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Chapter 3 : Hogwarts and Houses
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Over the past few days I only came out of my room for meals and bathroom breaks. I spent hours on end talking to Nagini, who makes for better conversation than anyone at this dreadful hell-hole.
I fed her table scraps and the odd rodent that I found and caught. I, also let her outside for a few hours per day to eat, if she wished, but mainly just so she wouldn’t be cooped up for long. I, actually, had let her out about an hour ago and I already felt lonely without her. I remembered the day I got Nagini. It was almost as if it were yesterday…
I looked around Eeylop’s Owl Emporium, but none of the owls caught my eye. The woman working behind the counter was watching me as I shopped, waiting for me to make my purchase. I started to walk out of the shop when she called out to me.
“Wait, young man,” I turned around and looked at her.
“What?” I asked her impatiently. She grabbed three cages from the back of the shop.
“Here, Boy, take a look at these animals,” I came up to the counter and took a look at the first cage. It had a small black raven in it. It cawed slightly and hopped about in its cage. The second had a large cat. It wasn’t the size of a wild one, but it was definitely larger than a normal house cat. I would guess it was a mix of the two. Its large green eyes watched me and its brown fur was matted under its belly.
They were nice, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of the third animal. The snake was about a foot long, but the woman said it would grow. It had odd blotches of green surrounded by a darker forest green all over its body. I wanted it, or her, as the store clerk told me it was a she.
“Oh, so you like the snake?” The woman asked. “She is a mere Galleon. She has been eating up our supply of mice, like the other two and the shop needs to be rid of them. So, what do you say?”
I gave her the big gold Galleon, my hands fumbling. I was giddy with anticipation for my new companion. As she handed over the cage, I almost dropped it, but managed to carry it and stop my shaking hands, and I walked out of the shop with my new snake, Nagini.
That was a good day. From then on all I wanted was to go and take her with me to Hogwarts.
I told her all about Hogwarts, or at least what I was told about the school from the barman and others. Excitement coursed through me as I thought about leaving here and going there to learn all about magic. I kept all my things packed in my trunk and lived out of it since my day in Diagon Alley. My first day of school couldn’t come sooner and when it did, it was almost too good to be true.
One of the orphanage staff members (I don’t know her name) dropped me off at the train. I think she was under the impression that I was going to a boarding school… or an asylum. Either way I didn’t care; I was just glad to be free.
The station was bustling with muggles and when I looked at my ticket, I realized I was a bit lost.
The barman had told me all about the wizarding world, including how it was hidden from non-magical folks, A.K.A. muggles. Unfortunately that meant that I couldn’t ask anyone at King’s Cross where platform nine and three quarters was because, to them, it didn’t exist.
I decided that I would make my way to the area between platforms nine and ten and then see if I could find the platform myself.
As I went there, a hand grabbed my shoulder. I whirled around to see Professor Dumbledore and an older man standing behind me, smiling. The professor looked the same as he did the day he visited me, only he was in long black robes. The other man had brown hair that was graying in the roots. He wore long green robes and a matching pointy hat.
“Hello, Tom,” said Professor Dumbledore. “This is your headmaster at Hogwarts, Professor Dippet.” Professor Dippet shook my hand and greeted me. We three talked a little bit about my living situation (I would go back to the orphanage for summers, but stay at Hogwarts for the rest of the year) and the classes I would take. It seemed like an odd reason for a visit. The headmaster seemed to be wanted to talk about something, but didn’t know how to bring it up. I decided to help him out; to get on his good side.
“Headmaster Dippet, sir, was there something you wanted to talk about?” I asked him in my best humble voice. I spoke quietly and he looked a little surprised about my guess before smiling fondly at me.
“Why, yes I did, my lad. I heard from Tom, the barman at “The Leaky Cauldron” that you did not get an animal regulated by the school. A snake could be dangerous to the students if it got loose.” I grabbed my cage off of my trunk and held it tightly.
“Nagini is always in her cage and she wouldn’t hurt anybody. I won’t let her out of my sight. Please, sir, let me keep her.” I pleaded. I had to admit; I was a good actor. I practically was crying. Tears were brimming in my eyes. I could tell that Headmaster Dippet fell for it. Not that it was a complete lie. I did want to keep Nagini, but I’m not this much of a wimp. This way he would feel compelled to give me what I wanted.
He sighed and shook his head softly.
“I will let you keep him, lad, but one slip up and the snake is gone. I’m giving you a chance to prove your responsibility. Don’t prove me wrong.” I thanked him thoroughly, but I was still weary of the decision. Professor Dumbledore looked as though he disapproved of me keeping the snake. He was going to keep an eye on me; I knew it.
The sound of the train’s whistle rang throughout the whole station and I waved to the professors and ran to the train, my luggage trailing behind me.
As I got to the train I put my trunk away and making sure Nagini was okay in the cage. A familiar voice called out my name.
“Riddle! Hey, Riddle.” I turned to see Abraxas Malfoy waving me over to him. I walked toward his compartment, where I sat down and was introduced to all the boys in there. There were four other than me and Abraxas.
The one by the window on the right side had a bored expression which was almost hidden by his shaggy brown hair. His name was Arthur Travers.
The one next to him was a dirty blonde haired boy with a smirk on his face and the same conceited air about him as Abraxas. He obviously thought he was the best and liked others to know it, as I learned when he wouldn’t shut up about all the famous people he knew. His name was Graham Avery.
The other two were sitting on the left side. There was a pale boy with long light brown hair who was looking rather excitedly out of the window at everything. Occasionally he would speak, but he was rather silent. Abraxas said his name was Arcturus Black. Although, he preferred Archie (which I didn’t think was much better than Arcturus, but I digress).
The last one was named Charles Yaxley. He was friendly enough, but was pig-like in appearance and once you started talking to him, could be obnoxious. It seemed that no one liked him much, but dealt with him because his father had a lot of money.
They weren’t especially intelligent, but they were good enough company and seemed to be in the higher social circle, so I made do. We spent the entire ride talking about Hogwarts and what house we’d be in (all of us aiming for Slytherin, the house of the cunning and sly). After a few hours, a large lake came into view. It was ginormous and was obviously deep, as the water looked black, instead of blue, but with a slight greenish tint to it. Several minutes after that, we stopped and were herded onto boats where we headed towards the large castle called Hogwarts.
The ride across the lake was mostly silent, with only the occasional whisper or gasp of awe from somewhere on one of the boats. The castle looked exactly like I imagined with tall pointed towers and dark stone. Lights shone in some of the small windows, but most of the light came from the giant windows.
Our boats pulled up and older kids called prefects ushered us into the school and up the stairs where we were met by Professor Dumbledore.
“You will go inside these doors to the dining hall and walk to the front of the room where the hat is. There, you will be sorted into your houses. That will determine where you live, who you have classes with, and where you will eat for the next seven years at Hogwarts. Welcome to Hogwarts,” He said as he guided us into the room.
There were four long tables filled each with about a hundred kids. Candles floated (I know, it sounds weird, but the candles really did float) above us. The ceiling wasn’t really a ceiling, but it looked like the night sky with clouds floating around and the starts and moon shining through. The kids were all watching us as we headed for an old beat up, pointed hat. The professor motioned for us to stop before we got to it and he walked up and opened a scroll. He started to read off names. Each kid would go up, put the hat on, where it would call out the name of a house.
Abraxas and Charles were both called and put in Slytherin and I found myself nervous as to where I would be put. I listened to the names as they were called out, dreading and hoping that mine was called.
“Rubeus Hagrid,” called out the professor.
Behind me a large kid, who looked about fifteen or sixteen went up. Apparently he must have been eleven because he was just sorted, but he was huge.
“Gryffindor!” The hat called out. The Gryffindor table roared and clapped in happiness. I watched him leave, wondering about the big kid. Several more names were called and I zoned them out, until I heard my name.
I stepped up the hat and sat on the stool. I put the ragged hat on my head and waited. Silently, I hoped for Slytherin. I just wanted to fit in with the rest of the kids here and the other boys were already in Slytherin and they accepted me. It took a few minutes, but I got my wish.
“Slytherin!” it called out and I heard the cheer of the other kids at my table. Someone clapped me on the back, but I didn’t know who. I was just so happy to be at the table that I couldn’t do anything but smile. I was a Slytherin, home of the sly and the cunning, home of the snakes.
I felt a special connection to Nagini because of this. We were both snakes. I smiled at the thought. We were one in the same.
The dinner was amazing. Professor Dippet made a speech and then the food appeared out of nowhere. I dug in loving everything they served. There was roasted turkey and treacle tarts and pumpkin juice. Pumpkin pasties soon found their way onto my plate along with shepherd’s pie and bread pudding. I grabbed two chocolate frogs, but only ate one (the other hopped away) and ate some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, but stopped as I got ear way flavor.
When dinner ended, I was barely able to move. I was stuffed. The professors let us talk for about ten minutes before having the prefects take us up to our common rooms. The prefect, Miles Nott, led us down into a dungeon. His little brother, Harper, was in my year and kept talking about how our common room was under the big, black lake we saw and rowed through, aptly named the Black Lake.
“Attention, first years,” said Miles as we stood at a fireplace. “This is the entrance to our common room. The password is Salazar.” And after he said it the fireplace swung open to reveal a large room with a fire place surrounded by a few black leather chairs. The carpet was a dark green and two sets of stairs led up to, what Nott said, was the girl’s dormitory on the left, and the boy’s on the right. Miles pointed to the girl’s dorm and told them to go up, then turned to us boys.
“You can go up to your dorm, but not to the girl’s. The stairs will turn into a slide, so don’t try it. Your clothes and other belongings are already in your rooms by your beds. You’ll go to bed and don’t go out of the common room after lights out. Classes start at eight o’clock. Good night.”
I walked up the stairs and went to the first year’s room. My belongings were by the bed closest to the door and Nagini was in her cage on top of my trunk with a note. It read:
Dear Mr. Riddle,
Please do not let your snake out of its cage, unless you confirm it with the headmaster. It will be fed by the kitchen staff, so do not worry about that. For classes keep it in is cage until you need use of it.
Thank you and have a good year,
I grimaced slightly at the fact that I would have to keep Nagini locked up, but at least she was with me. I wished I could let her roam around the room as I had done in the orphanage, but I knew that someone would tell on me about it. I pushed the thoughts out of my head. This was my first day of being free. Nothing would make this day bad. And, so, I went to sleep that day, dreaming of magic, snakes, and treacle tarts.
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