“You have the slantiest, bluest eyes I’ve ever seen,” blurted out the large girl sitting next to him, as if it had been something stuck on her mind since the meal started. She was staring at him intently. “Like a little, blue-eyed Chinaman.”
Albus smiled uncertainly, replying softly, “Well, you have brown eyes. Like an Englishman, I suppose.”
She chuckled, “But I’m not a man! It’s alright, though, I like you enough to forgive little insults. But my!—you are small.”
Albus said nothing, his head and shoulders barely coming above the table, staring rather gravely at his mashed potatoes. He wished the desserts would come. Sweets always made things better.
“Matilda!” said another older girl to the large girl, “You’ve scared the little First Year on the first day! Why can’t you make conversation like a normal person?”
“He doesn’t mind, do you Chinaman?” Matilda cooed, as if coaxing a small, furry animal.
But Albus, with mind on the ceiling above (or was it just the sky?) and wondering what it would be like to walk on top of it, again did not respond.
Gryffindor, he mused, ‘Gryffindor with bold griffin’s core,’ the hat had sung. Or something like that. It was all pishposh anyway. He giggled. Pishposh. But really he preferred the colour green anyway. Why didn’t the hat know that, since he seemed to know everything else? Even about Mistress Hibbins.
“I’m not brave,” he said to Matilda suddenly, “I’m just realistic. And I can see in the dark.”
Her bemusement did not last long, for she soon smiled brightly and said, “I knew there was a reason I liked you. You’re batty!”
“And small,” he reminded her solemnly. She stifled a laugh.
“Where are you from, Chinaman?”
She puzzled for a moment.
“I’ve never heard of Albus. Is it in England?”
“No, because it’s my name.”
“No it’s not; Albus is far too grave a name for you. And ‘Al’ is plain ridiculous. Let’s be serious. Who are your parents, Chinaman from Albus?”
“Mr. and Mrs. Percival Dumbledore.”
“I’ve heard of the Dumbledores,” she said pleasantly, spooning peas into her mouth and almost choking. She recovered and continued, “But not Percival.”
“He's in Azkaban,” said Albus, matter-of-factly.
“Azkaban?" She said, suddenly grave. “But—but that makes you a dementor baby!"
“That’s not how it—“ he began, but at that exact moment the desserts bloomed across the table in all flavours, colours, shapes and sizes—most that Albus had never even heard of—and he remained distracted for the rest of the night.
Matilda lost interest in her intruiging little Chinaman, stuffing his face with all sorts of sweets (including, she saw with dismay, nearly half the plate of candied apple—her favorite), since he was no longer interested in conversing—or being batty. Of course she knew he wasn't really a dementor baby. Just the prospect of a father in Azkaban made him slightly less enticing to talk to, like a stain on an otherwise perfectly good robe.
The Headmistress stood and, having already given her speech before the feast, she sent them to bed. As the Prefects of Gryffindor tried to shepherd the First Years to the dorms, Albus said to Matilda, "You have a stain on your robe."
She blinked at him, but he was buffeted away with the other First Years before she could reply.
Albus then turned to a neighboring First Year, hoping very much that she was interested, and said, “If I were Headmistress, I would give the speech after the feast. No one likes to be kept starving!”
And thus ended Albus Dumbledore’s first day at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, September 1st, 1861.
The next day at breakfast, Albus attempted to sit with people more his own size. He found one of his dormmates, who he thought was named Tommy, and squeezed in on the bench next to him.
Nobody had said a word in the dorm last night, mostly because one boy had buried into his bed immediately and started crying for his mommy and, at least Albus had judged, it would have been rude to interrupt him. So they had all silently changed into their pajamas and miserably tried to sleep in the huge four-poster beds (Albus needed a step to reach his) with little success, tired though they all were.
Albus sat there eating breakfast, vaguely wishing to introduce himself to Tommy, though he didn’t know how to go about it. He didn’t even know if Tommy’s name was Tommy.
Luckily, Tommy turned to him and said brightly, “Hi, I’m Reginald! What’s your name?”
Reginald-Tommy thought for a moment. He opened his mouth too wide when he spoke, like an alligator snapping:
“But don’t people call you Bumblebore? Doesn’t that bother you?”
Albus didn’t know quite what to say. He’d never been called Bumblebore in all his eleven years.
“But it’s okay!” continued Reginald, “You can’t help your name, I suppose. And my name’s Foot. Reginald Foot. But you can’t laugh at that, Albus Bumble-Bore!”
He seemed awfully satisfied about something, but Albus wasn’t quite sure what, so he decided to change the subject.
“Do trolls really teach troll classes here? That’s what a nice older boy told me on the train.”
But before Reginald Foot could answer, a sharp-looking lady in old-fashioned, high-collared robes called out, “Gryffindor schedules!”
She walked down the table, frowning and calling out names and handing out schedules. She looked so serious, but Albus decided it suited her; he liked it. But he would never be that serious, he knew, because what if someone had a very funny thought near him, but wouldn’t tell him because they didn’t want to interrupt his seriousness? That would be no good at all.
He wondered if there was a way to be both serious and amusing at the same time—
--That would surely be a feat. The best of all worlds, in his opinion. But no, he figured, this lady did not want to laugh. Especially not now—she began to look particularly sour.
“Albus! Dumbledore, Albus!”
Or maybe someone just spat in her morning pumpkin juice. He giggled. That was his mother’s expression—he had never used it on his own before. He liked it.
“Here! He’s right here!” cried Tommy Foot, bobbing up and down (like a pigeon’s head, Albus thought, but decided not to mention it), “I think he’s a bit funny, that’s all.”
Back in his thoughts, Albus doubted this lady would appreciate the spitting-in-pumpkin-juice comment. And what a shame too, he really wanted someone to share it with.
“Albus Dumbledore?” inquired the lady severely, seeming to swoop down upon him.
“Pumpkin juice?” He asked very politely. She seemed to take that as a satisfactory answer, slapped down a piece of parchment on the table in front of him, and moved on along down the table.
Even though he knew how to read, it took him a second to figure out that it was his schedule sitting in his morning eggs.
“Transfiguration?” he said, “What in Pudding's name could that be?”