrust upon him without warning.
Harry glanced to the side briefly upon hearing a noise and then looked back along the tracks behind the train having seen nothing there that would account for the noise he had heard.
Harry slowly turned his head to the side, realizing that the noise was closer than he had first expected. Directly next to him where he sat upon the back platform was a large metal wheel which he thought might be used to manually apply breaking to the car's wheels. The metal wheel was mounted to ashaft which then went into a gearbox on the back wall of the car. Harry's eyes widened slightly in surprise upon noticing a pair of small eyes which were casually regarding him from the top of the breaking gearbox.
Harry watched the toads throat expand, stretching the thin membrane beneath its mouth till suddenly there was a 'croak' and the membrane retracted, returning to its normal state once again.
"Feeling a bit overwhelmed as well are we?" Harry asked the toad with grin. "Needing a bit of fresh air?" The toad jumped from the gearbox and landed in Harry's lap before seeming to make itself comfortable. Harry watched it for a moment to assure himself that it wasn't going to try and jump off the back of the moving train. "It's alright," he told his new companion, "I'm sure you didn't ask to be a toad either," he added.
"You wouldn't want to trade places would you?" he asked after watching the toad for several moments.
"I rather doubted you would," he said with a resigned sigh as he leaned his head back against the wall and watched through hooded eyes as everything he had ever known grew further and further away from him.
Malfoy looked up upon hearing the compartment door open only to frown upon seeing the girl who had earlier been discussing Harry Potter with another Prefect outside the very same door she now stood in.
"First year?" the Ravenclaw Prefect asked with a slightly raised brow. Malfoy nodded once sharply in way of response. "Right then," the girl said, assuming a business like stance and tone of voice."I am Penelope Clearwater, the Prefect for the Ravenclaw house at Hogwarts. We'll be arriving in Hogsmeade shortly," she informed him."Once the train has stopped and the whistle has blown twice you are to disembark, being certain to take with you any personal items you wish to keep. Once clear of the train you will need to report to Rubeus Hagrid who will escort all the first year students to Hogwarts. You shouldn't have any trouble locating him. He's rather hard to miss. Questions?" Seeing that Draco had none she turned and made her way to the next compartment to repeat the process all over again.
Draco watched her walk away with a contemptuous sneer upon his face. Just you wait! It won't be long before the likes of you won't dare tell me what to do, he seethed within his own mind. The youngest of the Malfoy linage had his musing interrupted by the return of Crabbe and Goyle. "Did you find him?" he snarled at them, his mood already foul by this point.
Both boys were red in the face and breathing heavy but managed to nod that they hadn't.
"What's on with you two?" Draco asked upon finally taking note of their condition. "Did you have a bit of a row with someone?"
"No," Crabbe responded first, pausing to draw in a deep breath. "The Gryffindor Prefect Weasley told us to hurry back to our seats as we would be arriving soon," the heavy set boy stated pausing to draw breath once again.
"He threatened to take points from our house if we didn't hurry," Goyle added so as not to be left out.
Draco grunted, disgusted by the news. "Another Weasley! Is there no end to them?" he asked rhetorically. "Filthy blood traitors!" he spat out, using a term that he had heard his father use on several occasions when speaking of the clan of redheads. Draco motioned for the two of them to take the seat across from him. "No matter. He'll turn up once we're to the castle," he told them as his thoughts turned once again to the elusive Harry Potter.
"What of that Greengrass girl," Goyle asked once his large frame was settled back into the cushioned bench and he had caught his breath again.
"There'll be plenty of time to get to know her," Draco replied with an expectant grin. "Hogwarts is only so big and has only so many rooms. She can't evade me forever," he remarked confidently.
Harry jolted awake upon feeling the train lurch under him. It took him a moment to realize that he must have nodded off. Looking down into his lap he saw that the toad must have fallen asleep as well as it was still sitting there. Even as Harry realized this he felt the train lurch once more as it slowed down even further.
Gingerly picking up the toad in one hand he slipped it into the pocket of his robe before stepping to the far edge of the platform and stealing a glance along the side of the train. A short distance ahead he could make out lights which soon grew closer to reveal what he took to be the station that was their destination.
As soon as the train came to a jerking stop the whistle let out two loud long notes and students began to pour out of the train cars and onto the platform. Harry quickly disembarked, feeling fairly certain he would get into some form of trouble for having been riding on the back of the baggage car. Once off the train though he didn't know what to do or where to go so he just stood there and watched the sea of students in their black robes.
After a few minutes the crowd parted slightly to allow a rather tall and friendly looking man through. Harry took note that the man was wearing a conductor's uniform with a Hogwarts Express logo over his left breast. Harry smiled when the man nodded to him.
"No need to worry 'bout your things," the conductor told him. "They'll all be brought up to the castle easy peasy." The man paused and got a better look at Harry before he continued. "You're a first year aren't ya?" Harry nodded rapidly. "You should be over with the other first years by Hagrid. You know who Hagrid is don't ya?" Once more Harry simply nodded. "Right then, off with you now. I've got work to do here. Can't be havin no Firstie getting under foot and all." Having said his piece the man turned and with a flick of his wand opened the baggage car doors.
Harry, left with no other choice, turned and started to make his way along the platform trying not to get into anyone's way. It wasn't long till he heard Hagrid's large and commanding voice bellowing out above the other noise. "First year students over `ere now if you would. Don't be goin'with the other years," the half-giant instructed as he held up a large lantern so all the students could see him clearly.
Hagrid stood there nearly knees, waist and shoulders above all the gathered first year students and waited for the others to clear off. Those students who were second year and up moved off down the road. There were carriages waiting to take them around the lake to the school, which was situated at the farthest point away from Hogsmeade.
"Right then," Hagrid said, clearing his throat once."Follow me then and be sure to watch where yer goin'! It wouldn't do atall' if one of you were to fall in the lake." Turning, the large man with the bushy beard led the students out upon a pier that jutted out into the dark waters of the lake.
"Now be careful when you step into the boats," Hagrid instructed them. "Two or three of ya to a boat ought to be plenty. No need to be pushing or shovin' now there's plenty of room for everyone," he assured them.
As Harry stepped out onto the pier, the last in line, he saw that the boats were rather small and painted white. Just ahead of him two small girls with jet black hair and dark complexions climbed down into the last boat. Harry waited till they were seated in the front seat before he nervously eased himself down into the boat as well. His one experience with boats had been the night he met Hagrid. Harry's uncle Vernon had rowed him as well as his aunt and cousin to a small bit of rock out in the ocean. It had been dark and his memories of the occasion were not that inviting. It was with that horrific experience in the forefront of his thoughts that he eased himself cautiously into their transportation, uncertain of just what to expect of the small craft. He was pleasantly surprised to discover that the boat didn't move or shift at all under his weight. Growing a little more confident he stepped to the rear seat and sat down. Before him the two girls gave a brief glance back at him before facing forward once more and chatting animatedly with each other.
Hagrid slowly walked down the length of the pier towards where Harry was however he stopped before going that far upon seeing that everyone had made it safely into the boats already. "Once we reach the other side make sure yer just as careful steppin' from the boat as you were gettin' in them," he instructed them. Satisfied that he had done all he needed to, the half-giant climbed into the middle boat which had been left empty for him Without any word or visible gesture all the boats started to move and drifted out into the lake.
First year students gasped and squealed in delight as the boats apparently propelled themselves by magic. Harry found the entire thing a little disconcerting as the boats made no noise even as they slid through the small waves upon the lakes surface. Left with little to do, he listened to the girls'conversation for a few moments and learned that they were sisters whose names were Parvati and Padma.
The trip across the lake was far faster than Harry thought it would be. As they neared what he took to be the center of the lake everyone started to exclaim loudly and point. Ahead of them, perched high upon a hilltop overlooking the lake, sat a huge castle. There were too many towers and turrets thrusting up into the night sky to clearly count them all. The windows in the tall buildings were all aglow with light which seemed both warm and welcoming to the young students.
As they neared the hill upon which the castle stood they passed through an opening which was partially hidden by hanging ivy and traveled through a tunnel till they found themselves within an underground harbor beneath the school. One by one the small boats pulled up to a short dock and the students disembarked. As each boat was emptied it moved out of the way and further back into the cavern to make room for the next boat with its load of passengers waiting to disembark.
"Just follow the path and it will lead you to the stairs by the boathouse," Hagrid's deep voice rang out in the quiet night as he held up his lantern. "Proceed up the stairs and Professor McGonagall will meet you at the top," he instructed, repeating it every so often to ensure everyone heard him and knew what to do.
"Hello Hagrid," Harry said as he accepted the half-giant's large hand and was nearly lifted out of the boat by the man's assistance.
"Hello Harry," Hagrid said with a giant smile as he set the small boy down upon the pier. "I was hoping I'd get ta see you before the sortin' hat ceremony"
"Sorting Hat?" Harry couldn't help but ask turning and craning his neck in an effort to look up at the man beside him.
"I shouldn't ought ta 'ave said that," Hagrid mumbled to himself half under his breath which meant it was clearly loud enough for Harry to hear. "Never you mind that now, Harry. You best run along now and let Professor McGonagall explain it to you," he said encouragingly as he gave Harry a small push on his back that nearly knocked the scrawny boy over.
"Alright then," Harry said with a grin once he'd regained his balance. "See you later Hagrid!" Harry waved once before turning and hurrying along the pathway. Upon reaching the boathouse he began climbing the stairs as quickly as he could. He barely managed to catch up to the rest of the first years as they neared the top.
As the other students came to halt ahead of him, Harry felt his robes move. Harry just caught a glimpse of the toad as it leapt from his pocket and then jumped into the crowd of students. Before he could give chase he heard a stern voice and couldn't help but look up and pay attention. Standing at the top of the stairs, dressed in emerald green robes, was a witch. The 'no-nonsense' expression upon the dark haired witch's face made Harry feel as if this was a person he did not want cross with him.
"Good evening First Year students and welcome to Hogwarts. Iam Professor McGonagall. In just a few moments we will enter the great hall and you will be sorted into your houses. The houses here at Hogwarts are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin." The elderly professor's eyes swept through the crowd to ensure she had everyone's attentions.
"While you are here your House is like your family. You will take classes with your other House members. Sleep in the dormitories with your House members as well as spend time in your House's common room. Each House has a long and noble history which I am certain you will strive to uphold for whichever House you're sorted into. Your triumphs, academically as well as in Quidditch, will earn your House points," she told them as she clasped her hands before her waist and surveyed the youngsters before her. "Likewise your failures will also cause your House to lose points. At the end of the term the house with the most points will be awarded the House Cup and the honor associated with it."
"Trevor!" a dark haired boy Harry didn't know exclaimed and suddenly leapt out of the crowd of students to capture a toad that had just landed on the top step before the professor. "Sorry, Ma'am," the boy quickly offered in way of apology before stepping back into the crowd. Harry smiled softly at the rear of the group, glad that the toad had found its owner.
"Yes, well, do try to keep a better hold of your pet," Professor McGonagall stated to Neville before continuing. "Please wait here a moment while I go and see if they are ready for us," she told them before turning away and then disappearing through the doorway which was a short distance away.
"Can't even keep control of your pet," Draco sneered leaning against the railing to the stairs with a look of utter disdain upon his face as he gazed at Neville. "I guess what my father says it true, they'll let anyone into Hogwarts these days!"
"You should shut yer trap and stop being a prat," aredheaded boy Harry hadn't seen exclaimed before the boy with the toad could say anything.
Draco stepped forward and looked the boy who spoke over once, his expression clearly indicating he wasn't impressed with what he saw. "No need to ask your name," he said with a smirk. "Red hair, freckles, second hand robes and hand me down clothes, you must be a Weasley!" Draco laughed, with Crabbe and Goyle directly behind him joining in as well. Ron's face turned red all the way to the tips of his ears.
"Listen up all of you," Draco said in a voice loud enough to clearly carry all the way to the back of the gathered student."You'll soon learn that there are some Wizarding families that are better than others. You don't want to go associating with the wrong kind." Draco paused as Goyle nudged him and indicated that Professor McGonagall was returning. With a final menacing glare at Ron the light haired boy stepped back to the rail as if nothing had happened.
Harry had watched the entire exchange but remained quiet throughout. He knew the light haired boy's type all too well. Minus the weight and some height he reminds me of Dudley, Harry thought to himself as he turned to face the approaching professor. There must be bullies in every school, he reasoned.
"They are ready for you now," McGonagall informed them."Once we're inside when you hear your name called please come forward and have a seat upon the chair. I will place the Sorting hat upon your head and it will decide which House you're to be in. Once that is known you may step down and have a seat at your House's table. Are there any questions?" She paused for a long moment before continuing. "Very well then, please follow me," the Professor instructed them before turning and leading them to the door.
They were led into the castle and brought into a room that Harry took to be an antechamber. Professor McGonagall slipped out for one final check to ensure all was in readiness. There was a set of large doors beyond which Harry could hear the murmuring of hundreds of voices. All the other students must be gathered within already, he surmised.
Suddenly something chillingly cold passed through him. If he hadn't been so frightened he would have screamed. Several of the others students did scream as a group of ghosts moved through the room. He had read about the ghosts at Hogwarts so he should have expected them, he told himself. It's one thing to read about them but a bit more disconcerting to have one float through you!
The doors slowly swung open and Professor McGonagall motioned for all of them to follow her. The Professor led them along one side of the hall and towards the front of the room. Harry would later wonder how any of them managed to follow Professor McGonagall at all without falling down or tripping over themselves. Every first year student's face was gazing upwards in awestruck wonder at the magical sight that suddenly revealed itself to them as they stepped from the anteroom into the room where the new-term feast was waiting to start.
The great hall of Hogwarts was illuminated by thousands upon thousands of candles which floated in the air above the four rows of tables. At one end of the hall, raised slightly above the others, was the table at which all of the teachers sat. Even though Harry had read, in Hogwarts: A History, about the ceiling being bewitched to appear as the sky above Hogwarts, he was still woefully ill prepared for such a spectacular sight. Try as he might he could not discern the actual ceiling past the velvety blackness that shrouded it. All that was visible in the darkness of the night sky were the scattering sparkle of bright pinpoints of light that were the evening stars.
Harry attention was finally returned to what was happening as Professor McGonagall placed a four legged stool before them and then placed arather old and worn looking hat upon it. As everyone in the hall was looking at the hat Harry did as well when suddenly the old hat began to sing.
Oh you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
if you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folks use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!
When the hat's song ended Harry was amazed at the sudden eruption of cheering and clapping from all the students and faculty as well.
"When your name is called have a seat and place the Sorting Hat upon your head," Professor McGonagall instructed them.
Harry remained in the back of the group but was able to follow pretty much what was happening in front of everyone. The first two students, Hannah Abbott and Susan Bones, both went to Hufflepuff and were warmly welcomed. The following two, Terry Boot and Mandy Brocklehurst were sorted off to Ravenclaw. The next three went in very rapid succession, all of them going to the same house. Millicent Bulstrode, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle all found themselves sorted to Slytherin.
Harry started to fidget as other students were sorted off to various houses. As he watched a bushy-haired witch with the name of Hermione Granger was called forth and quickly sorted to Gryffindor. There was a loud eruption of applause and a near standing ovation for her from her new House mates as she was the first of the new students to be added to Gryffindor. Harry caught a glimpse of the girl taking her seat at the Gryffindor table just as she was wiping away tears of joy from her eyes.
"Ronald Weasley," Professor McGonagall called, turning to watch as the boy stepped forth.
Harry watched as the red headed boy who had spoken up upon the stairs nervously took the seat and slowly settled the hat upon his head. "Hmmm another Weasley," the hat intoned for all to hear. Harry was surprised as it was the first time that the hat had spoken anything other than the name of the house the student was sorted to. "I know just what to do with you," the Hat continued with before pausing for a split second."GRYFFINDOR!" it loudly exclaimed finally.
The boy Harry now knew to be Ronald Weasley quickly got up and made his way to the Gryffindor table only to be met by handshakes, slaps on the back and congratulations. A bit embarrassed and overwhelmed Ron took a seat at the table next to Hermione. It was as he watched the good natured welcoming at the table that Harry spied the redheaded twins from that morning. Another redhead, wearing a Prefect badge got up and came over to welcome Ron. It was then, while the four of them were grouped together, that Harry realized that they were all brothers.
"Draco Malfoy," the Professor read off once the Gryffindor table had settled down somewhat.
Draco smirked, already knowing which house he would be sorted into. The Malfoy's had a long standing history of being sorted into the same house. Professor McGonagall lifted the Sorting Hat from the stool as the light haired boy sauntered up and took a seat. As the hat was lowered to his head it loudly called out, "SLYTHERIN!" as it first brushed against Draco's hair. Draco jumped up with a grin and quickly made his way over to be seated with his friends Crabbe and Goyle at the Slytherin table.
"Harry Potter," Professor McGonagall said and suddenly the hall grew incredibly quiet. The Professor turned to look at the few remaining students. "Harry Potter, please step forth and take the seat," she instructed.
Harry, with a growing sense of dread stepped around an auburn-haired girl waiting to be sorted who was standing in front of him and slowly made his way towards the chair. He could already hear the whispers starting up throughout the Great Hall. 'Did she say Potter?' Inwardly he groaned, hating the unwanted attention his name always seemed to bring. 'The Harry Potter?' Upon reaching it he lifted the hat and climbed up onto the stool. 'The-Boy-Who-Lived is really at Hogwarts?' As he raised the hat to place it on his head his emerald eyes fell upon the Gryffindor tables with its wealth of redheads.
Please, not Gryffindor, he thought to himself as he settled the hat upon his head. Anyplace but Gryffindor! I don't want to be some celebrity that everyone wants to meet and be seen with! If I have to be sorted place me somewhere quiet where I can be by myself, he silently begged within his head.
Not Gryffindor, you say? asked an unfamiliar voice within Harry's head suddenly, nearly startling him into falling off the stool. Only the fact that his hands were already grasping the sides of the stool in a near death grip manner kept him in place and from embarrassing himself before the entire school. Hmmm difficult. Very difficult, continued the small voice in Harry's head. A sharp mind, I see and a desire to be more than you are…to prove yourself, the voice continued as if it was reading a book and giving a running commentary to Harry of what it saw. Where to put you though is the question. Where indeed?
Anywhere but Gryffindor. Someplace where no one will want to make friends and I can be left alone, Harry begged silently.
It was during Harry's second year of primary school that he had learned that friends were a bad thing to have. He had made friends with afellow classmate, his first friend ever. The boy had asked Harry to go to the park after school one day. Even though Harry knew he was to go directly home of he would suffer his uncle's wrath, Harry was desperate for friendship and so he went. When he arrived at the park it was to find his new friend there as well as Dudley with two other boys. Dudley had set the entire thing up just so that he could enjoy Harry's reaction to finding out that his first and only friend had betrayed him. The beating he received at their hands, as well as his uncle's that evening when he finally made it home, ingrained in him what friendship truly was - something to be avoided at all costs. Since that time he had determined that he was better without it.
Hmmm…I see trust issues and yet a deep desire for acceptance as well, the sorting hat told him, peering into the deepest reaches of the boys mind and heart. The murmurings in the great hall began to grow louder as the moments slipped past without the sorting hat having as yet to sort The-Boy-Who-Lived. There is potential to do great things here. You could be great…perhaps even one of the greatest! It's all right here within your mind. Gryffindor, with its long line of hero's and courageous witches and wizards, could certainly see you to greatness! Not Gryffindor, are you sure? the hat enquired one last time. The shake of Harry's head was barely discernible, if at all. "Well then it can only be SLYTHERIN!"
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