THE JOURNEY FROM PLATFORM NINE AND THREE QUARTERS 2 ñòðàíèöà
“What’s your favorite Quidditch team?” Ron asked.
“Er—I don’t know any,” Harry confessed.
“What!” Ron looked dumbfounded. “Oh, you wait, it’s 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 he’d been to with his brothers and the broomstick he’d 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 wasn’t 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 Malkin’s robe shop. He was looking at Harry with a lot more interest than he’d shown back in Diagon Alley.
“Is it true?” he said. “They’re saying all down the train that Harry Potter’s in this compartment. So it’s 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 name’s Malfoy, Draco Malfoy.”
Ron gave a slight cough, which might have been hiding a snigget. Draco Malfoy looked at him.
“Think my name’s 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. “You’ll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don’t want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there.”
He held out his hand to shake Harry’s, but Harry didn’t take it.
“I think I can tell who the wrong sort are for myself, thanks,” he said coolly.
Draco Malfoy didn’t go red, but a pink tinge appeared in his pale cheeks.
“I’d be careful if I were you, Potter,” he said slowly. “Unless you’re a bit politer you’ll go the same way as your parents. They didn’t know what was good for them, either. You hang around with riffraff like the Weasleys and that Hagrid, and it’ll rub off on you.”
Both Harry and Ron stood up.
“Say that again,” Ron said, his face as red as his hair.
“Oh, you’re 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 don’t feet like leaving, do we, boys? We’ve eaten all our food and you still seem to have some.”
Goyle reached toward the Chocolate Frogs next to Ron—Ron leapt forward, but before he’d 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 Goyle’s knuckle—Crabbe 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 they’d heard footsteps, because a second later, Hermione Granger had come in.
been going on?” she said, looking at the sweets all over the floor and Ron picking up Scabbers by his tail.
“I think he’s been knocked out,” Ron said to Harry. He looked closer at Scabbers. “No—I don’t believe it—he’s gone back to sleep—”
And so he had.
“You’ve met Malfoy before?”
Harry explained about their meeting in Diagon Alley.
“I’ve 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 they’d been bewitched. My dad doesn’t believe it. He says Malfoy’s father didn’t need an excuse to go over to the Dark Side.” He turned to Hermione. “Can we help you with something?”
“You’d better hurry up and put your robes on, I’ve just been up to the front to ask the conductor, and he says we’re nearly there. You haven’t been fighting, have you? You’ll 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 right—I only came in here because people outside are behaving very childishly, racing up and down the corridors,” said Hermione in a sniffy voice. “And you’ve 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. Ron’s 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.”
Harry’s 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?”
Hagrid’s big hairy face beamed over the sea of heads.
“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. 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 more’n 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 then—FORWARD!”
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 Hagrid’s 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 Harry’s 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 here—but 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 Neville’s cloak, which was fastened under his left ear, and on Ron’s 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.”
Harry’s heart gave a horrible jolt. A test? In front of the whole school? But he didn’t know any magic yet—what on earth would he have to do? He hadn’t 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 she’d learned and wondering which one she’d need. Harry tried hard not to listen to her. He’d never been more nervous, never, not even when he’d had to take a school report home to the Dursleys saying that he’d somehow turned his teacher’s 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 air—several people behind him screamed.
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, haven’t we given Peeves all the chances he deserves? He gives us all a bad name and you know, he’s not really even a ghost—I say, what are you all doing here?”
A ghost wearing a ruff and tights had suddenly noticed the first years.
“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 Ceremony’s 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, “It’s 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 didn’t 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 wizard’s hat. This hat was patched and frayed and extremely dirty. Aunt Petunia wouldn’t 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 thing—noticing 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 mouth—and 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 Hufflepuffs 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!”
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 we’ve just got to try on the hat!” Ron whispered to Harry. “I’ll 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 didn’t 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.
“HUFFLEPUFF!” shouted the hat again, and Susan scuttled off to sit next to Hannah.
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 Ron’s twin brothers catcalling.
“Bulstrode, Millicent” then became a Slytherin. Perhaps it was Harry’s imagination, after all he’d 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.
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.
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 you’re very nervous. What if he wasn’t 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 he’d 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 weren’t many people left now. “Moon”…, “Nott”…, “Parkinson”…, then a pair of twin girls, “Patil” and “Patil”…, then “Perks, Sally Anne”…, and then, at last—
As Harry stepped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like little hissing fires all over the hall.
“Potter, did she say?”
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. There’s talent, ah my goodness, yes—and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that’s 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, it’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that—no? Well, if you’re sure—better 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 he’d seen earlier. The ghost patted his arm, giving Harry the sudden, horrible feeling he’d 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 he’d gotten out of the Chocolate Frog on the train. Dumbledore’s 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 Ron’s 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!
He sat back down. Everybody clapped and cheered. Harry didn’t know whether to laugh or not.
“Is he—a bit mad?” he asked Percy uncertainly.
“Mad?” said Percy airily. “He’s a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit mad, yes. Potatoes, Harry?”
Harry’s 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 he’d 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, “Can’t you—?”
“I haven’t eaten for nearly four hundred years,” said the ghost. “I don’t need to, of course, but one does miss it. I don’t think I’ve 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 you—you’re Nearly Headless Nick!”
you to call me Sir Nicholas de Mimsy—” the ghost began stiffly, but sandy haired Seamus Finnigan interrupted.
Headless? How can you be
Sir Nicholas looked extremely miffed, as if their little chat wasn’t going at all the way he wanted.
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, “So—new Gryffindors! I hope you’re 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 Baron’s becoming almost unbearable—he’s 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, didn’t look too pleased with the seating arrangements.
“How did he get covered in blood?” asked Seamus with great interest.
“I’ve 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.
“I’m half-and-half,” said Seamus. “Me dad’s a Muggle. Mom didn’t 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 she’s 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 me—he pushed me off the end of Blackpool pier once, I nearly drowned—but 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 bounced—all 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 here—they thought I might not be magic enough to come, you see. Great Uncle Algie was so pleased he bought me my toad.”
On Harry’s other side, Percy Weasley and Hermione were talking about lessons (“I
hope they start right away, there’s so much to learn, I’m particularly interested in Transfiguration, you know, turning something into something else, of course, it’s supposed to be very difficult”; “You’ll 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 Quirrell’s turban straight into Harry’s eyes—and a sharp, hot pain shot across the scar on Harry’s forehead.
“Ouch!” Harry clapped a hand to his head.
“What is it?” asked Percy.
The pain had gone as quickly as it had come. Harder to shake off was the feeling Harry had gotten from the teacher’s look—a feeling that he didn’t like Harry at all.
“Who’s that teacher talking to Professor Quirrell?” he asked Percy.
“Oh, you know Quirrell already, do you? No wonder he’s looking so nervous, that’s Professor Snape. He teaches Potions, but he doesn’t want to—everyone knows he’s after Quirrell’s job. Knows an awful lot about the Dark Arts, Snape.”
Harry watched Snape for a while, but Snape didn’t look at him again.
At last, the desserts too disappeared, and Professor Dumbledore got to his feet again. The hall fell silent.
“Ahem—just 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.”
Dumbledore’s 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.
“He’s not serious?” he muttered to Percy.