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 he'd followed through the barrier.
"Yes, please," Harry panted.
"Oy, Fred! C'mere and help!"
With the twins' help, Harry's trunk was at last tucked away in a corner of the
"Thanks," said Harry, pushing his sweaty hair out of his eyes.
"What's that?" said one of the twins suddenly, pointing at Harry's lightning
"Blimey," said the other twin. "Are you
"He is," said the first twin. "Aren't 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 train's open door.
"Fred? George? Are you there?"
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, you've 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.
"Where's Percy?" said their mother.
"He's 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.
"Can't stay long, Mother," he said. "I'm 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 he's a prefect," said their mother fondly. "All right, dear, well, have
a good term — send me an owl when you get there."
She kissed Percy on the cheek and he left. Then she turned to the twins.
"Now, you two — this year, you behave yourselves. If I get one more owl telling
me you've — you've blown up a toilet or - — "
"Blown up a toilet? We've never blown up a toilet."
"Great idea though, thanks, Mom."
"It's not funny. And look after Ron."
"Don't 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 couldn't see him looking.
"You know that black-haired boy who was near us in the station? Know who he is?"
Harry heard the little girl's voice.
"Oh, Mom, can I go on the train and see him, Mom, eh please...."
"You've already seen him, Ginny, and the poor boy isn't something you goggle
at in a zoo. Is he really, Fred? How do you know?"
"Asked him. Saw his scar. It's really there — like 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, don't 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.
"Don't, Ginny, we'll send you loads of owls."
"We'll send you a Hogwarts toilet seat."
"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 didn't
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 hadn't looked. Harry saw he still had a
black mark on his nose.
The twins were back.
"Listen, we're going down the middle of the train — Lee Jordan's 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.
"Oh -well, I thought it might be one of Fred and George's jokes," said Ron. "And
have you really got — you know..."
He pointed at Harry's forehead.
Harry pulled back his bangs to show the lightning scar. Ron stared.
"So that's where You-Know-Who
"Yes," said Harry, "but I can't remember it."
"Nothing?" said Ron eagerly.
"Well — I 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
"Are all your family wizards?" asked Harry, who found Ron just as interesting
as Ron found him.
"Er — Yes, I think so," said Ron. "I think Mom's got a second cousin who's 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?"
"Horrible -well, not all of them. My aunt and uncle and cousin are, though. Wish
I'd had three wizard brothers."
"Five," said Ron. For some reason, he was looking gloomy. "I'm the sixth in our
family to go to Hogwarts. You could say I've got a lot to live up to. Bill and Charlie
have already left — Bill was head boy and Charlie was captain of Quidditch. Now
Percy's a prefect. Fred and George mess around a lot, but they still get really
good marks and everyone thinks they're really funny. Everyone expects me to do as
well as the others, but if I do, it's no big deal, because they did it first. You
never get anything new, either, with five brothers. I've got Bill's old robes, Charlie's
old wand, and Percy's old rat."
Ron reached inside his jacket and pulled out a fat gray rat, which was asleep.
"His name's Scabbers and he's useless, he hardly ever wakes up. Percy got an
owl from my dad for being made a prefect, but they couldn't aff -- I mean, I got
Ron's ears went pink. He seemed to think he'd said too much, because he went
back to staring out of the window.
Harry didn't think there was anything wrong with not being able to afford an
owl. After all, he'd never had any money in his life until a month ago, and he told
Ron so, all about having to wear Dudley's old clothes and never getting proper birthday
presents. This seemed to cheer Ron up.
"... and until Hagrid told me, I didn't know anything about be ing a wizard or
about my parents or Voldemort"
"What?" said Harry.
"You said You-Know-Who's name!" said Ron, sounding both shocked and impressed.
"I'd have thought you, of all people - — "
"I'm not trying to be brave or anything, saying the name," said Harry, I just
never knew you shouldn't. See what I mean? I've got loads to learn.... I bet," he
added, voicing for the first time something that had been worrying him a lot lately,
"I bet I'm the worst in the class."
"You won't be. There's 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,
Harry, who hadn't had any breakfast, leapt to his feet, but Ron's ears went pink
again and he muttered that he'd 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
carry — but the woman didn't have Mars Bars. What she did have were Bettie Bott's
Every Flavor Beans, Drooble's 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 don't like corned
"Swap you for one of these," said Harry, holding up a pasty. "Go on - — "
"You don't want this, it's all dry," said Ron. "She hasn't 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 Harry's pasties, cakes, and candies (the sandwiches
"What are these?" Harry asked Ron, holding up a pack of Chocolate Frogs. "They're
not really frogs, are they?" He was starting to feel that nothing would surprise
"No," said Ron. "But see what the card is. I'm missing Agrippa."
"Oh, of course, you wouldn't know — Chocolate Frogs have cards, inside them,
you know, to collect — famous witches and wizards. I've got about five hundred,
but I haven't got Agrippa or Ptolemy."
Harry unwrapped his Chocolate Frog and picked up the card. It showed a man's
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.
"Don't tell me you'd never heard of Dumbledore!" said Ron. "Can I have a frog?
I might get Agrippa — thanks
Harry turned over his card and read:
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 dragon's 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 Dumbledore's
face had disappeared.
"Well, you can't expect him to hang around all day," said Ron. "He'll be back.
No, I've got Morgana again and I've got about six of her... do you want it? You
can start collecting."
Ron's 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 don't move at all?" Ron sounded amazed. "weird!"