A/N: There are two Irish/Gaelic phrases in this chapter. The first, Slan leat, means goodbye. The second, An labhraionn tu Gaelige?, means Do you speak Irish/Gaelic? Please read and review!
Right now, at this very minute, I am still sitting on the train, on my way to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and I’m beginning to wonder if this ride will ever end. Mrs. McGreggor and I are sitting in silence, having already exhausted every possible conversation known to man. I look out my window and see nothing but rolling hills and tons of trees.
I sigh loudly, and Mrs. McGreggor tells me to be patient, that we’re almost there. Great! I think to myself - the only problem is that she said the same thing 30 minutes ago after I'd sighed for the 10th time. After what seems like an eternity, the whistle blows and the train begins to slow down. I jump up out of my seat and start pulling my trunk down from the storage compartment.
The train jerks to a stop and Mrs. McGreggor slides open the compartment door and steps out into the walkway. I follow her down the walkway and off the train, onto the platform. We’re in the middle of nowhere, and the school is nowhere in sight. Just as I’m about to ask Mrs. McGreggor where the school is, a carriage pulls up, being drawn by nothing.
There’s a rather gangly, pimply-faced man riding in it. He says he’s Mr. Filch, school caretaker, and he’s here to escort us to the castle. He takes my trunk and helps Mrs. McGreggor and me board the carriage before sitting back down. The carriage takes off and we ride in silence for a little while. Then we round a corner on the winding, bumpy path we’re on and I see Hogwarts for the first time.
It’s absolutely beautiful, and huge, much bigger than Dunamase. We ride on, up to the gargantuan gates which are already open for us. The carriage stops just outside the gates and we all dismount, Mr. Filch bringing up the rear with my trunk. The carriage pulls off and we walk through the gates, which immediately close once we’ve passed through.
Mr. Filch tells me he’s going to take my trunk up to the castle and that Mrs. McGreggor and I should wait here for the groundskeeper, who will escort us to Professor Dumbledore, and off he goes. I look around at the grounds, and suddenly I hear a booming voice say, “Hello Mrs. McGreggor!” I quickly turn to see who has spoken, and rest my eyes upon the largest man I’ve ever seen in my whole life - and that’s not an exaggeration.
He’s shaking hands with Mrs. McGreggor; he says his name is Hagrid. He has long, frizzy black hair, a beard to match, and small, beady eyes. He looks very intimidating, but for some reason, I don’t believe he’d harm a fly. “And you must be Jayde,” he says to me. I give him a small smile and nod my head. “We been expectin’ ya,” he says, “Follow me - I’ll take ya up to Dumbledore.” So Mrs. McGreggor and I follow him across the grounds.
As we walk, he points out certain features of the grounds and explains what they are and what goes on there, like he’s giving a grand tour of the place. He indicates the Quidditch Pitch, the greenhouses, the Black Lake, and the Owlery, and I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the size of my new school; I can already tell this is going to take quite a while to get used to. We enter the castle and continue to follow Hagrid through a maze of hallways, doors, and stairways, passing many students who stop to stare at us curiously and consequentially make me very nervous.
We ride up a moving spiral staircase that leads us to yet another door. When Hagrid knocks on the door, a man’s voice answers, “Come in.” We enter, and there is an older man with long white hair, and an even longer white beard, sitting at the headmaster’s desk and wearing rather curious-looking robes. There is another man standing directly behind him with a rather unenthusiastic look on his face. He is wearing all black, and has shoulder-length black hair that looks rather greasy from where I’m standing just inside the door.
The headmaster has a very kind expression on his face. “Hello Jayde,” the old man says to me, “I’m very pleased to meet you. Please, sit.” He gestures for me to sit in one of the chairs in front of his desk. I do so, and Mrs. McGreggor sits in the chair to my right. Hagrid leaves the room and closes the door behind him.
“I am very glad you have decided to transfer to Hogwarts,” he continues. “I am delighted to be working with another Nimbimagus. I am Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of this school, and the person behind me is Professor Severus Snape. I knew your father when he attended Hogwarts; in fact, he was the first Nimbimagus I ever taught. He was a very talented wizard and a very powerful Nimbimagus”.
“Thank you Professor,” I say quietly.
The professor nods his head silently before continuing. “I cannot take credit for his talent,” he says. “The headmaster who was here when he attended had very much experience with Nimbimagi, and it was he who brewed the potion for your father and taught him to control his powers. As I do not have as much experience as he did, I have assigned Professor Snape here to teach you to control your powers and to brew your potion for you. The potion is very hard to brew and only a skilled hand such as his could do so. The information required to help you control your powers was passed down through his family for generations; several of Professor Snape’s family members were Nimbimagi”.
“But what does the potion do?” I ask him.
“The potion will not keep you from affecting the weather,” he says. “It will simply affect the magnitude with which you affect it; after all, we wouldn’t want to completely cut you off from your powers, you need to be trained to use them. Professor Snape will teach you how to harness your powers and use them, without losing control of yourself. I’m afraid it is not an exact science, however; if at any point you become extremely upset, no amount of training will keep you from losing control, which is where the potion comes in handy. The potion must be taken daily. Also, if you have any sudden, extreme outbursts of emotion, you may have to take another dose of the potion to decrease the chances of extreme inclement weather occurring. I really believe the potion will be a great help to you.”
At this I notice Mrs. McGreggor nodding her head out of the corner of my eye. “Now dear, do you understand everything?” he asks.
“Yes,” I reply.
“Good,” he says. “Now, on to other matters of business - your sorting”.
“My what?” I ask.
“At Dunamase,” he responds, “the whole student body is one. Here at Hogwarts, however, the student body is divided into four Houses. Students of the same House attend classes together, eat meals together, and dorm together. Each House is its own team, in a manner of speaking, and at the end of the year, the House with the most points wins the House Cup. Throughout the year, any student who does something good will receive points which are credited to their House. Any student who breaks rules will cause points to be deducted from their House. Points are also awarded to the Houses that win Quidditch games. The Houses are Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. Upon arriving at Hogwarts, students must be sorted into a particular House; we need to find out which House you belong in.”
“How do we do that?” I ask nervously. Professor Snape turns around and takes a pointed hat from a shelf behind him. He hands the hat to Professor Dumbledore, who then places it on the table.
“All you have to do is place that hat on your head,” he says. So I reach out, take the hat off the desk and place it on my head.
“GRYFFINDOR,” it says immediately, scaring me so badly that I nearly jump out of my seat. I hurriedly take the hat off my head and place it back on the desk.
“Very good,” Professor Dumbledore says happily. “Now there is just one last matter of business to attend to: your class schedule. As I understand it, you received 10 O.W.L.s in your fifth year, chose which subjects you wish to continue to N.E.W.T. level, and passed level one of each of those classes last year. Our equivalents of those subjects you were taking at Dunamase are the classes you will be taking here. As we have just learned that you are a Gryffindor, I will need time to prepare your schedule so that you attend classes with your fellow 7th year Gryffindors. I will have your schedule to you by Monday morning, so that you may begin work immediately and don’t miss any of your classes. In addition to your N.E.W.T. level classes, you will also have a private class with Professor Snape so that he may train you to use your newfound powers. I will examine your schedule and decide when the best time is for this class to take place, and will also get that information to you by Monday morning.”
“Okay,” I say, nodding and casting a quick glance at Professor Snape.
“Professor McGonagall will be your Head of House; you will meet her at dinner down in the Great Hall. Speaking of dinner, it has already begun. Let’s get downstairs before everything is gone. Mr. Filch will take your trunk to your dorm room in Gryffindor Tower, and you shall go up there to get settled in after dinner.”
At this he stands and walks around his desk, Professor Snape hot on his heels, and comes to stand beside me. I stand and shake the hand he’s just extended, and then he turns and shakes Mrs. McGreggor’s hand as well. “Won’t you join us for dinner, Eva?” he asks.
“I’m afraid I can’t, Albus,” she says. “I must get back to my own school”.
At this my heart drops into my stomach; I didn’t think she’d be leaving so soon. “Well then,” he says, “you can at least walk with us down to the Great Hall; you’ll be very near the exit from there, and you and Jayde can say your goodbyes down there.”
Like she’s been doing ever since we arrived at the castle, Mrs. McGreggor nods her head in agreement with what Professor Dumbledore has said, and she and I follow Professors Dumbledore and Snape out of the headmaster’s office and back down the moving staircase. We walk back through the enormous maze that is my new school. We don’t pass any of my fellow students in the hallways, and when we reach the entrance hall I understand why.
Off to our right there’s an enormous set of double doors, which are open, and I can hear the deafening roar that can only mean that there are lots of people in there talking all at once. This must be the Great Hall. “Here we are,” Professor Dumbledore says. “Eva, you and Jayde may step outside to say your goodbyes, Professor Snape and I will wait here for Jayde.” With this, he walks over and shakes her hand, and Professor Snape follows suit. She and I step out the doors Professor Dumbledore indicated while he was talking. Then the sobbing begins.
“Very well then, Jayde,” she begins. “This is it. I know you’ll do well here.” She pulls me into a suffocating bear hug, but I don’t mind that I can’t breathe. If Ms. Fitzpatrick has been like my mother, Mrs. McGreggor definitely counts as my aunt. She always looked after me while I was at Dunamase and she and I have grown very close.
We both stand there sobbing for a moment before she releases me and begins wiping her eyes, trying to calm herself. “I want you to promise me that you’ll write to me as often as you can,” she says.
“I’ll write to you just like I write to Ms. Fitzpatrick,” I promise.
"And let me know when you’ll be leaving school for holidays, and I will meet you in London and take you back to the orphanage,” she continues.
“Okay,” I say quietly.
“Very well then,” she says again. “You should get inside for dinner now. Slan leat,” she says before leaning down and kissing my forehead.
“Slan leat,” I say back to her sadly, and she starts walking off. Having lost the last bit of familiarity I had in this strange new place, I turn and walk back inside, where Mr. Filch has joined Professors Dumbledore and Snape. When he sees me come inside, he runs outside to catch up with Mrs. McGreggor and accompany her back to the train.
Then, seeing the streaks on my face where tears had been running down it, Professor Dumbledore places a hand on my shoulder and says, “There there, dear.” Professor Snape simply looks away, as if he doesn’t want to see this display of emotion. Professor Dumbledore gives me a moment to compose myself before saying, “Now Jayde, let’s go inside and get a bite to eat.” And he leads me through the double doors and into the Great Hall.
I’m already sad because I’ve just had to say goodbye to another person I am extremely close to, and when we enter the Great Hall things don’t improve. I am walking beside Professor Dumbledore, and Professor Snape is behind us. There are four long tables, two on our left and the other two on our right, and we are walking down the center aisle that separates the two pairs, right in the middle of all the other students, who are of course staring at us as we walk further up the aisle. As we approach the end of the tables, I see a single table sitting at the back of the room, turned horizontally.
This must be the teachers’ table, I think to myself. I follow Professor Dumbledore around the table and he gestures that I should sit down beside him in the empty chair to his left. Professor Snape takes the seat to my immediate left. As soon as we sit, the professors begin filling their plates with the items that are spread out across the table, and Dumbledore urges me to do the same. Every once in a while, he points at a dish and tells me that I must try some, it’s delicious, and though I was full ten minutes ago, I oblige.
Once he has finished his dessert, he stands and gestures that I should do the same thing. He then tells me to follow him to the podium standing in front of the teachers’ table, and I do so nervously, hoping he isn’t about to introduce me to the whole school. “Good evening everyone,” he says loudly, and all chattering in the hall stops immediately. “I have great news,” he continues. “As of today, you all have a new classmate. She has transferred to us from Dunamase Institute of Magical Learning, a smaller wizarding school in Ireland.”
I feel every eye in the room upon me. “This is Miss Jayde Newsome, a seventh year, and prior to coming to the feast she was sorted into Gryffindor House in a small sorting ceremony in my office,” Dumbledore continues. At this, all the students at the table slightly to my right start clapping. “Miss Newsome received 10 O.W.L.s in her fifth year and will continue her N.E.W.T. level classes and finish out her magical education here. She is a credit to this school, in more than just an academic way. You see, Miss Newsome is a very special kind of witch, a kind that hasn’t been seen at Hogwarts in a long time. Miss Newsome is a Nimbimagus,” he says.
Several people gasp audibly, while others begin chatting quietly amongst themselves. Great, I think, did he seriously just tell them all that?
“Now I want each and every one of you to make Miss Newsome feel as welcome as you possibly can,” he presses on. “She is one of us now. Now, if Mr. Ronald Weasley and Miss Hermione Granger would please come up here; everyone else is free to go.” With this, two students from the Gryffindor table stand and start walking towards us, while everyone else starts walking in the opposite direction, towards the double doors at the back of the hall.
The two students who are walking towards us are a boy and girl who appear to be around my age. The boy is tall, with shockingly red hair, freckles, and a pale complexion. The girl is shorter than he is, with bushy brown hair. They both smile at me as they approach; the girl seems to be very excited while the boy seems to have only forced a smile to be polite.
“Jayde,” Professor Dumbledore says as they reach us, “this is Miss Hermione Granger and Mr. Ronald Weasley. Miss Granger is the school’s Head Girl, and Mr. Weasley is the seventh-year Gryffindor prefect.”
“Hello,” they both say politely.
“Should you need anything,” Dumbledore continues, “just let them know. They will help you navigate the castle until you can do so by yourself. Now, follow them, and they will take you up to Gryffindor tower and introduce you to the other Gryffindors.”
“Okay,” I say quietly, nodding my head.
“This way,” the girl called Hermione says, and she and Ronald turn and head down the main aisle of the Great Hall.
There is still a large cluster of people at the doors to the Great Hall, trying to squeeze through as quickly as they can. We join the cluster and within a moment we pass through the double doors. The hallway is just as crowded as the doorway, if not more so. Trying to avoid a collision with another student, I find myself separated from Ronald and Hermione.
Panicking, I quickly turn in every direction, trying to spot them through the crowd. In my dismay, I forget to check the whereabouts of all the other students around me as I turn, and consequentially bump into one.
“Oi! Watch where you’re going!” an angry boy’s voice calls. I turn to see where the voice is coming from, so that I can apologize to him. “Who was that?” I hear the boy ask.
Finally finding where his voice is coming from, I turn to see the back side of a tall, slender boy with hair so blond it’s almost white. He is obviously looking around for whoever ran into him so rudely. There’s a boy at each of his sides, also looking for the culprit. “It was me,” I say to their backs, and the short, chubby boy at his right turns around and looks at me.
He then taps the taller boy on the shoulder and says, “It was her.”
“I’m sorry,” I say to the back of the blond boy’s head.
“Well, you’d bloody well better be sorry, you filthy…” he says, turning on the spot. He stops talking when he sees me, his eyes widen and his face softens. I can’t help but to notice how extremely attractive he is; my heart starts beating rapidly. He stares at me silently, but he doesn’t seem to be angry anymore. I look up at him, frightened. I find it hard to breathe under the gaze of his piercing grey eyes, probably because I’m afraid that I’ve very clumsily made an enemy in my first day at Hogwarts.
“I’m sorry,” I say again. He says nothing; it appears as though he’s in some sort of trance. I keep shifting my eyes away from his and then back to them, in hopes of decreasing the awkwardness I’m feeling. Suddenly, I hear someone calling my name. I turn to see Ronald and Hermione walking up behind me.
“Sorry,” Ronald says, “Didn’t realize we’d lost you until we got halfway to the common room.”
“Come on Jayde,” Hermione says. “The hallways are clear now so it should be easier this time around.” And with one final glance back at the handsome boy, who is still staring at me silently, I follow Ronald and Hermione. Just before we step out of sight, I glance over my shoulder, and sure enough, the boy is still standing in the exact same spot, staring at me, both of his friends looking at him, perplexed.
“What was all that about?” Ronald asks. “Why is he staring at you like that?”
“Who is he?” I ask quietly.
“Draco Malfoy, he’s a seventh year Slytherin and a Slytherin House prefect.” Hermione says. “Why was he staring at you like that?”
“I accidentally bumped into him,” I say, “He was very angry about it, so I was apologizing to him.”
Ronald snickers. “Don’t worry about it, you shouldn’t have even wasted your breath apologizing, Malfoy’s always angry about something,” he says. “Isn’t he?” he asks, looking at Hermione.
“That’s true,” she answers, nodding her head and smirking as though the two of them are sharing some private joke. I continue to follow them up the many staircases, some of which are moving. We finally come to a landing with a portrait of a rather large woman on the wall.
The woman speaks to us. “Password?” she says.
“Several doors in the castle are protected by portraits like these, and they require a password to enter,” Hermione says. “If you don’t know the password, you won’t be let in. The passwords change sometimes, so make sure you keep up with what the current password is. Right now, it’s ‘Mimbulus Mimbletonia’.”
Once she says this, the portrait swings open and reveals an archway, which we walk through. We enter the common room, where a large number of students are sitting, playing games or chatting. As my luck would have it, they all stop what they’re doing and look up at me, making me extremely nervous.
“Everyone, this is Jayde,” Hermione says. A few people mutter greetings before going back to what they were doing. One boy walks right up to me excitedly. He’s shorter than Ronald, with sandy-colored hair. I wonder why he’s so excited, but he quickly answers my question.
“An labhraionn tu Gaelige?” he asks, shocking me by speaking in my native tongue; I wasn’t expecting to meet any Irish wizards at Hogwarts. I answer, telling him that I do speak Irish, which makes his smile grow even wider. He extends his hand, which I shake politely. “I’m Seamus Finnigan,” he says, in a very thick Irish accent.
“Nice to meet you,” I reply. I look over and see Ronald and Hermione looking at the two of us. Ronald seems a bit confused, while Hermione appears fascinated.
“I’ll let you get unpacked, but maybe we can talk some more tomorrow,” Seamus says. I nod, and he walks off.
“What the bloody hell was that all about?” Ronald asks me after Seamus walks off, but I don’t have to answer because Hermione speaks up.
“Jayde is Irish, Ron,” she says.
“I know,” he responds. “What I want to know is what Seamus was doing. What was that language he talked to her in?”.
“IRISH!” Hermione groans, frustrated, and rolls her eyes.
“I’ve never heard any Irish person talk like that,” Ronald replies.
“Because you don’t speak Irish!” Hermione answers.
I can’t help but think that they’re fighting like an old married couple. I laugh at the thought, but cover my mouth so they won’t hear me. “You might want to stand back,” a girl’s voice says beside me. “They’ll be snogging any second”.
I turn to see who’s talking. There’s a slender girl standing there, with red hair and freckles. She’s fairly tall for a girl, and I can’t help but to think that she looks a lot like Ronald, who is still arguing with Hermione about whether or not Irish people have their own language.
“I’m Ginny Weasley,” she says. “And, unfortunately, the ignorant one is my older brother.”
“I thought you looked alike,” I say.
“Don’t say that, Ginny will hex you into next week,” says a handsome boy who’s just walked up beside her. He’s slightly taller than I am, with untidy black hair and glasses. “I’m Harry,” he continues in a matter-of-fact tone, as though I should already know his name.
“Hi,” I say, as I shake his extended hand. At this, Hermione, having apparently won the battle with Ronald, comes to stand beside me again. Ronald, though red in the face, joins us also.
“If you’re ready, Jayde,” Hermione says. “I’ll take you upstairs. There’s an empty bed in my dorm, so that’s probably where you’ll be sleeping.”
“Okay,” I say quietly.
“I’ll come with you,” Ginny says. “In case you need help unpacking."
I follow Hermione up the winding stairs at the back of the common room, with Ginny bringing up the rear. When we reach the top, we go through a door to our left that leads to a hallway with several doors on either side. I follow Hermione to the last door on the right and we enter. There are four four-poster beds placed around the room.
“Your trunk’s already in here,” she says, pointing to the bed to my immediate left. Sure enough, my trunk is sitting on the bed, but there are articles of clothing sitting on top of it that don’t belong to me.
“Whose are these?” I ask.
“Yours,” Hermione says. “That’s your Gryffindor tie, sweater, scarf, and robe. The school gives them out after sorting.”
“Oh,” I reply, picking the items up and examining them. I fold them up and place them back on my trunk. Then I lift the trunk and place it on the floor beside my bed. I sit down on my new bed and immediately realize how tired I am from all the day’s activities; I’ve been awake since very early this morning.
Apparently Hermione realizes how tired I am. She says, “Jayde, I’m sure you’ve had a very busy day, you must be very tired. Why don’t you get some sleep and we’ll help you unpack tomorrow?”
“Okay,” I say gratefully.
“Come on, Gin,” I hear Hermione say. “Let’s go back downstairs.” They leave the room, and I try to muster the strength to get up and change into my pajamas, but eventually give up and lie back on the bed and close my eyes.