DISCLAIMER: All 'Unfortunate Events' characters, situations and the style of writing are the exclusive property of Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler. Similarly, all 'Harry Potter' characters and situations are the exclusive property of JK Rowling.
To Beatrice: I loved you and you loved life, but life was not yours for the living.
An untrained eye can sometimes be a very unhelpful thing to have. For instance, to the untrained eye a highly dangerous minefield might look like a perfectly ordinary piece of land, and unless someone had put up a sign saying "BEWARE OF MINES" there would be nothing there to let you know that as soon as you took a step towards it you would be blown sky - high. Similarly, to the untrained eye an armed robber wanted in several counties could appear to be any other passer by, and therefore you would not notice when this robber broke into your house and ran off with the good silver. Providing, of course, that you had any good silver, and if not some other valuable item would have undoubtedly been taken in its place.
To the untrained eye this might look like a pleasant and ordinary book, and therefore it is my responsibility to inform you that nothing could be further from the truth, which is that contained within these pages are some of the most horrific, tragic, disturbing descriptions of events ever recorded. As much as it is my sad and unfortunate duty to write down these events, it is not your duty to read them, and you are perfectly free to leave this wherever you may have found it and go in search of a genuinely pleasant and ordinary book which is not full of such tales of misery and woe.
In fact, to the untrained eye Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry looks like a dilapidated old ruin with signs all over it saying "DANGER" and "DO NOT ENTER", but to the eye which is not untrained, Hogwarts is a spectacular mountainside building inside which is contained one of the most respected schools of sorcery in the world.
It was towards this particular place that the three Baudelaire orphans were soon to be heading. Their parents had died in a terrible fire, and since then they had been living with various guardians. The first such guardian was an evil, wicked and greedy man called Count Olaf, who had made it his mission in life to get hold of the vast fortune the Baudelaires had been left in their parents' will. It was because of him that the orphans were now on their way to Hogwarts - some of their other guardians had died and some had run away, all as part of various schemes devised by Count Olaf to obtain their inheritance. But somehow the Baudelaires had always survived, and now they were in Mr Poe's car on the way to London.
Mr Poe was a family friend who worked in banking. It was always his job to see that the Baudelaire orphans found their way to their various new homes. Mr Poe always did his best for the children, but for all the difference he made his job would probably have been done just as well by a carton of freshly squeezed orange juice. Even so, he had travelled all the way to England with the Baudelaires, the furthest he had ever taken them, just to ensure they reached this new home.
In between repeated coughs directed at his well worn white handkerchief, Mr. Poe said "Now, children, I hope you understand you're only going to Hogwarts as an absolute last resort. There is nobody else who could possibly take you in, otherwise you would have been handed over to someone else."
"It can't be as bad as the last school we went to." said Violet, the eldest Baudelaire, who was fourteen. Violet was a brilliant inventor, and whenever she was working on something she tied her hair back with a ribbon to help her concentrate. The school she and her siblings had attended before their parents died was not an unpleasant one, but in their opinon Prufrock Preparatory School, the academy they had briefly attended after working in a sawmill, had to be one of the most miserable in the country, if not in the entire world. "It's funny we've never heard about it, though." pointed out Klaus, the middle Baudelaire. He was twelve, and his hobby was reading - about anything and everything, including the best and worst of schools.
"Welon." agreed Sunny, the youngest. Infant Sunny, roughly the size of a watermelon, had only four teeth, although they were sharp enough to bite through almost anything.
"I'm not so sure you will get on there." Mr. Poe told them. "It's a very strange place, and very strange things have been known to happen there."
The Baudelaires exchanged looks. They were all thinking that Hogwarts couldn't possibly be any stranger than anywhere they'd visited.
"I mean," Mr. Poe continued, "have you ever been around magical people before?"
"I've read about them." suggested Klaus helpfully.
"I very much doubt," said Mr Poe, "that you have read about truly magical people. They do their best to hide their existence from people who are not involved in sorcery. Your transition to Hogwarts has had to be kept a great secret."
He pulled over at the corner of a reasonably ordinary - looking street. However, the enormous person who came lumbering over towards the car did not look ordinary at all. He was the most hirsute - a word which here means 'hairy beyond belief' - creature the Baudelaires had ever seen, as his face was almost entirely hidden by a bushy beard and moustache. The children were sure they would consider him to be a werewolf if he wasn't at least eight feet tall and wearing an extremely capacious coat which seemed to be made entirely out of pockets.
"G'day to you." said this enormous creature as Mr. Poe and the Baudelaires got out of the car. "Rubeus Hagrid, groundskeeper at Hogwarts, and these must be the young Baudelaire orphans?"
"How do you do." said Violet politely. "I am Violet Baudelaire, and these are my brother and sister Klaus and Sunny."
"Pleased ter meet yeh." Hagrid said. He looked at the watch on his wrist. "Now, if yeh don't mind, Mr. Pun -"
"Poe." corrected Mr. Poe.
"I think we'd better be getting on."
"Well, goodbye, children." said Mr. Poe. "If anything goes wrong just send me a letter by owl."
"Owl?" Klaus repeated. "But they're nocturnal creatures!"
"That's the normal way for wizards." Hagrid informed them.
"Goodbye, Mr Poe." chorused Klaus and Violet.
"Chawa!" Sunny added.
Mr. Poe waved as he got into his car, and Hagrid led the Baudelaires down the street.
"Where are we going, Mr - er -" Klaus began.
"Nothin', it's just Hagrid, an' we're goin' ter Diagon Alley ter buy yer school supplies." Violet reached into her pocket for the list they had been given and read aloud from it.
"Uniform. First year students will require - are we going to be first year students, Hagrid?"
"Yeh're the first Muggles the school's ever taken in!" said Hagrid, chuckling. "We can't just throw yeh in at the deep end!"
"Muggles?" asked Klaus.
"It's what we call non-magic folk. Ah, here we are."
"Where?" inquired Violet curiously.
"Our firs' stop. Gringotts, the wizardin' bank."