:






THE JOURNEY FROM PLATFORM NINE AND THREE QUARTERS 2



Whats your favorite Quidditch team? Ron asked.

ErI dont know any, Harry confessed.

What! Ron looked dumbfounded. Oh, you wait, its the best game in the world And he was off, explaining all about the four balls and the positions of the seven players, describing famous games hed been to with his brothers and the broomstick hed like to get if he had the money. He was just taking Harry through the finer points of the game when the compartment door slid open yet again, but it wasnt Neville the toadless boy, or Hermione Granger this time.

Three boys entered, and Harry recognized the middle one at once: it was the pale boy from Madam Malkins robe shop. He was looking at Harry with a lot more interest than hed shown back in Diagon Alley.

Is it true? he said. Theyre saying all down the train that Harry Potters in this compartment. So its you, is it?

Yes, said Harry. He was looking at the other boys. Both of them were thickset and looked extremely mean. Standing on either side of the pale boy, they looked like bodyguards.

Oh, this is Crabbe and this is Goyle, said the pale boy carelessly, noticing where Harry was looking. And my names Malfoy, Draco Malfoy.

Ron gave a slight cough, which might have been hiding a snigget. Draco Malfoy looked at him.

Think my names funny, do you? No need to ask who you are. My father told me all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford.

He turned back to Harry. Youll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You dont want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there.

He held out his hand to shake Harrys, but Harry didnt take it.

I think I can tell who the wrong sort are for myself, thanks, he said coolly.

Draco Malfoy didnt go red, but a pink tinge appeared in his pale cheeks.

Id be careful if I were you, Potter, he said slowly. Unless youre a bit politer youll go the same way as your parents. They didnt know what was good for them, either. You hang around with riffraff like the Weasleys and that Hagrid, and itll rub off on you.

Both Harry and Ron stood up.

Say that again, Ron said, his face as red as his hair.

Oh, youre going to fight us, are you? Malfoy sneered.

Unless you get out now, said Harry, more bravely than he felt, because Crabbe and Goyle were a lot bigger than him or Ron.

But we dont feet like leaving, do we, boys? Weve eaten all our food and you still seem to have some.

Goyle reached toward the Chocolate Frogs next to RonRon leapt forward, but before hed so much as touched Goyle, Goyle let out a horrible yell.



Scabbers the rat was hanging off his finger, sharp little teeth sunk deep into Goyles knuckleCrabbe and Malfoy backed away as Goyle swung Scabbers round and round, howling, and when Scabbers finally flew off and hit the window, all three of them disappeared at once. Perhaps they thought there were more rats lurking among the sweets, or perhaps theyd heard footsteps, because a second later, Hermione Granger had come in.

 

What

has

been going on? she said, looking at the sweets all over the floor and Ron picking up Scabbers by his tail.

 

I think hes been knocked out, Ron said to Harry. He looked closer at Scabbers. NoI dont believe ithes gone back to sleep

And so he had.

Youve met Malfoy before?

Harry explained about their meeting in Diagon Alley.

Ive heard of his family, said Ron darkly. They were some of the first to come back to our side after You-Know-Who disappeared. Said theyd been bewitched. My dad doesnt believe it. He says Malfoys father didnt need an excuse to go over to the Dark Side. He turned to Hermione. Can we help you with something?

Youd better hurry up and put your robes on, Ive just been up to the front to ask the conductor, and he says were nearly there. You havent been fighting, have you? Youll be in trouble before we even get there!

Scabbers has been fighting, not us, said Ron, scowling at her. Would you mind leaving while we change?

All rightI only came in here because people outside are behaving very childishly, racing up and down the corridors, said Hermione in a sniffy voice. And youve got dirt on your nose, by the way, did you know?

Ron glared at her as she left. Harry peered out of the window. It was getting dark. He could see mountains and forests under a deep purple sky. The train did seem to be slowing down.

He and Ron took off their jackets and pulled on their long black robes. Rons were a bit short for him, you could see his sneakers underneath them.

A voice echoed through the train: We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minutes time. Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately.

Harrys stomach lurched with nerves and Ron, he saw, looked pale under his freckles. They crammed their pockets with the last of the sweets and joined the crowd thronging the corridor.

The train slowed right down and finally stopped. People pushed their way toward the door and out on to a tiny, dark platform. Harry shivered in the cold night air. Then a lamp came bobbing over the heads of the students, and Harry heard a familiar voice: Firs years! Firs years over here! All right there, Harry?

Hagrids big hairy face beamed over the sea of heads.

Cmon, follow meany 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. Neville, the boy who kept losing his toad, sniffed once or twice.

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 moren four to a boat! Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Harry and Ron were followed into their boat by Neville and Hermione.

Everyone in? shouted Hagrid, who had a boat to himself. Right thenFORWARD!

And the fleet of little boats moved off all at once, gliding across the lake, which was as smooth as glass. Everyone was silent, staring up at the great castle overhead. It towered over them as they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which it stood.

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. They were carried along a dark tunnel, which seemed to be taking them right underneath the castle, until they reached a kind of underground harbor, where they clambered out onto rocks and pebbles.

Oy, you there! Is this your toad? said Hagrid, who was checking the boats as people climbed out of them.

Trevor! cried Neville blissfully, holding out his hands. Then they clambered up a passageway in the rock after Hagrids lamp, coming out at last onto smooth, damp grass right in the shadow of the castle.

They walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around the huge, oak front door.

Everyone here? You there, still got yer toad?

Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked three times on the castle door.

 

THE SORTING HAT

 

The door swung open at once. A tall, black haired witch in emerald green robes stood there. She had a very stern face and Harrys first thought was that this was not someone to cross.

The firs years, Professor McGonagall, said Hagrid.

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

She pulled the door wide. The entrance hall was so big you could have fit the whole of the Dursleys house in it. The stone walls were lit with flaming torches like the ones at Gringotts, the ceiling was too high to make out, and a magnificent marble staircase facing them led to the upper floors.

They followed Professor McGonagall across the flagged stone floor. Harry could hear the drone of hundreds of voices from a doorway to the right the rest of the school must already be herebut Professor McGonagall showed the first years into a small, empty chamber off the hall. They crowded in, standing rather closer together than they would usually have done, peering about nervously.

Welcome to Hogwarts, said Professor McGonagall. The start of term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room.

The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rulebreaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.

The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting.

Her eyes lingered for a moment on Nevilles cloak, which was fastened under his left ear, and on Rons smudged nose. Harry nervously tried to flatten his hair.

I shall return when we are ready for you, said Professor McGonagall. Please wait quietly.

She left the chamber. Harry swallowed.

How exactly do they sort us into houses? he asked Ron.

Some sort of test, I think. Fred said it hurts a lot, but I think he was joking.

Harrys heart gave a horrible jolt. A test? In front of the whole school? But he didnt know any magic yetwhat on earth would he have to do? He hadnt expected something like this the moment they arrived. He looked around anxiously and saw that everyone else looked terrified, too. No one was talking much except Hermione Granger, who was whispering very fast about all the spells shed learned and wondering which one shed need. Harry tried hard not to listen to her. Hed never been more nervous, never, not even when hed had to take a school report home to the Dursleys saying that hed somehow turned his teachers wig blue. He kept his eyes fixed on the door. Any second now, Professor McGonagall would come back and lead him to his doom.

Then something happened that made him jump about a foot in the airseveral people behind him screamed.

What the?

He gasped. So did the people around him. About twenty ghosts had just streamed through the back wall. Pearly white and slightly transparent, they glided across the room talking to one another and hardly glancing at the first years. They seemed to be arguing. What looked like a fat little monk was saying: Forgive and forget, I say, we ought to give him a second chance

My dear Friar, havent we given Peeves all the chances he deserves? He gives us all a bad name and you know, hes not really even a ghostI say, what are you all doing here?

A ghost wearing a ruff and tights had suddenly noticed the first years.

Nobody answered.

New students! said the Fat Friar, smiling around at them. About to be Sorted, I suppose?

A few people nodded mutely.

Hope to see you in Hufflepuff! said the Friar. My old house, you know.

Move along now, said a sharp voice. The Sorting Ceremonys about to start.

Professor McGonagall had returned. One by one, the ghosts floated away through the opposite wall.

Now, form a line, Professor McGonagall told the first years, and follow me.

Feeling oddly as though his legs had turned to lead, Harry got into line behind a boy with sandy hair, with Ron behind him, and they walked out of the chamber, back across the hall, and through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall.

 

Harry had never even imagined such a strange and splendid place. It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles that were floating in midair over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting. These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets. At the top of the hall was another long table where the teachers were sitting. Professor McGonagall led the first years up here, so that they came to a halt in a line facing the other students, with the teachers behind them. The hundreds of faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the flickering candlelight. Dotted here and there among the students, the ghosts shone misty silver. Mainly to avoid all the staring eyes, Harry looked upward and saw a velvety black ceiling dotted with stars. He heard Hermione whisper, Its bewitched to look like the sky outside. I read about it in

Hogwarts, A History.

 

It was hard to believe there was a ceiling there at all, and that the Great Hall didnt simply open on to the heavens.

Harry quickly looked down again as Professor McGonagall silently placed a four legged stool in front of the first years. On top of the stool she put a pointed wizards hat. This hat was patched and frayed and extremely dirty. Aunt Petunia wouldnt have let it in the house.

 

Maybe they had to try and get a rabbit out of it,

Harry thought wildly, that seemed the sort of thingnoticing that everyone in the hall was now staring at the hat, he stared at it, too. For a few seconds, there was complete silence. Then the hat twitched. A rip near the brim opened wide like a mouthand the hat began to sing:

 

Oh, you may not think Im pretty,

But dont judge on what you see,

Ill eat myself if you can find

A smarter hat than me.

 

 

You can keep your bowlers black,

Your top hats sleek and tall,

For Im the Hogwarts Sorting Hat

And I can cap them all.

 

 

Theres nothing hidden in your head

The Sorting Hat cant 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 Hufflepuffs are true

And unafraid of toil;

 

 

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,

If youve a ready mind,

Where those of wit and learning,

Will always find their kind;

 

 

Or perhaps in Slytherin

Youll make your real friends,

Those cunning folk use any means

To achieve their ends.

 

 

So put me on! Dont be afraid!

And dont get in a flap!

Youre in safe hands (though I have none)

For Im a Thinking Cap!

 

 

The whole hall burst into applause as the hat finished its song. It bowed to each of the four tables and then became quite still again.

So weve just got to try on the hat! Ron whispered to Harry. Ill kill Fred, he was going on about wrestling a troll.

Harry smiled weakly. Yes, trying on the hat was a lot better than having to do a spell, but he did wish they could have tried it on without everyone watching. The hat seemed to be asking rather a lot; Harry didnt feel brave or quick witted or any of it at the moment. If only the hat had mentioned a house for people who felt a bit queasy, that would have been the one for him.

Professor McGonagall now stepped forward holding a long roll of parchment.

When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted, she said. Abbott, Hannah!

A pink faced girl with blonde pigtails stumbled out of line, put on the hat, which fell right down over her eyes, and sat down. A moments pause

HUFFLEPUFF! shouted the hat.

The table on the right cheered and clapped as Hannah went to sit down at the Hufflepuff table. Harry saw the ghost of the Fat Friar waving merrily at her.

Bones, Susan!

HUFFLEPUFF! shouted the hat again, and Susan scuttled off to sit next to Hannah.

Boot, Terry!

RAVENCLAW!

The table second from the left clapped this time; several Ravenclaws stood up to shake hands with Terry as he joined them.

Brocklehurst, Mandy went to Ravenclaw too, but Brown, Lavender became the first new Gryffindor, and the table on the far left exploded with cheers; Harry could see Rons twin brothers catcalling.

Bulstrode, Millicent then became a Slytherin. Perhaps it was Harrys imagination, after all hed heard about Slytherin, but he thought they looked like an unpleasant lot. He was starting to feel definitely sick now. He remembered being picked for teams during gym at his old school. He had always been last to be chosen, not because he was no good, but because no one wanted Dudley to think they liked him.

Finch-Fletchley, Justin!

HUFFLEPUFF!

Sometimes, Harry noticed, the hat shouted out the house at once, but at others it took a little while to decide. Finnigan, Seamus, the sandy haired boy next to Harry in the line, sat on the stool for almost a whole minute before the hat declared him a Gryffindor.

Granger, Hermione!

Hermione almost ran to the stool and jammed the hat eagerly on her head.

GRYFFINDOR! shouted the hat. Ron groaned.

A horrible thought struck Harry, as horrible thoughts always do when youre very nervous. What if he wasnt chosen at all? What if he just sat there with the hat over his eyes for ages, until Professor McGonagall jerked it off his head and said there had obviously been a mistake and hed better get back on the train?

When Neville Longbottom, the boy who kept losing his toad, was called, he fell over on his way to the stool. The hat took a long time to decide with Neville. When it finally shouted, GRYFFINDOR, Neville ran off still wearing it, and had to jog back amid gales of laughter to give it to MacDougal, Morag.

Malfoy swaggered forward when his name was called and got his wish at once: the hat had barely touched his head when it screamed, SLYTHERIN!

Malfoy went to join his friends Crabbe and Goyle, looking pleased with himself.

There werent many people left now. Moon, Nott, Parkinson, then a pair of twin girls, Patil and Patil, then Perks, Sally Anne, and then, at last

Potter, Harry!

As Harry stepped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like little hissing fires all over the hall.

Potter, did she say?

 

The

Harry Potter?

 

The last thing Harry saw before the hat dropped over his eyes was the hall full of people craning to get a good look at him. Next second he was looking at the black inside of the hat. He waited.

Hmm, said a small voice in his ear. Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. Theres talent, ah my goodness, yesand a nice thirst to prove yourself, now thats interesting So where shall I put you?

Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.

Not Slytherin, eh? said the small voice. Are you sure? You could be great, you know, its all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about thatno? Well, if youre surebetter be GRYFFINDOR!

Harry heard the hat shout the last word to the whole hall. He took off the hat and walked shakily toward the Gryffindor table. He was so relieved to have been chosen and not put in Slytherin, he hardly noticed that he was getting the loudest cheer yet. Percy the Prefect got up and shook his hand vigorously, while the Weasley twins yelled, We got Potter! We got Potter! Harry sat down opposite the ghost in the ruff hed seen earlier. The ghost patted his arm, giving Harry the sudden, horrible feeling hed just plunged it into a bucket of ice cold water.

He could see the High Table properly now. At the end nearest him sat Hagrid, who caught his eye and gave him the thumbs up. Harry grinned back. And there, in the center of the High Table, in a large gold chair, sat Albus Dumbledore. Harry recognized him at once from the card hed gotten out of the Chocolate Frog on the train. Dumbledores silver hair was the only thing in the whole hall that shone as brightly as the ghosts. Harry spotted Professor Quirtell, too, the nervous young man from the Leaky Cauldron. He was looking very peculiar in a large purple turban.

And now there were only three people left to be sorted. Thomas, Dean, a black boy even taller than Ron, joined Harry at the Gryffindor table. Turpin, Lisa, became a Ravenclaw and then it was Rons turn. He was pale green by now. Harry crossed his fingers under the table and a second later the hat had shouted, GRYFFINDOR!

Harry clapped loudly with the rest as Ron collapsed into the chair next to him.

Well done, Ron, excellent, said Percy Weasley Pompously across Harry as Zabini, Blaise, was made a Slytherin. Professor McGonagall rolled up her scroll and took the Sorting Hat away.

Harry looked down at his empty gold plate. He had only just realized how hungry he was. The pumpkin pasties seemed ages ago.

Albus Dumbledore had gotten to his feet. He was beaming at the students, his arms opened wide, as if nothing could have pleased him more than to see them all there.

Welcome, he said. Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!

Thank you!

He sat back down. Everybody clapped and cheered. Harry didnt know whether to laugh or not.

Is hea bit mad? he asked Percy uncertainly.

Mad? said Percy airily. Hes a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit mad, yes. Potatoes, Harry?

Harrys mouth fell open. The dishes in front of him were now piled with food. He had never seen so many things he liked to eat on one table: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and, for some strange reason, peppermint humbugs.

The Dursleys had never exactly starved Harry, but hed never been allowed to eat as much as he liked. Dudley had always taken anything that Harry really wanted, even if It made him sick. Harry piled his plate with a bit of everything except the peppermints and began to eat. It was all delicious.

That does look good, said the ghost in the ruff sadly, watching Harry cut up his steak, Cant you?

I havent eaten for nearly four hundred years, said the ghost. I dont need to, of course, but one does miss it. I dont think Ive introduced myself? Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington at your service. Resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower.

I know who you are! said Ron suddenly. My brothers told me about youyoure Nearly Headless Nick!

 

I would

prefer

you to call me Sir Nicholas de Mimsy the ghost began stiffly, but sandy haired Seamus Finnigan interrupted.

 

 

Nearly

Headless? How can you be

nearly

headless?

 

Sir Nicholas looked extremely miffed, as if their little chat wasnt going at all the way he wanted.

 

Like

this,

he said irritably. He seized his left ear and pulled. His whole head swung off his neck and fell onto his shoulder as if it was on a hinge. Someone had obviously tried to behead him, but not done it properly. Looking pleased at the stunned looks on their faces, Nearly Headless Nick flipped his head back onto his neck, coughed, and said, Sonew Gryffindors! I hope youre going to help us win the house championship this year? Gryffindors have never gone so long without winning. Slytherins have got the cup six years in a row! The Bloody Barons becoming almost unbearablehes the Slytherin ghost.

 

Harry looked over at the Slytherin table and saw a horrible ghost sitting there, with blank staring eyes, a gaunt face, and robes stained with silver blood. He was right next to Malfoy who, Harry was pleased to see, didnt look too pleased with the seating arrangements.

How did he get covered in blood? asked Seamus with great interest.

Ive never asked, said Nearly Headless Nick delicately.

When everyone had eaten as much as they could, the remains of the food faded from the plates, leaving them sparkling clean as before. A moment later the desserts appeared. Blocks of ice cream in every flavor you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate eclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, Jell-O, rice pudding

As Harry helped himself to a treacle tart, the talk turned to their families.

Im half-and-half, said Seamus. Me dads a Muggle. Mom didnt tell him she was a witch til after they were married. Bit of a nasty shock for him.

The others laughed.

What about you, Neville? said Ron.

Well, my gran brought me up and shes a witch, said Neville, but the family thought I was all-Muggle for ages. My Great Uncle Algie kept trying to catch me off my guard and force some magic out of mehe pushed me off the end of Blackpool pier once, I nearly drownedbut nothing happened until I was eight. Great Uncle Algie came round for dinner, and he was hanging me out of an upstairs window by the ankles when my Great Auntie Enid offered him a meringue and he accidentally let go. But I bouncedall the way down the garden and into the road. They were all really pleased, Gran was crying, she was so happy. And you should have seen their faces when I got in herethey thought I might not be magic enough to come, you see. Great Uncle Algie was so pleased he bought me my toad.

 

On Harrys other side, Percy Weasley and Hermione were talking about lessons (I

do

hope they start right away, theres so much to learn, Im particularly interested in Transfiguration, you know, turning something into something else, of course, its supposed to be very difficult; Youll be starting small, just matches into needles and that sort of thing).

 

Harry, who was starting to feel warm and sleepy, looked up at the High Table again. Hagrid was drinking deeply from his goblet. Professor McGonagall was talking to Professor Dumbledore. Professor Quirrell, in his absurd turban, was talking to a teacher with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin.

It happened very suddenly. The hook nosed teacher looked past Quirrells turban straight into Harrys eyesand a sharp, hot pain shot across the scar on Harrys forehead.

Ouch! Harry clapped a hand to his head.

What is it? asked Percy.

N-nothing.

The pain had gone as quickly as it had come. Harder to shake off was the feeling Harry had gotten from the teachers looka feeling that he didnt like Harry at all.

Whos that teacher talking to Professor Quirrell? he asked Percy.

Oh, you know Quirrell already, do you? No wonder hes looking so nervous, thats Professor Snape. He teaches Potions, but he doesnt want toeveryone knows hes after Quirrells job. Knows an awful lot about the Dark Arts, Snape.

Harry watched Snape for a while, but Snape didnt look at him again.

At last, the desserts too disappeared, and Professor Dumbledore got to his feet again. The hall fell silent.

Ahemjust a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few start of term notices to give you.

First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well.

Dumbledores twinkling eyes flashed in the direction of the Weasley twins.

I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors.

Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact Madam Hooch.

And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third floor corridor on the right hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death.

Harry laughed, but he was one of the few who did.

Hes not serious? he muttered to Percy.





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