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First time

By Eliška Suchánková

Drama / Romance

Arrival at Hogwarts

Chapter 1

Arrival at Hogwarts

"Come on, Elizabeth, hurry up or you'll miss the train!" yelled a young woman with long blond hair, making her way through the crowd at King's Cross station.

Elizabeth, her daughter, was a small but pretty girl, with blue eyes and a boy's haircut. At that moment, she was desperately trying to keep up with her mother, a task made difficult by the fact that her mother wasn't pushing a heavy trolley loaded with luggage.

"Mum, wait up!" she wailed.

Her mother, however, didn't slow down. In fact, she did quite the opposite, which, until now, Elizabeth had thought was beyond the power of any human being, let alone an ordinary English mother. And she was just starting to think there was absolutely no chance of her making it to the platform alive, when her mother finally came to a standstill and turned to face her, looking as fresh as if she'd just come out of the shower. Elizabeth, on the other hand, was feeling like her lungs were about to explode, so she simply collapsed on the spot, hoping she'd never have to get up again.

But her mother thought otherwise. "Get up, Elizabeth!" she ordered. "Get up and tell me exactly how we're supposed to get to that platform of yours ... what was the number again?"

"Nine and three-quarters," Elizabeth answered wearily, but remained seated on the ground.

"Yes, that. What did grandmother say about it?"

"She said we should somehow walk through the solid barrier between platforms nine and ten to get there," Elizabeth said, rubbing her eyes.

"Well, what are we waiting for? Come on, move!"

Carefully, Elizabeth pulled herself to her feet, and searched the area for any sign of the magical barrier. Finally, she spotted it, and, fortunately, it was only a few metres away. Slowly, she pushed her trolley towards it, with her mother hot on her heels. But, unlike any other sane person, she didn't stop in front of the barrier. Instead, she continued straight into it, closing her eyes right before she met the solid wall. There was no collision, however, and when Elizabeth opened her eyes again, she found herself not at the modern platform she'd just left, but at a completely different one, which looked like it belonged to another century. The only similarity between the two was, that it, too, was crowded with people, hurrying in all directions.

When she finally took in everything that was there to be taken in, especially the red steam engine with Hogwarts Express written on the front, Elizabeth turned her attention towards her mother, and had to stifle a laugh when she saw her gaping open-mouthed at the unusual sight before her.

"We're twenty minutes early," she announced, making her mother snap out of her trance.

"Yes, well, if you hadn't rushed so much..."

"What?" Elizabeth cried. "You were the one yelling something about missing the train all the time!"

"I know, I know, I was only joking," her mother said good-naturedly. "Anyway, you can be happy you're here so early, at least you can find a good spot for yourself."

Elizabeth had to admit her mother had a point there, so she quickly set off in search of an empty compartment. She found one almost immediately, and with her mother's help, she managed to get all of her luggage on the train and still have a few minutes left until its departure.

"Don't forget to send me owls – at least every week!" her mother called from the platform. "I want to know everything, about the classes, about the teachers, about the kids..."

"Okay, okay, I get what you mean," Elizabeth cut in impatiently, wishing to have the goodbyes behind her as quickly as possible. Because even though her mother could sometimes become very annoying, she still loved her, and was sure that if this farewell went on any longer, she'd get homesick before even leaving the station. Fortunately for her, though, at that moment, the train let out a loud whistle, and slowly began pulling out of the station. Elizabeth blew her mother an invisible kiss, before finally leaving her far behind, enveloped in a cloud of steam.

The train quickly started gathering up speed, and soon houses were replaced by fields and small clusters of trees. Elizabeth sat with her nose pressed against the window, and had just started speculating whether to take a nap or not, when a tall girl with long brown hair appeared at the door of the compartment.

"Hello. Mind if I sit down here?" she asked.

"Not at all, go ahead."

"My name's Jane Wells, by the way," said the girl as she stretched out her hand.

"And mine's Elizabeth Woodhouse." She shook the hand and asked: "Going to Hogwarts for the first time, I suppose?"

"That's right. I nearly missed the train, though, took me a while before I figured out how to get onto the platform. My parents weren't of any help, either, as they're both Muggles."

"So are mine. Luckily, my grandmother's a witch, so she told me all about the platform."

Both girls then fell into silence, each absorbed in her own thoughts. But they were soon disturbed by the sound of a trolley, and a few seconds later, a plump lady stuck her head through the door.

"Would you like some sweets, darlings?" she asked.

Elizabeth searched the trolley. She'd never seen or heard of any of the sweets there, so she just picked Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans and hoped she'd made the right decision. As she saw, Jane also had a hard time making a choicel; in the end she went for the Chocolate Frogs.

After the lady had left, Elizabeth cautiously opened the Beans. She half-expected the box to blow up in her face or something, but nothing happened. So she picked a scarlet bean and put it in her mouth.

"Mmmm ... raspberry. You want some?" she asked Jane and held the box out to her.

"Thanks," said Jane as she took an orange bean and popped it in her mouth. But a few seconds later, she spat it back into her her hand. "Yuck! What is this? I thought it would be an orange-flavoured bean, and instead it tasted like ... egg yolk?" She looked at Elizabeth quizzically.

"Well, I suppose anything is possible with these," answered Elizabeth and looked inquiringly at the yellow bean she was about to put in her mouth. And sure enough – it turned out to taste like mustard. Which, actually, was a relief for her, as she'd expected something far worse.

"I think I'll try the Chocolate Frogs," said Jane. "I just hope they're really made out of chocolate. Coming across a poo-flavoured frog is an experience I'd gladly give a miss."

With that, she opened one of the little boxes containing the frogs. But as soon as she did, the frog suddenly came to life, glanced at Jane, took a giant leap, and before either of the girls could react, it was gone.

"I'll be more careful with the next one," muttered Jane, and she really did manage to catch the frog in time and put it in her mouth. "Mmmm ... delicious. I think that's the best chocolate I've ever eaten."

Meanwhile, Elizabeth had taken the empty box and now showed Jane the card she'd found inside.

Jane examined it. On one side of the card was a photo – but not an ordinary one. The man in the photo was moving, he even winked at Jane. And suddenly, he was gone.

"Hey, where'd he go?" asked Jane, puzzled. Getting no answer, she turned the card over and read out the name written there – Godric Gryffindor.

"I've read about him," said Elizabeth. "He's one of the four founders of Hogwarts. One of the houses is named after him. By the way, which house would you like to be in?"

"I don't know. Which ones are there? You see, I only got my books yesterday, so I didn't get a chance to find out much about Hogwarts yet ... or any of this wizarding stuff, anyway."

"Well, there's Gryffindor – that's for brave people, then there's Ravenclaw – you go there if you're clever, Hufflepuff – if you're loyal and ... Slytherin – that's where all the bad people go."

"Hmmm ... sounds like Ravenclaw for me. I've always been the smartest in my class at basic school."

"Yeah, me too. Maybe we'll be together. Anyway, I think we should change into our school robes. We should be arriving in a few minutes."

They did as Elizabeth had said, and a moment later, the train came to a halt. They got off and their attention was immediately attracted by a giant who was waving a lantern and shouting: "Firs'-years! Firs'-years over here!"

So the girls walked over to where the giant was standing and waited. Soon, a bunch of other kids joined them. Elizabeth noticed a thin boy with hair that looked like it hadn't been combed for ages and a scar on his forehead which was shaped like a bolt of lightning.

"Look over there!" she whispered to Jane. "That boy – it's Harry Potter!"

"Who's Harry Potter?" asked Jane.

"Oh, I keep forgetting you haven't read anything yet." She was going to tell Jane all about Harry, but just then, the giant yelled: "Follow me!" so she just muttered: "I'll tell you some other time," as she struggled to keep up with the giant's long strides.

A few minutes later, they reached a little harbour where a number of primitive-looking boats was tied. There was a lake stretching on as far as they could see.

"No more'n four to a boat!" called the giant as he climbed into one of the boats himself. Jane and Elizabeth shared a boat with two other girls.

As soon as all the kids found empty spots, the boats set off. A while later, a huge castle came into view, with countless towers and turrets, and situated on the top of a cliff.

"Welcome to Hogwarts," whispered Elizabeth.

"It's amazing," was everything Jane was capable of saying, she just gaped open-mouthed at the sight in front of her.

Finally, the boats landed, and the giant led all of them to a massive gate which immediately opened. They walked in and found themselves in a huge Entrance Hall. A witch, with black hair pulled back in a tight bun and wearing an emerald-green robe, stood there, obviously waiting for them.

"The firs'-years, Professor McGonagall," said the giant.

"Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here."

Hagrid left and Professor McGonagall ushered them into a small, empty chamber.

"Welcome to Hogwarts," she said as soon as they were all inside. She then told them about the four houses and that the Sorting Ceremony would begin soon. After that, she left.

All the students started talking excitedly and Elizabeth chose this moment to tell Jane about Harry. "You see, a couple of years ago, there was a wizard who went really bad. He killed everyone who got in his way. He killed Harry's parents, too. But when he tried to kill Harry, something happened ... and the spell turned against him. Harry survived – managing to get away with only the scar."

"Wow," was all Jane could say at first. Then she asked: "What was the wizard called, anyway?"

"Voldemort," answered Elizabeth, lowering her voice.

"Wow," said Jane again. "The name itself gives you the creeps, doesn't it?"

The girls were so absorbed in their conversation about Harry and Voldemort, that they didn't even notice the bunch of ghosts suddenly swooping into the room, scaring everyone out of their wits.

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