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Under the Stars Tonight by American Ginny
Chapter 4 : Surprises
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 2


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Dedication: To Jay, the founder of our wonderful site. You’ve created a world in which Potterheads could gather together to form deep, meaningful friendships and a place allowing us to dwell in our favorite world. Thank you for the time you’ve spent building and running this world. Thank you for not creating it and forgetting about us. Thank for the years of participation you gave to it. You were our friend as much as the founder of all this. You participated in events, podcasts, validating, and so much more. You were the head of this wonderful place, but you always treated us like friends and family. Thank you for holding us to a higher standard in writing. I will never find a fan fiction site that required so much of its authors, and to this day, I have appreciated that detail the most. I know no matter what I am reading on here it satisfies a higher standard of writing and is always worth my time. Thank you for all you’ve given us. We owe a lot to you for creating a world that allows Harry Potter to continue to live in our lives.

A/N: I do not own the sorting hat song. "The Sorting Hat Song" is from Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone located on page 88 and owned by JK Rowling, and no infridgement is intend by its use. I'm just an awful writer for not wanting to come up with something more original, and poetry was never truly my forte. Hopefully, you wall can forgive me. The song belongs to JK Rowling, and neither I nor HPFF make money off of its use.


Chapter 4: Surprises

Harry stood looking up at the Crimson train sitting on the tracks puffing smoke out of its engine. It looked like a normal train, but for Harry, it was a new life away from the Dursleys. He knew that it would only be for the school year, but compared to attending Stone Wall and living every day with them, this was for a lifetime.

“AHHHHH!!!” Harry jumped at the sound of two girls screaming. He glanced over to see them embrace each other and begin to rattle off a conversation about their summers as fast as they could. Their parents stood behind them, talking to each other, laughing and smiling. Harry looked around the platform, watching family after family hug and say their farewells to each other.

He settled on a family full of red heads. The mother hugged one of the sons. He was already dressed in his robes which were accented with a gold and red tie, a patch of a lion and a badge with a giant “P” emblazoned on it. He shook his father’s hand before walking off and disappearing into the crowd.

Three sons and a daughter were left. The daughter held onto her mom’s hand while the boys hugged their mother goodbye. Two of the boys appeared to be twins, identical in every way apart from the actual clothes they were wearing. They towered above their brother who appeared to be right around Harry’s age. The mother hugged him the youngest with a tear rolling down her face.

Harry was suddenly hit with a wave of loneliness. An image of his parents hugging him with tears running down their face as they sent off their only — perhaps their oldest in hopes he would have had siblings — son off for the first time to Hogwarts. Suddenly, in a place full of families and friends, Harry longed for Hermione to be there with him again. He knew she wasn’t family, but she would have been a person he at least belonged with — and he wanted to believe he would have joined her family in their farewells.

Harry let out a deep sigh and began attempting to load his trunk onto the train. After a few moments of struggling, a man with dark hair walked up to him and offered to help him load it onto the train. Harry murmured his thanks, and the man flicked his wand, levitating the trunk onto the train.

Harry picked up the cage holding his snow white owl, Hedwig and followed the man through the train into an empty compartment. The man levitated the trunk onto the luggage rack and said, “There you go.”

He smiled down at Harry before lifting his eyes to Harry’s hair line. “I was wondering when we would be seeing you,” said the stranger.

“Excuse me?” Harry stated, confused at the statement.

“You are Harry Potter. We’ve waited a long time for you to come home to us.” He paused, allowing the weight of Harry’s past to settle over him. “Welcome back. I bet you’re a bit overwhelmed and may be feeling a bit out of place.”

Harry tried to refrain from acknowledging the fears, but the man’s words evoked a feeling of comfort and safety for Harry causing him to give a small nod. The man knelt down until he was eye level with Harry. He laid a had on the young boy’s shoulder before saying, “Don’t worry. You’ll fit in here more than you ever have in your life. This is where you belong, Harry. No matter what happens in the future, this is your new home.”

The man smiled again at Harry before standing up and patting him on the back. The man left the compartment, and Harry took a seat under the luggage rack. He looked out the window and watched as the man exited the train and joined a woman waiting near the entrance to platform nine and three-quarters.

The man wrapped his arm around the woman’s waist before beginning to walk away together. The train blared its horn, signaling its 11 o’clock departure. The man paused for a moment, turning around and waving to Harry in the window. Harry waved back as his watched the man’s wife lean against the stranger.

The wife looked up at the man and said something to the dark haired stranger as the train began to take off. The stranger’s hand hung in the air for a second more after he had quit waving, watching the train pick up speed and make its way out of the station, and Harry watched as he and the woman disappeared through the entrance.

****

Harry looked out the window as the country side flew past him. Harry had lost track of how long it had been since the train had left King’s Crossing. He had past the time mostly by looking out the window. A lady pushing a trolley had come by soon after leaving and asked if he had wanted anything off the cart. Harry having never had anything on it bought a bit of everything which now laid piled beside him forgotten. Harry was ready to get to Hogwarts so that he would have a bit more to do.

He heard the door to his compartment slide open, and he turned around to look. The youngest red headed boy he had seen back at the station stood in the door. “Mind if I join you,” asked the boy.

Harry nodded and watched as the boy shut the door and took the seat across from him. “My name is Ron Weasley.”

“I’m Harry Potter.” He replied.

“Are you really?” Ron said excitedly.

“Yeah.”

“Blimey, I can’t believe it’s you. Fred and George will never believe me when I tell them.”

Harry’s face flushed at the attention; most people had always ignored him once they found out who he was. While it was a nice twist, he hoped he wouldn’t attract unwanted attention simply for his name. Harry let silence fall between them, and Ron looked out the window.

“If you don’t mind me asking, where have you been this whole time if you are joining me so late into the trip?” Harry asked.

“I was in a compartment with my twin brothers, Fred and George.”

“Oh, I bet that was fun.” Harry chimed, thinking it would have been wonderful to travel with family.

“Actually, not really.” Ron confessed, “Fred and George can be cruel to just get a laugh. They’re family and I love them, but sometimes they toe the line between being funny and hurting someone for a laugh. I just kind of wanted some peace and quiet.”

Ron had looked away from Harry as if embarrassed by the conversation and for invading Harry’s space. “I’m glad you left then,” Harry comforted. “I was actually getting a bit bored and lonely. i’ve been here alone the whole time, and I was really wishing I had someone to join me.”

Ron perked up and began to engage in conversations with Harry. Harry had a bit of trouble following along in the conversations sometimes due his lack of knowledge about the wizarding world, but he was learning a tons from Ron.

“What house do you think you’ll be in?” asked Ron.

“House?”

“Blimey! You don’t know!”

“Know what?”

“Every first year student is sorted into a house at Hogwarts. There are four houses: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. Throughout your time at Hogwarts, your house kind of acts like your family. You eat with them, you attend classes with them, you share a dormitory with them. They’re who you end up spending all your time with. I personally want to be in Gryffindor — It’s probably where I’ll end up; my whole family has been sorted into Gryffindor.”

Harry didn’t know anything about the houses, making it impossible to know which one he wanted to be sorted into. However, Ron seemed like he’d be a good friend so Gryffindor would be a good option since he’d like to think he’d have a friend already in the house.

“Slytherin is the worst. You don’t want to be in Slytherin.” Ron continued.

“Why not?” Harry asked.

“There’s never been a witch or wizard to come out of that house that wasn’t evil. You-know-who himself came out of that house. I reckon someone has told you about him.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard of him.”

Hagrid had told Harry about you-know-who when they had been eating in Diagon Alley the night before. He had told Harry how his parents had really died at You-Know-Who’s hand. He had told him that he was the only one to ever have survived an attack by He-who-must-be-named. Harry had tried to get Hagrid to say You-Know-Who’s name, but the gamekeeper refused to say it despite saying the great wizard had been vanquished by Harry.

Harry had no desire to belong to a house that had once played home to Harry’s parents’ killer. He could live with being in any of the houses as long as it was not the one where HE had resided. Any house would be alright as long as it wasn’t Slytherin.

“I reckon we are about there. We’d better get changed,” Ron said. By the time the two boys had changed into their Howarts uniforms, the Hogwarts Express was pulling into the station.

Harry and Ron made their way off the train and onto the platform outside where they heard a boom voice bellowing, “First years! First years this way, please! Gather around here. First years!”

Harry recognized the voice immediately and — with Ron in tow — hurried off in the direction of the voice. He forced his way to the front of the pack before saying, “Hi, Hagrid.”

“Well, ‘ello there, Harry,” Hagrid said. “Have a good ride here?”

“Yeah, I did. This is Ron.” Harry pointed to the red-headed boy beside him.

Hagrid said hello before yelling, “Follow me. We’re going to take boats across the lake to get to the castle.”

Harry and Ron followed Hagrid and climbed into one of the small  boats where a third boy joined them. As soon as the third boy sat down, the boat took off for the opposite shore.

Harry looked up at the sea of stars above him. Living in the suburbs of England, he had never seen quite this many stars. With hardly any lights emitting off the castle and no nearby cities, the black sky was filled with thousands — maybe millions — of stars. The lake reflected the magnificent castle against the dark sky as the stars appeared to accent the majesty of the castle.

The  boat slid quietly onto the shore, and the boy in the front climbed out and held the boat steady as Ron and Harry made their way out. Harry stood on the beach looking up at the castle which sat on the hill in front of him. It’s windows glowed in contrast against the midnight blue sky. Torches adorned every door appearing on the outside of the castle, and every so often you would see a stain glass window, glistening against the candles lit inside the castle.

Harry had never felt so small in the world as he had in that moment. The world he had lived in back at Privet Drive seemed so small now in this moment. He felt like he had lived in a bubble his whole life, and in this moment, that bubble was popped, opening his eyes to a world beyond what he had ever know. Standing in this moment, he knew his life would never be the same, but something inside of him told him that the dark haired man back at King’s Crossing had been right about this new life. He would belong here in this world more than he ever belonged back at Privet Drive.

Ron nudged Harry from his thoughts, and the two boys joined the mass of first years climbing the stairs up to the castle. Hagrid lead the group into the castle and through a set of double doors in which an overwhelming chorus of students talking wandered out of. Hagrid led the group down the middle aisle between the tables and to the front of the room.

Hagrid walked off to the side of the room as a older woman in dark green robes walked to the front of the stage and placed a rickety old stool with an old, patched up hat on it beside her. She took a step away from the hat and waited.

Harry looked around, wandering what exactly what they were waiting for. Suddenly, the hat opened where it appeared the stitching had worn away and began to sing,

“Oh, you may not think I’m pretty,
But don’t judge on what you see,
I’ll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me..."

The Sorting Hat continued his song describing each house's traits and qualities. Soon enough, the hat settled into silence, and the hall erupted into applause and cheers. Ron leaned over to Harry and said, “This is what I mean. Fred and George told me we’d have to tame a hippogriff to determine our house. I’m going to kill them!”

Harry didn’t know what a hippogriff was, but if the test was as easy as putting on a hat, he felt much better about being sorted. He just had to worry about not being sorted into Slytherin now.

The woman in the green robes raised her hands to calm the room before saying, “When I call your name, you will take your seat on the stool, and I will place the hat on your head. Once the hat calls out your house, you will join your house table. The one on the far wall to your right is Gryffindor…”

The table exploded with cheers, but quickly quieted at the look the woman threw their way. She continued once the table had quieted, “then, Ravenclaw (the table applauded, but much quieter.), Hufflepuff, and Slytherin on the far wall to your left.”

She unrolled a rolled up piece of parchment and called out, “Abott, Hannah.”

A meek, scared girl climbed the stairs. She took a seat on the stool, and the woman placed the hat on the girls head; the hat fell over half of the girl’s face. A few moments passed before the hat cried, “HUFFLEPUFF!”

The table decorated in yellow and black erupted with cheers, and the professor lifted the hat off the girl’s head; the girl hurried down the stairs to join her new family. The sorting ceremony was quickly well underway, and as the crowd of first years began to thin, Harry’s nerves grew more and more with every passing moment.

His worst fear would be to end up in Slytherin, but having to find a new friend if he and Ron didn’t end up in the same house, did not help sooth Harry either. Harry never felt like he was particularly good with meeting new people and making friends easily. Hermione hadn’t been so hard since he hadn’t felt much of a need to talk the night they met. After the first night, they both fell into an easy flowing and carefree friendship. There was never a pressure to talk, and sometimes they would simply build things, do science experiments or play in silence for hours.

Ron had made things on the train easy as well. He had done most of the talking. Harry had asked a question here or there, but Ron was never short of things to say, opinions on what he was talking about or information on the wizarding world. Harry was sure having six siblings had made the young boy get overlooked and ignored as much as Harry had been at the Dursleys. Ron appeared enthusiastic on the train to have someone to talk to. Harry was just happy to have a friend.

“Granger, Hermione,” called the professor suddenly knocking Harry from his thoughts.

A/N: Wow. I cannot believe how long these are ending up! I never thought when I wrote that one-shot back in 2010, it would have turned into four chapters, averaging around 2.5k words each. AND I’M NOT DONE!!! Crazy. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday last week. With Easter and covering my boss at work while he was on vacation, I decided to hold off on posting this chapter. I actually hadn’t written it yet, and then I did and lost the flash drive it was on (UGH). So I had to rewrite it, and let me tell you the rewrite is way better. Very happy with how this turned out, and I hope you enjoy it. As you can see, there were some surprise for you, Harry and even for me. Tell me what you think of this chapter. There were a couple new faces — who is the mysterious stranger???? — and events that occurred so I would love to hear your thoughts on it all. Cheers!

Love Always,

AmGinny


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