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 couldn't 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 Bott's Every Flavor Beans.
"You want to be careful with those," Ron warned Harry. "When they say every flavor,
they mean every flavor — you 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.
"Bleaaargh — see? 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 wouldn't touch, which turned out to be
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, "I've lost him! He keeps getting away
"He'll turn up," said Harry.
"Yes," said the boy miserably. "Well, if you see him..."
"Don't know why he's so bothered," said Ron. "If I'd brought a toad I'd lose
it as quick as I could. Mind you, I brought Scabbers, so I can't talk."
The rat was still snoozing on Ron's lap.
"He might have died and you wouldn't know the difference," said Ron in disgust.
"I tried to turn him yellow yesterday to make him more interesting, but the spell
didn't work. I'll 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 hair's 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? Neville's lost one," she said. She had a bossy sort
of voice, lots of bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth.
"We've already told him we haven't seen it," said Ron, but the girl wasn't listening,
she was looking at the wand in his hand.
"Oh, are you doing magic? Let's see it, then."
She sat down. Ron looked taken aback.
"Er — all 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 that's a real spell?" said the girl. "Well, it's not very good,
is it? I've tried a few simple spells just for practice and it's all worked for
me. Nobody in my family's magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my
letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it's the very best school
of witchcraft there is, I've heard -- I've learned all our course books by heart,
of course, I just hope it will be enough — I'm Hermione Granger, by the way, who
She said all this very fast.
Harry looked at Ron, and was relieved to see by his stunned face that he hadn't
learned all the course books by heart either.
"I'm Ron Weasley," Ron muttered.
"Harry Potter," said Harry.
"Are you really?" said Hermione. "I know all about you, of course — I got a few
extra books. for background reading, and you're 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, didn't you know, I'd have found out everything I could if it was me,"
said Hermione. "Do either of you know what house you'll be in? I've been asking
around, and I hope I'm in Gryffindor, it sounds by far the best; I hear Dumbledore
himself was in it, but I suppose Ravenclaw wouldn't be too bad.... Anyway, we'd
better go and look for Neville's toad. You two had better change, you know, I expect
we'll be there soon."
And she left, taking the toadless boy with her.
"Whatever house I'm in, I hope she's not in it," said Ron. He threw his wand
back into his trunk. "Stupid spell — George gave it to me, bet he knew it was a
"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 don't know what they'll say if I'm not. I don't suppose Ravenclaw
would be too bad, but imagine if they put me in Slytherin."
"That's 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 Ron's mind off houses. "So what do your oldest brothers do now that
they've left, anyway?"
Harry was wondering what a wizard did once he'd finished school.
"Charlie's in Romania studying dragons, and Bill's in Africa doing something
for Gringotts," said Ron. "Did you hear about
Gringotts? It's been all over the Daily Prophet, but I don't suppose you get
that with the Muggles — someone tried to rob a high security vault."
"Really? What happened to them?"
"Nothing, that's why it's such big news. They haven't been caught. My dad says
it must've been a powerful Dark wizard to get round Gringotts, but they don't think
they took anything, that's what's odd. 'Course, everyone gets scared when something
like this happens in case You-Know-Who's 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
"What's your 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
"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 Scabbets 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.
"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 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 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
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.