Chapter 6 : 6- Hogwarts Here We Come
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Part 6: Hogwarts Express Again
“Come on Potter, or we’ll miss the train,” shouted Draco, dragging his trunk and broom- a new Nimbus 2001- along.
“I’m coming, I’m coming,” sighed Harry, trying to make his new pet snake- a birthday present from Lucius Malfoy- stop slithering down his sleeves. Lucifer, as Harry and Draco had named the albino South English Smooth snake (the rarest snake in Britain, of course), was an 18 inch pearly white connoisseur of both rodents and French literature. Harry was glad that no one else could understand his conversations with Lucifer- it was rather humiliating that his snake was better-read and smarter than he was.
“Harry, you’re going to miss the train,” persisted Narcissa, giving him a gentle shove up the stairs and catching his new Nimbus 2001 as it fell- her birthday present to him. She put it back at the top of his trunk and kissed him on the forehead, as she had Draco earlier. “Be good you two!” she yelled as the train whistle blew. “Don’t argue with the teachers, and if you get into trouble, remember what I taught you!”
True to her promise to Lucius, Narcissa Malfoy had spent all summer (minus a 2 week period that Harry had been forced to spend at the Dursleys’ by Dumbledore) drilling Harry and Draco with the various curses, charms, and hexes that were taught to upper level Ministry officials, Aurors, and Death Eaters. Lucius, who thought the whole thing was funny, had assured them that there would be no trouble from the Ministry if Harry and Draco used magic over the summer- and there hadn’t. The previous day, Lucius had dueled with his son on the Manor grounds, and though Draco had been beaten spectacularly, Lucius had healed him and clapped him on the back, telling him “I’m proud of you, son.” Although Draco would never admit it, Harry knew that that kind of thing meant a lot to him.
“I think Zabini said they’re going to be at the very back of the train,” Draco told him, looking down the hallway of the Hogwarts Express.
“Then let’s stay in the front,” suggested Harry. “I don’t want to see Pansy yet if I don’t have to.” Things between them had been awkward ever since Harry and Draco had cursed her in exchange for saving them from Devil’s Snare at the end of their first year.
“Sounds good to me,” agreed Draco. “Here’s a compartment that’s almost empty, just a couple of first years.”
Harry followed Draco in and sat down on one side of the table, while Draco sat down on the other side. “Hello,” he said to the first year next to him- a familiar-looking red-headed girl with light brown eyes and lots of freckles.
“Y-you’re Harry P-Potter,” whispered the girl. She was so quiet, Harry wasn’t sure if she was talking to him.
“I was last time I checked,” he agreed. He lifted his bangs and turned to Draco. “Draco, do I still have a scar on my forehead?”
Rolling his eyes and smirking, he nodded. “Okay then, yeah, I’m still Harry Potter.” The little redhead girl looked like she might pass out.
“And you’re Draco Malfoy,” she asked, sounding a bit more collected, but still very shaky.
“I was last time I checked,” Draco answered, building on Harry’s comments. “Tell me Potter, am I still brilliant, funny, and devilishly handsome?”
This time it was Harry’s turn to roll his eyes. “Sure, Draco.”
“Then yes, little girl, I’m Draco Malfoy,” said Draco pompously, showing all of his perfect teeth.
“I’m Luna Lovegood,” said the girl sitting next to Draco, startling everyone- Harry had barely noticed she was there, he was so caught up in their routine. The girl had dirty blonde hair, very large grey eyes, pale skin, and was dressed rather oddly. Unlike some of the less classy first years, she wasn’t dressed in Muggle attire, but her witch’s robes were bright yellow, she was wearing a butterbeer cork necklace and radish earrings, and her wand was resting on top of her ear while she read a magazine called The Quibbler, which had a big picture of Harry, Draco, and Snape on the cover, and was titled “How the Wrackspurts Stopped You-Know-Who -AGAIN.” Harry didn’t feel like asking what a wrackspurt was.
“Hi, Luna…” greeted Draco shakily, which was unlike him. He was staring at her, examining every odd little detail of her strange appearance like she might blow up at any second.
Amused at Draco’s discomfort- it was rare that he was ever uncomfortable around someone- Harry said to the redhead girl, “You never introduced yourself.”
“I’m Ginny,” she managed, “Ginny Weasley.”
The name sent off alarm bells in Harry’s head- this was Weasley’s sister!
Before he could say anything about it, the door to the compartment opened up. Nott peered his head in, then raised his eyebrows when he saw Harry and Draco. “Malfoy, Potter, why are you two in here with these… freaks?” he asked, scratching his head. “I’m sure Blaise told you we’d be in the back, and here you are at the very front.”
“Freaks?” Draco asked coldly, surprising both Nott and Harry. “These two first years happen to be new friends of ours, Nott. So leave us. Now.”
Nott’s mind was blown, but he still knew an order when he heard one, and he scurried out the door as suddenly as he’d come.
“You have to shock them occasionally,” Draco told Harry. “Remind them that they do what you say because you said it, not because they understand it.” His teeth were again showing, but this time the smile was more predatory.
“So you didn’t mean that seriously?” asked Luna, looking up from her magazine.
“Huh?” asked Draco. “Mean what?”
“That we’re your new friends,” said Luna, sounding curious. Harry got the impression that she, like he and Draco, had had a rather lonely childhood.
Harry was waiting for Draco to say something rude and uncalled for like ‘Why would I want to be your friend, nutcase?’ or ‘Yes, I do need a freak for my collection.’ Instead, Draco laughed and took Luna’s tiny hands into his own. “We can be friends, you and I,” he told her, “if you want.”
“I’d like that,” answered Luna, smiling brightly.
Lucifer hissed in Harry’s ear. This guy’s funny, captain. I bet he has bad taste in rats too. Unable to help himself, Harry burst out laughing, interrupting Draco’s heartfelt moment with Luna Lovegood.
“What?” Draco demanded, under the impression that Harry was mocking him.
“Nothing Draco, nothing,” Harry quickly replied, “Lucifer says you have good taste in friends.”
“Who’s Lucifer?” asked Ginny, looking around the compartment for a fifth person. Then, realizing she’d spoken aloud to Harry, her face went from pale to pink.
The albino smooth snake slithered down Harry’s arm, then stuck his head out of Harry’s robes. Bonjour, he hissed. Harry wasn’t sure where a British snake learned to put on a French accent, but Lucifer did it rather well.
Somewhat predictably, Ginny edged a few feet further away from Harry and his pet snake. Luna, on the other hand, looked interested.
“He’s an albino,” she pointed out. “Hello Lucifer. May I hold him?” she asked Harry.
As Lucifer hissed away in no uncertain terms that under no circumstances was Harry to hold him over to that ‘nutty upside down fruitbat’, Harry handed him to Luna.
Luna held the little snake in her arms, rubbing the length of his body gently. Lucifer’s protests got weaker with each second. Captain! She’s going to kill me and make me into a headband to match her earrings! Get her off! Captain! She’s rubbing me! I don’t like this captain! Capta- ooh, that felt nice- Captain, she’s hurting me! After a minute or two, Lucifer finally conceded: I like her, he said reluctantly. She knows how to treat a snake properly. You could learn a thing or two.
“He likes you,” Harry told Luna. If snakes could blush, Harry would have sworn Lucifer did it. Captain! he hissed, aghast.
When the train arrived at the station in Hogsmeade, Harry and Draco followed everyone else to the carriages while Luna and Ginny went with Hagrid and the other first-years to the boat that would take them across the lake.
Once they were alone in a carriage pulled by skeleton horses (as Draco explained, they’d both seen Professor Snape kill Professor Quirrell, so the thestrals were now visible), Harry questioned Draco about his unusual niceness towards Luna and Ginny.
“You hate Weasleys,” he pointed out. “And you’re not exactly the most tolerant towards exotic styles of dress. Or odd behaviors, for that matter. Come to think of it, you should hate everything about Luna and Ginny!”
Draco didn’t bother answering- he just sat there and looked out the window towards the lake.
After 5 minutes of absolute silence, Draco said quietly, almost inaudibly, “Her hair smelled like strawberries.”
The one thing that Harry and Draco had really been waiting for this year came in early October- Quidditch tryouts. Even though he would rather be a Seeker, Draco was letting Harry try out for that position, and he was going out for Chaser, because while he could play that position very well, Harry was terrible at passing and scoring with a Quaffle. In exchange, Harry had to forfeit already all chances to become Slytherin’s team captain.
This year’s Captain, who had won the Cup by a thin margin against Gryffindor last year, was a burly 6th year Chaser named Marcus Flint. He already had 2 other chasers, 2 Beaters, and a Keeper from last year, but he was willing to see new talents and replace his old Seeker, Higgs, who had been beaten last year by both the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff Seekers.
Apparently, Harry and Draco weren’t the only 2nd year Slytherins trying out for the team- Nott was here to play Seeker, Pansy was trying out as Chaser, and Crabbe and Goyle were both trying as Beaters.
“Alright, Seekers up!” shouted Flint. Harry, Nott, Higgs, and a 6th year Harry didn’t know all shot up off the ground. Thanks in part to his small size, and in part to his excellent Nimbus 2001, Harry was a good 50 feet higher than the other three when Flint started throwing golf balls into the air.
The first one was right to the 6th year, and he fumbled spectacularly. Harry and Higgs both dove after it; with his superior broom and diving abilities, Harry easily reached it first.
Flint’s second throw hit Nott in the side of the head, knocking him off his broom. The two Beaters, Derrick and Bole, just barely caught him.
“For the record,” Higgs warned, “that’s not the best way to catch something.” Harry grinned; the 6th year grunted in a very ambiguous way.
By the end of half an hour, Harry had caught 44 golf balls, including some spectacular dives, while Higgs had caught only 38, most of which were right to him. Flint told them he would need time to “think it over” before deciding who would be Seeker.
“Alright, would-be Chasers, into the air!” yelled Flint, blowing his whistle unnecessarily. Draco and Pansy both shot into the air, along with Montague and Adrian Pucey. The Keeper, Miles Bletchley, also took to the air to guard his posts. “Right now, penalty shots! Each Chaser gets six, I repeat, six penalty shots against the Keeper. Montague, you’re up!” snapped Flint. He looked bored- after all, he already had 3 Chasers, and didn’t feel like changing things up.
Harry was distracted by Montague’s penalty shooting by the arrival of Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Ron’s sister Ginny, and Neville Longbottom onto the field. Trailing behind and looking, as always, somewhat dotty, was Luna Lovegood.
The group of them sat down in the stands a few rows back from Harry, Crabbe, and Goyle. Harry turned back and glared at Ron. “What are you lot doing here?” he demanded.
“We’re watching, Potter,” snapped Hermione Granger, glaring back at him. “Are you that embarrassed of your friend’s pathetic flying that you don’t want us to see?”
Harry looked back to Draco and Flint- according to the count on Flint’s fingers, Draco had indeed missed two of his six penalty shots already. Harry immediately felt guilty- it was his fault, afterall, that Draco was trying out for Chaser instead of Seeker, which he was much better at. He didn’t know what to do- what he could do.
Then, suddenly, Luna stood up and yelled across the pitch, “Draco! Don’t let the Wrackspurts ruin your concentration! You’re better than that!” Ron immediately snorted at Luna’s absurd comment, earning him a glare from his sister.
Harry didn’t know if there were actually Wrackspurts buzzing around Draco’s ears, but something about Luna’s encouragement seemed to affect him, because he easily scored the next 4 penalty shots and was pleading with Flint to let him have another go. Montague had scored 5 times, Pucey 4, Draco also 4, and Pansy only twice. Flint dismissed him, told everyone that Montague was on the team and that he would think about Pucey and Draco. Then he called up the Beaters, and Draco returned to the stands.
Draco landed in the stands next to Harry, dismounted, and ran up the stairs. Shocking Harry, and everyone else in the stands, he wrapped his arms around Luna in a tight, very un-Malfoy-ish hug. Luna stood there calmly, running her fingers through his hair.
“Thanks Lovegood,” he whispered very quietly.
“You’re welcome Draco,” she said, smiling serenely. Realizing that a dozen people were watching him, Draco rather abruptly took his hands off of her and, embarrassed, made his way down to where Harry and Nott were sitting.
“Aww, come on Draco,” mocked Ron, using his first name as Luna had. “Don’t end your little romance with Loony just because we’re here-”
When Ron called Luna “Loony,” Hermione and Ginny both yelled at him: “Ron!”
With no warning at all, Draco whipped around and jerked his wand at Ron. Harry recognized the non-Verbal spell that Narcissa had taught them when Ron flew into the air hoisted by his ankle. Higher and higher he levitated, screaming all the way, until Draco dropped him from 15 feet onto the Quidditch field, where he landed with a thud. At least they knew he wasn’t dead, because he was moaning in pain.
“That was too much Malfoy!” shouted Hermione, racing down the stairs to go to Ron. “You could have killed him!”
Draco didn’t bother responding; he simply sat down next to Harry and silently watched the Beaters.
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