Hogwarts at Last!
Disclaimer: So very not mine.
A/N: I’m assuming here that the Hogwarts uniforms are like those in the movies and Mary Grand Pre illustrations: black slacks/skirts, white shirt/blouse, grey cardigan optional, striped house tie, black open robe with House crest and hood matching House colour. These last don’t change to reflect House affiliation until after Sorting. This may not be what JKR had in mind (I assume she was thinking about the closed-front, one-piece traditional "wizard’s robe" Such as Dumbledore wears), but it’s easiest to visualize.
I’ve added a baggage car to the Express, since I can’t see there being room for the trunks in the compartments. And I stole a few bits of dialogue from PS/SS; you’ll probably recognize which ones.
Chapter 10: Hogwarts At Last!
Platform Nine and Three Quarters was as crowded as Newark Penn Station at rush hour, Harry thought. Maybe more so, because most commuters weren’t dealing with humongous trunks and owl cages. The Addams contingent had a full trolley, with three gleaming new trunks, and an owl cage, in addition to the carry-on bags each child had. Persephone had been a joint birthday present for Harry and Wednesday; she was a very rare breed, a South American Stygian Owl, and she seemed to know it, too. Her sooty black plumage, marked with a herringbone pattern on the front, was quite striking, as were her brilliant gold eyes, and she had little tufts of feathers that stuck up like horns whenever she got excited. She was awake late in the day and was letting everyone know she resented it, raising her horn tufts and emitting sharp "wak-wak-wak" calls whenever another owl cage got too close to hers, or when a cat looked like it might be getting ideas.
Where most of the students had one or at most two parents with them, the entire Addams family, except for Remus, who had gone ahead a few days before to get settled at Hogwarts, were there to see them off. The crowds parted almost magically for them, and they ignored the stares, whispers and occasional snickers. It was all part of being an Addams.
They checked their trunks onto the baggage car and went on to find an unoccupied compartment. There they found a rack designed for owl cages, and Persephone promptly tucked her head under a wing and went to sleep now that the excitement was over. Harry, Pugsley and Wednesday hung out of the windows to say their last goodbyes to the family and waved madly as the train started moving.
"Well, we’re on our own, I guess," said Harry, plopping himself into a seat. "No family until Christmas."
"Unless Mom gets that Parents’ Night thing organized," said Pugsley. "She said that Professor McGonagall was being really helpful about that."
"Yeah, but that’s only for one night. Even at Salem, we got to see the family on weekends," said Harry. "Now it’s just us."
The door of the compartment slid open and a girl with bushy hair and rather large front teeth stuck her head in. "Mind if I join you?" she asked, pointing at one of the empty seats. "Everywhere else is full."
"Please, go right ahead," said Harry.
"Thank you. I’m ever so glad we’re finally moving, aren’t you? It seems like forever since I got my letter, and nobody in my family’s magic at all, so it was ever such a surprise, and I’ve just been waiting for the time to come and I’m so excited, I mean, it’s the very best school of witchcraft there is, I’ve heard — I’ve learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough — I’m Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?"
Harry smiled wryly. They had met Muggle-borns at Salem who had the same super-excited attitude at first. It had worn off on all but one of them eventually, and then they realised Jordan was always like that.
"I’m Harry Potter," he said, extending his hand to her. "Pleased to meet you. These are my cousins, Wednesday and Pugsley Addams."
"Are you really?" said Hermione. "I know all about you, of course -- I got a few extra books, for background reading, and you’re in Modern Magical History and The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century. Oh, and hello," she said belatedly to Wednesday and Pugsley.
"Well, yes," said Harry. "They hardly got anything right, though."
"What?" she squeaked. "What do you mean they’re not right? They’re books," she said.
"Books get things wrong all the time. Look, if you get a chance, get all three of those books out at the same time and try to make sense of them all at once. You can’t do it, because they all say different things. And not one of them gives credit to my parents — I mean, I was just a baby, what could I do? I think it was something my mother did, because she was just brilliant, but nobody even mentions her because she was Muggle-born."
"Why would that make a difference?" asked Hermione, cocking her head.
"There’s a lot of people who think Muggle-borns aren’t as good as people from Wizarding families," said Harry. "It’s not as important in the United States, where I grew up, but I’ve found out since I got here that some people take it really seriously. Some kid in the book store on Diagon Alley didn’t even want to talk to Pugsley when he said his parents were Squibs."
"Really?" she said. "That would explain why the girls I met at the robe shop didn’t want to talk to me! I thought it was just because, you know, I talk a lot when I get nervous."
"I’d sort of noticed that," said Harry. "You probably told them right off that nobody in your family was magic, just like you did to us, didn’t you?"
"Probably," she said, blushing.
"The more people know about you, the more ammunition they have to use against you," said Wednesday, unexpectedly joining the conversation. "It’s always better to say too little than too much. That way people underestimate you. Until it’s too late."
"Why would you want someone to underestimate you? Do you want people to think you’re stupid?"
"I don’t care what people think, except for the teachers. And even they don’t need to know all of it. I don’t hide what I know. But I don’t wave it in people’s faces, either. Pure-bloods will think less of you because you’re Muggle-born. They think less of me because my parents are Squibs. Boys in general will think less of both of us because we’re girls. People think more of Harry because of something he doesn’t remember doing and probably couldn’t do again. Does any of that make any sense?"
"No, it doesn’t."
"But you know it’s going to happen anyway. So you might as well use it for your benefit."
"That’s a particularly …"
"I was going to say â€˜cold-blooded’ way of looking at it."
Wednesday shrugged. "Nobody’s just going to give me what I want. I have to earn it. Same as Pugsley and Harry. Our family has money. We’ll have everything we need. But money isn’t everything, and if we want something, it’s up to us to get it, do you see?"
"So you have to think about what’s important to you, and how to get it."
"Okay." She was thoughtful for a moment. "You know, I did want to be in Gryffindor House, because everybody said it was the best because Dumbledore was a Gryffindor. But what’s important to me is knowledge and understanding. So maybe I ought to try for Ravenclaw instead."
"You can do that anywhere. But you’d probably find more kindred souls in Ravenclaw," agreed Pugsley. "I was thinking about Ravenclaw myself, but I’ll be Sorted where I’m Sorted, I guess."
"What’s most important to you?" asked Hermione, curiously.
"Well, I’ll be the head of the family some day, so I have to be ready for that," said the stocky boy.
"But first we have to help Harry achieve his Destiny," said Wednesday. Hermione could somehow hear the capital letter in her speech.
"Harry has a Destiny?" she asked, looking at him.
"But … you already destroyed You Know Who. Isn’t that enough of a Destiny?"
"All I know is what Aunt Morticia has seen in the cards," said Harry. "There’s something I still have to do. It might involve Voldemort — and I wouldn’t be surprised, just blowing him up as a baby would be too easy — or it might be something else. Whatever it is, I want to be prepared for it."
"Divination seems like sort of a woolly discipline to me," said Hermione. "It’s all gypsies and crystal balls."
"There might be some gypsy in the Family," said Harry. "There’s some of just about everything else, why not that? But don’t let Aunt Morticia hear you saying Divination is â€˜woolly’. She can give a cold reading that will knock your socks off."
"So, you think You Know Who might come back?"
"Might. If he does, I’ll face him again. And again, if necessary. Third time’s usually the charm on these things."
"You’re talking like we live in a story book," she scoffed. "This is the real world."
He smiled sadly. "Where do you think the stories come from, Hermione?
The moment was broken by a loud clatter from outside, and a smiling, round-faced woman opened the compartment door. "Anything from the trolley, dears?"
No matter how serious the conversation might have been, they were still eleven years old, and sweets took precedence. Even Hermione, whose parents were dentists and who had been sent off with a bag of sugar-free treats and healthy snacks, happily abandoned them in favour of the joys of Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.
Mid-afternoon found them sitting in a companionable silence. Harry had moved over to sit next to Hermione and they were looking at her copy of Hogwarts: A History together. Wednesday was working on a letter to send home, fuming because a girl she’d met in the loo had told her that some boy named Lee had brought a giant tarantula on the train, and she wanted to know why nobody had told her that spiders were acceptable pets at Hogwarts. She wanted hers sent to her immediately, if not sooner. Pugsley was doing rune puzzles from a book he’d picked up at Diagon Alley. Suddenly the compartment door slid open yet again, and three boys pushed their way inside.
The one in the middle was thin and pale, with hair so blond it was almost white slicked back with gel, and pointy features. The two behind him were much taller, thickset, and attempting to look mean. Harry exchanged quick glances with Pugsley and Wednesday.
The pale boy glanced at Wednesday and Pugsley, dismissing them, and then fixed his gaze on Harry. "Is it true?" he said. "They’re saying all down the train that Harry Potter’s in this compartment. So it’s you, is it?"
"Yes," said Harry, keeping his expression blank.
"I heard you’d been in America," said the pale boy. "You’ll soon find out that things are different here. You’ll need to know the right people to do well. I can help you there." He held out his hand. "My name’s Malfoy. Draco Malfoy."
Harry tried to keep a straight face, and probably would have, if Pugsley hadn’t coughed. And then Wednesday snickered. Hermione looked puzzled. And that was it, he just burst out laughing. "And do you," he choked out, "prefer your p-pumpkin juice shaken or stirred?"
Then Hermione got it, and started giggling too, and Pugsley broke out into an open guffaw.
Two points of red started over Malfoy’s cheekbones, and a muscle in his jaw twitched. He withdrew his hand. "I fail to see what is so funny."
"It’s … it’s a Muggle thing. You wouldn’t understand," said Harry, pulling himself together. "But thanks for the laugh anyway."
"You compare me to a Muggle?" said Malfoy, outraged. "How dare you insult me that way?" With a flourish, he whipped his wand out of its belt sheath.
Harry beat him to the draw, mainly because he didn’t waste time on theatrics or flourishes. "Expelliarmus!" he snapped, and Malfoy staggered back against one of the bigger boys while his wand flew out of his hand. Harry snatched it out of the air and tossed it to Hermione, who caught it awkwardly. "Hold that a second, will you?"
"Give me that!" Malfoy made a grab for it, and Harry stepped between him and Hermione.
"You know, I don’t think so. Why don’t you and your friends go back to wherever it was you came from, and then if you’re very good, I’ll give you your wand back when we reach Hogwarts."
Malfoy looked around frantically, only then, apparently, realizing that Pugsley and Wednesday had their wands drawn and pointing at the bookends, neither of whom had managed to get their wands out. Pugsley had a manic grin on his face that resembled Uncle Gomez at his best, and Wednesday’s face was so blank it was terrifying. "You wait, Potter! You’ll get what’s coming to you! Just like your parents!"
Harry’s blood froze, and he leaned forward until he was practically nose to nose with Malfoy. "You will never. Mention. My parents. Again. Is that clear?"
"Guh," said Malfoy, eloquently.
"Now get out."
Malfoy squeezed between his thugs and stormed out. The thugs, who Harry decided he would call Thing One and Thing Two, gave Harry looks which he supposed was meant to be menacing, but only made them look like they had indigestion, and followed.
Harry slammed the door shut. "Can you believe that guy? Like he thought he was actually dangerous. Neil was scarier than that."
"Neil?" asked Hermione.
"Kid back in kindergarten. He insulted Wednesday. She hit him with a stick and I turned his hair purple," Harry explained.
"What should I do with this?" Hermione held Malfoy’s wand out, delicately dangling it from two fingertips as if she didn’t want to touch it any more than necessary.
"Give it to me. I’ll hang on to it for now, but I’ll have to give it back to him later, I suppose. Too bad we don’t know how to booby-trap it."
Hermione gasped. "You shouldn’t mess with somebody’s wand! It says in Magical Manners for the Muggle-born that tampering with another wizard’s wand can start a blood feud! You don’t want to make an enemy on the first day."
"Think I’ve already done that," said Harry. "Although if Malfoy has the sense God gave a goldfish, he’ll leave me alone."
Hermione didn’t say anything, but her expression said she had doubts about how much sense Malfoy had. So did Harry, but there wasn’t anything he could do about it.
The sun was setting when the Hogwarts Express pulled into the station. A voice echoed through the train, instructing them to leave their baggage on the cars, so they made sure all their things were tucked into their carry-on bags and left them in the compartment along with Persephone. Harry made sure he had Malfoy’s wand tucked into his sleeve with his own. Out in the corridor, they were caught up in a small mob of students all trying to get off the train at the same time. Harry and Wednesday were briefly separated from Pugsley and Hermione in the crush, and Harry took the opportunity to pull Wednesday into a vacant compartment.
"What was that about with Hermione? You got awfully talkative with her all of a sudden."
"And you didn’t?"
"I was mostly talking about her. I didn’t start spilling about desires and my Destiny. That was you. So spill."
"We’ll need her," said Wednesday, looking up at Harry. Her pupils were wide, as he’d only seen a few times before, and he knew that whatever she was Seeing wasn’t exactly the here and now. "We need her, but she has to choose whether to join us of her own free will. She has to know."
"And you’re never wrong."
"Not about people. Not about this."
"Okay, then. It looks like things have cleared up out there. Let’s go."
They reunited with Pugsley and Hermione on the platform when all the first years gathered under a lantern held by a man who was absolutely huge. "He’s even taller than Lurch!" said Pugsley, his eyes round.
"Firs’ years, firs’ years over here! We got everybody now?" Harry looked about. The older students had all disappeared off the platform, leaving the youngest students alone with the huge bearded man. The Express now sat dark and motionless, the engine making odd pinging and creaking noises as it cooled down in the night air. The entire scene had a vague creepiness that might have bothered him if he hadn’t been an Addams. He grinned and trotted off to follow the bobbing lantern.
The big man led them down a steep, narrow path between rows of dark trees, and Harry heard several girls eeking when they heard something moving in the shadows. "Yeh’ll get yer firs’ sight o’ Hogwarts in a sec," the big man called over his shoulder, "jus’ round this bend here."
There were oohs and aahs as they turned a corner and the narrow path opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.
"No more’n four to a boat!" the man called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Harry helped Wednesday into one of the boats, and Pugsley did the same for Hermione. When everyone was in boats, the big man yelled, "Forward!" and the boats started off by themselves, moving gently forward across the smooth surface of the lake. On the other side, the boats slid one by one into a tunnel which let them off onto a pebbly beach in an underground harbour.
Harry saw a flash of white blond hair in the lantern light. Malfoy was standing in one of the little boats, waiting for Thing Two to get out of his way.
"Hey, Malfoy!" Harry called. "I think you’ll need this! Catch!" He tossed Malfoy’s wand at him.
If the boy had waited for it to come to him, he’d have caught it with no problem. Instead, he lunged for it, the boat shifted suddenly, and he tumbled into the water with a splash! It wasn’t all that deep, only a foot or two, but he was totally soaked.
A red-headed boy fished the wand out of the water before it floated away, and held it out to Malfoy. "Here, I think you missed this. You might want to think twice before trying for the Quidditch team, yeah?"
Malfoy waded out of the water, snarled and snatched the wand from the boy’s hand. He brushed his hair, now hanging lank and limp, out of his eyes and squelched his way up the beach.
Their guide acted like nothing was wrong as he led them up a tunnel to the doors of the castle itself, where Professor McGonagall directed them into a small stone waiting room.
"Welcome to Hogwarts," said the Professor. "The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room.
"The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rule breaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honour. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.
"The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up — as much as you can — while you are waiting." Her eyes fell on Malfoy as she said this, and her expression said she doubted he’d be able to do anything that might help.
Then she left them for a bit. There was muttering about how the Sorting might be accomplished, with someone saying there might be some kind of test. Hermione started whispering to herself as she ran through a list of all the spells she knew, but Pugsley leaned over and murmured to her, "Come on, they haven’t even taught us anything yet. How can there be a test?"
"What are they going to do then?"
"I don’t know. Remus — Professor Lupin — didn’t tell us. Probably it’s alphabetical, or we draw lots."
"You know one of the professors?"
"Tutor," said Pugsley.
"You must know all sorts of things in advance, then. That’s so unfair!"
"Life’s like that. You’ll catch up."
Their low-voiced conversation was interrupted by a flight of ghosts through the room. Some of the girls screamed, and Wednesday clasped her hands in rapture as she watched them pass. "Oh, aren’t they beautiful!" she whispered.
"Come along now!" said Professor McGonagall. "The Sorting Ceremony is about to begin. Form a line and follow me!"
In his most gallant fashion, Harry bowed to Wednesday and offered her his arm. "My dear?"
She dropped him an elegant curtsey. "Thank you, good sir!" She took his arm and they followed after McGonagall.
Pugsley, not to be outdone, bowed to Hermione and offered his arm. She was a bit clumsy about the curtsey, never having done it before, and they followed Harry and Wednesday.
A sandy haired boy shrugged, bowed to the girl with blond pigtails next to him, and they joined the line. All through the room, boys bowed, girls curtseyed, and a slightly ragged double line formed. Malfoy brought up the rear by himself, since he was still sodden and none of the girls would even admit he existed, much less take his arm.
The start of term feast was possibly Severus Snape’s least favourite occasion of the year, just as the end of term feast was his favourite. Two months of blessed peace and quiet, ruined by the arrival of hundreds of noisy, incompetent brats. This year was possibly the worst yet. For two weeks, he’d been plagued by a persistent itch on his hands. Specifically his thumbs. He knew the signs as well as anyone. Something wicked this way comes, he murmured to himself. And now the teachers had gathered at the head table, he was sandwiched in between Hagrid and Quirrell, the older children were in their seats, the firsties were out in the waiting room, and his thumbs had abruptly stopped itching. Something wicked is here already.
The door swung open, and McGonagall entered, followed by … a neat double line of boys gallantly escorting girls to the front of the room like young gentlemen and ladies, instead of the hellions he knew they were. At the front of the line … of course, it would be him, thought Snape sourly. There was no mistaking the dishevelled black hair and the glasses, even if they were in a different style from those of the hated father. Aping the manners of a bygone era, the boy swaggered arrogantly along, for all the world as if he thought he owned the school. The girl on his arm was a fit match for him, tilting her nose in the air like Narcissa Malfoy on those occasions when she was forced to associate with the rabble. And speaking of Malfoy, where is … Merlin, what happened to him? Snape wondered. The Prince of Slytherin was straggling in at the end of the line looking like a drowned cat, his robes hanging shapeless and dripping from the hem. Filch will have a fit when he sees those puddles.
He tuned out the Sorting Hat’s inane little ditty, wondering morosely how long it was going to be before he got an owl with an outraged letter from Lucius Malfoy, or worse yet, from Narcissa, wondering how her little Drakie-poo came to be so damp, and what he was going to do about it. Somehow he knew the boy’s condition was going to turn out to be his problem. At least McGonagall would have to deal with Potter. The brat wasn’t his concern.
The Sorting started, and he kept a jaundiced eye on the proceedings, making mental notes as the students went to their seats. Abbott, Hannah … Hufflepuff, no surprise. Addams, Pugsley. He didn’t recognize the name, probably Muggle-born. Cruel parents, to give a child a name like that. Slytherin!? It wasn’t impossible that a Muggle-born could be sorted into Slytherin, but it was going to be a problem. Worse, the boy looked stupid enough that he didn’t realise he was in trouble as he took a seat at the Slytherin table. Addams, Wednesday. Potter’s little tart. A twin? Had to be, with a name like that. And also Slytherin. Of course. Just to completely ruin my day. Bulstrode. Good heavens, what have they been feeding that girl? Crabbe. Whatever it was, they were feeding it to him, too. Davis. Tiny little thing, well, she makes up for Bulstrode. Goyle. Another one. Wonderful. Greengrass. Good family, shouldn’t be a problem. Malfoy. No surprise there. Nott. Nor there, either. Parkinson. Hope she doesn’t take after her mother. Perks. Who are the Perks? Have to look them up, they’re not one of the Great Families. Potter. POTTER!?
The room was silent. Potter stood up from the stool, put the Hat down with great precision and economy of movement, and walked easily toward the Slytherin table. Someone started clapping. The Addams girl, of course. Then her brother. Then Perks. Then some of the other students from farther up the table. Then all of the Slytherins except Malfoy. Even Crabbe and Goyle were clapping half-heartedly. The teachers at the Head Table were clapping also, most with varying degrees of shock and bewilderment evident on their faces, and Severus joined in belatedly, with a smile that looked more like his teeth hurt. In for a penny, in for a pound. Up Slytherin! he thought as he clapped. Finally McGonagall called the next student, and Severus stopped clapping immediately.
Throughout the rest of the Sorting, he was preoccupied with one question. How the hell did this happen?
A/N: For pictures of Persephone the Stygian Owl, check out http://www.owlpages.com/owls.php?genus=Asio&species=stygius . The first and fourth pictures show the "horn" tufts clearly.