Rodolphus Lestrange stared at the scarlet steam engine in front of him. All around the 11-year-old, children were running around, screaming and laughing. Some were hugging their parents goodbye. Others were dragging heavy trunks up onto the train. One very young girl was trying to follow her older brother on board, before her mother caught and dragged her back.
"Two more years before you go, Susie. You can't leave me yet," said the mother, laughing as she and the little girl waved goodbye to the boy.
"I assume you can find your way on the train by yourself," said the cold voice of Renier Lestrange.
Rodolphus turned to his father. He nodded.
"Very well," the man said and, without another look at his son, he turned around and walked away.
Rodolphus watched him leave. He didn't know what else he expected. He knew his father wasn't going to hug him goodbye, telling him that he loved him and that he would miss him. They weren't that type of family.
Rodolphus dragged his trunk onto the train, and starting looking for a compartment. Near the back, he found one that was empty. He sat down and stared out the window at the happy families.
He couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to have a father that cared that he was leaving. Or a mother who would stand outside the train, crying because she wouldn't see her son again for a few months.
Rodolphus shook his head, as though doing so would help to clear his mind of those kind of thoughts.
As it was, he knew he wouldn't miss home at all. Except for, maybe, his little brother. Rabastan was only a year old, but he had really grown on Rodolphus over the past year. Just last week at lunch, the young boy had said his first word – "Dolf". Ever since he had started walking, Rabastan spent most of his time following his older brother around their large home. And, although he would never admit it to anyone, Rodolphus secretly loved the attention he got from his brother. It made him feel special and important.
Rodolphus was brought out of his thoughts by the door of his compartment opening, and an angry looking boy walking in.
"Mind if I sit here?" he questioned, his voice demanding.
"I guess not. But -," Rodolphus was cut off by four older boys entering the compartment.
"Aww did Evie find a new friend?" mocked one boy, who looked to be the eldest of the group. The other boys laughed.
"Is your brother's name really Evie?" asked another boy.
"Nah," said a third, "but the only reason our parents had another child was because Mother wanted a girl. They were going to name her Evie. But we got stuck with an 'Evan' instead."
"Yes, the unwanted third-born son," taunted the first boy, with a smirk.
"I told you to PISS OFF Byron", said Evan through clenched teeth. He looked at the other boy.
"You too, Francis. Go find something else to do with your boyfriends."
"Watch it Evie, or I might have to curse you," said Byron, fingering his wand.
"Just try it," snarled Evan, standing up and pulling his wand out of his robes.
Francis laughed. "You think you can take all of us on alone? You really are as stupid as you look!"
Rodolphus, who had been watching the whole scene play out, was getting irritated by the older boys. He jumped up from his seat.
Drawing his own wand, he looked Francis in the eye and said, "He's not alone, though, is he?"
The four older boys all laughed again.
"And who exactly are you?" asked Byron, sneering at Rodolphus.
The brothers looked at each, their smiles faltering. Rodolphus saw Francis mouth "Lestrange?" to Byron. Byron nodded and pocketed his wand.
"You know what, boys?" said Byron, looking at his friends, "Let's go back to our compartment. These two aren't worth getting in trouble with old Dippet before the term even starts."
The other boys followed Byron out.
Rodolphus watched the door close, wondering what happened. His father always said the Lestrange name had a certain power behind it, but he definitely wasn't expecting it to have that much effect.
He looked around at Evan, who was putting his wand away.
"Thanks," said Evan, looking up at him.
"No problem," said Rodolphus, sitting back down. "So… those are your brothers?
Evan sat down across from him. "Yeah. They are complete idiots. We don't get on very well, as I'm sure you can tell."
Rodolphus nodded, not sure what else to say.
"Are you really a Lestrange?" Evan asked. "I've heard of your family. Aren't they a bit… er, I mean aren't they are one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight?"
Rodolphus was almost positive that wasn't what Evan had started to say.
"What's your surname?" he asked the boy.
"Rosier", said Evan, looking a bit glum. "Not that it matters".
Rodolphus looked at him. "Why not? Rosier is one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight as well."
"Yes, and don't get me wrong, I'm proud to come from a good Pureblood family. But you heard them", Evan nodded his head towards the door. "I'm the third born son. You know what all Pureblood families want – 'the heir and the spare'. Two boys to carry on the family name. Any son born after that is just a waste of time and gold. Or so my father says."
"I don't know if it matters when you were born," Rodolphus admitted. "I am the first born. The heir, and next in line to the Lestrange family title. And my father absolutely despises me."
"Really?" asked Evan, looking surprised. "My father dotes on Byron. Gives him anything he wants. Francis gets similar treatment, but Byron is definitely the favourite."
Wanting to change the subject, Rodolphus started talking about school.
"Any idea how they will sort us into our houses at Hogwarts?" he asked.
"I don't know for certain, but I've heard it's a magical hat that tells you where you will be placed."
"A hat? Really?" laughed Rodolphus. "Well, most of my family on my father's side were in Slytherin house, so I guess there is a good chance I will end up there too. My mother is from France, so she went to school at Beauxbatons Academy. What house are your brothers in?"
"Byron is in Gryffindor. I know," Evan laughed, seeing Rodolphus's face. "Father wasn't overly pleased at that. But Francis is in Ravenclaw, like my father was. And my mother was Slytherin, so I guess I could end up anywhere, if they go by family."
The two boys continued talking all the way to Hogwarts. When the train stopped at Hogwarts, they walked off the train together and onto the platform. Rodolphus looked up and saw a sign that said "HOGSMEADE".
"First years, please follow me", called a man holding a latern, "First years, this way!"
They walked over to him and joined a small crowd of other first years. Rodolphus noticed that the man had burn marks on his face, and he was missing half of his left arm. All that was there was a stump ending where his elbow should have been.
"Good evening everyone. My name is Professor Kettleburn. It is a Hogwarts tradition that all first years cross the lake by boat. Off you go now, quickly please."
As they journeyed across the lake, the students looked in awe as the Hogwarts castle came into view. Even Rodolphus, who was used to living in a very large home, could appreciate the size of the castle. Towers and turrets were sticking out all over it. There were hundreds of windows, some blazing with light, others completely dark. He glanced at Evan, who was sitting with his mouth open and eyes wide.
When they reached the other side of the lake, the first years climbed out of the boats and ascended the stairway toward the castle. Professor Kettleburn knocked on the door and a moment later it was opened by a wizard with auburn hair and a crooked nose.
"Professor Dumbledore, here are the first year students."
"Thank you, Professor Kettleburn, I will take them to the Great Hall. "
Dumbledore smiled kindly down at the new students. "Please follow me through here, ladies and gentlemen.
"The Hogwarts sorting is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years," said Dumbledore, as they walked through the castle. "There are four houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. You will share your house with other students in the castle. They will become like a family to you. Each house also has six Prefects, who will be more than happy to assist you in any way they can."
They came to a halt inside a small chamber.
"The Great Hall is on the other side of that door." He pointed to a door on the other side of the room. "In a moment, I will return for all of you, and you will enter the hall and be sorted into your respective houses. Please wait here quietly."
Dumbledore turned and walked away. Rodolphus and Evan looked at each other but said nothing. A few minutes later the professor returned and beckoned the students to follow him.
They lined up on the stage and waited for their name to be called.
"Told you it was a hat," whispered Evan whispered to Rodolphus.
He was right. Sitting on a stool in the middle of the stage sat a stool with an old patched hat on it. First the hat performed a song and then, once the applause died away, the first years were called forward. One by one the students sat on a stool, while Dumbledore placed the hat on their head. After a few moments the hat would yell out a house name and the student would go sit at one of the four tables.
"Lestrange, Rodolphus," called Dumbledore, when they were halfway through the students.
Rodolphus walked over to the stool and let Dumbledore put the hat on his head.
"Lestrange… yes we've had a few from your family inside our walls," a voice whispered in his ear. "A very noble and traditional family. No house will honour tradition more than Slytherin. But I sense more in you. Intelligence, for instance. You would do well in Ravenclaw. But there is bravery. And loyalty to your name and family. These traits would make you shine in both Gryffindor and Hufflepuff. Let me see…"
"Just pick one," thought Rodolphus impatiently.
"These things cannot be rushed, you know," the hat replied, "This is an important decision that will affect the next seven years of your life. Now where were we? Ah yes, there is definitely a thirst for power in you. You will make an excellent leader someday. Well, I believe you would do best in …"
"…SLYTHERIN!" shouted the sorting hat to everyone in the hall.
Roldolphus took the hat off and walked off the stage. He joined the table of students who were clapping for him and sat down to watch the remaining students be sorted.
Soon Dumbledore called the last student forward.
Evan only had the sorting hat on for a minute before it shouted "SLYTHERIN!" to the room. Rodolphus clapped with the rest of his housemates and jumped up to greet Evan when he reached the table.
The two boys grinned at each other, and then sat down to eat the feast that had just appeared on the table in front of them. Rodolphus thought school wasn't off to a bad start. At least he had made his first-ever friend.