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
"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
"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 in troduced 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!"
"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 wasn't 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, "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 do 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
"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
"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.
"Ahern — 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
Harry laughed, but he was one of the few who did.
"He's not serious?" he muttered to Percy.
"Must be," said Percy, frowning at Dumbledore. "It's odd, because he usually
gives us a reason why we're not allowed to go somewhere — the forest's full of dangerous
beasts, everyone knows that. I do think he might have told us prefects, at least."
"And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!" cried Dumbledore.
Harry noticed that the other teachers' smiles had become rather fixed.
Dumbledore gave his wand a little flick, as if he was trying to get a fly off
the end, and a long golden ribbon flew out of it, which rose high above the tables
and twisted itself, snakelike, into words.
"Everyone pick their favorite tune," said Dumbledore, "and off we go!" And the
"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we've forgot,
just do your best, we'll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot.
Everybody finished the song at different times. At last, only the Weasley twins
were left singing along to a very slow funeral march. Dumbledore conducted their
last few lines with his wand and when they had finished, he was one of those who
"Ah, music," he said, wiping his eyes. "A magic beyond all we do here! And now,
bedtime. Off you trot!"
The Gryffindor first years followed Percy through the chattering crowds, out
of the Great Hall, and up the marble staircase. Harry's legs were like lead again,
but only because he was so tired and full of food. He was too sleepy even to be
surprised that the people in the portraits along the corridors whispered and pointed
as they passed, or that twice Percy led them through doorways hidden behind sliding
panels and hanging tapestries. They climbed more staircases, yawning and dragging
their feet, and Harry was just wondering how much farther they had to go when they
came to a sudden halt.
A bundle of walking sticks was floating in midair ahead of them, and as Percy
took a step toward them they started throwing themselves at him.
"Peeves," Percy whispered to the first years. "A poltergeist." He raised his
voice, "Peeves — show yourself"
A loud, rude sound, like the air being let out of a balloon, answered.
"Do you want me to go to the Bloody Baron?"
There was a pop, and a little man with wicked, dark eyes and a wide mouth appeared,
floating cross-legged in the air, clutching the walking sticks.
"Oooooooh!" he said, with an evil cackle. "Ickle Firsties! What fun!"
He swooped suddenly at them. They all ducked.
"Go away, Peeves, or the Baron'll hear about this, I mean it!" barked Percy.
Peeves stuck out his tongue and vanished, dropping the walking sticks on Neville's
head. They heard him zooming away, rattling coats of armor as he passed.
"You want to watch out for Peeves," said Percy, as they set off again. "The Bloody
Baron's the only one who can control him, he won't even listen to us prefects. Here
At the very end of the corridor hung a portrait of a very fat woman in a pink
"Password?" she said. "Caput Draconis," said Percy, and the portrait swung forward
to reveal a round hole in the wall. They all scrambled through it — Neville needed
a leg up — and found themselves in the Gryffindor common room, a cozy, round room
full of squashy armchairs.
Percy directed the girls through one door to their dormitory and the boys through
another. At the top of a spiral staircase — they were obviously in one of the towers
— they found their beds at last: five four-posters hung with deep red, velvet curtains.
Their trunks had already been brought up. Too tired to talk much, they pulled on
their pajamas and fell into bed.
" Great food, isn't it?" Ron muttered to Harry through the hangings. "Get off,
Scabbers! He's chewing my sheets."
Harry was going to ask Ron if he'd had any of the treacle tart, but he fell asleep
almost at once.
Perhaps Harry had eaten a bit too much, because he had a very strange dream.
He was wearing Professor Quirrell's turban, which kept talking to him, telling him
he must transfer to Slytherin at once, because it was his destiny. Harry told the
turban he didn't want to be in Slytherin; it got heavier and heavier; he tried to
pull it off but it tightened painfully — and there was Malfoy, laughing at him as
he struggled with it -then Malfoy turned into the hook-nosed teacher, Snape, whose
laugh became high and cold — there was a burst of green light and Harry woke, sweating
He rolled over and fell asleep again, and when he woke next day, he didn't remember
the dream at all.
THE POTIONS MASTER
"Next to the tall kid with the red hair."
"Wearing the glasses?"
"Did you see his face?"
"Did you see his scar?"
Whispers followed Harry from the moment he left his dormitory the next day. People
lining up outside classrooms stood on tiptoe to get a look at him, or doubled back
to pass him in the corridors again, staring. Harry wished they wouldn't, because
he was trying to concentrate on finding his way to classes.
There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping ones;
narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday; some with a
vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember to jump. Then there were doors
that wouldn't open unless you asked politely, or tickled them in exactly the right
place, and doors that weren't really doors at all, but solid walls just pretending.
It was also very hard to remember where anything was, because it all seemed to move
around a lot. The people in the portraits kept going to visit each other, and Harry
was sure the coats of armor could walk.