It was an autumn morning on the first of September, and the Hogwarts Express was ready to leave with all the students at exactly eleven o’ clock, the usual time. All the students on the train and all the people on the platform were staring at a man and a woman with them. The couple had apparently come to see someone off, probably a relative. The man was the most famous wizard in the world, the Chosen One, Harry Potter.
Inside the Hogwarts Express, Albus Potter caught one last, fleeting glimpse of his father’s face before the train rounded the bend. Slowly, he lowered his hand, which was raised in farewell. He was feeling a mixture of grief and excitement today. He was finally going to Hogwarts! But he was also leaving his home… Well, at least he would be coming back during the holidays.
He looked out of the window. He had thought about this moment a lot, about how it would feel like when he finally went to Hogwarts. He had always imagined it to be really exciting and fun, but now, that he was actually going, it felt really strange.
He turned away towards the corridor, and found his cousin, Rose staring at him. She was rather pretty, with long, red, curly hair that reached down to her waist. Her blue eyes were already ablaze with excitement.
“So,” she started excitedly. “Wanna find a seat?”
“Yeah, sure, let’s go!”
They walked through the corridor, looking into each compartment, until they found an empty one. They quickly put all their belongings in the luggage rack above and sat down.
“I’m just so excited, Al!” said Rose happily. “We’re finally off to Hogwarts! I’ve heard so much about it from Mum and Dad, and now I can see it for real!”
“Yeah,” agreed Albus, but unable to help himself, added, “But if they put me in Slytherin, I’m boarding the train and coming back home!”
Rose burst into laughter and after a few seconds, Albus did, too. They laughed for some time, and when they finally stopped Rose told him, “I doubt you’ll be in Slytherin. I mean, our whole family was in Gryffindor.”
“Yeah, but remember what Dad said about his godfather, Sirius? His whole family was in Slytherin but he ended up in Gryffindor. What if that happens to me too?” Albus finished with a grim look.
“Oh, come on, Albus!” Rose rolled her eyes in exasperation. “You know it doesn’t really matter! Whichever house you’re in, it’s the same all the way. You’ll still be at Hogwarts. Anyways, it’s not as if you won’t be a Potter anymore. You’ll still be the same guy.”
Albus remembered his Uncle Ron’s words that morning and said, “Yeah, right.”
“You still believe what dad said?” Rose said, half exasperated, half amused. “Honestly Al, I don’t believe -” but before she finished her sentence the door opened and a boy came in.
The boy was about as tall as Albus, and he had black hair, and matching black eyes. His hair was neatly brushed and came down to his shoulders. He was still wearing his Muggle clothes: blue jeans and a loose, orange T-shirt. He was slightly thin, but nevertheless had the look of being well cared for.
“Excuse me, but would you mind me sitting here?” he said in a slightly anxious voice. He had an American accent. “I looked all over but I couldn’t find an empty seat.”
“Yeah, sure, go ahead,” replied Albus.
“Thanks a lot,” the boy said, looking relieved. He left his trunk in the luggage rack above and sat down. Then he extended his hand and said, “I’m Andrew Strathmore by the way, and you guys are?”
“I’m Albus Potter, but call me Al,” said Albus, shaking his hand.
“And I’m Rose Weasley,” replied Rose, also shaking his hand.
“Pleasure meeting you,” said Andrew, grinning. “So which school are you from?”
“Um, sorry?” said Albus, puzzled. “What do you mean by ‘which school’?”
“You didn’t go to school before?” Andrew asked, gaping at them.
“Um, not really,” said Rose. “Hogwarts is our first school. Witches and wizards don’t attend school before Hogwarts, do they?”
“Are you Muggle-born?” Albus asked.
“What?” Andrew said, leaning forward, clearly not understanding.
“I mean are your parents a witch and wizard, or are they non-magical?” Albus clarified.
“Oh, no,” said Andrew, falling back against his seat. “I’m the only magical one in my family. So you see, I was really surprised when my letter came telling me to come over to this place. My folks were speechless. My Mom had fainted seeing the letter, actually,” Andrew added awkwardly.
“That explains it,” said Rose. “Well, we magical people don’t have to attend Muggle schooling prior to coming here. We learn the basics at home.”
“I see,” Andrew said. Then he added, “what does ‘Muggle’ mean?’
“Oh, a ‘Muggle’ means a non-magical person,” Albus told him.
“Right,” Andrew said. “By the way, how’s Hogwarts? Got any idea?”
They explained all they knew about Hogwarts to Andrew, who seemed very awed about it all. Soon Albus turned around and looked out of the window as Rose started to explain more to Andrew. He had heard about the place so much that he had all the details memorized completely; he didn’t bother hearing more. Instead, he viewed the scenery around him. The tall buildings of London had long since gone. He could see a backdrop of fields now. The fields were flashing past his eyes pretty fast, though Albus thought he saw a few scarecrows here and there.
He looked down at his watch. It was just about twelve o’clock and he was already getting hungry; even his stomach was grumbling. He wished he could have food now. His wish came true in about a minute, though. There was a great clattering outside in the corridor. Wondering what it was, he looked up towards the door. An old woman slid the compartment door open and, when she saw them, she asked, smiling, “Anything off the trolley, dear?”
Andrew stood up, walked out of the doors, and went over to the trolley. His eyes widened as he saw the great assortment of sweets. “Whoa!” he exclaimed. “They’ve got a whole lot of sweets here!”
Albus went towards the trolley. “Liked it?” he asked Andrew.
“Yeah, totally!” he replied, eyes still wide. “But what are these?”
“These are the best sweets in the world,” Albus replied, amused at his expression. He knew that Muggles never ate these types of sweets, but he found Andrew’s animated reactions rather funny. “These are Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans–” he pointed at the huge jar of multi-coloured beans– “these are Pumpkin pasties, those are Droobles Best blowing Gums… and these are Cauldron Cakes. Uh, these are Liquorice Wands, and– oh, these are Chocolate Frogs–”
“Huh? Chocolate whats?” Andrew asked incredulously.
“Chocolate Frogs– but don’t worry” he said hastily, seeing Andrew’s face. “They aren’t real frogs. They are just bewitched to jump about.”
“Oh!” Andrew said, sounding relieved. “That’s cool.”
“So what would you like, dears?” the trolley-witch asked kindly.
“All of them please!” Andrew said enthusiastically.
“Al, get me some extra Cauldron Cakes!” Rose called from inside. Albus knew that she would say that; Rose loved Cauldron Cakes.
“Yeah,” he called back. Turning to the witch, he said, “Okay, we’ll take, uh, six of all of them. How much will it be?”
“That would be thirteen Sickles and four Knuts,” said the trolley witch, quickly calculating the price.
Albus took out a small pouch from his pocket and started counting out the money. He handed the money to the trolley witch, who took it and said, “Are you Harry Potter’s son, dear?”
Albus was taken aback. “Yeah,” he replied. “How do you know?”
“I recognised your face. You look exactly like your father. All except for the scar and glasses, though. Well, it is an honour to meet you my dear boy.” She shook his hand happily. “Good luck for your new year, young Potter,” she said, and started pushing her trolley down the corridor. Albus and Andrew went back into their compartment, hands laden with sweets.
“Gimme the Cauldron Cakes!” Rose squeaked the moment they entered, hands outstretched. “Gimme!”
“Easy, Rose, wait!” said Albus, avoiding her grappling hands. “Let me set these down!”
As soon as they dumped the sweets on a seat, Rose plunged at them and got out as many Cauldron Cakes as she could.
“She must really love those, huh?” Andrew asked, watching Rose shred the wrappers off with an eager expression on her face.
“Yeah, she loves Cauldron Cakes more than anything else,” Albus replied, shaking his head at his voracious cousin.
They started to tear apart the wrappers of their own sweets. Andrew was very fascinated with them, particularly with the every-flavour beans. He had gotten strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla at first, but soon he got a vomit-flavoured one, and his likeness for them vanished immediately. He started on the chocolate frogs next. He had been intrigued by the way the pictures in the cards moved, and swore that he wouldn’t go back to the Muggle world even if his parents tried to drag him back. He decided to start collecting the cards, and soon he had already got Merlin, Dumbledore, and even Harry. Andrew’s eyes widened when Albus told him that.
Soon it was evening, and they decided to change into their wizards’ robes. Albus looked out of the window, and saw a backdrop of mountains. He immediately knew that they were there; he had heard that Hogwarts was surrounded by high mountains.
“We’re here!” he said happily, bringing the luggage down from the rack. “We’re finally here, guys!”
“You sure?” asked Andrew.
“Yeah, I’m positive! There are mountains here. Dad said that when we see the mountains it means that Hogwarts is near!”
Right on cue a voice echoed through the train: “We will be arriving at Hogwarts in about five minutes. Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately.”
At last the train came to a halt. Albus, Rose and Andrew were the first to get out into the corridor. People were pushing towards the door, and they all stepped out onto a small, dark platform. The night air was very cold; Albus was shivering, both from cold and nerves. He saw a lamp moving towards them. As it came closer, Albus realized that it was Hagrid.
“Firs’-years! Firs’-years over here! Firs’-years come this way!”
“Hello, Hagrid!” said Albus, pushing his way up to him. Rose and Andrew followed.
“Al!” Hagrid said cheerfully, smiling at them. “And Rose too! Great to see yeh lot, great to see yeh! Any more firs’-years left?” he called again. “C’mon now, follow me! Mind yer steps!”
The floor was really slippery; it seemed to have been raining. Slipping a little, they followed Hagrid down a steep, narrow path. It was dark all around them. Everyone was quiet, and Albus started feeling really nervous again. It was the moment he had been waiting for all this time, but now that it was here, he felt that he wanted it to come as later as possible. Looking towards Rose he sensed that she felt the same way. Beside her, Andrew seemed a bit pale, and Albus understood that he was a bit tensed too.
“Yeh’ll be seein’ Hogwarts in abou’ a few seconds, now,” Hagrid called from up front.
There was a loud ‘Oooooh!’ from the kids. Albus saw it too. Hogwarts castle was a lot more beautiful than he had expected, perched atop a high mountain with all its turrets and towers against the starry, dark blue sky.
“No more’n four in a boat, now!” Hagrid yelled, pointing to a small fleet of boats on the shore of a lake. Albus, Rose and Andrew got into one boat, followed by a girl with blond hair.
“Has everyone got in?” Hagrid called. He had got one boat to himself. “Good. FORWARD!”
The boats started moving instantly. No one was steering them, but it seemed that they knew which way to go. They were gliding through the dark, glassy waters towards the huge castle. Nobody spoke much. They soon went through an opening near the base of the cliff on which the castle stood. The ceiling was low, so they had to keep their heads down in order to avoid the stalactites that hung from above. At last, their boats came to a halt at a bay, where two heavy wooden doors were set against the walls.
Hagrid knocked on them thrice. Before long, the door opened, revealing the face of Neville Longbottom.
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