When Harry woke the next morning it was to Hedwig pecking at his ear.
“Hedwig!” Harry opened his eyes grudgingly only to sit up in fright when he saw the sun streaming in. What if he had missed his train?
He looked at the clock beside his bed and sighed in relief when he saw it was only nine o’clock.
“Thanks, Hedwig.” Harry reached out to pet his owl’s feathers. “You’re better than an alarm clock.”
Hedwig preened for a few seconds before flying away and landing on the end of the bed.
Harry stretched and marvelled at the lack of pain. It was amazing. He didn’t even have a bruise left, the bruise cream that he had applied the night before had obviously worked.
Which reminded him, Harry looked at the crate of potions that was sitting on the table in distaste. He’d had his first of the prescribed potions the night before and it had been gross. Really, really gross. And he had to have thirteen more. Yuck!
Harry swung his feet over the side of the bed and stood up, he needed a shower. He was glad that Baknog had arranged for him to have a room that had its own bathroom – it would suck to need to use the polyjuice potion every time he wanted to use the loo. Particularly since the potion hurt.
Once Harry had showered, he changed into his clothes from the day before – they were the only ones with trousers long enough to handle his polyjuiced size – and took a sip of the dreaded potion.
“Good morning, Mr. James.” Tom the bartender greeted him when he arrived downstairs. “Can I get you anything?”
“Merry meet.” Harry greeted him, he’d been reading more about the customs of the wizarding world the night before. It was fascinating. “Could I have some breakfast in my room please?”
“Merry meet indeed.” Tom grinned at him. “Most certainly, Mr. James. I’ll have Gemma bring a tray up in a wee while.”
“Thanks.” Harry went back to his room and opened the book he had been reading the night before. Apparently, it was rude to have lowered sleeves around someone who had a higher societal position than you. You were supposed to roll your sleeves up to your elbows to show that you didn’t have a wand strapped to your forearm.
Also, whenever you met someone of higher position you were supposed to bow. The depth of the bow depended on how much higher the person was, but no matter the depth you had to do something weird with your hands.
Harry stood up and tried it. Hands into fists, with thumbs sticking out, hands upside down so the thumbs were sticking down and the fingers were facing away from the body, fists and thumbs together, and bow over them.
It was awkward! Harry tried again. He hoped that it got easier.
He went to his trunk and pulled out the book that explained who all the current heads of the noble Houses were. Apparently it was self-updating, which was cool. There were multiple pages for every House, but Harry skipped to the end where there was a chart.
Most Ancient and Noble House of Black – Lord Sirius Black. Heir Presumptive: Harry Potter
Most Ancient and Noble House of Potter – Unclaimed. Heir Apparent: Harry Potter.
Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy – Lord Lucius Malfoy. Heir Apparent: Draconus Malfoy.
Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell – Unclaimed.
Most Ancient and Noble House of Prince – Lord Septimius Prince. Heir Presumptive: Severus Snape.
Most Ancient and Noble House of Ravenclaw – Unclaimed.
Most Ancient and Noble House of Slytherin – Unclaimed.
Most Ancient and Noble House of Gryffindor – Unclaimed.
Most Ancient and Noble House of Hufflepuff – Unclaimed.
Most Ancient and Noble House of Odgen – Lord Tiberius Odgen. Heir Apparent: Claudius Odgen.
Harry stared at the chart in shock. Why was he the Heir Presumptive of the House of Black? He’d never even met Lord Black.
Harry shook the question off and looked at the names again. So he had to remember to bow if he ever met a Sirius Black, a Lucius Malfoy, a Septimius Prince or a Tiberius Odgen.
Harry turned to the next page to look at the Ancient and Noble Houses but was interrupted by a knock on the door.
The door swung open and a woman came in carrying a tray with his breakfast.
“Merry meet.” Harry greeted her.
“Merry meet, Mr. James.” The woman replied, placing the tray on the table beside Harry. “Enjoy.”
“Thanks.” Harry looked back at the book as she left.
Ancient and Noble House of Burke – Lord Castiel Burke. Heir Apparent: Gregory Burke.
Ancient and Noble House of Prewett – Unclaimed.
Ancient and Noble House of MacMillian – Lady Ann MacMillian. Heir Apparent: Margaret MacMillian
Ancient and Noble House of Lestrange – Lord Rodolphus Lestrange. Heir Presumptive: Rabastan Lestrange.
Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom: Lord Algie Longbottom. Heir Presumptive: Neville Longbottom.
Ancient and Noble House of Greengrass: Lord Samuel Greengrass. Heir Apparent: Thomas Greengrass.
Ancient and Noble House of Bones: Lady Amelia Bones. Heir Presumptive: Susan Bones.
Ancient and Noble House of Nott: Lord Julian Nott. Heir Apparent: Bartholomew Nott.
Ancient and Noble House of Diggory: Lord Amos Diggory. Heir Apparent: Cedric Diggory.
Ancient and Noble House of Crouch: Lord Bartemius Crouch. Heir Presumptive: Unclaimed.
Harry sighed – that was a lot of names to remember, it would be easier if there were pictures.
Harry grabbed a potion from the crate and gulped it down as fast as he could, before shoving bacon in his mouth to try and wipe out the taste. It was awful!
Harry fed Hedwig some bacon and then went back to the book on bowing as he absently ate his breakfast. How was he supposed to know how deep to bow? The book said that he should have one bow for the lords of the Most Ancient Houses and one for the lords of the Ancient Houses. There was a whole other bow for Lord Black since Harry was his heir.
Harry looked at the clock and ate faster, Baknog would be there in ten minutes. Looking back at the book, Harry was glad he wasn’t Cedric Diggory. Diggory was supposed to bow for all the lords and all the heirs since they were higher in the hierarchy than he was. But then he guessed that all the people who weren’t on the list were supposed to bow too. It didn’t sound very practical.
Harry looked up in surprise as someone knocked on his door.
“Come in.” He called.
Baknog, or at the least the human version of him, came into the room and frowned disapprovingly at Harry.
“You should always check who it is.” He reproved Harry.
“Oh, okay.” Harry looked at the clock in concern. “Am I running late? I thought I was meeting you at ten.”
“I am early.” Baknog told him. “What are you reading?”
Harry picked up the book to show the goblin the cover. “Can I ask you some questions?”
Baknog inclined his head in agreement and sat in the chair opposite Harry.
“Who is Sirius Black?” Harry asked. “And why am I his heir?”
Baknog seemed to grimace. “Lord Black is your godfather.”
Harry leaned forward in interest. “Why didn’t you say anything about him?”
“I am not the manager of the Black Accounts.” Baknog replied cagily. “I thought we had enough to sort through with the Potter accounts.”
“Okay, but why have I never met him?”
“Because he is in Azkaban.” Baknog replied slowly.
Harry gaped at him; he’d read about Azkaban. “Why? What did he do?”
Baknog was silent for a moment before answering. “Allegedly he was the person who betrayed your parents to Voldermort.”
Harry felt like he’d been punched in the stomach. “What? Wait, you said allegedly. What does that mean?”
“He never received a trial.” Baknog told him. “So while he has been accused of betraying your parents, it has never been proven.”
Harry considered that. “Why not?”
“I don’t know.” Baknog admitted.
“Do you think he did it?” Harry asked.
Baknog didn’t reply immediately. Eventually he said, “I have my doubts.”
“How can they just keep him there?” Harry asked in horror. “What if he’s innocent?”
Baknog didn’t say anything.
“Is there anything I can do?” Harry asked. “I want to know whether he did it or not. There should be a trial.”
Baknog nodded slowly. “I will look into it.”
Harry grinned at the goblin. “Thanks.”
“Do you have other questions?” Baknog asked.
“Yeah.” Harry nodded. “I was reading the book about bowing and I tried it, but I don’t know how deep to bow.”
“Show me.” Baknog commanded him.
Harry stood up and showed Baknog his bowing attempt.
“Your fingers should be flatter.” Baknog critiqued. “Good. That is how deep you would bow to the Head of an Ancient House. Do it again.”
Harry tried for a few more times. “What about a Most Ancient House?”
“About half as deep again.” Baknog told him. “No lower than that, slightly higher. Good. Now try again.”
Harry practised for a few minutes. “What do I do if someone bows to me?”
“You incline your head toward them like this.” Ragnok showed him.
Harry sat down and mimicked the goblin. “Do people do this all the time? Wouldn’t it get annoying, walking down the street and having to bow to people all the time?”
“Many people do not observe these practises.” Ragnok told him. “You will find the majority of your schoolmates will not.”
“Okay, but what about the ones who do?” Harry asked. “Will they have to bow to people every time they see them? I meant what if someone passes me in a corridor?”
“It is likely that on informal occasions they will simply push up their sleeves and nod in your direction.” Baknog explained.
“Right. Is there going to be anyone at Hogwarts that I should bow to?”
“No.” Baknog answered quickly as he glanced at the clock. “You will be the highest ranking wizard there. Are you ready?”
Harry stood up quickly and began to throw things into his trunk. “Sorry, I’ll just be a minute.” He put the crate of potions in the third compartment and the two books he had been reading in the second one. Then he stood up and looked around to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything.
Baknog stood and moved to the door. “I will wait downstairs for you to pay.”
Harry closed Hedwig in her cage and then picked it up along with his trunk. Once downstairs he set them down at the counter and pulled the Withdrawal Key out of his pocket.
“Leaving already, Mr. James.” Tom grinned at him. “That will be twenty five galleons. If you’ll press your key here.”
Harry did as he was instructed and then returned the key to his pocket. “Merry part, Tom.”
Tom grinned at him. “Merry part, Mr. James.”
Baknog led Harry back into Diagon Alley.
“Where are we going?” Harry asked as he pulled his trunk behind him.
“We will take the Floo system to the train station.” Baknog told him. “But first you need the polyjuice potion to wear off.”
“Oh, right.” Harry hadn’t considered. “You said it lasts for an hour, right?”
“Approximately.” Baknog answered. “When did you last take it?”
Harry thought back. “Um, just before I ordered breakfast, so maybe half an hour ago.”
Baknog sighed. “Very well, we will require an antidote then.” He led Harry into the first potion shop they came across and had him purchase a small, but expensive, vial of orange potion.
“Should I drink it now?” Harry asked once they were out of the store.
“No.” Baknog continued to walk in the direction they had before. “You to need to change into your school robes too. It would be best to do both somewhere private.”
Baknog led Harry to the furthest end of the Alley where there was courtyard surrounded by very large fireplaces. Harry stared in shock as one of the fireplaces glowed green and someone stepped out of it.
“You can change through there?” Baknog pointed Harry towards a yellow door.
Harry went through the door and found himself in a public loo. He was the only one there so he quickly downed the potion and then changed into his school uniform. Baknog was exactly where Harry had left him and nodded approving when he saw Harry appear.
“We will be travelling to the train station by Floo.” Baknog led Harry to one of the fireplaces. “There are three steps. First you throw a handful of Floo Powder into the fire, then you walk into the fireplace and clearly state the Floo address of the fireplace you want to end up at.”
Harry eyes the flames distrustfully. “I have to walk into the fire?”
“The Floo Powder rends the flames harmless.” Baknog told him and held out a small green sack. “Take a handful of the powder. I will take your trunk through.”
Harry set the end of his trunk down and peered into the sack and saw what looked like silver glitter. He took a handful and then looked at Baknog for the next instruction.
“Now you need to throw it into the fire, and then enter the fireplace.” Baknog explained. “Once you’re standing in the flames close your eyes and say ‘Kings Cross Station’.”
Harry grimaced. “Do I have to?”
Baknog frowned at him. “Yes, Mr. Potter.”
Harry sighed. “Fine.” He threw the powder into the fireplace and then stared when the flames turned green and whooshed up. “Cool.”
“Now step into the fire, with your eyes closed, and say ‘Kings Cross Station’.” Baknog instructed.
Harry gripped Hedwig’s cage tightly and stepped into the fire. “Kings Cross Station.”
It felt as though he was being sucked down a giant drain. He seemed to be spinning very fast - the roaring in his ears was deafening – and then suddenly it was over and he had fallen face first onto concrete. Harry winced, Hedwig’s cage had fallen on its side and Hedwig was squawking loudly in protest.
Harry had only just clambered to his feet, and righted Hedwig’s cage, when Baknog stepped through the fire gracefully pulling Harry’s trunk behind him.
“How do you do that?” Harry asked him in frustration. “How do you not fall over?”
Baknog looked at him for a moment. “Practise, Mr. Potter.”
Harry grimaced, he never wanted to do that again. The fireplace glowed green again and a wizard stumbled out of it. Harry backed away from the fireplace and then stopped when he bumped into someone.
“Sorry!” Harry mumbled.
“Come along.” Baknog commanded him. “You need to find a compartment on the train.
Harry looked around. There was a large red train waiting on the tracks.
“Is that how we get to Hogwarts?” Harry asked.
“Yes.” Baknog led Harry towards the train. “The train is named the Hogwarts Express. Here is your trunk.”
“Thanks.” Harry accepted the trunk for Baknog and then looked down awkwardly. “And, uh, thanks for helping me and all that.”
“You’re welcome.” Baknog replied with what Harry thought was possibly a smile. “If you have any questions you may owl me. I am at your service.”
“Uh, thanks.” Harry shrugged uncomfortably.
“Merry part, Mr. Potter.” Baknog said.
“Merry part.” Harry replied and then watched as Baknog walked back the fireplace.
Harry took a deep breath and gripped Hedwig’s cage tightly before walking to the train. He walked beside the train until he found an empty compartment in the second carriage and then climbed on board.
He sat in the far corner from the door and opened his the book compartment of his trunk. What book did he want to read? Harry sighed as, ‘Using a Quill for Muggles’ caught his eye. He supposed he had to read it sometime.
The book was just as boring as Harry had predicted, but he persevered. After a few minutes he even retrieved a piece of parchment from his trunk, along with a quill and ink, to practise with. It was hard! He couldn’t seem to get the quill at the right angle, either too much ink came out or not enough.
Harry looked up in surprise and saw an older boy with dreadlocks standing at the door holding a box in one hand his trunk in the other.
“Um, yeah?” Harry answered nervously.
“Mind if I join you?” The boy asked.
Harry shrugged nervously. “Sure.”
“Thanks.” The boy grinned at him as he entered the compartment and put his trunk under the opposite seat. “I’m Lee, Lee Jordan.”
“Nice to meet you.” Lee sat down and leaned against the back of the seat. “What are you doing?”
Harry looked down at the parchment covered in ink spots in embarrassment. “Practising writing with a quill. It’s not really working.”
“Muggleborn?” Lee asked.
Harry shook his head. “Muggle raised.”
“Oh, do you want a hand?” Lee asked.
Harry shrugged awkwardly. “I can’t seem to get the angle right.”
Lee leaned forward. “Show me.”
Flushing in embarrassment, Harry dipped his quill into the ink and tried again.
“You’re pushing down too hard.” Lee commented. “And you need to angle it up a little more. Oops, not that far.”
Harry winced as a large ink spot formed on his parchment.
“Here, like this.” Lee moved to sit next to Harry and took the quill in his hand. “See this angle here? This is the angle you want, that way the ink comes out at the right speed.”
“Oh.” Harry looked at Lee’s handwriting. “You’re really good.”
Lee chuckled. “You should tell my Ma that. She’s always on me for my bad handwriting.”
“Your mum’s a witch?” Harry asked in interest as took the quill back from Lee and tried again.
“A little lower.” Lee commented. “Yeah, and my Dad’s a wizard. I’ve been using a quill since I was a kid.”
Harry frowned in concentration as he tried to get the right angle. “That must have been cool.”
“It certainly made my first year easier.” Lee told him. “That’s perfect. Now try and write with it like that.”
Harry tried to write out the word Hogwarts. “It’s still not really working.”
“That’s because your letters are too jerky.” Lee told him. “They need to be rounder.”
Harry sighed in frustration and tried again. This time he managed to get halfway through the word before creating an ink spot.
“Good job.” Lee grinned as he returned to his seat. “If you practise enough, it will become normal.”
Harry smiled gratefully. “Thanks.”
“No worries.” Lee told him. “You might want to put it away though. The train can be pretty jerky when it’s pulling out. You don’t want your ink to spill everywhere.”
Harry put a cap on the ink and rolled the parchment up before returning everything to his trunk. “Thanks.”
“Do you want to see something cool?” Lee asked, picking up the box he had come in with.
“Uh, sure.” Harry leaned forward and grinned when he saw the box contained a spider. “Wow! That is so cool. It’s huge!”
Lee grinned back. “Yeah, my older brother bought it for it for me a few weeks ago. Ma was horrified. I don’t think she would have let me keep it if I wasn’t taking it to school.”
The train jerked and then began to slowly accelerate.
Harry looked out the window for a few seconds before looking back to the spider. “Can I touch it?”
Lee passed him the box. “Sure you can. It can’t bite you.”
Harry reached out a finger and stroked the top of the spider’s head. “Brilliant!”
“There you are, Lee!” The doors of the compartment opened to show a red headed boy about the same age as Lee. “We’ve been…”
“…looking for you…” Another boy, identical to the first, appeared at the door.
“…everywhere.” The two boys finished the sentence together. Harry thought they were probably twins.
“Hey,” The first twin threw himself into the seat next to Lee. “Who’s this?”
Harry closed the box in his lap as the second twin pushed the first’s trunk out the way and then tugged his own trunk into the compartment, before sitting down next to Harry.
“This is Harry.” Lee answered. “He’s a first year.”
“No kidding.” The second twin grinned down at Harry. “Only first years…”
“Are that tiny.” The first twin finished. “Harry who?”
Harry ducked his head, embarrassed by all the attention. “Uh, Harry Potter.” He admitted.
“No kidding.” Lee looked surprised. “Wow.”
“Wow indeedy.” The twins were both were gawking at him.
Harry could feel his face heating up as he flushed in embarrassment.
“We’re Fred and George Weasley.” The first twin said after a few moments.
Harry looked between them. “Which of you is Fred? And which one is George?”
Lee laughed. “Who knows? I’m not even sure that they know.”
“Hey!” The first twin complained. “We know!”
“I’m Fred.” The second twin claimed.
“Yeah and I’m George.” The first twin agreed.
Lee didn’t look convinced.
“Anyway, Lee.” George, who was sitting next to Lee, elbowed his friend. “We heard you have a spider. C’mon show us!”
Lee grinned. “It’s in the box that Harry’s holding.”
Both the twins turned their attention to Harry. “Can we see it?”
“Sure.” Lee took the box back from Harry and then opened it as the twins gathered around him.
“Woah!” George jumped backwards. “It’s huge!”
“You ’fraidy cat.” Lee mocked him. “When Harry saw it he asked if he could touch it.”
George moved closer again. “It just startled me.” He defended himself.
“Can we touch it?” Fred asked.
Harry watched as both the twins tentatively touched the spider, George more tentatively than Fred. After a few minutes, Lee put the spider away and he and the twins began discussing their holidays.
Harry looked out the window at the country side that was rushing past and tried to not listen in on their conversation.
“What did you do this summer, Harry?” Fred asked him after a few minutes.
Harry shrugged. “I found out I was a wizard.”
“You didn’t know?” Lee asked in obvious surprise. “But you’re the boy-who-lived!”
Harry looked out the window again. “My relatives’ never told me. I didn’t know until Hagrid came and told me.”
“They sent Hagrid?” George asked in confusion.
Harry bristled in defence of his friend. “What’s wrong with that? He’s brilliant!”
“Nothing.” Fred answered quickly. “It’s just that we’ve never…”
“Heard of Hagrid doing a muggleborn visit before.” George finished.
“Yeah.” Lee agreed. “Normally they send one of the Heads of House, like McGonagall or Flitwick.”
“But you seriously didn’t know?” George asked.
Harry shook his head. “Nope. I’m having to learn everything from scratch. I don’t know what I would have done without Hagrid and Baknog.”
“Who’s Baknog?” Fred asked.
“He’s a goblin.” Harry replied. “He’s the manager of my family’s accounts.”
“Your family’s accounts?” George parroted in confusion.
“He’s a Potter remember.” Lee answered. “They’re Most Ancient Nobility.”
“Oh, right.” Both twins murmured.
“Vaguely rings a bell.” Fred shrugged.
“It’s probably one the reasons Ginny wants to marry him so badly.” George said with a cheeky grin.
Harry looked at him strangely. “What?”
“Ginny’s our little sister.” Fred told him. “She’s…”
“Completely obsessed with you.” George finished.
Harry must have looked worried because Fred tried to reassure him.
“Don’t worry. She won’t be at Hogwarts until next year.”
“Don’t you have a brother coming this year?” Lee asked.
“Yeah.” George groaned. “Ickle Ronniekins has come to Hogwarts.”
Harry hoped that wasn’t their brother’s actual name.
“It actually makes me feel sorry for Charlie and Percy.” Fred looked horrified at the thought. “We must have been way more annoying than Ron when we were first years.”
Lee burst into laughter. “You think? You were little terrors.”
“Were?” George put a hand to his heart in mock offense. “We still are little terrors, thank you very much!”
“You’re right.” Lee nodded, still laughing.
“Speaking of which.” Fred leaned forward in obvious excitement. “Mum gave us the most brilliant idea. We should…”
…blow up a toilet.” George finished the sentence with him.
“Your Mum gave you this idea?” Lee asked.
“Well,” The twins exchanged a look as George answered him. “I don’t…”
“…think she meant to.” Fred finished. “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it anyway.”
Harry stared at them in amusement. Surely they wouldn’t actually blow up a loo.
“So how exactly are you planning on doing it?” Lee asked them.
George leaned forward intently. “Have you ever heard of muggle fireforks?”
“What are they?” Lee asked.
“They’re an explosive device…” Fred started.
“Which go off and basically make little shooting stars.” George finished.
Harry grinned. “I think you mean a firework.”
All three boys turned their attention to him. “Have you seen them?”
“What are they like?”
“I’ve only seen them once.” Harry told them. “They’re pretty cool.”
“So what do these fire-works have to do with blowing a toilet?” Lee asked.
“We spent the summer inventing one.” George answered with a grin.
“We haven’t quite got it right yet…” Fred said.
“…but it would certainly blow up a toilet.” George pointed out.
“Brilliant.” Lee had a massive grin on his face.
“Now, Harry,” George turned to him. “You have to promise us that you won’t tell anyone.”
Harry shook his head quickly. “I won’t.”
Lee nodded at him approvingly. “Good kid.”
By the time the train stopped, Harry felt as though he knew the three boys pretty well. Fred and George had five siblings, two of which were at Hogwarts. Lee only had one brother, who had finished Hogwarts the year before – apparently he had been in the same year as the twins’ brother Charlie.
Harry followed the three boys off the train and grinned thankfully at them when they pointed him in the direction of Hagrid, apparently all the first years had to go with him.
Hagrid was holding a large lamp and calling: “Firs' years! Firs' years over here.” When he spotted Harry, Hagrid beamed at him. “All right there, Harry?”
"C'mon, follow me -- any more firs' years? Mind yer step, now! Firs' years follow me!"
Slipping and stumbling, they followed Hagrid down what seemed to be a steep, narrow path. It was so dark on either side of them that Harry thought there must be thick trees there. Nobody spoke much.
"Ye' all get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in a sec," Hagrid called over his shoulder, "jus' round this bend here."
There was a loud "Oooooh!"
The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black take. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.
"No more'n four to a boat!" Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore.
Harry climbed into the nearest boat and then looked around at the other first years. There was a red headed boy who was climbing into a boat to Harry’s left with a bushy haired girl and another boy who was a bit on the chubby side. On Harry’s right four girls, two of whom seemed to be twins, had claimed another boat.
“Merry meet.” The blond haired boy Harry had met at Madam Malkin’s was standing near the boat. “May I join you?”
Harry looked up at him in surprise. “Merry meet. And yeah, sure.”
The blond boy climbed into the boat and two other boys climbed in after him. Harry stared at them, they were by far the biggest first years he had seen yet.
“You’re Harry Potter right?” The blond boy asked.
Harry looked back at him and nodded. “Yeah.”
The blond boy bowed over his hands while sitting and Harry noticed that his sleeves had been rolled up to his elbows. Obviously this boy followed the traditions. Harry nodded at him, hoping that he was doing it right.
“I’m Draconus Malfoy.” The boy introduced himself. “Heir to the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy.”
“Oh.” Harry remembered reading the name. The Malfoys were the third house, after the Blacks and Potters. He gasped as the boat jerked slightly as it began moving. “How…?”
Malfoy looked at him strangely. “The boats are magical.”
“Right.” Harry nodded. “I should have known that.”
“Yes.” Malfoy stared at him. “Why didn’t you know that?”
“I grew up with muggles.” Harry admitted. “I didn’t even know magic existed until this summer.”
“You grew up with muggles.” Malfoy repeated with obvious distaste. “Why?”
Harry shrugged. “I dunno. They’re my Aunt and Uncle.”
“Of course.” Malfoy sneered slightly. “You’re a halfblood.”
Harry hadn’t heard that term before but it didn’t sound like it was a compliment. “A what?”
“A halfblood.” Malfoy repeated. “It means your mother was a mu-muggleborn.”
Harry wondered what Malfoy had been going to say before he corrected himself. “So?”
“So you’re not a pureblood.” Malfoy answered as though it was obvious. “You’ve got muggle blood in you.”
Harry considered that. “Yeah, I guess. So what?”
Malfoy stared at him. “What do you mean?”
“What does it matter if I’ve got muggle blood in me?” Harry asked confused by the entire conversation.
Malfoy was silent for a while, obviously thinking.
"Heads down!" yelled Hagrid as the first boats reached the cliff; they all bent their heads and the little boats carried them through a curtain of ivy that hid a wide opening in the cliff face.
Eventually Malfoy came up with an answer. “You don’t know how everything works. You don’t understand the way we do things.”
“But that doesn’t have anything to do with my blood.” Harry pointed out. “If someone had stolen you as a baby and made you grow up with muggles you wouldn’t know anything either – even though you’re a pureblood. Besides, just because I don’t know everything yet doesn’t mean I can’t learn it. I want to learn everything.”
Malfoy didn’t reply and Harry spent the rest of the boat trip worrying that he had offended the other boy.
Eventually the boats reached land and the first years all clambered out onto the harbour.
“Potter.” Malfoy said quietly as Harry began to follow Hagrid and other first years up a passageway.
“What?” Harry looked at him.
“If you need any help you can ask me.” Malfoy told him.
“What do you mean?” Harry asked in relief that the other boy was still talking to him.
“You said you wanted to learn everything.” Malfoy answered. “Well, if you have any questions you can ask me.”
Harry grinned at him. “Thanks.”
The Great Hall was amazing and there were so many people. There were four long tables filled with students and another long table that seemed to be where the teachers sat. Harry and the other first years followed Professor McGonagall to the professors’ table and then had to stand in a line, facing the other students. The students were all staring at them and Harry took his time to observe the differences between the tables. Each table seemed to have a colour, the students seated at the right table all had yellow trimming on their uniform, the students at the table next to it had green, the next table was blue and the table on the far left seemed to be red.
Harry looked away from the other students as Professor McGonagall placed a stool in front of the first years, then Professor McGonagall placed an old and dirty wizard’s hat. Harry guessed that it was the Sorting Hat he had read about.
The hall was silent as everyone stared at the hat and then the hat 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.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffis are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
if you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!"
When the hat had finished its song Professor McGonagall produced a scroll from a pocket in her robes and called the first student to be sorted.
Hannah Abbott had blond pigtails and she was quickly sorted into Hufflepuff. Once she was sorted she went to sit at the Hufflepuff table who seemed to welcome her warmly.
Harry stared at the girl in surprise; he recognised the name. Susan Bones was the Heir Presumptive to one of the Matriarchal Ancient and Noble Houses.
As Bones was sorted into Hufflepuff, Harry looked at the different tables again. He could see Fred, George and Lee sitting together at the Gryffindor table. They had their heads together and were obviously whispering about something. Harry wondered whether they were planning exactly how they would blow up a loo.
“Ravenclaw!” The hat shouted and Harry realised that he had missed two of the first years being sorted. The girl who had just been sorted moved towards the Ravenclaw table and shook hands with a few of her new housemates.
As the sorting went on, Harry was interested to note the different ways the houses celebrated new housemates. When Lavender Brown was sorted into Gryffindor the entire table stood up and cheered loudly, Fred and George even catcalled. The Ravenclaws always clapped politely and then shook hands with their new member. Hufflepuff was more enthusiastic than Ravenclaw, but they actually hugged their newest members. The Slytherins’ applause was even more polite than Ravenclaws and they simply nodded to their first years.
Harry looked up in interest as a pretty blond girl stepped gracefully out of the line and towards the hat. Greengrass was one of the Ancient and Noble Houses, he wondered whether she was related to them.
“Slytherin!” The hat declared and Daphne smiled in obvious satisfaction and, having returned the hat to McGonagall, walked towards the Slytherin table. As she walked Harry realised that her sleeves were rolled up to her elbows, he looked around the room to see if anyone else did. There were more people with rolled sleeves than he had expected. Everyone at the Slytherin table had their sleeves rolled up, and about half the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs did. Harry could only see five Gryffindor’s with rolled sleeves.
“Longbottom, Neville.” McGonagall called and a chubby boy stepped out of the line of first years and promptly fell over.
Harry felt sorry for the guy. He recognised the name of the boy, he was the Presumptive Heir to the Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom, but the boy wasn’t anything like he had imagined. He’d been expecting all the heirs to be more like Malfoy and Greengrass. It made him feel better about the fact that he wasn’t graceful. Longbottom’s sorting took ages, but he was eventually sorted into Gryffindor – bringing the number of Gryffindors with rolled sleeves up to six.
That meant that out of the thirteen current heirs, twelve if you took into account that Harry counted as two of them, four of them were in Harry’s year. Weird. Harry resolved to ask Malfoy why that was.
Next a Morag MacDougal was sorted into Ravenclaw and an Ernie MacMillan was sorted into Hufflepuff. Then Malfoy was called.
Malfoy stepped out of the line with as much grace and poise as Daphne Greengrass had done. The Sorting Hat barely touched his head before declaring the boy to be a Slytherin.
Harry watched as a thin boy stepped towards the hat. Nott was another name he recognised, it was one of the Ancient and Noble Houses.
Eventually McGonagall called his name and Harry walked towards the stool nervously as the other students began whispering in surprise.
“As in the Harry Potter?”
“Did you hear that? Harry Potter!”
The hat sank over Harry’s eyes, thankfully blocking his view of the students peering at him in curiosity.
“Hmmm,” Whispered a voice in his ear. “You’re a funny one, aren’t you? It’s unusual to find a first year so well rounded. Tell me, young Potter, where would you like me to sort you?”
Harry shrugged uncomfortably. He had no idea – he was tempted to say Gryffindor if only because he knew the twins and Lee there. He didn’t want to be in Hufflepuff, not if they were going to hug him in welcome. If he was sorted into Slytherin he would be able to ask Malfoy questions whenever he wanted, but at the same time the Slytherins were pretty intimidating.
“Interesting.” The whispering voice commented. “And Ravenclaw?”
Harry brought to mind what he had read about Ravenclaw, they were focussed on learning and knowledge. Harry wondered whether any of them had any good books he could borrow.
“Well then,” The hat’s whispered tone was approving. “Let’s put you in RAVENCLAW!”
Harry jumped slightly when the hat shouted the last word to the entire hall and he pushed off the hat. The hall was silent for a moment before all the students began whispering again.
“Ravenclaw? Did the hat say Ravenclaw?”
“But he’s Harry Potter! He’s supposed to be a Gryffindor!”
“I thought the Potter’s were always in Gryffindor?”
“Who told you that? His Dad was the first Gryffindor in generations.”
Harry walked to the Ravenclaw table and nervously sat next to the other first years.
“Welcome, Potter!” An older boy sitting across from him held out his hand to shake Harry’s.
“Thanks.” Harry shook the boy’s hand and smiled.
“Yes, welcome!” Another older boy, who looked Japanese, bowed over his hands while sitting like Malfoy had. “My name is Takashi Noda.”
Harry nodded to him. “Merry meet.”
“I’m Jeremy Stretton.” The first boy introduced himself. “Do you know your fellow first years?”
Harry shook his head and turned to smile at the other first years. “Merry meet.” He said yet again.
“Merry meet.” The boy on his right agreed, bowing over his hands. “I’m Terry Boot.”
“I’m Michael Corner.” The boy on Terry Boots other side introduced himself with a wave and the guy next to me is Goldstein.”
“Anthony Goldstein.” The aforementioned boy corrected.
“And I’m Rodney Johnson.” The boy across from Anthony gave a wave.
Harry grinned at them before turning to the girl on his left. “Merry meet.”
“Hi.” The girl seemed to be of Chinese descent. “I’m Sue Li.”
“Harry Potter.” Harry introduced himself.
Before Harry could find out the names of the rest of the first years another student was sorted into Ravenclaw and Harry joined his new house in welcoming her.
The newest Ravenclaw’s name was Lisa Turpin and she was a small brunette with a pointy nose. After he had introduced himself to the rest of the first years, Harry turned his attention to the Head Table where the teachers were sitting. He recognised Professor Quirrell from his first trip to Diagon Alley with Hagrid, but none of the other teachers looked familiar.
Finally the last student was sorted and McGonagall took the Sorting Hat away.
The oldest person at the Head Table, a man with a long white beard stood up and gave the oddest welcome speech Harry had ever heard of.
“Who was that?” Lisa Turpin asked an older student next to her.
“That’s Albus Dumbledore.” The student replied in obvious surprise that the answer wasn’t obvious. “He’s the Headmaster.”
Harry’s mouth fell open in surprise as the previously empty dishes in the middle of the table were suddenly overflowing with food.
“Wow!” One of the other first years exclaimed.
“Dig in.” Stretton, the older boy across from Harry, instructed with a smile. “The food is always really good.”
“There’s so much of it!” Harry commented as he began to serve himself some of the roast beef in front of him.
“There are a lot of us too.” Stretton pointed out.
Once Harry was served and had swallowed his first few mouthfuls of food he looked back up at the Head Table curiously.
“Do you mind telling me the names of the Professors?”
“Well, on the far right is Hagrid, he’s the gameskeeper.” Stretton began. “Beside him is Argus Filch, he’s the caretaker. Then comes Professor Hooch, the flying instructor; Madam Pince, the librarian; and Madam Pomfrey, the infirmary matron.”
“Then there is the Magical Theory Professor, Kilsby.” Takashi Noda took over. “He’s talking to Professor Julien who teaches music and art; Professor Grisham is next, he’s the Muggle Studies Professor and he’s talking to the Care of Magical Creatures Professor Kettleburn. Then there’s Dumbledore, he’s the headmaster and he’s talking to Professor McGonagall who is the Deputy Headmaster and also teaches Transfiguration.” Next comes Professor Trelawney, she’s a complete fake and phony.”
“She teaches Divination.” Stretton put in.
“Right.” Noda agreed. “Nothing against Divination as a subject, but she’s useless.”
“Then there is Professor Sprout.” Stretton told Harry. “She teaches Herbology; Babbling teaches Ancient Runes – she’s brilliant; Professor Vector teaches Arithmancy…”
“She’s also brilliant, but kind of a hard arse.” Noda put in.
“Professor Sinstra teaches Astronomy; Professor Snape teaches Potions who’s talking to Quirrell who takes D.A.D.A.”
“Defence Against the Dark Arts.” Noda interpreted.
“And finally we have Professor Flitwick.” Stretton continued. “He’s our Head of House and he’s really great. He’s actually half goblin. He teaches Charms.”
Harry took a moment to ensure that he had processed all the information and then grinned thankfully at the two older boys.
“I’m so lost.” Terry Boot groaned from Harry’s right. “I only got about three of them.”
Noda shrugged. “You’ll figure it out.”
“Who are the Head Professors of the other houses?” Harry asked.
“Professor McGonagall is the Gryffindor Head.” Noda answered. “Sprout is Head of Hufflepuff and Snape is Head of Slytherin.”
“McGonagall and Snape are pretty biased towards their houses.” Stretton told Harry. “Unfortunately for us and Hufflepuff, Flitwick and Sprout aren’t. We haven’t won the House Cup in over ten years.”
“That sucks!” Goldstein grumbled.
Noda shrugged. “I don’t really mind. Once you accept it, it gives you more freedom to really get stuck in and study more. No wasted time trying to impress the teachers with things that don’t matter.”
Harry thought Noda made a lot of sense. He looked back up at the Head Table, Professor Snape was still talking to Professor Quirrell.
Suddenly, just as the two Professors glanced across the hall, Harry’s scar was burning with pain. Harry gritted his teeth and force his hands to stay where they were, he didn’t want to draw attention to himself by making a scene.
The pain disappeared almost immediately, but Harry had to blink tears out of his eyes from the burning intensity of it. It had been similar to the pain of having his eyes corrected the day before. Which reminded him, Healer Axecure had asked him to owl her if his scar did anything weird. He was pretty sure this counted, he would owl her tonight.