Disclaimer: Anything recognized belongs to J. K. Rowling.
It felt like I had just started reading A History of Magic when my compartment door opened.
"Hi," a boy said breathlessly, and I recognized him as the one with the toad from Diagon Alley. "I saw you in Diagon Alley, and you seemed like a clever sort of person. Well, it's not that big of an achievement to be cleverer than I am. Anyway, I've lost my toad, Trevor. I've been round the compartments and no one's seen him, but people love to play jokes on me. I think they would listen to you better. Would you please help me look for him?" This was said all in a rush.
I felt a little sorry for him. It was clear that he didn't have a good memory and that he was at a loss of what to do. He seemed to really need my help. "Alright," I said. "Lead the way."
We started down the corridor. "What's your name?" I asked politely.
"Neville. Neville Longbottom. Here's the first compartment." He opened a door to a compartment consisting of twins with red hair and freckles and another boy with dreadlocks about their age.
"You again?" asked one of the twins. "We've already told you we haven't seen a toad. I'm sure he'll turn up. Check the next compartment. We were just about to see Lee's giant tarantula again."
I suddenly felt very defensive.
"Don't be mean, we were just checking again, weren't we, Neville?" I asked, turning to Neville. "There's no harm in double-checking, is there?"
The twin who had spoken looked at me. "Who are you?"
"Hermione Granger. And you?"
"I'm George Weasley, and this is my brother, Fred. That guy over there who won't show us his tarantula just because we've already seen it," he paused, "is Lee Jordan."
"I can introduce myself, thanks! And you've asked to see it five times already!"
Before the fight got too bad, I closed the compartment door. "Let's try the next one," I said brightly.
The second and third compartments passed in the same manner, and no one seemed to have seen the toad. Suddenly, I thought of something.
"Which houses are there at Hogwarts, Neville? I hope I get into the right one."
"Well, Gran says that there's Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Hufflepuff. Gryffindor's for really brave people and Ravenclaw's full of smart ones, which means I can at least rule one house out." Neville sighed unhappily. "Gran says that Slytherin's a bad lot and that she'll disown me if I get in there. And Hufflepuffs are cheerful but not too bright. Maybe I'll get to be in Hufflepuff."
This made me feel even sorrier for Neville.
"I think I'd like Ravenclaw, but there are qualities that a person can have other than cleverness. So I think I'd like to be in Gryffindor."
The fourth compartment was empty except for one girl who looked asleep, so we didn't disturb her. But the fifth consisted of two boys, and one of them had the same red hair and freckles as the twins that we had met earlier. The other had untidy black hair and green eyes covered by glasses. He looked strangely familiar; though I was sure I hadn't met him before.
"Has anyone seen a toad? Neville's lost one," I said. The red-haired boy looked annoyed. I noticed that he had his wand out.
"We've already told him we haven't seen it," he complained. I barely heard him. I was excited to see a real spell for the first time, other than the glowing blue Muggle money in Gringotts and the bricks in Diagon Alley.
"Oh, are you doing magic? Let's see it, then." I sat down, but Neville stayed in the doorway, looking awkwardly around at nothing in particular.
"Er – all right." said the red-haired boy. He cleared his throat and said:
"Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow,
Turn this stupid fat rat yellow."
It was then that I noticed a rat was in his lap. This rat, however, did not turn yellow or any other colour.
"Are you sure that's a real spell?" I asked. I doubted it. "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." This was true. After I had gotten my wand, I had started into another of my schoolbooks and had tried some on our way to King's Cross. I kept a low profile, of course. "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 learnt all our set books off by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough – I'm Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?"
It was true that I had learnt all the set books off by heart. It was something that I did every year. I saw the green-eyed boy look at the twins' brother. They both had stunned faces, but I couldn't make out why.
"I'm Ron Weasley," the red-haired one muttered. Of course, I thought, Weasley. That's the last name of the twins. But before I could really think that through, the black-haired boy said his name.
"Harry Potter," he said.
Now I knew why he looked so familiar – I had seen his picture in the dusty brown book. I had read about him in a couple others as well.
"Are you really?" I inquired. "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." The titles of the books that I'd read suddenly came back to me. It seemed easy to talk to Ron and Harry.
"Am I?' asked Harry. I was taken aback.
"Goodness, didn't you know, I'd have found out everything I could if it was me," I said, astonished. "Do either of you know what house you'll be in?" I didn't know how the house placement was determined. "I've been asking around and I hope I'm in Gryffindor, it sounds by far the best, I hear Dumbledore himself was one, but I suppose Ravenclaw wouldn't be too bad..." I'd read about Dumbledore: he was also in Modern Magical History about finding the twelve uses of dragon blood. He was more famous than even Harry.
"Anyway, we'd better go look for Neville's toad." I noticed then that they were still in everyday clothes. "You two had better change, you know, I expect we'll be there soon."
I joined Neville outside in the corridor. His face had a look of incredulity on it.
"Do you always babble when talking to other people?" Then he realized what he'd said. "I didn't mean to be rude..."
"Did I babble?" I asked carelessly. I was thinking of meeting Harry Potter on the train and that I would soon see Albus Dumbledore.
Neville nodded and then looked down. "Oh, I think I'd better change into my robes, too," he said. "I don't think Trevor's in any of the other compartments."
And he disappeared into the crowd.
I had already read all of my books, so I went up to the front to ask the driver about the remaining length of the trip.
"How much more time until we get to Hogwarts?"
"We'll be there soon," he said, and turned back to face the front.
I turned around and walked back to where I had come from, meaning to go back to my compartment. As I passed Harry and Ron's, the door opened and three boys slouched out of it. They looked like they had just been in a fight and did not look happy. I decided to check in on the other two. I needed to get into a compartment because people had just started racing up and down the corridor and I wanted to get out of the way. I opened the door.
"What has been going on?" I asked. I looked at the chocolate frogs, every-flavour beans and cauldron cakes which were now all over the compartment floor and then at Ron's rat, which Ron was holding by the tail. It looked knocked out, but it could have been asleep.
Ron, instead of answering me, turned to Harry. "I think he's been knocked out. No – I don't believe it – he's gone back to sleep." He turned his gaze from the rat to Harry again. "You've met Malfoy before?"
I had no idea who this Malfoy was, but Ron seemed to say his name with vengeance.
Harry, ignoring me like Ron, told some complicated story of meeting Malfoy in Diagon Alley. When he'd finished, Ron's expression had become even darker than before.
"I've heard of his family. 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 then seemed to notice me for the first time. "Can we help you with something?"
"You'd better hurry up and put your robes on," – for I'd noticed that they still hadn't put them on – "I've just been up the front to ask the driver and he says we're nearly there. You haven't been fighting, have you?" Again, I looked at the spilled sweets. "You'll be in trouble before we even get there!"
"Scabbers has been fighting, not us," scowled Ron. Oh, I thought, Scabbers must be his rat. "Would you mind leaving us while we change?" He looked angry.
I was mad. First he ignored me along with Harry and now he was angry at me for no reason. "All right – I only came in here because people outside are behaving very childishly, racing up and down the corridors," I sniffed sourly. "And you've got dirt on your nose, by the way, did you know?" I said to Ron. Then I marched out to the corridor and into my compartment to collect my books.
But then a voice sounded in the train. "We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minute's time. Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately."
This statement brought butterflies to my stomach. What if I don't know enough? What if I fail everything? What if I get in trouble and have to get detention? Shaking, I went out into the corridor again and followed the crowd of students out of the train. For it had stopped by this time.
I stepped out on to a small platform. The first thing I noticed was how cold it was. These thoughts were driven out of my head when a lamp came towards us. It took a few seconds before my eyes could focus on the face of the individual carrying the lamp. He was twice as tall as any grown man and quite wide as well. He must be a giant, I thought, and then immediately corrected myself. Giants are bigger than that...he must be only a half-giant.
"Firs'-years! Firs'-years over here!" the giant was calling. I heard him say something else that I couldn't quite catch and then more calls to the first years of a similar kind. Soon, I found myself stumbling along with everyone else, following the lamp. The lamp went down a steep, thin path which turned around a sharp bend. I gasped when I turned this bend as well.
The path had turned into a lake. On the other side of the lake was a mountain, and on top of that mountain was Hogwarts. This was a big castle with a lot of towers and turrets. Oh no! How am I going to find my way around a castle this big and not be late for class? My worries started again.
"No more'n four to a boat!" the giant instructed, pointing to some boats on our side of the lake. I got into one with Ron, Harry and Neville. Once everyone was in, the giant called "Forward!" in a loud voice and the boats began to move across the water.
Ending here! Next chapter will be up soon and we'll hear more of Ann, I promise. I finally have access to the first book! REVIEW!!!