Chapter 2 : Going to Hogwarts
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It’s been eleven months since my first meeting with Professor Longbottom, and since then he’s been to visit me once a month. He told me about Hogwarts, about magic, and about a whole world I never knew existed. Wands, spells, potions! Sending letters with owls, flying brooms for sport – and those were just the basics! He told me that all the time in the world wouldn’t be enough to explain the wonder awaiting me. He told me, an eleven-year-old boy, about a world kids only dream about!
And then he told me I couldn’t go until next September.
And let me tell you, it hasn't been an easy year. If it hadn’t been for the monthly visits from my soon-to-be Herbology teacher, I would have started to wonder about my own sanity.
As it came closer to September first, it became more and more real for me. The staff at the orphanage even changed my paperwork to say I would be spending my high school years at “Hodgson Academy for Gifted Students.”
“You’re one of the first kids from here to actually get somewhere, Whelan,” the chef told me one evening.
It was all so strange: Everyone thought I was going to some private boarding school. Even last month, when I came back from a place called Diagon Alley – loaded with textbooks, robes, my new eight-and-a-half inch juniper wand, and various chemistry equipment – not a single question was asked.
Of course, Professor Longbottom had been there, and as soon as he left I had packed them in my trunk. I haven’t opened it since, no matter how tempting it was. That was the one thing I was told repeatedly: Never speak about magic in front of non-magic people, or “Muggles.” That wasn’t too hard once all of my things were hidden; the only part I struggled with was trying to hide my excitement from old lady Goshawk. I felt bad because I’d be leaving her after so many years. I promised her that during the summer I’d come back and we’d have tea. She took it a lot better than I thought she would.
“Don’t you apologise for a second, boy. You have a name to make for yourself, and you won't make it stuck here with me,” was her reaction.
Then we didn’t speak of it again right up until my last visit, where she wished me luck and bid me farewell with a tear in her eye. I tried to leave quickly to stop myself from crying too. Miss Goshawk’s the only person I’ve ever had a connection with, and it will feel strange not seeing her once a week. But before I could get out of her musty lounge, I heard her say in a barely audible whisper, “I’ll miss you, boy.”
So that was my last year in a nutshell – the terrible final year of primary school, SATs, and hundreds of PE lessons playing baseball.
Which brings me to now, my short, dark-haired, eleven-year-old self standing out in the cold between platforms nine and ten in King’s Cross Station, staring at a brick wall that I’m apparently supposed to run through.
Yeah, it’s times like this where I think I’m being played.
So far I’ve seen a total of seven people run through that solid brick wall and simply disappear. Seeing it happen doesn’t make me feel any safer. I’ll have to go soon; it’s almost eleven o’clock, and that’s when the train to Hogwarts leaves.
Okay, I’m going to make my move.
One... two... three... go!
Whoops. I forgot to check that the coast was clear before I set off; I pulled back my trolley to avoid the blond girl that shot past me, straight into the wall. I looked back; there was nobody else on the platform. Here goes nothing.
The sensation of walking through a wall is quite hard to explain. I braced myself for an impact that never came, and instead found myself on a completely different platform, with an amazingly large black-and-red train just feet ahead of me. And hundreds of people! It was so busy I could barely see where I could board; I moved to the side and parked the trolley. Taking my extremely large trunk, I started to make my way across the mass of people.
I got to a queue of people waiting to put their luggage on the back of the train and joined on the end, scanning around me. I saw so many people – families saying goodbye to their kids, friends meeting up after their long summers. I even saw a couple off to one side entangled in each other’s arms, presumably “sucking face,” as Miss Goshawk would say. While scanning the crowd, I jumped slightly when I thought a tall blonde man was nodding at me, but it turns out he was nodding at a rather large family behind me.
Once my trunk was safely on board the train, it was my turn; I jumped on and walked along the corridor, looking for an empty compartment, or at least one with no scary older students inside.
While straining my head to the left, I walked straight into someone doing the opposite, who, unfortunately, didn’t have as much balance as me. The same girl I ran into in the station fell backwards with a loud thud.
“Regardez où vous allez!” she screeched up at me. At least, I think that’s what she said. It sounded French, anyway. I held my hand out to help her up, quickly trying to recall a phrase from the French book back at church.
She disregarded my hand and climbed up herself, and looked at me expectantly. Any phrase, Damon, come on.
“Me, um... désolé?” I’m pretty sure that’s sorry. Or afraid. In my defence, I’m both.
The blond girl had large blue eyes which bored into me; she looked no older than me, and yet scared me more than all of the older students combined.
“Um... you... you wanna go get a compartment?” I mumbled, hoping to soften her harsh look.
She smiled a sort of lopsided smile at me. Her voice was a lot softer in English. “If we’re going to be friends, you’re gonna have to work on your French.”
I could do that. I smiled back. “If we’re going to be friends, you need to look where you’re going.”
She tilted her head slightly. “I’m Dominique.”
“Let’s go find a seat, Damon, before you knock me over again.”
It turned out that Dominique was also starting this year, along with two of her cousins, Albus and Rose. But apparently they were off with their older relatives, and Dom didn’t like spending time with a girl called Molly. I haven’t known her that long and I’ve already heard more names than I have in my entire life – her family must be huge!
We found ourselves a compartment towards the back of the train. It was empty, so we each took a side and put our feet up (I know, rule-breaking and I haven’t even started school yet).
“So, Damon. Muggle-born?” she asked, absentmindedly looking out of the window, I sat opposite to her so I could look out onto the hallway, in case anybody came to tell us off about not sitting properly.
What? I’m not being kicked out yet. It’s only just sinking in that I’m going to a magic school!
“Um, is that like… raised as a Muggle?” I feel kind of stupid after saying it, because that’s obviously what she meant. Oh, well.Judging by the smirk on her face, she’s got her answer.
“I’ll take that as a yes. Don’t worry. Most students start Hogwarts on the same level, so you won’t be behind or anything.”
Oh, God, no – I hadn’t even thought about that! My books are still in the same paper bags they were bought in. I’m so stupid! I should have studied ahead! The only magic item I’ve even seen since I bought it was my wand, and that was only for second; it started to spark at the end when I waved it, so I put it back as fast as I could.
Dom could clearly see the distress on my face, because she hastily added, “My mum hasn’t even let me use my wand yet! All my cousins can, but when Vic got hers she set her bed on fire, so I’m banned.”
Oh, good. This made me feel a bit better.
“So your whole family is magic, then?” That sounded so amazing. I have to admit, since Professor Longbottom’s first visit, I had started to wonder if my parents, whoever they were, were magical.
“Yeah, the entire Weasley family is. At least, in my generation they are. Were your parents surprised when they found out about you?”
Ah. I never like this part of any conversation; most people just look at me with pity and apologise. It’s extremely uncomfortable.
“Um, I don’t really live with my parents. I live in an orphanage in Lancashire.”
“Oh, my bad. So, d’ya know about the houses at Hogwarts?”
Or not. That was less awkward than normal. I think I’m going to like this girl.
We spent the rest of the train journey discussing everything from houses (bwe both quite fancied Gryffindor) to Quidditch (which terrified me, although Dom said she was going to make sure to train me so we could try out in our second year). Before we knew it, every student wore their robes and the train was pulling to a stop.
Dom beat me to the platform, but I was right behind her, jumping off the train and looking up at the most beautiful castle I had ever seen, glowing orange from the lights inside. It was stunning. After about half a minute, I looked down to see Dom holding her hand out to me.
“Welcome to the world of magic, Damon.”
I took her hand in mine as we headed for the large man Dom had told me was called Hagrid, who greeted her with a thunderous,“THERE SHE IS!” as she ran over to him for a hug. “I was startin’ to think yeh’d been left behind, ‘Nique. Yeh best be coming down for some tea this weekend. Weasley tradition, yeh know!”
“Of course, Hagrid. You know I wouldn’t miss it!” She beamed up at him, dwarfed by his size, already being a small girl.
There was a cough from a black-haired student behind me, whose face looked oddly like a rat’s. Hagrid jumped slightly, (by which I mean he shook the platform). “Okay, you lot. Follow the others onto the boats – small groups only, and no pushing.”
Dom joined me and pulled me towards the side of the lake, where two students – a tall red-haired girl and a short black-haired boy – were getting in a small boat at the back of the fleet. They looked up as we approached.
“Hey, ‘Nique, who’s your friend?” the boy asked as Dom carefully stepped down into the boat and sat down. I stepped in after her,offering my hand out to the boy.
“Hi, I’m Damon.”
He shook it politely and said, “Nice to meet you, Damon.” I sat down opposite him, next to Dominique. After a few seconds in silence, he still hadn’t told me his name, obviously not used to this “conversation” thing.
“And you are?” I asked, as nicely as I could.
This only seemed to confuse the boy; he looked at Dominique as if expecting her to answer for him.
“Muggle-born,” Dominique said simply.
His name is Muggle-born?
The two opposite us both smiled. The red-haired girl, who hadn’t said anything up to this point, spoke next. “Sorry. I’m Rose Weasley, and this is Albus Potter.”
The boy did a little wave and said, “We’re not really used to people not knowing our names.”
“Err, it’s okay.” I couldn’t tell if they were teasing me or were genuinely big-headed eleven-year-olds; maybe they were on TV or something.
Dom looked at me with a lopsided grin. I was clearly missing something. However, whatever it was that I was missing was soon forgotten as the boats lurched forward, sending both Rose and Albus hurtling into us and knocking Dom and me straight off the back, into the lake.
Once safely back on board (which, by the way, was more terrifying than falling off, as we were both pulled out of the water by giant tentacles – apparently the giant squid helps a lot of first years back when they fall in), Dom explained to me about her cousins’ parents – briefly, of course. It was a topic they had clearly become bored with. So as soon as she was finished, the other two started talking about houses and the Sorting Ceremony.
It was weird hearing about someone's parents being war heroes. The only war heroes I’d heard about were from Miss Goshawk, and I’d imagined them to be extremely old. But apparently there had been a wizarding war only a few years before I was born. Weird, but Dom assured me she’d fill me in on all the details at a later date.
“So, Damon, got any houses in mind?” Albus asked after explaining each of the four options to me.
In all honesty, I wasn’t sure at all. The first two, Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, for the brave and the smart, sounded good. They told me that Hufflepuff was for indecisive people, and Slytherin was downright terrible.
I wouldn’t say I’m that smart. I wasn’t very good at staying on task during school, so I never really learnt much, but anything I did learn I was top of the class for. I suppose I was good at the subjects I had interest in, and I think magic interested me, so I was sure I’d study a lot for that. So Ravenclaw was definitely an option. Rose wanted to go for that.
Dom and Albus, however, were dead set on what they wanted: Gryffindor, the house for the brave, or as Albus called it: Gryffin-best, Awesome-dor, and the house of my dreams. No joke – he’d said all of those things.
“I suppose wherever I’m sorted, I’ll be happy.”
Dom smiled at me. “You’re so – I dunno, passive!”
“Err. Sorry?” Was that a good or bad thing?
“Don’t be. It’s good – our family is anything but that. It’s a nice change.” Albus and Rose nodded in agreement.
In no time at all, we were being ushered off our boats and into the castle. It was amazing – stone walls with pictures that moved,torch-lit hallways, everything!
We walked into an entrance hall, but instead of going through a large pair of doors that, from the sound of it, seemed to be holding in every other student, we were led into a small room to the side by a man in a blue cardigan, who gave my three friends a small wave as they gathered around. They really did know everybody.
The cardigan man stood center stage; all eyes were on him as he cleared his throat to shush the rat-faced boy from talking to his friends at the back of the classroom.
“Hullo, my name is Professor Accipiter. Or, if need be, I’ve also been known to respond to ‘Oi’ and ‘What do you mean, detention?’”
Although Dom and I found him quite funny, only a couple of other students gave a nervous laugh. The professor, however, was not deterred.
“I teach Charms here at Hogwarts, as you can tell from my charming nature.” He stopped once more to see if anybody else would crack a smile. “In a few moments you’re going to go through those doors outside and walk up to the head table, where you will each, one at a time, sit on a stool and be Sorted into your houses. It might seem scary, but don’t worry. As soon as you're Sorted, go and take a seat at your table. A prefect will guide you to your common room after the feast.”
He went on to talk about the different houses and what they each stood for, but I had lost interest. Dom whispered from next to me, “I heard from my sister that he once charmed a lion to jump out at his students as part of a joke.” I laughed quietly, but I secretly hoped he wouldn’t want to play a joke on us.
“Okay, I think they’re ready for you now,” Accipiter said. He led the students out of the room and into the hall.
I’d heard Dom call it the Great Hall, and I soon understood why. It was enormous, with four long tables filled with students. Surely they hadn’t all fit on the train. I followed close behind Albus, who seemed to be shaking with nerves; apparently it was expected of him to be a Gryffindor. For Dominique, who stood right behind me, and myself, there was no pressure. We simply stood gawking at the size of the hall.
We were led right up to the end of the hall by the teachers’ table. I tried to get a good look at my future professors; they all seemed to be doing the same to us, their future students. I recognised Professor Longbottom at the centre of the table, and he gave me a smile and nodded to Accipiter, who then began to call out names of students in alphabetical order.
The rat-faced boy was sorted into Slytherin with a blond boy Dom whispered was called Malfoy – apparently, he was bad news. When Albus was called up, the hall went silent, but the moment the Sorting Hat touched his head and screamed, “GRYFFINDOR!”the entire Gryffindor table burst into cheers.
It got down to the last few, including Dom, Rose, and me.
“Weasley, Dominique,” called Accipiter.
“Good luck,” I whispered as she brushed past me.
That bHat responded to her almost exactly the same way it did to Albus, instantly screaming Gryffindor, and with the same result– the whole house started cheering again. She went to take a seat opposite Albus and turned her attention back to the last two students. Rose and me.
I whispered the same good-luck wish to her before I was left standing on my own, feeling rather foolish. Lucky for me, all eyes were on the famous girl in front of me. The Sorting Hat did not respond instantly to Rose; it remained quiet for a few seconds before shouting, “Ravenclaw!”
It was now Ravenclaw’s turn to start cheering madly; they too had gained one of the famous Weasleys.
My turn. I walked up and took a seat. I felt the Hat being placed on my head as all of the students looked on eagerly. Not that they cared about me. I was the last one; as soon as I was done, they could eat.
Not a bad mind you’ve got here, Damon.
Woah! That was a shock to the system. I almost made a sound of surprise, but caught myself. I wasn’t expecting the Hat to talk.
You could be smart, with the right prodding. You’re loyal, and when the time comes, you could be brave. I sense ambition in you as well. Most difficult. Where would you like to go?
Oh dear – he knew as well as I did. I looked across the tables and caught Dom’s eye. There. That’s where I wanted to be.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed it! Next chapter Damon will have grown up a few years :)
I have big plans for how to move this story on, I've currently planned the next few chapters, and have an idea of the overall plot, and will be commiting to this before starting anything new!
The bit of French in this chapter: Désolé means Sorry. (He got it right!)
Regardez où vous allez means: Watch were you are going
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