Chapter 8 : Names
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A/N: Wheeeeeeeeee! I find this chapter extremely amusing (I don’t know why). But hey, I have new reviewers, and of course they are going to review again, aren’t they? ::glares menacingly at them::
BlueStones ~ Thanks for the name! And thanks for the reminder about “unblobbing” my chapters. Just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
Magnolia ~ Great stories. You might want to go back and read the first chapters again, I’ve “unblobbed” them. That is so much fun to write. Unblobbed. Lol. Next chapter’s yours.
dracoissexy ~ All hail my new Beta! Thank you ever so much!
This chapter is dedicated to BlueStones!
On with the story!
Someone was going to hit me. I felt an extreme urge to move. I leapt out of the way just as a heavyset boy reached for my arm — but needn’t have bothered. He let out a horrible yell as a fat gray rat sank its sharp little teeth into his knuckle. She stared as he swung it round and round, howling, and when the rat finally flew off and hit the window, the pale boy and the two big ones disappeared at once. Perhaps they thought there were more rats lurking among the sweets on the chair, or perhaps they’d heard footsteps, because a second later, a girl and a round-faced boy came in. She was wearing her Hogwarts robes.
“What HAS been going on?” she said, looking at the sweets all over the floor and the red-haired boy picking up the rat by its tail. She had a bossy sort of voice, lots of bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth.
“I think he’s been knocked out,” the red-haired boy said to the black-haired boy. He looked closer. “No — I don’t believe it — he’s gone back to sleep.”
And so he had.
“You’ve met Malfoy before?”
The black-haired boy explained about meeting the pale boy in Diagon Alley.
“I’ve heard of his family,” said the red one darkly. “They were some of the first to come back to our side after You-Know-Who disappeared. Said they’d been bewitched. My dad doesn’t believe it. He says Malfoy’s father didn’t need an excuse to go over to the Dark Side.”
She was thoroughly confused.
The red-haired boy turned to the girl. “Can we help you with something?”
“Have you seen a toad? Neville here’s lost one. You haven’t been fighting, have you? You’ll be in trouble before we even get there! I’m Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?”
“Scabbers has been fighting, not us,” said the red-haired boy, scowling at her. “And I’m Ron Weasley.”
“Harry Potter,” said the black-haired boy.
Neville, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Harry Potter. She’d have to remember that.
“Are you really?” said Hermione Granger. “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.”
“Am I?” said Harry Potter, looking somewhat dazed.
“Goodness, didn’t you know, I’d have found out everything I could if it was me,” said Hermione Granger. “And what’s your name?” she said to her.
She looked at them.
“Well?” said Ron Weasley.
She spread her hands helplessly.
They looked at her in confusion.
“Don’t you HAVE a name?” said Harry Potter.
She shook her head.
“Well, we could always call you Skinny,” Ron Weasley suggested.
“Ron!” said Harry Potter.
“What about Johnny?” said Ron Weasley.
“That’s a guy’s name!” cried Hermione Granger.
“So?” said Ron Weasley. “It’s a name.”
“Would you care if we called you Johnny?” Harry Potter said, looking at her.
She shook her head no.
“Do you even speak?” said Hermione Granger.
“Yes,” she said, slowly and carefully. The spell wasn’t working quite as well as it was before.
“Well then, that’s settled,” said Hermione Granger. “Do any of you know which house you’ll be in? I’ve been asking around, and I hope I’m in Gryffindor, it sounds by far the best; I hear Dumbledore himself was in it, but I suppose Ravenclaw wouldn’t be too bad….Anyway, we’d better go look for Neville’s toad. You two had better change, you know, I expect we’ll be there soon.”
And she left, taking poor toadless Neville with her.
“Whatever house I’m in, I hope she’s not in it,” said Ron Weasley.
“House?” she asked.
“The people that you live with while you’re at Hogwarts,” he explained.
“And what is You-Know-Who and the Dark Side and Malfoy?”
“Umm… Harry, you take this one.”
“A while ago there was a very evil wizard,” said Harry Potter. “His name was Voldemort.”
“Voldemort?” she said. “Interesting name.”
“Well, anyway, Voldemort began killing and scaring both Muggles and wizards. He gathered a following called the Death Eaters,” Harry Potter said. “No one knew who was who, or on which side, and it was a very dark, fearful time. One night, he came to my house to kill both my parents and me. To make a long story short, it didn’t work on me and he accidentally killed himself instead. He was feared so much, that even now people fear to speak his name.”
“So why did you say it?” she asked, curious.
“I hadn’t got a clue about all this until I finally got my Hogwarts letter when Hagrid came to pick me up. I was never taught to fear his name, since both my parents are dead.”
“Oh,” she said, looking at the floor. “So what are wizards?”
“Ron?” Harry Potter said.
“Well, first of all, DON’T SAY THAT NAME HARRY. Secondly, wizards are people who can do magic.”
“I still don’t get it,” she said.
Harry Potter and Ron Weasley looked at each other.
“I give up,” they said at the same time.
They both sat down and began picking up sweets and putting them on their laps.
“Have some gum, Johnny” said Ron Weasley through a mouthful of bread. He offered her a purple round thing with little wrinkly things sticking out.
“Oh, no, I couldn’t,” she said, backing away from it.
“Why not?” said Harry Potter.
“An orphan must always wait until the real humans finish eating,” she recited, unconsciously standing straight with her hands clasped behind her back.
They both stared at her.
“Who taught you that?” asked Harry Potter, after a very long silence.
She stared at them as if they had asked why the sky was blue. It was obvious. She was inferior to everyone on this train.
“I am inferior. I am an orphan. Therefore I must be punished for all mistakes and anything bad that happens to my master,” she stated.
“Sounds like a house elf,” Ron Weasley said slowly.
Harry Potter leaned forward and told her quietly, “You aren’t inferior, Johnny. You are human, just like anyone else. Just because your parents are dead doesn’t mean you instantly become lower. Everyone’s parents die sooner or later, and most likely their parents are dead too. You aren’t inferior. You have as many rights and abilities as anyone on this train.”
She stared. All her life she had been told she was lower than dirt and here was someone telling her she was an equal. And his argument made sense. But she had been trained so thoroughly she would probably never be like them.
“So, anyway, have some food,” said Ron Weasley, gesturing at the pile on the chair. Hesitantly, she sat down on the floor and picked some bread up. She looked uncertainly at them.
Harry Potter said, “Go on, it’s really good, I promise.”
She tasted a little bit… and she was in heaven. Nothing she had ever had before had tasted this good.
“What kind of bread is this?” she asked.
“It’s not bread. It’s a pasty,” said Ron Weasley.
“What are these?” asked Harry Potter to Ron, holding up a package that said ‘Chocolate Frogs’. “They’re not REALLY frogs, are they?”
“No,” said Ron Weasley. “But see what the card is. I’m missing Agrippa.”
“Oh, of course, you wouldn’t know — Chocolate Frogs have cards inside them, you know, to collect — famous witches and wizards. I’ve got about five hundred, but I haven’t got Agrippa or Ptolemy.”
She was fascinated. She was learning more than they could ever know just listening to them. As they had said it was quite all right to have some food, she palmed some of the frogs, while Harry Potter and Ron Weasley continued their conversation, totally forgetting she was there. Which she quite preferred.
“So THIS is Dumbledore!” said Harry Potter, opening his frog and taking out a card.
“Don’t tell me you’d never heard of Dumbledore!” said Ron Weasley.
“Can I have a frog? I might get Agrippa — thanks—”
Harry Potter was reading the back of his card, but when he turned it over again, he looked startled.
“Well, you can’t expect him to hang around all day,” said Ron Weasley. “He’ll be back. No, I’ve got Morgana again and I’ve got about six of her…do you want it? You can start collecting.”
His eyes strayed to the pile of frogs waiting to be unwrapped.
“Help yourself,” said Harry Potter. “But in, you know, the Muggle world, people just stay put in photos.”
“Do they? What, they don’t move at all?” Ron Weasley sounded amazed. “WEIRD!”
Harry Potter stared at his card for a while and Ron Weasley kept opening more frogs. She had swiped some of the other sweets while they weren’t looking and hidden them. She was examining a bag labeled ‘Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans’ when Ron Weasley said
“You want to be careful with those, Johnny. When they say every flavor, they MEAN every flavor — you know, you get all the ordinary ones like chocolate and peppermint and marmalade, but then you can get spinach and liver and tripe. George reckons he had a booger-flavored one once.”
Ron Weasley leaned forward and picked up a green bean, looked at it carefully, and bit into a corner.
“Bleaaargh — see? Sprouts.”
She let them have most of the beans, only having a few. Some of them were good, and some tasted horrible. She made sure to leave some of each so she could ask what they were. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley were having quite a good time. Harry Potter nibbled the end off a funny looking gray one, which turned out to be pepper. She wrinkled her nose. She knew quite well what pepper tasted like. She watched the countryside outside the window. It wasn’t tame and cultivated, like she was used to, but sort of wild, and free. She wanted be like that. Free.
Ron Weasley was looking at the rat on his lap with disgust.
“He might have died and you wouldn’t know the difference. I tried to turn him yellow yesterday to make him more interesting, but the spell didn’t work. I’ll show you, look…”
He rummaged around in his trunk and pulled out a very battered-looking wand. It was chipped in places and something white was glinting at the end.
“Unicorn hair’s nearly poking out. Anyway —”
Johnny leaned forward. She really wanted to know what a spell was. But just as he raised his wand the compartment door slid open yet again. Hermione Granger was back.
“Oh, are you doing magic? Let’s see it, then,” she said, and then sat down.
Ron Weasley looked taken aback.
“Er — all right.”
He cleared his throat.
“Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow,
Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow.”
He waved his wand, but nothing happened. Scabbers stayed gray and fast asleep.
“Are you sure that’s a real spell?” Hermione Granger said. “Well, it’s not very good, is it? I’ve tried a few simple spells just for practice and it’s all worked for me. Nobody in my family’s magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, 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 —”
“Did you come in here just to harass us or did you actually have something important to tell us?” asked Ron Weasley, interrupting her.
She tossed her head and said “I’ve just been up front to ask the conductor, and he says we’re nearly there. You’d better hurry up and put your robes on.”
“Well, then, would you mind leaving while we change?”
“What about her, then,” said Hermione Granger, pointing at her.
“Oh, we don’t mind her, just you,” said Ron Weasley.
Hermione Granger sniffed and turned to leave the compartment.
“And you’ve got dirt on your nose, by the way, did you know?” she tossed over her shoulder at Ron Weasley. He glared at her as she left. She was right, though, he did have dirt on his nose. Jonny peered out of the window. It was getting dark, and there were mountains and forests under a deep purple sky. Harry Potter was doing the same thing as she was, and he commented
“It does seem like the train is slowing down.”
Both started to pull on their black robes. Johnny looked down at the fabric that completely swathed her, enjoying the feel of soft, clean fabric swishing around her ankles, such rich, magnificent clothes as she had never had before. She looked up again, noticing that Ron Weasley’s were too short for him; she could see the things he had on his feet underneath. She didn’t understand why he had them on his feet, though, hers were bare and perfectly good as they were.
A voice echoed through the train: “We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minute’s time. Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately.”
She looked at the others again. They were both pale and looked scared. It didn’t make sense to her, she was going to what seemed a better place than she had ever known. They started cramming their pockets with the last of their sweets, but she already had some, so she didn’t bother, and then they went out and joined the crowd thronging the corridor. Jonny was uncomfortable, being among so many people at once, all squished together, but oh well, she would have to deal with it.
The train slowed right down and finally stopped. People pushed their way toward the door and out onto a tiny, dark platform. She watched the others shiver, but it was pretty warm compared to the temperatures she was used to. Then a lamp came bobbing over the heads of the students, and she heard a familiar voice:
“Firs’ years! Firs’ years over here! All right there, Harry?”
Hagrid’s big hairy face beamed over the sea of heads at both of them.
“C’mon, follow me — any more firs’ years? Mind yer step, now! Firs’ years follow me!”
Slipping and stumbling, they followed Hagrid down what seemed to be a steep, narrow path. It was so dark on either side of them that Johnny thought there must be thick trees there. She saw Harry Potter looking around and figured that he must be thinking the same thing. Nobody spoke much. Neville, the toadless boy, sniffed once or twice.
“Yeh’ll get yer firs’ sight o’ Hogwarts in a sec,” Hagrid called over his shoulder, “jus’ round this bend here.”
There was a loud “Oooooh!”
The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great blue 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!” Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Neville all went to one boat. She went to another which had only one girl in it, who had a sneer permanently pasted on her face.
“Everyone in?” shouted Hagrid, who had a boat to himself. “Right then —FORWARD!”
And the little fleet of boats moved off all at once, gliding across the lake, which was as smooth as glass. Everyone was silent, staring up at the great castle overhead. It towered over them as they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which it stood.
“Heads down!” yelled Hagrid as the first boats reached the cliff; they all bent their heads and the little boats carried them through a curtain of ivy that hid a wide opening in the cliff face. They were carried along a dark tunnel, which seemed to be taking them right underneath the castle, until they reached a kind of underground harbor, where they clambered out onto rocks and pebbles.
“Oy, you there! Is this your toad?” said Hagrid, who was checking the boats as people climbed out of them.
“Trevor!” cried Neville blissfully, holding out his hands. Then they clambered up a passageway in the rock after Hagrid’s lamp, coming out at last onto smooth, damp grass right in the shadow of the castle.
They walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around the huge, oak front door.
“Everyone her? You there, still got yer toad?”
Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked three times on the castle door.
Phew! Finished! ::wipes sweat off forehead:: That took me forever! My back hurts… ow. You should all be grateful for all the hard work I do, writing this story. ::glares at readers::
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