‘Wow, Grandma Harri!’ Joseph exclaimed. ‘So that Hat considered putting you in Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Gryffindor?’
Harriet smiled. ‘I suppose it did,’ she said. ‘I never really thought about it like that.’
‘Oh it definitely did,’ said Henry confidently. ‘Were you surprised to get into Gryffindor?’
‘Very,’ his grandmother smiled at him. ‘I don’t really know what I was expecting. I just know that at that moment I wasn’t feeling brave enough for Gryffindor.’
‘Well the hat obviously thought so,’ Jocelyn said.
Harriet nodded and smiled again. ‘It’s very wise, that hat,’ she said. ‘It sees things in you that you can’t see yourself.’
‘Why do you think the Hat put you in Gryffindor, Grandma?’ Matthew asked, from his comfortable position curled up in the beanbag.
‘I’ve often wondered that myself, Matthew,’ Harriet said. ‘I can only suppose that it saw the bravery it took for me to leave my family behind – bravery that I myself did not recognise at the time. You know that my family are Muggles, yes? Well, when I left to go to Hogwarts I was under the impression that my family disapproved of magic and therefore disapproved of me. It was only once I was at school that I found out that I was wrong.’
‘Wow, Grandma Harri, that was brave,’ Emma piped up from the rug.
‘Where did Aunty Lily end up?’ Henry wanted to know. ‘Was she in Gryffindor with you?’
‘Now what do you think?’ Harriet asked him, teasingly. ‘Lily’s mother was a Weasley, and her father was Harry Potter himself. Do you think she was Sorted into Gryffindor?’
‘We do!’ the twins chorused from the sofa. Alice even took her thumb out of her mouth to speak.
‘You’re right, girls,’ Harriet said. ‘She was in Gryffindor with me.’
‘And that’s why you became best friends forever?’ Alice asked.
Harriet laughed. ‘I suppose so, Alice,’ she said. ‘I suppose so.’
‘What happened next, Grandma Harri?’ Joseph asked urgently. ‘What was it like on your first night at Hogwarts?’
Harriet, full to bursting with delicious food, was nevertheless glad when the Headmaster, a Professor Flitwick, stood up to announce the end of the feast and said that it was time to go to bed.
‘Where do we go now?’ Harriet asked Lily, who was seated next to her.
‘James will take us,’ Lily said confidently. ‘He’s a Prefect, and that’s one of their jobs.’
Sure enough, James Potter arrived at the end of the table where the small group of new Gryffindors were sat. He stopped in front of Lily and beamed proudly at her.
‘Well done, Lils, I knew you could do it,’ he said, ruffling her bright head affectionately. Lily blushed furiously. Harriet giggled as the colour of her face clashed violently with her hair.
‘Shush James, you’re so embarrassing,’ Lily hissed at him.
James grinned at winked at Harriet, who smiled shyly back, before he turned to other first year Gryffindors. Harriet looked behind her and realised that she had not spoken to a single one of them while she was eating. Lily had been too busy grinning at various members of her family and Harriet had been too busy trying to take everything in for them to talk much at all, even to each other. Harriet blushed. What a good impression to make.
‘Now then,’ James continued. I’m here to show you the way to Gryffindor Tower. That is where the common room and the dormitories are located. Follow me, now.’
Harriet clambered off the bench and turned to follow Lily, who had grabbed the arm of a serious looking girl with dark brown hair. Harriet had seen her sitting a few seats down the table from them.
‘Lily?’ Harriet asked hesitantly. ‘Aren’t we supposed to be following your brother?’
‘Oh yes,’ Lily said, spinning around to look at Harriet. ‘But it’s okay for a minute. Harriet, this is Franky Longbottom. She’s in second year with Hugo.’
‘Hugo!’ shouted Emma. ‘Is that Grandpa Hugo?’
‘Emma!’ Henry frowned across at his sister. ‘You have to be quiet!’
Harriet chuckled to herself. ‘Yes Emma, that was Grandpa Hugo,’ she said. ‘But do you want to hear the rest of the story or not?’
Harriet smiled at the girl. And then she frowned. Longbottom? ‘Are you…?’ she began, not entirely sure how to phrase the question. Luckily, the girl helped her out.
‘Am I Professor Longbottom’s daughter?’ the girl finished. It sounded like this was a question she had been asked many times before. ‘Yes, I am. What’s your name?’
‘I’m Harriet Dursley,’ said Harriet.
‘She’s my cousin,’ Lily put in, beaming at Harriet.
‘Oh!’ the girl exclaimed. ‘Did you say your surname was Weasley? I thought you said something else.’
‘It’s not Weasley,’ Harriet said hurriedly, but Lily jumped in to explain.
‘Not all of my cousins are Weasleys, Franky,’ she said sternly, although Harriet knew that Lily herself had not known this until this morning. Apparently Lily was prepared to overlook this fact, so Harriet let it go. ‘See, Harriet is my cousin from the other side of my family. You know, my Dad’s side.’
‘But Uncle Harry doesn’t have siblings, does he?’ Franky asked.
‘No, but he has a cousin, and that’s my Uncle Dudley,’ Lily explained patiently, as if she had known this all her life. Harriet grinned to herself. ‘And Uncle Dudley is Harriet’s dad, so that makes us cousins too.’
Harriet could see from the look on Franky’s face that she wasn’t entirely convinced by Lily’s argument, but she got the feeling that not many people argued with Lily Potter.
‘Lily! Harriet!’ James suddenly appeared in front of them. Harriet looked around her and realised with a start that the Great Hall was now empty, apart from a small huddle of their Housemates waiting by the door. ‘Come on, I thought you were with us!’
‘It’s my fault, James,’ Franky said. ‘Lily was just introducing me to her cousin.’
James scowled at his younger sister. ‘Come on, Lily,’ he said impatiently. ‘We’re all waiting.’
Harriet and Lily quickly said goodbye to Franky and hurried after James. ‘Why does that girl call your dad Uncle Harry?’ Harriet asked Lily as they walked up an enormous marble staircase across the hall from the Great Hall. ‘She’s not your cousin too, is she?’
Lily giggled. ‘No,’ she said. ‘It’s just that our families are very good friends, so we call each other’s parents Aunt and Uncle. To be polite, I suppose. So Franky and her sister Ally call Mum and Dad their Aunty Ginny and Uncle Harry.’
‘So if Franky’s dad is Professor Longbottom, what do you call him?’ Harriet was confused.
Lily giggled harder. ‘Well, at school I have to call him Professor of course,’ she said between giggles. ‘But at home we just call him Uncle Nev.’
Before Harriet could respond, the two girls walking in front of them spun around. ‘Uncle Nev?’ one of them exclaimed incredulously. Then she obviously realised who she was talking to. ‘Oh of course, you’re Lily Potter.’
Lily nodded. ‘Hi,’ she said, smiling slightly warily. ‘Who are you?’
‘I’m Niamh Finnigan,’ the girl replied. She spoke with an Irish accent and had light blonde hair and blue eyes. ‘My dad fought with your dad at the Battle of Hogwarts.’
Lily put her head on one side and thought for a moment. ‘Finnigan…’ she said slowly. Harriet got the distinct impression that so many people had said that to her over the years that she couldn’t possibly keep track.
‘Yes,’ Niamh said. ‘Seamus Finnigan?’
Lily frowned. ‘It sounds kind of familiar,’ she pondered. ‘James! Do we know of somebody called Seamus Finnigan?’
James paused at the head of the group. ‘Of course, Lils,’ he said. ‘He fought with Dad at the – ’
‘Battle of Hogwarts,’ Harriet, Lily and Niamh all finished his sentence. A couple of corridors and several minutes later, they came to a halt before a painting of a very fat lady wearing a pink dress. Harriet was out of breath. This castle was enormous.
‘The Fat Lady,’ James announced with a wave of his arm. ‘Give her the password and she will grant you entry to the common room and dormitories inside. If you forget, you will have to wait for someone to come along who does remember!’
‘So what is the password?’ asked the small boy at the very front of the group, who had been Sorted just before Harriet.
‘Venomous Tentacular,’ James said, and the portrait swung forward as if on hinges, revealing a door behind.
‘Venomous Tent-what-ular?’ asked the small boy as they followed James along a short, narrow corridor.
‘Venomous Tentacular,’ James repeated, as the group emerged into the circular common room. ‘Professor Longbottom often sets the password, and when he does it is always something Herbology related. His daughters Ally and Franky, who are Gryffindor sixth and second years respectively, often try and get him to be a bit more reasonable, but apparently he found it very difficult to remember passwords when he was in Gryffindor so he takes a little pleasure in making us think. Now, the girls’ staircase is on the right, and the boys’ is on the left. Climb until you find the door with ‘First Years’ written on it. All your things will be waiting for you. Goodnight.’
‘I still can’t believe you call Professor Longbottom ‘Uncle Nev’!’ Niamh was still laughing to Lily as the girls headed over to their staircase.
Harriet trailed behind at the very back of the group, staring around her in amazement. The common room was filled with squashy-looking red armchairs and there were many red and gold hangings on the wall. A fire was crackling merrily in the fireplace and windows were situated all around the circular room which, Harriet suspected, would give a stunning view come sunrise. Harriet sighed as she took in everything.
At first the room appeared to be perfectly normal, but as she looked harder she could see a number of things that would’ve been out of place in a Muggle house. The fire, burning away fiercely, did not seem to be consuming any logs at all and the figures in the portraits that hung around the room were actually moving. Sat on a table along the wall was an old fashioned radio which appeared to be humming to itself without showing any signs of being switched on and, as Harriet watched, a small stack of papers that had been placed on that same table floated up into the air and began pinning themselves to the noticeboard by the entrance door.
Harriet watched, fascinated, as the papers jostled for the best position on the board and one notice was even knocked to the ground, where it lay, flapping feebly. Harriet grinned suddenly, but the sudden thought of what her father would say if he could see where she was now made her stomach feel as though something was eating away at it from within. She hastily pushed the thought to the back of her mind. She mustn’t consider it.
‘Harriet! Where are you?’ She heard someone calling her name and spun around. Lily appeared at the bottom of the staircase. ‘Come on, Harriet!’ she exclaimed. ‘Just come and see our dormitory!’
Harriet followed her cousin up the spiralling stairs. They passed several doors branching off to either side before they came to the door saying ‘First Years’. Lily pushed the door open and led the way inside. Once inside, Harriet could only stand and stare again. The room was a perfect semi-circle, with another door directly opposite her.
‘Our bathroom is through there,’ Lily explained, pointing unnecessarily. Harriet nodded silently to show that she had heard, but continued to gaze around her. The room contained four four-poster beds, each with a trunk placed at its end indicating its owner. ‘This bed is yours,’ Lily pointed again, this time at the bed nearest the door on the right-hand side. ‘And I’m next to you.’
‘Okay,’ Harriet finally spoke. She was filled with amazement at this beautiful place.
‘I’m opposite you, Harriet,’ Niamh said in her soft Irish voice. ‘And Olivia here is next to me.’
Harriet looked at the fourth occupant of her dormitory, and the only one with whom she had not yet spoken.
‘Hi,’ Harriet said. ‘Hi, I’m Harriet.’
‘I’m Olivia Bell,’ the girl smiled. ‘Nice to meet you. How do you like Hogwarts so far then? Coping okay? I mean, I can tell that you’re Muggle-born.’
‘How do you know that?’ Harriet asked, mystified.
Olivia laughed. ‘Well, only Muggle-borns stand and stare like that,’ she explained. ‘The rest of us know what to expect.’
Harriet blushed. ‘So did your parents come to Hogwarts then?’ she asked, sitting down on her bed.
‘My mum did,’ Olivia said carefully. ‘I don’t know about my dad. I don’t really know anything about him at all, to be honest. He might’ve been a Muggle for all I know. But Mum was definitely here. She was on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team with Lily’s mum and dad.’
‘Was she?’ Lily was curious. ‘What did she play?’
‘Chaser,’ Olivia answered, opening her trunk and rummaging around for some pyjamas. ‘She was pretty good, apparently.
‘My dad never did make the House Team,’ Niamh joined in. ‘I think it was a close thing, but his friend Dean made instead. Only as a reserve though. My sister Kathleen, in Ravenclaw, is a chaser like he was, so I suppose I have a bit to live up to!’
‘Not as much as Lily, though!’ Olivia laughed. Harriet quickly swivelled around to look at her cousin. She knew how much the idea of following in the footsteps of her parents and her brothers had tormented her on the Hogwarts Express, but Lily just smiled. Harriet was relieved. Hopefully Lily would be okay now.
‘I’ll be fine,’ Lily was sighing in mock martyrdom. ‘I expect I’ll survive.’
Olivia, now pulling on her pyjamas, looked over at Harriet. ‘You see, Harriet?’ she said. ‘It’s so much easier to be Muggle-born in that way – you have nobody in your family to live up to!’
‘You also have nobody back home to understand what it’s like at Hogwarts,’ Niamh put in kindly.
Harriet smiled hesitantly back, but was unsure how to reply. Lily saved her. ‘Well, Harriet does have somebody to understand what its like,’ she said. ‘Because she’s my cousin!’
Both Niamh and Olivia turned to stare. ‘I thought you were Muggle-born,’ Olivia said slowly.
‘I am,’ Harriet said helplessly, looking to Lily to explain.
‘My dad’s cousin is Harriet’s dad,’ Lily said. ‘And he is a Muggle. So are Harriet’s mum and her grandparents, so Harriet is Muggle-born because she has Muggle parents and was raised as a Muggle, but she also has close wizarding family.’
There was a short pause as Niamh and Olivia digested this news. Harriet paused to take it all in too. She was still a little confused by the whole situation.
‘Did you say you were brought up as a Muggle?’ Niamh eventually asked.
Harriet nodded. ‘Yes,’ she confirmed, opening her own trunk and searching inside it for her toothbrush.
‘But if you and Lily are cousins then you must’ve known about magic. Didn’t anyone spot it in you?’ Olivia was still curious.
Harriet shook her head. ‘Our families aren’t that close,’ she said carefully. ‘We didn’t see each other much.’
‘It all sounds amazing,’ Henry sighed. ‘I can’t wait to go to Hogwarts.’
Joseph couldn’t resist getting a little dig in. ‘I’ll you all about it too, Henry, don’t worry,’ he said, sticking his tongue out.
‘I can’t wait either,’ Gabrielle declared from the sofa. Between her and Alice, Jennifer had fallen asleep.
‘Was it scary, Grandma Harri?’ Jocelyn asked, leaning forwards to hear her grandmother’s answer. ‘Going to Hogwarts, I mean.’
Harriet considered her answer. ‘No,’ she said slowly. ‘It was a little overwhelming, certainly, but I loved it. It sounds funny, but the minute I walked into the Gryffindor common room, I knew that this was where I belonged.’ Her grandchildren were silent for a moment, taking in this information. Harriet smiled. She had rarely seen them so absorbed. ‘So then children, what did you want to hear about next?’
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