Chapter 3 : The First Train Ride
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Despite having struggled to fall asleep the night before, Lily had awoken early on the 1st September feeling bright, energised and ready for today’s adventure. This morning she had felt so excited. She was finally going to Hogwarts and Petunia had actually agreed to come to Kings Cross station to see her off. Lily had thought that this was the turning point in her relationship with her sister; that Petunia was beginning to accept Lily’s new life and that things would return to normal, that they would be able to be close again.
Lily now realised how wrong she had been. It was now obvious that things with Petunia would never be the same again. Petunia had been silent and surly throughout the whole journey to London, which Lily had hoped was simply down to the fact that they would shortly be saying goodbye. But then, on platform 9 ¾, as Lily should have been enjoying her last few moments with her family, drinking in the atmosphere before saying her fond farewells, Petunia had been positively vile to her; calling her a freak and saying she should be kept away from ‘normal’ people.
Lily was so hurt, and so angry. How could her own sister think that of her? And how could she say it to her today, on the most exciting and nerve-racking day of her life, when she would be going away from her beloved family on her own? She had held in her tears as she said goodbye to her parents, not wanting to upset them too, not wanting to repeat what Petunia had said and cause conflict between Petunia and her parents.
Her parents, of course, had noticed the glistening unshed tears in their daughter’s eyes but had put it down to the fact they were saying goodbye. Mrs Evans had told Lily not to be upset, that they would see each-other very soon and they would write all the time; that Lily would be having so much fun it would be Christmas before she knew it and they’d be together again. If Lily hadn’t been so upset about Petunia she would have cheekily told her mother that her little speech would have been so much more convincing if Mrs Evans hadn’t had tears rolling down her own face as she said it. Instead, she just nodded sadly before giving both her parents fierce hugs. She said a curt goodbye to Petunia, to which Petunia said not a word, simply turning away from her with a look of hatred and anger on her face. Lily turned, took a deep steadying breath, and then walked away from her family, not turning back to look at them – not wanting to see the look on Petunias face again.
Now, sat on the Hogwarts Express in an empty compartment, with her head against the window, tears now rolling freely down her cheeks, she started to think about the demise of her relationship with her sister. It had all started when she met Severus, and Petunia’s latest outburst had been brought on by Severus’s actions. If only he hadn’t insisted on snooping in Petunia’s room for that letter Lily would not have known what it contained, would not have mentioned it today, and Petunia would not have been so angry with her. And, maybe, Petunia would not have said those horrible things to her. She felt irrationally angry at Severus, despite knowing in her heart that Petunia’s attitude was not Severus’s fault.
‘Are you not joining us, Sirius?’
Lily looked round in surprise at the haughty voice that had disturbed her thoughts. She had been so deep in thought that she had not heard the compartment door slide open. In the doorway stood a sullen faced, dark haired boy and behind him, in the corridor was the owner of the voice.
The boy, who Lily assumed must have been called Sirius, slumped down in the seat on the opposite side of the compartment from Lily. ‘I’ll be just fine here thanks, Narcissa’ he replied shortly staring at the wand he was twirling in his hand rather than looking at the older girl now stood in doorway where Sirius had been.
Narcissa looked down her nose at Sirius in disgust. ‘See you at the Slytherin table then, Sirius!’ She then swept away with a cruel smirk on her face.
Lily, who had watched the exchange thinking that by the looks of it she wasn’t the only one with family problems, quickly turned back to the window without saying anything. Likewise, Sirius made no acknowledgment of Lily, simply making an exasperated noise and swishing his wand angrily, making the door slide shut noisily.
Having arrived at Kings Cross station later than they had planned, James Potter and his parents hurried passed the Muggles waiting for trains on platforms nine and ten, and through the magical barrier to Platform 9 ¾.
The platform was crowded and noisy, parents calling out last minute instructions and goodbyes to their children. The Hogwarts Express was gleaming in the sunlight, steam billowing from the engine, children waving through the windows. It was due to leave at any minute and James noticed that he was one of very few students who had not yet boarded the train.
‘Come on, James, quick!’ Mrs Potter said panicking. She wasn’t used to being late and hated being so now.
‘You know, mum, if you had just let me carry the chocolate cake separately we would have been here minutes earlier and we wouldn’t have to rush!’ James couldn’t help but wind his mother up as he and his father followed her, weaving through the crowds of waving parents and empty trolleys towards the Hogwarts Express.
Mrs Potter glanced round at James. ‘Nice try, James! If I hadn’t insisted on putting it in your trunk, I would never have known you had hidden your broom in there. And you would have been in trouble on your first day at Hogwarts.’ Mrs Potter said this with a hint of amusement in her voice.
James had thought he’d been so clever waiting for his mother to have checked and re-checked his trunk before putting his broom in it. But when his mother had emerged from the kitchen with a big tin containing one of her delicious chocolate cakes, James had realised his plan wasn’t going to work and started making excuses for his mother not to put it in his trunk. As always, his attempt to fool his mother had failed.
‘Ah, son, really it’s your fault, not your mother’s. If you’d hidden your broom under your other stuff, you wouldn’t have needed to waste time making excuses to keep her out of your trunk and she never would have discovered it. You’ve so much to learn.’
James laughed as his father winked at him with a grin.
‘Don’t encourage him, Harold. He’s mischievous enough without your help.’’ Now standing in front of the train, Mrs Potter turned and hit her husband playfully on the arm.
While James tried to stifle his laughter, Mr Potter quickly removed the grin from his face, replacing it with a mock apologetic look and set about loading James’s trunk and owl onto the train.
‘I’m going to miss you,’ Mrs Potter said, pulling James into an embrace. ‘It’s going to be so quiet around the house without you, too quiet!’
James squeezed his mother a bit tighter. He would miss his mother, a lot, but at the same time he couldn’t wait to get to Hogwarts.
‘You will write, won’t you?’ James could see his mother’s eyes glistening with tears as she released him from the embrace.
‘Of course I will, every week.’ James replied.
‘Make sure you do! Now go on, get on that train.’
After kissing his mother on the cheek, having his hair ruffled by his dad and getting the expected warning to be good, James stepped onto the train, pulling the door closed behind him. After waving to his parents, he turned away from the window, picking up his trunk and owl cage and made his way down the corridor in search of a suitable compartment.
Most of the compartments were full now and James was beginning to think he’d have to spend the whole journey sat on his trunk in the corridor. Or, even worse, having to spend the journey in a compartment with a bunch of giggling girls or prefect wannabe’s - which the only compartments with any space seemed to be occupied by. However, halfway down the train, just as the whistle sounded for the train’s departure, James was relieved to find a compartment with only two occupants. The red haired girl with her back to the door, and the irritable looking raven haired boy would not have been James’s ideal travel companions, but they seemed better than the alternatives. And so James slid the door open.
‘Alright if I join you?’ James asked poking his head in the compartment.
The girl did not reply or even turn to acknowledge James. The boy turned away from his wand twirling, looking James up and down, as though sizing him up, before nodding. ‘Sure.’
‘Thanks,’ James said, dragging his trunk into the compartment and lifting it onto the overhead storage rack, along with his fluff ball of an owl. ‘I’m James Potter.’
‘Sirius Black,’ the boy replied, resuming his wand twirling.
James looked to the red-haired girl, expecting her to introduce herself. Lily, although knowing it was very rude to ignore James, did not introduce herself or turn at all to acknowledge him. She didn’t want either boy to see her tear stained face, and besides, she really wasn’t in the mood to make small talk.
‘She’s sociable’ James whispered to Sirius as he threw himself into the seat opposite him. ‘What’s up with her anyway?’
‘Dunno,’ Sirius shrugged, not looking up.
‘Oh. Well, you two seem like a bundle of laughs! You know, I don’t think they have a baton twirling club at Hogwarts?’ James stated with a smirk, nodding at Sirius’s wand in his hand.
‘What?!’ Sirius replied, looking up at James in bewilderment.
‘Baton twirling. You seem pretty focused on practising with your wand. Personally, I’m going to concentrate on joining the quidditch team. But whatever floats your boat, you carry on, I’m sure I can amuse myself for a while.’ Sirius stopped playing with his wand, putting it down on the seat, looking up at James with an apologetic grin. James laughed. ‘So, seriously, do you like quidditch? I can’t wait to join the team. I did try to smuggle my broom to school. I was planning to wow everyone with my amazing flying skills and earn myself a place on the team and the title of being the youngest Quidditch cup winner at Hogwarts! But, alas, my sneaky mother shattered my dreams when she discovered my broom and confiscated it! For some strange reason she’d rather I concentrated on school work. Typical Ravenclaw she is.’
James shook his head in mock despair. Sirius couldn’t help laughing at this confident, slightly big headed, chatterbox.
‘You really think you’re that good?’ Sirius asked, amused.
‘Definitely! How could you doubt me?’ James replied.
‘Well, I think your lack of confidence may hold you back.’
‘I know, I’m working on that though,’ James chuckled. ‘Still, I could give Hamish MacFarlan a run for his money!’
Sirius laughed. ‘That’s not hard. He may be the captain of the Montrose Magpies but I’ve seen better players in the Chudley Cannons.... and that’s saying something!’
‘Oh dear, Sirius, I see you spend more time with your baton twirling than you do on Quidditch!’
This started a lively debate between the two boys. James was in the middle of enthusiastically re-enacting what he claimed was the most amazing goal of all time (as best he could in a small compartment with no broom or quaffle) when the compartment door slid open again. Another dark haired boy entered the compartment and sat down opposite the red-haired girl. While James did not pause in his re-enactment to greet the boy, continuing his tale with gusto, with Sirius shaking his head continually claiming that he had seen that game and that was not how it had happened, James did vaguely notice that the boy had managed to engage the girl in conversation but that she did not seem too happy to see him.
James finished his tale just as he heard the boy talking about Slytherin. Sirius was about to correct James on his version of events when James turned away from him to face the two students by the window.
‘Slytherin? Who wants to be in Slytherin?’ James stated in a tone of disgust. Then turning back to Sirius said, ‘I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?’
At this, Lily turned to James, thinking it was extremely rude to eavesdrop on someone else’s conversation, let alone make such rude remarks, but said nothing. She continued to watch the exchange between the three boys, not liking the way it was going.
Lily had been listening to these two boys for the last half an hour, and whilst she had found their conversation annoying, the jovial tones they had been talking in were preferable to the hostile tone they were now using towards Severus. Yes, she had been cross with Severus, but she was now beginning to realise that Petunia’s attitude was not Severus’s fault. Severus was her friend and she did not like these boys being so mean to him, certainly when he had given them no reason to.
Lily glared at the two boys as they laughed at another insult they’d directed at Severus. She stood up, wanting to get away from these two cruel, arrogant boys. ‘Come on Severus, let’s find another compartment.’
As Lily walked out of the compartment, still glaring at James and Sirius in dislike, Severus followed, stepping over James’s leg as he tried to trip him over.
‘See ya, Snivellus!’ Sirius called out as Severus and Lily stalked off down the corridor.
‘Good one, Sirius!’ James laughed. ‘He was a delightful character, wasn’t he?’
‘Totally! If I hadn’t already decided I was going to break the family tradition and not be placed in Slytherin, the thought of being in a house with Snivellus and the unsociable snooty one would definitely have made up my mind!’
‘So, where would you like to go then? I think you should be in Gryffindor with me!’ James felt like he and Sirius could be great friends, and really hoped they would both become Gryffindors.
‘I guess Gryffindor would be good.’ Sirius replied, then continued in a teasing tone, ‘No guarantees though... you might end up in Ravenclaw!’
‘No way! Sure, that would make my mum’s day for me to be in her house, but it’s not gonna happen, I’m a Gryffindor!’ James stated adamantly. ‘So, are any of your family at Hogwarts now?’
‘Only my cousin Narcissa, who, I’m sure, has been given her orders to keep an eye on me.’ Sirius answered, his eyes darkening slightly despite his smile. ‘She even tried to make me sit with her today, but I don’t like being told what to do, especially if that means spending more time than I have to with her and her slimy boyfriend. That’ll probably be the first thing she writes home to mother about!’
James felt sorry for Sirius. He couldn’t imagine having someone spy on him, and reporting his every move to his parents. He remained silent for a few moments, until an idea began to form in his head.
‘Are you up for a bit of fun then? Give your cousin something to actually write home about?’ James asked, his eyes lighting up with mischief.
‘Of course! What do you have in mind?’ Sirius leant forward in his seat, intrigued by what James had planned.
‘Well, I have a box of Persistent Pong Dung Bombs I’ve been dying to try!’
Remus sat in the compartment at the end of the train watching the scenery change as the Hogwarts Express gathered speed and left the built up estates of London behind. It was now trundling speedily through the grassy meadows of the countryside as Remus sighed happily, grateful that he had managed to keep this compartment to himself.
For the last two weeks Remus had spent much of his time thinking about Hogwarts and how the only way his secret was assured of staying secret was by secluding himself from the other students. He knew this was going to be hard, exceptionally hard, but he also knew that it was the only way to make sure that his condition would not become common knowledge. As much as he wanted to make friends and enjoy his time at Hogwarts, he kept telling himself that it was more important to actually complete his education and not get kicked out. Dumbledore had been kind enough to offer him a place and he, Remus, was not about to ruin the chance he had been given.
And so, unlike all the other first year students on the train, Remus was glad that he was alone, that no-one had wanted to join him on his first journey to Hogwarts. So far, so good; his plan was working, and as everyone would now be settled in compartments for the journey it appeared that it would remain that way until they reached Hogwarts. He sighed happily again at the thought as he settled back in his seat, picking up the muggle book he’d brought to keep him occupied on the journey.
Remus was just getting to an interesting part of the book he had unsuccessfully tried to read over the summer when the door of his compartment slid open. He looked up expecting to see the food trolley witch, his stomach rumbling at the thought, but instead he looked into the face of Lily – the girl, he reminded himself, that he’d let his guard down with in Madam Malkins.
‘Hello Remus,’ Lily greeted him cheerily. Having made up with Severus she had put the argument with Petunia to the back of her mind, resolving not to talk or think about her and to just enjoy her first ride on the Hogwarts Express. ‘Do you mind if we join you?’
Remus hesitated, longer than he felt was polite, pondering whether there was any excuse he could use to keep his solitude without appearing rude. He quickly realised there wasn’t, and looking up at Lily’s smiling face, Remus tried to convince himself that having company for one train ride was not going to hurt; he would just have to be extra careful about what he said.
‘Sure,’ he replied, hoping the reluctance and anxiety didn’t show on his face.
‘Thanks! Remus, this is my friend Severus, Severus this is Remus – we met in Madam Malkins.’ Severus nodded his acknowledgement of Remus as Lily made the introductions. Lily and Severus settled into their seats Lily continued, ‘so how was the rest of your summer, Remus?’
‘Well, I spent most of it thinking about Hogwarts!’ Remus replied truthfully, not expanding on exactly what he’d been thinking about.
‘Me too!’ Lily giggled. Then, with an embarrassed grin, added, ‘I spent the last two weeks reading my new text books so that I’m not completely clueless when it comes to classes and actually doing spells! I’m a bit nervous about that.’
‘You’ve no need to be nervous, Lily; you’ve got really strong magical abilities. I’ve told you, you’ll be great,’ Severus reassured her. ‘We’re going to have an amazing time.’
As the conversation continued Remus got the impression that Severus wasn’t very keen on befriending him. Whilst he was perfectly friendly and chatty with Lily he all but ignored Remus and did not seem happy when Lily tried to bring Remus into the conversation. This more than suited Remus, and so when the food trolley had been and Lily was engrossed in the numerous magical sweets she had purchased, Remus turned back to his book and left Lily to the sole attention of Severus.
James and Sirius burst into their compartment, breathless from running and laughter, and threw themselves into their seats.
‘I’ve always thought Narcissa looked like she had a bad smell under her nose,’ Sirius said through his laughter. ‘Now she really does!’
Both boys started laughing even harder. Their plan had been executed perfectly, much better than they had thought. The door of the compartment had been left slightly ajar, enabling Sirius and James to slip the dung bombs into the compartment un-noticed and get far enough away before they actually went off.
The Persistent Pong Dung Bombs would now be letting off a horrendous stench which would linger on the clothes, hair and skin of all the occupants of that compartment for at least twenty four hours. The thought of it filled Sirius with joy, and left him eager to plot his next attempt at revenge. And he was pretty sure James would be more than willing to be his accomplice.
‘I wonder when the witch with the food trolley will be round,’ Sirius said as the laughter died down.
‘I think we missed her,’ James said. ‘We ran passed her a minute ago. I’d have thought you would have noticed that, seeing as you nearly ran into her!’
‘Oh yeah, I forgot about that,’ Sirius grinned. ‘Damn, I’m starving.’
Giggling at how Sirius had managed to forget that he’d nearly sent the trolley witch flying only moments ago, James stood up and reached into his trunk. Pulling out a tin and a pack of cards, he turned back to Sirius.
‘Well, it’s a good job my mum made me one of her delicious chocolate cakes then, isn’t it?’ James said, opening the tin and offering it to Sirius as he sat down again.
Taking a slice of cake, Sirius said, ‘You know, I think this year is going to be even better than I thought.’
James, who had been thinking the same thing, nodded silently as he bit into his piece of cake.
James and Sirius spent the rest of the journey playing Exploding Snap, and only remembered to change into their school robes as the Hogwarts Express pulled slowly into Hogsmeade station. By the time they had packed away their things and changed, the train had stopped and most of the students had got off and were making their way out of the station.
After pulling his robes over his head, James ran his fingers through his hair, at which Sirius started laughing.
‘I don’t know why you’re bothering, your hair looked worse before you changed!’
‘Well we can’t all have shiny, silken locks like you,’ James said good-humouredly, grabbing his wand from the seat.
Sirius stroked his hair jokingly and then flicked it out of his face as he turned to leave the compartment. Giggling once more, James hurried after him, jumping off the train onto the lamp lit station.
Both boys looked around them, unsure of where they should go, until they noticed an extremely large, hairy man at the other end of the platform, standing twice as tall as the students already gathered around him. Holding a bright lantern, he was summoning the last of the first years in a loud, gruff voice.
Sirius and James hurried down the platform towards him.
They were the last of the first years to reach him, and close up he was larger and hairier than they had first thought. As well as being over twice the height of the first years, he was also nearly as wide as they were tall. His face was almost completely hidden by a tangled mass of black hair and a wild black beard. From behind all the hair, he smiled down at the students, his black eyes glinting in the lantern light.
‘Alrigh’, I’m Rubeus Hagrid. Now yeh all ‘ere, I’ll be takin’ yeh across the lake to Hogwarts, follow me!’
He led them down a narrow sloping path through a thick cluster of trees, the only light coming from the lantern that Hagrid carried. As they neared the end of the path, the trees began to thin and the path widened until it opened out into a clearing next to a lake, a row of wooden boats lined up on the edge of the water. The castle across the lake stood tall and proud, the turrets and towers protruding high into the sky, the many windows flickering with light, reflected perfectly in the still, glass like, water of the lake. It was an amazing sight, and many of the new students stood staring at it in awe.
When Hagrid ushered them all into the boats, Sirius and James jumped into the nearest one and grinned at each other as they started floating magically across the lake.
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