Chapter 3 : The Journey to Hogwarts
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Harry said that as though beginning Hogwarts was something to look forward to. Which James supposed it had been for him. He had heard his father’s stories of life with the Dursleys and could well imagine that if you lived with them, anything that offered an escape would be welcome. Plus, by the time he arrived at Hogwarts, Harry had already proven himself in the wizarding world already, even if he didn’t remember it.
To James, on the other hand, the first day at Hogwarts was an experience to be feared. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to go; just that he knew his time there would not be a success. He felt sure that all the teachers (well, apart from Hermione) would be expecting great things from him simply because he was Harry Potter’s son, and he dreaded to think what their reactions would be when he failed to live up to their expectations.
He broached this subject with his mother, simply suggesting that people would probably expect him to be special because of his dad.
Ginny nodded. “Well, I can’t say that they won’t, dear. I remember when I was eleven. I hero-worshipped your father, and I’m sure plenty of your classmates will feel the same way. But that won’t last once they get to know you. They may become your friends because you’re Harry Potter’s son, but they’ll stay friends with you because of who you are yourself.”
“You’re biased,” James muttered, but he said it too quietly for his mother to hear him. He didn’t fancy being interrogated about how he felt about starting Hogwarts, or listening to his mother’s reassurances that it would be ok. Sometimes his mother was just like his gran!
Because he didn’t want their sympathy and clichéd reassurances, James said very little about his fears about starting school, and Harry seemed entirely unaware that his son was not entirely delighted at the prospect. Ginny may have noticed. In any case, she didn’t allow the conversation to focus entirely on the upcoming year.
However, it could only be denied for so long, as September the 1st arrived far more quickly than James had expected it to.
At the breakfast table, Harry finally seemed to get an inkling of how his son was feeling.
“There’s no need to be nervous, James,” he reassured him. “You’ll do just fine, and you’ll have a fantastic time, you’ll see.”
“Now, don’t you be encouraging James to have your idea of a good time,” Ginny said, entering the room. “I don’t want to be getting any owls saying he’s arrived by flying car or anything like that.”
“Hey, don’t blame me for that car,” Harry retorted. “It was your father who enchanted it.”
For a moment, it looked as if they were going to get into their own private discussion, but they were interrupted by Rose’s pleas for plenty of letters from Hogwarts.
“I need to know what it’s like,” she announced. “After all, I will be going there myself in two years time.”
“I think we all realise that,” James replied, fed up with his sister’s excitement. “Anyway, haven’t we heard enough about it from Mum and Dad?”
“I need to know what it’s like now, not back in the dark ages.”
“Aunt Hermione, then.
“She’s a teacher! Since when do teachers know any of the good stuff that goes on in school? Oh I really wish I could manage that levitating spell. Can you imagine Miss Brown’s face if her chalk suddenly flew up in the air?” Rose began to giggle.
“Don’t you dare try any magic at school,” Ginny interjected horrified. “Surely you know that using magic in front of Muggles is strictly forbidden. Not that you could manage that spell anyway, but you don’t know what people will think if they see you trying.”
After listening to his sister for the morning, James was almost relieved to arrive at King’s Cross station.
Although he had never been to Hogwarts before, he was well aware of how to get to Platform 9 ¾ having heard his father’s story of the time when he and uncle Ron had been unable to get onto the platform.
Harry and James went first, leaning against the barrier between platforms 9 and 10, and falling almost unexpectedly onto platform 9 ¾. Ginny and Rose followed afterwards, Rose running ahead and Ginny following behind.
Predicatively, Rose wanted to get on the train with her older brother.
“I’d get off before it started,” she pleaded.
“Forget it,” Ginny almost snapped, then in a gentler tone. “Are you sure you have everything, James? Have a good time now, and we’ll see you at Christmas.”
“I can’t wait,” James admitted.
“Don’t be wishing the year away,” Harry advised. “Once you get there you will have a really good time, I promise you.”
All too soon, the train was pulling out of the station, with James hanging out the window, waving to his family.
“Wow, is that your family you’re waving to?” a dark haired boy asked him.
“Yeah.” What do you think? That I’m waving to someone else’s family?
“So you’re Harry Potter’s son. Wow! I read in Witch Weekly that you were starting Hogwarts this year. Not that I read that or anything! My mum gets it and she showed it to me because you were going to be in my year, you know?”
“Yeah,” said James, because he couldn’t think of anything else to say, and this boy seemed to expect some kind of reply.
“What’s it like to have Harry for a father?” the boy asked.
Well, how did you answer a question like that. He didn’t know what it would be like not to have Harry as his father. Luckily he was saved from having to answer by a blond haired girl who had overheard the question.
“Wow, is Harry Potter your dad?” she asked excitedly. “He is my hero. I have a picture of him up on my wall at home and I was so excited when I got his picture in my chocolate frogs. They say he’s the greatest wizard alive, well except for Albus Dumbledore, maybe.”
“Who is Harry Potter?” asked the girl who was standing with the blond haired girl. “And who’s Albus Dumbledore?”
“Don’t mind Alice,” the first girl told James. “She’s a Muggle-born so it’s not her fault she hasn’t heard of your dad. He’s only one of the greatest wizards ever. He’s an Auror- a Dark wizard catcher,” she continued when it was obvious that the word meant nothing to Alice. “And he caught He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Well, actually he did that before he became an Auror. He is just so cool.”
At this point she paused for breath and James took advantage of the moment’s break to ask the names of the three students facing him.
“I’m Kelly Brown,” the girl doing all the talking answered. “And this is Alice Matthews. I don’t know his name, though.”
“I’m Richard Peacock,” the boy explained, looking rather annoyed that Kelly had hijacked the conversation. He had rather liked the idea of having James Potter as his friend.
“Of course none of us need to ask your name,” Kelly began again. “It must be really great to have such a famous father.”
This was exactly what James had dreaded, but it was absolutely impossible to discourage Kelly in particular from asking question after question about Harry Potter. It was evident that she had a crush on him. Under other circumstances James might have found this funny, as to him and Rose, Harry was just their father, although they knew that he was a hero to much of the wizarding world. Still he found it difficult to see the funny side when he knew that Kelly would be expecting him to be as heroic as his father.
If it had only been Kelly, it might have been funny, but James knew that most of the school would think the same way. Richard was almost as impressed as she was, although he tried to appear more blasé about it, and virtually every student that entered the compartment was impressed when they heard who he was and proceeded to ask the same ridiculous questions.
There was only one exception. This was a girl called Cassandra Goyle, who began to verbally abuse James as soon as she found out who he was.
“My grandfather died in Azkaban,” she accused. “And it was your dad who put him there. My dad says he’ll pay your dad out some day.”
“Oh shut up, Cassandra,” Richard ordered. “Everybody knows your granddad was a Death Eater. He deserved what he got.”
James was practically shaking while this conversation was taking place. Cassandra was obviously looking for a fight and if it came to that, he was pretty sure that, girl or no girl, she would be more than a match for him. She was big and broad, while he was small and skinny.
Luckily, Hermione walked into the carriage at this point.
“Please gather all your belongings together,” she announced. “We have almost arrived.”
Five minutes later the train pulled into the station and the students piled out. A large man, about ten or twelve feet tall called to the first years to come with him. James recognised the man immediately. He was a frequent visitor to the Potter house.
“Hi Hagrid,” he said.
“All righ' there, James,” Hagrid replied. “This is James Potter, yeh know, Harry Potter’s son.”
Why did Hagrid have to embarrass him like that? All eyes were on James now. Ok, so they would have found out who he was soon enough, but he would have preferred not to have it announced to the whole class.
Some of the students looked as though they were going to fall out of the boats as they stared at James while crossing the lake in the little boats.
It was only when Hagrid announced the first view of Hogwarts that the students turned away from him, and all eyes turned towards the school where they would spend the next seven years.
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