Chapter 9 : In Which I Enter Hogwarts
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I was bombarded with a wave of chatter, anticipation and people rushing about around the platform as I stepped through the barrier. A huge old fashioned train was billowing steam up into the rafters that held up the ceiling. Kids with carts similar to mine gathered around family or were climbing into the train. Lorcan and Lysander showed me where to put my things, and then brought me back to where Luna was waiting. The two boys hugged their mother affectionately while I settled for a brief thank you and goodbye.
"Thank you so much Luna. You and Rolf too. It um, means a lot."
"Of course, I didn't mind one bit. It was like having a third child." She responded serenely.
"Well, goodbye then. I'll see you again sometime." I said awkwardly, hesitant to hug her or anything of that sort.
"Go catch your train dear, have a good year." She smiled. "Boys, be good this year. I love you both!" She waved as we walked to the train together.
Frank joined us as we climbed aboard the red train, chatting with Lorc and Ly about a new plant species he had discovered in his backyard. We had just entered the narrow hallway when I heard someone calling my name.
"Anna! Anna!" I turned, seeing Rose Weasley standing down the corridor, smiling, her bushy red hair fanning out behind her. "Come sit with us!" She waved me over. "Oh, hey Lorcan, Lysander, Frank." She said, acknowledging the other guys, deep in conversation.
"See you guys later, alright?" I said to the guys, joining Rose. "Hey Rose."
"Come on in Anna." She entered her compartment, and I followed. So far, it was John, a guy with shaggy blonde hair, a girl with similar curly brown hair to John, and Rose.
"Anna, you've met John, and this is Scorpius," she gestured to the blonde guy, who nodded his head. "We just call him Scorp, as he thinks his name is utterly embarrassing, which it is. Oh, and this is Lizzie." She pointed to the brunette girl.
"She's John's sister, as you can probably tell. She's in my year."
"Hey Anna, it's nice to meet you." She said smiling.
"We were just talking about who we think the quidditch captains are this year." Said John.
"We know that John and Lizzie's brother is the Hufflepuff captain, but we don't know who they are for Ravenclaw and Slytherin." Filled in Rose.
"I bet that it's Davies for Ravenclaw." Scorpius added. "It's his last year, and he was on the team last year. He led the team to the semi-finals."
"Fred said that he was up for the Slytherin captain, but I haven't talked to him yet. I'll bet he got it." Rose added.
"Yeah but he had to compete with Flint. How much you want to bet that his dad paid for him to get on the team last year." Scorpius countered.
"Yeah, like your dad didn't do that for you Scorp." John said playfully, earning a punch in the stomach.
"Like I'd let my dad interfere with my Quidditch." He said, scowling. "He already tries to control the rest of my life, when he's not working."
"So, you think I'll make the team this year?" Asked John good-naturedly.
"You definitely have a chance now that you're a sixth year. You have enough skill; you just need to beat Finnegan. I heard he was going for the same position." Scorp answered.
"What about you Rose?" I asked, joining the conversation. "Are you going to try out?"
She laughed. "Trust me that would be a bad idea. There hasn't been a girl on a professional Quidditch team since my Aunt Ginny, who played for the Harpies like twenty years ago." She explained, and I felt a swell of pride for my mother. "This means that the captains haven't let girls on the school teams for nearly as long. It's an official male sport nowadays."
"What? That's a load of Dragon Dung! If girls want to play, they should be able to!" I nearly shouted, feeling ticked off at these rules.
"Hey, maybe you'll be the one to change it. I've seen you play, and that was pretty amazing for a first time." John said.
"You bet I'm going to change this." I said, disgruntled.
"Hey, did you hear that they brought in a new head?" Scorpius said, changing the subject.
"No, do you know who it is?" Rose asked.
"My father was telling my mother that it was some bloke from the ministry. Apparently they've been working with that guy Rin, who's campaigning to be the next minister of magic. You know, the guy whose motto is, 'Discipline and Honor create Perfection'." Scorp explained.
"Oh yeah, that bloke. He sort of gives me the creeps." John commented. "Wonder who he sent. Probably really strict."
They went on discussing the new deputy head for a while longer before the trolley came around with sweets. Breakfast had been hours ago, so I was relieved to have something to tide me over until the big feast.
John and Scorp introduced me to Chocolate frog cards, and by the time the conductor came on the speakers to tell us we would be arriving shortly, I had two Dumbledore cards, one Hermione Weasley-Granger, and one Gwenog Jones. That last card only made me determined to fix the no-girls rule for Quidditch at Hogwarts. It was ridiculous.
We changed into our robes, and had just returned to our compartment when we pulled into the station. I followed Rose as she led us to a carriage pulled by dark, shadowy, winged horses.
"Whoa. They use Thestrals here?" I asked, referring to the horses that I recognized from riding one several years back.
"You can see them?" Rose asked curiously.
"Yeah, why wouldn't I be able to see them?" I questioned, confused. "Can't you."
"Anna, the only people who can see thestrals are people who have seen death." She said solemnly.
"Oh." I said quietly.
"Are you guys okay? We need to go now." Said Lizzie sweetly.
Rose looked like she wanted to ask me about something, but decided against it, following me into the carriage. The ride was short, but amusing as John tried to push Scorp out the door. We were all still laughing, Scorp pouting in the corner, when we stopped abruptly and were nearly thrown out the door. We scrambled over to the gates where our bags were being unloaded, following the hoard of students who seemed to be forming some very jumbled lines.
“What the hell is all this?” John asked.
“Must be the new security improvements that the new headmaster was promising.” Scorp replied.
“When did he promise that?” Lizzie asked.
“Honestly, did you lot even read your letter this year? All the way through?” He asked, irritably.
“Yes.” Said Rose indignantly as John and Lizzie replied, “No.”
We finally made it to the front of the line where a ratty old man with a cat stood with a list of students.
“Hello Filch, have a good summer?” John asked amicably.
“Hit the road Wood, you’re stuff’s been cleared. Don’t you dare even look at my cat.” Filch responded in a gruff, mean, old voice. “You too, Elizabeth.”
John and Lizzie walked past him to the gates towards the rest of the students, stopping and waiting for the rest of us.
“Name.” Filch barked at Scorp.
“Scorpius Malfoy sir.” He said annoyed.
“You’re good. Go on. Next!”
“Let’s see…” he said, leafing through his long list of names. “You’re good. Get a move on. Next! Oh, a newbie. I haven’t seen you around before, what’s your name?” He asked me.
“Anastasia, sir. That’s all.”
“That’s all? What do you mean! What about a last name? I can’t look you up without a last name!” He said indignantly.
“Uh, sorry sir… McGonagall said…”
He cut me off. “What should I care what that old cat says! She got fired! I simply want to know why you haven’t got a second name!” He sniffed. “You smell funny you know that?”
“Excuse me?” I scoffed. “What do you mean, I ‘smell funny’!”
“You smell bad, like wet dog or something.”
I rolled my eyes, not finding this very amusing at all. “You’re a right old bat, you know that!” I yelled, losing my patience.
“What was that?” He asked, seething, while John let out a huge breath of air. “That’s it!
You’re coming with me for questioning.” He tried to grab me, but I countered dodging him to the side.
“C’mon Argus, let her go, she’s no trouble, really.” John said, stepping over to stop Filch.
He looked like he was going to explode. “Like I’m going to take advice from the biggest troublemaker to ever step foot in Ravenclaw!” He seethed. “She’s coming with me.”
“Really, it’s fine.” I decided. “I’ll go with you, but you’re not going to find anything about me.”
“That’s right we will.” Filch sneered. John let out a sigh, and backed off. “The rest of you get checked with Flitwick!” He shouted at the crowd that was now staring at me.
Wow, awkward. I tried hard not to blush as Filch brought me through the gates up the walk to the castle. Once we were inside the doors, he rushed me up several flights of stairs, not even letting me really get a good glance at the halls. Suddenly, we stopped outside a big door guarded by a big gargoyle.
“Siamese.” Spat Filch at the gargoyle, which then opened the passage to a big flight of stairs up to yet another door. Filch knocked, waiting until a high pitched voice chimed, “Come in!”
The door flew open, and we stepped into a huge office. The first thing that struck me was all the pink frills and lace. Doilies covered every flat surface, and there were pink flowers in china vases all over. There were pink lace curtains to match the pink and white floor rugs. I wanted to barf. This place looked like some unicorn had shown up and decided to whiz rainbows and hurl up flowers. It sickened me.
Then I saw the squat woman sitting at the desk, with robes to match the room. She had curly brownish gray hair adorned with a bow and a face that reminded me of a toad for some reason. She also seemed familiar. Weird. “Hello Mr. Filch. I’m assuming this is the new student McGonagall had informed me of.”
“Yes, although she thinks it be clever to not have a last name.” He said glaring at me.
“Is that so?” She smiled sweetly. “Come have a seat dear, I’ll fill you in on some rules we have here at Hogwarts. You may go, Mr. Filch.” I did what she told me to do and sat down in the chair across from her.
“Welcome to Hogwarts, dear. Did you have a good train ride?” She smiled at me again.
“Err… yeah, I suppose so.”
“Splendid. Now, McGonagall has informed me of your special situation, and I’m from the ministry so I understand what has been going on lately.”
“Oh do you?” I asked, kind of annoyed.
“Yes.” She replied, pouring out tea in an ornate pot into dainty little cups. “Tea dear?”
I shook my head negatively.
“Well then, I suppose I’ll just get on with my little speech and let you run down to the feast. I do have to make another speech there as well. So I’ll make this quick.” She smiled, winking. Winking? Who did this woman think she was?
“We have rules here at Hogwarts, dear. Some are new this year, but others are as old as the institution itself. You will hear a complete list of the newly added rules at the feast, but you will be expected to pick up on and follow those unspoken rules that we care for so deeply. Understood?” She tilted her head, expecting an answer.
“Yes, I understand.” I replied.
“Good, now, it is time for us to go down to the feast I believe. I’ll see you there. What did you say your name was dear?”
“I didn’t. It’s Anna.” I said cautiously.
“Oh yes, Anna.” She said as if she had just remembered. “Well, I am Professor Umbridge, the new headmaster here. Welcome to Hogwarts. McGonagall has informed me that you will be staying in one of the Ravenclaw dormitories until you are sorted next month?”
“Yeah that’s correct.” I said, remembering what McGonagall had written in her letter to me the other day. “They have a spare bed in the fourth year girl’s dormitories.”
“Ah, I see. And you are to be learning at a year five level?”
“How splendid.” She smiled at me before she gestured for me to leave.
“Uh, thank you.” I said awkwardly, stumbling down the steps. I waited for her and then followed her to the Great Hall, taking in all the moving portraits and talking armor. I even saw a couple of ghosts, but they seemed to fly off at the sight of us. We came upon a group of small children; first years presumably, waiting in the huge hall I had first come in with Filch.
“Send them on in, Mr. Longbottom.” She said to the professor at the head of the group.
She opened up the doors to a huge cavernous room, in which the ceiling seemed to reflect the sky and was adorned with three long tables laid out with plates and goblets. I spied John, Scorp and the others sitting at one of the tables together. I headed over to them, avoiding all the eyes boring into my skull. They seemed to look surprised and relieved to see me as I took a seat at an empty place next to John, but were unable to ask where I had been as Umbridge took her seat at the head table and the professor I had seen outside brought the group of first years to the front.
“Is that… Umbridge?” John whispered to me, noticing the short woman sitting up at the headmaster’s seat, with Filch and the woman who must have been Professor McGonagall.
“Yeah, that’s her name. Why, who is she?” I whispered back, earning a glare from one of the older students down the table, wearing a shiny silver badge. John noticed too apparently, glancing over at them and saying, “I’ll tell you later.”
The professor mentioned before laid out a stool at the front, and held up a hat that seemed to be decomposing and a piece of parchment, a list. “Applegate, Brendan.”
He called and a first year stepped shakily up to the stool where he sat and the professor put the hat on his head, making the tiny kid’s eyes disappear beneath the large brim.
He just sat there with the hat on his head for a while. I tried not to laugh at the awkwardness when the hat shouted loudly.
“HUFFLEPUFF!” The school cheered for the kid as he made his way down to the table behind me.
This continued with every kid until “Zabini, Cassius” was made a Slytherin.
The professor took the stool and hat, taking them out of the hall, as Umbridge got up to make her speech.
“Well, this ought to be interesting.” Mused Scorp quietly.
“Why?” I said cocking an eyebrow, confused, earning another shush. Honestly, why is it me?
The little woman cleared her throat and spoke. “I sincerely welcome you all to Hogwarts!”
I think I saw McGonagall roll her eyes.
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