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THE JOURNEY FROM PLATFORM NINE AND THREE QUARTERS 1



 

Harrys last month with the Dursleys wasnt fun. True, Dudley was now so scared of Harry he wouldnt stay in the same room, while Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon didnt shut Harry in his cupboard, force him to do anything, or shout at himin fact, they didnt speak to him at all. Half terrified, half furious, they acted as though any chair with Harry in it were empty. Although this was an improvement in many ways, it did become a bit depressing after a while.

 

Harry kept to his room, with his new owl for company. He had decided to call her Hedwig, a name he had found in

A History of Magic.

His school books were very interesting. He lay on his bed reading late into the night, Hedwig swooping in and out of the open window as she pleased. It was lucky that Aunt Petunia didnt come in to vacuum anymore, because Hedwig kept bringing back dead mice. Every night before he went to sleep, Harry ticked off another day on the piece of paper he had pinned to the wall, counting down to September the first.

 

On the last day of August he thought hed better speak to his aunt and uncle about getting to Kings Cross station the next day, so he went down to the living room where they were watching a quiz show on television. He cleared his throat to let them know he was there, and Dudley screamed and ran from the room.

ErUncle Vernon?

Uncle Vernon grunted to show he was listening.

ErI need to be at Kings Cross tomorrow toto go to Hogwarts.

Uncle Vernon grunted again.

Would it be all right if you gave me a lift?

Grunt. Harry supposed that meant yes.

Thank you.

He was about to go back upstairs when Uncle Vernon actually spoke.

Funny way to get to a wizards school, the train. Magic carpets all got punctures, have they?

Harry didnt say anything.

Where is this school, anyway?

I dont know, said Harry, realizing this for the first time. He pulled the ticket Hagrid had given him out of his pocket.

I just take the train from platform nine and three-quarters at eleven oclock, he read.

His aunt and uncle stared.

Platform what?

Nine and three-quarters.

Dont talk rubbish, said Uncle Vernon. There is no platform nine and three-quarters.

Its on my ticket.

Barking, said Uncle Vernon, howling mad, the lot of them. Youll see. You just wait. All right, well take you to Kings Cross. Were going up to London tomorrow anyway, or I wouldnt bother.

Why are you going to London? Harry asked, trying to keep things friendly.

Taking Dudley to the hospital, growled Uncle Vernon. Got to have that ruddy tail removed before he goes to Smeltings.



Harry woke at five oclock the next morning and was too excited and nervous to go back to sleep. He got up and pulled on his jeans because he didnt want to walk into the station in his wizards robeshed change on the train. He checked his Hogwarts list yet again to make sure he had everything he needed, saw that Hedwig was shut safely in her cage, and then paced the room, waiting for the Dursleys to get up. Two hours later, Harrys huge, heavy trunk had been loaded into the Dursleys car, Aunt Petunia had talked Dudley into sitting next to Harry, and they had set off.

They reached Kings Cross at half past ten. Uncle Vernon dumped Harrys trunk onto a cart and wheeled it into the station for him. Harry thought this was strangely kind until Uncle Vernon stopped dead, facing the platforms with a nasty grin on his face.

Well, there you are, boy. Platform nineplatform ten. Your platform should be somewhere in the middle, but they dont seem to have built it yet, do they?

He was quite right, of course. There was a big plastic number nine over one platform and a big plastic number ten over the one next to it, and in the middle, nothing at all.

Have a good term, said Uncle Vernon with an even nastier smile. He left without another word. Harry turned and saw the Dursleys drive away. All three of them were laughing. Harrys mouth went rather dry. What on earth was he going to do? He was starting to attract a lot of funny looks, because of Hedwig. Hed have to ask someone.

He stopped a passing guard, but didnt dare mention platform nine and three-quarters. The guard had never heard of Hogwarts and when Harry couldnt even tell him what part of the country it was in, he started to get annoyed, as though Harry was being stupid on purpose. Getting desperate, Harry asked for the train that left at eleven oclock, but the guard said there wasnt one. In the end the guard strode away, muttering about time wasters. Harry was now trying hard not to panic. According to the large clock over the arrivals board, he had ten minutes left to get on the train to Hogwarts and he had no idea how to do it; he was stranded in the middle of a station with a trunk he could hardly lift, a pocket full of wizard money, and a large owl.

Hagrid must have forgotten to tell him something you had to do, like tapping the third brick on the left to get into Diagon Alley. He wondered if he should get out his wand and start tapping the ticket inspectors stand between platforms nine and ten.

At that moment a group of people passed just behind him and he caught a few words of what they were saying.

packed with Muggles, of course

 

Harry swung round. The speaker was a plump woman who was talking to four boys, all with flaming red hair. Each of them was pushing a trunk like Harrys in front of himand they had an

owl.

 

Heart hammering, Harry pushed his cart after them. They stopped and so did he, just near enough to hear what they were saying.

Now, whats the platform number? said the boys mother.

Nine and three-quarters! piped a small girl, also red headed, who was holding her hand, Mom, cant I go

Youre not old enough, Ginny, now be quiet. All right, Percy, you go first.

What looked like the oldest boy marched toward platforms nine and ten. Harry watched, careful not to blink in case he missed itbut just as the boy reached the dividing barrier between the two platforms, a large crowd of tourists came swarming in front of him and by the time the last backpack had cleared away, the boy had vanished.

Fred, you next, the plump woman said.

 

Im not Fred, Im George, said the boy. Honestly, woman, you call yourself our mother? Cant you

tell

Im George?

 

Sorry, George, dear.

Only joking, I am Fred, said the boy, and off he went. His twin called after him to hurry up, and he must have done so, because a second later, he had gonebut how had he done it?

Now the third brother was walking briskly toward the barrier he was almost thereand then, quite suddenly, he wasnt anywhere.

There was nothing else for it.

Excuse me, Harry said to the plump woman.

Hello, dear, she said. First time at Hogwarts? Rons new, too.

She pointed at the last and youngest of her sons. He was tall, thin, and gangling, with freckles, big hands and feet, and a long nose.

Yes, said Harry. The thing isthe thing is, I dont know how to

How to get onto the platform? she said kindly, and Harry nodded.

Not to worry, she said. All you have to do is walk straight at the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Dont stop and dont be scared youll crash into it, thats very important. Best do it at a bit of a run if youre nervous. Go on, go now before Ron.

Erokay, said Harry.

He pushed his trolley around and stared at the barrier. It looked very solid.

He started to walk toward it. People jostled him on their way to platforms nine and ten. Harry walked more quickly. He was going to smash right into that barrier and then hed be in troubleleaning forward on his cart, he broke into a heavy runthe barrier was coming nearer and nearerhe wouldnt be able to stopthe cart was out of controlhe was a foot awayhe closed his eyes ready for the crash

 

It didnt come he kept on running he opened his eyes. A scarlet steam engine was waiting next to a platform packed with people. A sign overhead said Hogwarts Express, eleven oclock. Harry looked behind him and saw a wrought iron archway where the barrier had been, with the words

Platform Nine and Three-quarters

on it, He had done it.

 

Smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the chattering crowd, while cats of every color wound here and there between their legs. Owls hooted to one another in a disgruntled sort of way over the babble and the scraping of heavy trunks.

The first few carriages were already packed with students, some hanging out of the window to talk to their families, some fighting over seats. Harry pushed his cart off down the platform in search of an empty seat. He passed a round faced boy who was saying, Gran, Ive lost my toad again.

 

Oh,

Neville,

he heard the old woman sigh.

 

A boy with dreadlocks was surrounded by a small crowd.

Give us a look, Lee, go on.

The boy lifted the lid of a box in his arms, and the people around him shrieked and yelled as something inside poked out a long, hairy leg.

Harry pressed on through the crowd until he found an empty compartment near the end of the train. He put Hedwig inside first and then started to shove and heave his trunk toward the train door. He tried to lift it up the steps but could hardly raise one end and twice he dropped it painfully on his foot.

Want a hand? It was one of the red haired twins hed followed through the barrier.

Yes, please, Harry panted.

Oy, Fred! Cmere and help!

With the twins help, Harrys trunk was at last tucked away in a corner of the compartment.

Thanks, said Harry, pushing his sweaty hair out of his eyes.

Whats that? said one of the twins suddenly, pointing at Harrys lightning scar.

Blimey, said the other twin. Are you

He is, said the first twin. Arent you? he added to Harry.

What? said Harry.

 

Harry Potter,

chorused the twins.

 

Oh, him, said Harry. I mean, yes, I am.

The two boys gawked at him, and Harry felt himself turning red. Then, to his relief, a voice came floating in through the trains open door.

Fred? George? Are you there?

Coming, Mom.

With a last look at Harry, the twins hopped off the train.

Harry sat down next to the window where, half hidden, he could watch the red haired family on the platform and hear what they were saying. Their mother had just taken out her handkerchief.

Ron, youve got something on your nose.

The youngest boy tried to jerk out of the way, but she grabbed him and began rubbing the end of his nose.

 

Mom

geroff He wriggled free.

 

Aaah, has ickle Ronnie got somefink on his nosie? said one of the twins.

Shut up, said Ron.

Wheres Percy? said their mother.

Hes coming now.

 

The oldest boy came striding into sight. He had already changed into his billowing black Hogwarts robes, and Harry noticed a shiny silver badge on his chest with the letter

P

on it.

 

Cant stay long, Mother, he said. Im up front, the prefects have got two compartments to themselves

 

Oh, are you a

prefect,

Percy? said one of the twins, with an air of great surprise. You should have said something, we had no idea.

 

Hang on, I think I remember him saying something about it, said the other twin. Once

Or twice

A minute

All summer

Oh, shut up, said Percy the Prefect.

How come Percy gets new robes, anyway? said one of the twins.

 

Because hes a

prefect,

said their mother fondly. All right, dear, well, have a good termsend me an owl when you get there.

 

She kissed Percy on the cheek and he left. Then she turned to the twins.

Now, you twothis year, you behave yourselves. If I get one more owl telling me youveyouve blown up a toilet or

Blown up a toilet? Weve never blown up a toilet.

Great idea though, thanks, Mom.

 

Its

not funny.

And look after Ron.

 

Dont worry, ickle Ronniekins is safe with us.

Shut up, said Ron again. He was almost as tall as the twins already and his nose was still pink where his mother had rubbed it.

Hey, Mom, guess what? Guess who we just met on the train?

Harry leaned back quickly so they couldnt see him looking.

You know that black haired boy who was near us in the station? Know who he is?

Who?

 

Harry Potter!

 

Harry heard the little girls voice.

Oh, Mom, can I go on the train and see him, Mom, eh please

Youve already seen him, Ginny, and the poor boy isnt something you goggle at in a zoo. Is he really, Fred? How do you know?

Asked him. Saw his scar. Its really therelike lightning.

 

Poor

dear

no wonder he was alone, I wondered. He was ever so polite when he asked how to get onto the platform.

 

Never mind that, do you think he remembers what You-Know-Who looks like?

Their mother suddenly became very stern.

I forbid you to ask him, Fred. No, dont you dare. As though he needs reminding of that on his first day at school.

All right, keep your hair on.

A whistle sounded.

Hurry up! their mother said, and the three boys clambered onto the train. They leaned out of the window for her to kiss them good bye, and their younger sister began to cry.

Dont, Ginny, well send you loads of owls.

Well send you a Hogwarts toilet seat.

 

George!

 

Only joking, Mom.

The train began to move. Harry saw the boys mother waving and their sister, half laughing, half crying, running to keep up with the train until it gathered too much speed, then she fell back and waved.

Harry watched the girl and her mother disappear as the train rounded the corner. Houses flashed past the window. Harry felt a great leap of excitement. He didnt know what he was going to but it had to be better than what he was leaving behind.

The door of the compartment slid open and the youngest redheaded boy came in.

Anyone sitting there? he asked, pointing at the seat opposite Harry. Everywhere else is full.

Harry shook his head and the boy sat down. He glanced at Harry and then looked quickly out of the window, pretending he hadnt looked. Harry saw he still had a black mark on his nose.

Hey, Ron.

The twins were back.

Listen, were going down the middle of the trainLee Jordans got a giant tarantula down there.

Right, mumbled Ron.

Harry, said the other twin, did we introduce ourselves? Fred and George Weasley. And this is Ron, our brother. See you later, then.

Bye, said Harry and Ron. The twins slid the compartment door shut behind them.

Are you really Harry Potter? Ron blurted out.

Harry nodded.

Oh well, I thought it might be one of Fred and Georges jokes, said Ron. And have you really gotyou know

He pointed at Harrys forehead.

Harry pulled back his bangs to show the lightning scar. Ron stared.

So thats where You-Know-Who?

Yes, said Harry, but I cant remember it.

Nothing? said Ron eagerly.

WellI remember a lot of green light, but nothing else.

Wow, said Ron. He sat and stared at Harry for a few moments, then, as though he had suddenly realized what he was doing, he looked quickly out of the window again.

Are all your family wizards? asked Harry, who found Ron just as interesting as Ron found him.

ErYes, I think so, said Ron. I think Moms got a second cousin whos an accountant, but we never talk about him.

So you must know loads of magic already.

The Weasleys were clearly one of those old wizarding families the pale boy in Diagon Alley had talked about.

I heard you went to live with Muggles, said Ron. What are they like?

Horriblewell, not all of them. My aunt and uncle and cousin are, though. Wish Id had three wizard brothers.

Five, said Ron. For some reason, he was looking gloomy. Im the sixth in our family to go to Hogwarts. You could say Ive got a lot to live up to. Bill and Charlie have already leftBill was head boy and Charlie was captain of Quidditch. Now Percys a prefect. Fred and George mess around a lot, but they still get really good marks and everyone thinks theyre really funny. Everyone expects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, its no big deal, because they did it first. You never get anything new, either, with five brothers. Ive got Bills old robes, Charlies old wand, and Percys old rat.

Ron reached inside his jacket and pulled out a fat gray rat, which was asleep.

His names Scabbers and hes useless, he hardly ever wakes up. Percy got an owl from my dad for being made a prefect, but they couldnt affI mean, I got Scabbers instead.

Rons ears went pink. He seemed to think hed said too much, because he went back to staring out of the window.

Harry didnt think there was anything wrong with not being able to afford an owl. After all, hed never had any money in his life until a month ago, and he told Ron so, all about having to wear Dudleys old clothes and never getting proper birthday presents. This seemed to cheer Ron up.

and until Hagrid told me, I didnt know anything about being a wizard or about my parents or Voldemort

Ron gasped.

What? said Harry.

 

You said You-Know-Whos name!

said Ron, sounding both shocked and impressed. Id have thought you, of all people

 

 

Im not trying to be

brave

or anything, saying the name, said Harry, I just never knew you shouldnt. See what I mean? Ive got loads to learn I bet, he added, voicing for the first time something that had been worrying him a lot lately, I bet Im the worst in the class.

 

You wont be. Theres loads of people who come from Muggle families and they learn quick enough.

While they had been talking, the train had carried them out of London. Now they were speeding past fields full of cows and sheep. They were quiet for a time, watching the fields and lanes flick past.

Around half past twelve there was a great clattering outside in the corridor and a smiling, dimpled woman slid back their door and said, Anything off the cart, dears?

Harry, who hadnt had any breakfast, leapt to his feet, but Rons ears went pink again and he muttered that hed brought sandwiches. Harry went out into the corridor.

He had never had any money for candy with the Dursleys, and now that he had pockets rattling with gold and silver he was ready to buy as many Mars Bars as he could carrybut the woman didnt have Mars Bars. What she did have were Bettie Botts Every Flavor Beans, Droobles Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs. Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other strange things Harry had never seen in his life. Not wanting to miss anything, he got some of everything and paid the woman eleven silver Sickles and seven bronze Knuts.

Ron stared as Harry brought it all back in to the compartment and tipped it onto an empty seat.

Hungry, are you?

Starving, said Harry, taking a large bite out of a pumpkin pasty.

Ron had taken out a lumpy package and unwrapped it. There were four sandwiches inside. He pulled one of them apart and said, She always forgets I dont like corned beef.

Swap you for one of these, said Harry, holding up a pasty. Go on

You dont want this, its all dry, said Ron. She hasnt got much time, he added quickly, you know, with five of us.

Go on, have a pasty, said Harry, who had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with. It was a nice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all Harrys pasties, cakes, and candies (the sandwiches lay forgotten).

 

What are these? Harry asked Ron, holding up a pack of Chocolate Frogs. Theyre not

really

frogs, are they? He was starting to feel that nothing would surprise him.

 

No, said Ron. But see what the card is. Im missing Agrippa.

What?

Oh, of course, you wouldnt knowChocolate Frogs have cards, inside them, you know, to collectfamous witches and wizards. Ive got about five hundred, but I havent got Agrippa or Ptolemy.

Harry unwrapped his Chocolate Frog and picked up the card. It showed a mans face. He wore half-moon glasses, had a long, crooked nose, and flowing silver hair, beard, and mustache. Underneath the picture was the name Albus Dumbledore.

 

So

this

is Dumbledore! said Harry.

 

Dont tell me youd never heard of Dumbledore! said Ron. Can I have a frog? I might get Agrippathanks

Harry turned over his card and read:

 

ALBUS DUMBLEDORE

CURRENTLY HEADMASTER OF HOGWARTS

Considered by many the greatest wizard of modern times, Dumbledore is particularly famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragons blood, and his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel. Professor Dumbledore enjoys chamber music and tenpin bowling.

 

Harry turned the card back over and saw, to his astonishment, that Dumbledores face had disappeared.

Hes gone!

Well, you cant expect him to hang around all day, said Ron. Hell be back. No, Ive got Morgana again and Ive got about six of her do you want it? You can start collecting.

Rons eyes strayed to the pile of Chocolate Frogs waiting to be unwrapped.

Help yourself, said Harry. But in, you know, the Muggle world, people just stay put in photos.

 

Do they? What, they dont move at all? Ron sounded amazed.

Weird!

 

Harry stared as Dumbledore sidled back into the picture on his card and gave him a small smile. Ron was more interested in eating the frogs than looking at the Famous Witches and Wizards cards, but Harry couldnt keep his eyes off them. Soon he had not only Dumbledore and Morgana, but Hengist of Woodcroft, Alberic Grunnion, Circe, Paracelsus, and Merlin. He finally tore his eyes away from the druidess Cliodna, who was scratching her nose, to open a bag of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans.

 

You want to be careful with those, Ron warned Harry. When they say every flavor, they

mean

every flavoryou know, you get all the ordinary ones like chocolate and peppermint and marmalade, but then you can get spinach and liver and tripe. George reckons he had a booger-flavored one once.

 

Ron picked up a green bean, looked at it carefully, and bit into a corner.

Bleaaarghsee? Sprouts.

They had a good time eating the Every Flavor Beans. Harry got toast, coconut, baked bean, strawberry, curry, grass, coffee, sardine, and was even brave enough to nibble the end off a funny gray one Ron wouldnt touch, which turned out to be pepper.

The countryside now flying past the window was becoming wilder. The neat fields had gone. Now there were woods, twisting rivers, and dark green hills.

There was a knock on the door of their compartment and the round faced boy Harry had passed on platform nine and threequarters came in. He looked tearful.

Sorry, he said, but have you seen a toad at all?

When they shook their heads, he wailed, Ive lost him! He keeps getting away from me!

Hell turn up, said Harry.

Yes, said the boy miserably. Well, if you see him

He left.

Dont know why hes so bothered, said Ron. If Id brought a toad Id lose it as quick as I could. Mind you, I brought Scabbers, so I cant talk.

The rat was still snoozing on Rons lap.

He might have died and you wouldnt know the difference, said Ron in disgust. I tried to turn him yellow yesterday to make him more interesting, but the spell didnt work. Ill show you, look

He rummaged around in his trunk and pulled out a very battered looking wand. It was chipped in places and something white was glinting at the end.

Unicorn hairs nearly poking out. Anyway

He had just raised his wand when the compartment door slid open again. The toadless boy was back, but this time he had a girl with him. She was already wearing her new Hogwarts robes.

Has anyone seen a toad? Nevilles lost one, she said. She had a bossy sort of voice, lots of bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth.

Weve already told him we havent seen it, said Ron, but the girl wasnt listening, she was looking at the wand in his hand.

Oh, are you doing magic? Lets see it, then.

She sat down. Ron looked taken aback.

Erall right.

He cleared his throat.

 

 

Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow,

Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow.

 

 

He waved his wand, but nothing happened. Scabbers stayed gray and fast asleep.

Are you sure thats a real spell? said the girl. Well, its not very good, is it? Ive tried a few simple spells just for practice and its all worked for me. Nobody in my familys magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, its the very best school of witchcraft there is, Ive heardIve learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enoughIm Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?

She said all this very fast.

Harry looked at Ron, and was relieved to see by his stunned face that he hadnt learned all the course books by heart either.

Im Ron Weasley, Ron muttered.

Harry Potter, said Harry.

 

Are you really? said Hermione. I know all about you, of courseI got a few extra books for background reading, and youre in

Modern Magical History

and

The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts

and

Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century.

 

Am I? said Harry, feeling dazed.

Goodness, didnt you know, Id have found out everything I could if it was me, said Hermione. Do either of you know what house youll be in? Ive been asking around, and I hope Im in Gryffindor, it sounds by far the best; I hear Dumbledore himself was in it, but I suppose Ravenclaw wouldnt be too bad Anyway, wed better go and look for Nevilles toad. You two had better change, you know, I expect well be there soon.

And she left, taking the toadless boy with her.

Whatever house Im in, I hope shes not in it, said Ron. He threw his wand back into his trunk. Stupid spellGeorge gave it to me, bet he knew it was a dud.

What house are your brothers in? asked Harry.

 

Gryffindor, said Ron. Gloom seemed to be settling on him again. Mom and Dad were in it, too. I dont know what theyll say if Im not. I dont suppose Ravenclaw

would

be too bad, but imagine if they put me in Slytherin.

 

Thats the house Vol, I mean, You-Know-Who was in?

Yeah, said Ron. He flopped back into his seat, looking depressed.

You know, I think the ends of Scabbers whiskers are a bit lighter, said Harry, trying to take Rons mind off houses. So what do your oldest brothers do now that theyve left, anyway?

Harry was wondering what a wizard did once hed finished school.

 

Charlies in Romania studying dragons, and Bills in Africa doing something for Gringotts, said Ron. Did you hear about Gringotts? Its been all over the

Daily Prophet,

but I dont suppose you get that with the Mugglessomeone tried to rob a high security vault.

 

Harry stared.

Really? What happened to them?

Nothing, thats why its such big news. They havent been caught. My dad says it mustve been a powerful Dark wizard to get round Gringotts, but they dont think they took anything, thats whats odd. Course, everyone gets scared when something like this happens in case You-Know-Whos behind it.

Harry turned this news over in his mind. He was starting to get a prickle of fear every time You-Know-Who was mentioned. He supposed this was all part of entering the magical world, but it had been a lot more comfortable saying Voldemort without worrying.





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