Chapter 50 : Trouble at the Platform
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Trouble at the Platform
It was now late August and just about time for Harry, Severus, and Dante to go to Hogwarts. Severus had spent the last week getting his classroom and the dungeons ready for the students, along with his office and the Slytherin dormitories. Though the house elves at the school helped him getting the rooms cleaned and freshened up, a lot of the work of getting his potions restocked and ready for the next year fell on him. Many of his ingredients had expired, and he had to purchase new ones from the apothecary. He was currently waiting on a large order of dragon scales and grindylow skin.
But at least he had all of the boys' books, robes, and other supplies ready to go. And then Skull was contacted by Ghost, walking the astral. "Good news, Skullduggery! Shriek and your eggs have hatched. You're a father, old son! To five new chicks. There's three boys and two girls. Shriek's waiting for you to come!"
Skull was ecstatic over the news. "They're the first offspring of a Greater Tower raven and a spirit helper to be born anywhere! I can't wait to see them!"
"Congratulations, my friend. I wish I could go with you, but I can't. I have no time off. Maybe in a few weeks, when the term has begun." Severus said regretfully.
Harry pouted. "Aww, but Dad! We don't have to go for a week, just a few days."
"No, Harry. You can wait to see them. In fact, it'll be better if you do, then you'll have something to look forward to, right now all they look like are bald balls of skin with beaks, like any newborns."
"Hey, don't malign my offspring, Sev!" Skull squawked.
"I'm not maligning. Just stating facts. No need to peck at me, Skullduggery."
"Humph!" the raven hissed, fluffing up his feathers like he was insulted. "See if I ask you to be godfather."
Harry half-giggled. "Skull, can I be godfather to one?"
"We'll see, bran-boy. Got to discuss it with the missus first. Shriek will peck my feathers off if I make a decision like that without consulting her. Well, I'm off to see the little ones! I'll see you in a few weeks, Sev, Harry, and Dante!"
"A few weeks?" Dante said, rather dismayed. "Why so long?"
"I'll need to help Shriek feed them. Baby ravens require an obscene amount of food. So . . . sayonara, my friends!" Skull flapped upwards then he shifted into the astral and disappeared soundlessly.
Dante bit his lip. Skull was the one thing he felt comfortable talking with in the house and now he was gone. He slumped in his chair and tried to read the comic he'd brought from home, but right then even the X-Men held little interest for him.
Harry sighed mournfully. "Things won't be the same around here without Skull."
"Stop moping," Severus ordered briskly. "If you're bored, I'll find things for you to do. Like cleaning out the cupboards in the basement and re-labeling ingredients for me."
Harry paled. "Bored? Who said I was bored? Right, Dante?"
"No, we're not bored at all!" Dante hastened to reassure his professor cousin. The last thing he needed was doing work for Severus. "In fact, I have to go study." He got up and hurried up to his room.
"Me too! I need to re-read over my new Transfiguration book," Harry said, and followed him.
Severus smirked to himself. That was one way to get rid of the long faces and still have peace and quiet. He opened up his new potions periodical and sat back in his recliner to read a little before supper.
Two days before September 1st, Severus got an emergency Floo call from Dumbledore. He needed the potions professor to return to Hogwarts early and assist Madam Pomfrey with brewing some drafts for the infirmary, she'd gotten behind and required someone else to help her. So he'd volunteered Severus.
Severus was not happy, but there was little he could do. He knew how important having ready-made drafts at hand was for Poppy, and since he respected the mediwitch, he wouldn't refuse her in her hour of need. Of course, that left him in a quandary about what to do with Harry and Dante, whom he didn't want underfoot in the castle until term started.
He found a solution with Molly Weasley, who agreed to take both boys to the Burrow for a night and then help them get onto Platform 93/4's the morning school started. Severus was grateful, and after admonishing both boys to be on their best behavior or else, he left for Hogwarts.
Harry woke up on September 1st feeling sort of fuzzy-headed. He quickly dressed in jeans and a red and gold jumper and his trainers, he'd put his robes on later. He woke up Ron and Dante, who seemed to get on well with the twins at least, and went downstairs to help Molly with breakfast.
Everything was at sixes and sevens, but at last Arthur and Molly managed to get all the kids in the flying Ford Anglia and all their things into the boot of the car without having a breakdown. Harry looked out the window as they flew to King's Cross Station and thought how cool it was to have a flying car.
Dante remained mostly silent through the trip, as he had been since going to the Burrow, except for sharing some pranks with Gred and Forge. He enjoyed looking out the window at the sights in London, like Big Ben and London Bridge. He wished he dared asked to see some of the attractions, but didn't want to sound like a stupid American tourist. He had butterflies in his stomach about going to school, and wished he could somehow skip school by contracting a deadly disease. But he knew even if he did manage to concoct a potion to make himself sick, it wouldn't last once Severus found out. The man was a genius with potions, the best Dante had ever seen, and nothing got past him, not even a thirteen-year-old semi-scam artist. He clenched his fists in his lap and thought how he would need to speak with Severus once they got to this God forsaken school. He had grave reservations about the damn Sorting Hat and he needed his cousin to see where he was coming from.
When they all disembarked at King's Cross, Mr. Weasley went ahead with the twins and Percy to see if the train was there yet, taking half the baggage with him. Dante, Harry, Ron, and Ginny got trolleys and piled their trunks and other things on top of them. Molly smiled at them and said to Ginny, "Come on, luv! Let's go through the barrier."
The two witches ran at the barrier and disappeared through the opening.
But Harry, Ron, and Dante had to wait because there was a sudden influx of Muggles changing trains and they didn't want to be seen vanishing through a solid pillar. It seemed to take forever, and the amount of Muggles coming off and going on the trains was like a flood tide—never ending.
"Normally, it's never like this," Ron said to Dante as they waited.
"Maybe there's a train wreck," Dante speculated. "Or something like that."
Harry shrugged. "I don't know. Look, watch my stuff. I need to use the loo real quick." He jogged off towards the restrooms a few feet away.
Dante petted Hedwig through the cage bars while he waited for Harry to return. He wished he'd had time to select a familiar before leaving for school. Maybe that would have kept him from being so alone.
Suddenly, Ron cried, "Hey! What's that man doing by Harry?"
Dante followed Ron's pointing finger and saw a tall man with a camera grabbing Harry by the arm and trying to talk to him. "Oh, hell! It's the vampire press."
"The what? That's a vampire?" Ron choked.
"No, it's an Americanism for paparazzi," Dante rolled his eyes. "In other words, stupid reporters for stupid newspapers." Before they could go up to Harry, he shook off the reporter and raced towards them.
"Quick! We've got to get away. That's a reporter from The Prophet, he wants me to do some stupid exclusive interview and he won't take no for an answer."
Ron looked back at the barrier. People were still crammed in front of it. "Umm . . . Harry, look there's more!" he pointed to three more people, a man and two women, who had joined the first one. "And they're coming this way!"
"What do we do?" Harry groaned. He wished Severus were there. Or the Weasleys. "Ron, we need to get through the barrier!"
"First, we need to avoid the lame-o's over there," Dante said. "Come on, we'll take a detour back to the car."
They ran as quickly as they could, nearly running over people's feet, through the crowd and back to where the Weasleys had parked the Ford Anglia. Luckily, it was open. They quickly piled inside and shoved Hedwig in the back with their trunks and books.
"Whew!" Harry wiped sweat off his brow. "That was close."
"Stay low," Dante said, shoving him down. "Those idiots are still looking for us."
They all ducked down and waited in tense silence for the reporters to stop searching for them.
Ron gulped and glanced at his watch. "Uh, guys? We're in trouble."
"Why?" ased Harry. "What's wrong?"
"We're . . . umm . . . going to miss the train. It's five to eleven."
"Oh, bloody hell!" Harry groaned. "We'll never make it in time. Now what? If we miss the train, we'll be stuck here and Dad will turn me into potion ingredients when he finds out."
Ron whimpered. "This is so not good, Harry. My parents are going to be furious, especially Mum."
Dante frowned, examining the car. "Relax! I think I know a way to get to school on time and avoid the vampire press too."
"How? Can you Apparate?" asked Ron hopefully.
"Sorry. Don't have my license. But . . . move over, Weasley. We have wheels, we can get there." Dante nudged him and Ron moved over.
"In . . . my dad's car?"
"No, I thought we'd take the short bus," Dante snorted. "Now, shut up and let me drive. I need to concentrate."
"You know how to drive a car?" Harry exclaimed.
"Uh . . . sort of. I've driven a tractor," Dante admitted. "But how hard can it be to drive a car?" He began to fiddle with the buttons on the dashboard, muttering, "Damn! Where's the ignition? Who the hell built this anyway? It's all backwards."
Suddenly, a knot of reporters began to run towards the car, pointing and screaming, "Mr. Potter! Just give us a statement!"
"Dante! Hurry!" Harry yelled.
Just then Dante got the engine to turn over. "Got it!" he cried. "Now, take off, baby!" He pushed another button and the car soared upward . . . just before the reporters got to the curb. "All right!"
"We need to become invisible," Harry remined him.
"Relax, cuz!" Dante pushed a large green button and the car shuddered. "Now we're in stealth mode, okay? Let's see what she's got." He pushed down on the gas and the car lurched.
Ron and Harry were almost thrown through the windshield.
"I thought you said you could drive!" Ron yelped.
"I never said I was good at it!" Dante yelled back. "Hang on, I think I figured it out."
Soon they were moving through the sky at an astonishing speed. Houses and people looked like ants.
"Look! There's the train!" Harry pointed to the Express chugging along below them.
"I see it. Now let's go catch it," Dante whooped.
He made the car dive towards the train.
Ron screamed. "Ahhh! I think I'm gonna be sick!"
Dante started to pull up hard. "You puke on me, Weasley, and you'll be floating to school."
"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" Harry cried, holding onto his glasses for dear life.
"No, but it's better than doing nothing," Dante said back. He tried to land the car on top of the Express.
The car bounced and jerked horribly.
"Stop! We're going to crash!" Ron whimpered.
"Dante! The car's shaking!" Harry said. Behind him, Hedwig screeched.
"So am I. Shut up so I can concentrate! This is tricky!" He shifted the car wheel a quarter turn to the right. The car skidded, almost falling off the top of the train.
Ron had his hands clasped together, praying. Harry gripped his wand so hard he was surprised it didn't snap. The car was still in one piece, but for how long unless Dante could land it? Harry could feel his heart coming up out of his throat. He hoped they would all survive, but right then he wasn't sure if his luck had run out.
A/N: Okay, who thinks Severus is going to flip out when he finds out? Will he come save them or what?
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