Harry bit his lip, hard, as the train started, pulling him out of the station and away from Sirius. Despite their talk yesterday, he still wasn't too thrilled about leaving. He didn't understand why Sirius couldn't just continue to teach him magic at home. After all, he had been incredibly smart, and surely he'd be a better teacher than Snape?

But Sirius had said that Harry needed to go away for the experiences, and that he wouldn't deprive Harry of this opportunity. He insisted that this would be a great time in Harry's life.

Right now, Harry very much doubted that.

He glanced at Ron, whose face was pink with excitement. His hands shook a little, though, and his ears were getting red, so Harry knew that his friend was not without fear.

He sighed. "This is it."

Ron nodded. "Er, want a sandwich? Mum packed some." He started to unzip his worn school bag that once belonged to Charlie to reveal a large paper bag that Harry guessed was filled with sandwiches. He selected a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and handed it to Harry. "She knows you like this kind."

"Isn't there food on the train?" Harry asked, taking the sandwich. Sirius had already given him some, of course, but Harry didn't want Ron to take offense. Of course, Sirius had mentioned that there was a trolley on the train with snacks, and had supplied Harry with plenty of money for what he called "necessary expenses", but maybe Harry had been thinking about another train?

Ron laughed. "Yeah but that's stuff like chocolate frogs." He turned to the sandwiches and selected a cheese one for himself. "Mum never gives us money for stuff like that."

Harry took a bite of his sandwich and immediately wished he had remembered to bring water. Mrs. Weasley always used extra thick peanut butter, and it stuck to his throat uncomfortably.

"I have some," he managed.

Ron looked skeptical. "Mum says there's going to be a feast as soon as we get there…"

Harry rolled his eyes. "It's our first time, Ron. Besides, you're always hungry."

Ron laughed. "Yeah, okay."

Glad that this was settled, Harry began to attack the rest of the sandwich, hoping that the trolley would have something to drink as well.

Ron seemed to notice his dilemma. "Oh, sorry. Here—Mum gave me pumpkin juice…" He reached into the paper bag again and pulled out two small orange bottles, then handed one to Harry.

Harry grinned as he downed its contents.

"Wonder when lessons will start," he mused after a few minutes of silence. "Think they'll do any of that orientation stuff they do in muggle school?"

Ron stared at Harry blankly. "Orientation? You mean like trying to make a map to Hogwarts? Why would we need that?"

Harry laughed. "No, not that kind of orientation. Getting to know you stuff, like putting people into groups and having them climb a wall and stuff. Building teamwork."

Ron snickered as though Harry had told a great joke. "Blimey, Harry, why would we need to climb walls at Hogwarts?"

Harry reddened. "Well, it's to get to know your classmates. We only had it once in muggle school, though. Kind of silly."

Ron continued to look amused. "How long does that stuff go on for? Blimey, I can't imagine teachers like Snape wanting to start classes late for that kind of thing. Sounds like what you'd do at a birthday party."

Harry frowned, trying to remember. "Ours was two days."

Ron looked amazed. "Well, I'd be for it, if it meant missing lessons for that long…sounds like fun."

"It was, kind of," Harry replied. Then, rather defensively, he asked, "Ok, Mr. know it all, what does happen after the Sorting?"

"The feast, and then we go to bed. Lessons start the next day. Percy told me," he added. "Says they're not too bad at first, because we're learning the basics."

"Wonder how long they go for," Harry mused. "Muggle school was 8:30 to 3:00 five days a week."

"I think it's the same here except we get half days on Friday," Ron replied. "Good thing, too, because Fred says that they give a ton of homework over the weekend."

Harry groaned, but before he could say anything, there was a knock at the door. Before Harry could open it, a pair of fingers had already done so, and a small, elderly witch wearing a bright smile asked them if they'd like anything off the trolley.

Harry nodded eagerly, and turned to Ron. "What do you want?" he asked.

"Er, I'll just share what you get," he replied, ears reddening.

Harry opened the door completely so he could have a better look at the cart. He decided immediately against Bertie Bott's every Flavor beans—there might be some good ones in there, but the last time he tried one that he thought was orange, he got liver. He could still remember the horrible taste and Sirius' rush to find chocolate frog to, as he put it "alleviate Harry's pain". Harry still grimaced when he recalled that incident.

Chocolate frogs were okay, though, and pumpkin pastries were always good. He'd need something to drink with those…"Do you have pumpkin juice?" Harry asked hopefully.

The witched nodded brightly and pointed to the second row on the trolley, which contained various beverages that Harry had never even heard of. He selected two bottles of pumpkin juice for himself and Ron, and then went back to looking over the sweets. Ron liked Drooble's chewing gum, he knew; Harry got some without intending to consume any himself, and then picked out two small stacks of cauldron cakes. At the last moment, he chose a few licorice wands, remembering that he had enjoyed them at his only birthday party a couple of years ago. The total came to four sickles and four knuts.

Ron watched eagerly as Harry dumped the candy in the space between them. "Yum," he said, reaching for a wand. "I haven't had these in ages…"

"Me neither," Harry recalled. "Are they kind of rare?"

Ron spoke as he chewed the candy intently. "Well, kind of. I mean, they don't cost more or anything, but less places sell them. Fred says parents are afraid their kids will mistake them for the real thing."

Harry picked one up and inspected it closely. It was much larger than his own wand, and entirely pink…how could anyone mistake it for theirs?

"Ginny once tried to eat mum's after she had one," Ron added as he swallowed. "It still has teeth marks on it. She was three though," he added, in an attempt to be fair. "Fred and George still tease her about it."

Harry laughed as he continued eating his own wand, and watch Ron go for the gum. "Thought you didn't like this?" he asked.

"It's okay," Harry replied. Thinking fast, he added, "You know, in case we run out of other stuff." Ron nodded disappointedly. "You can have some now, if you want," Harry added quickly.

He had known for awhile that the Weasleys had much less money than he and Sirius…Harry had been inside both of the vaults and while Harry had inherited enough good to fill three of the cupboards he used to sleep in, Sirius' fortune could not have fit into Harry's room. This didn't mean Harry could have anything he wanted, of course, but he knew that they were much better off than the Weasleys, who had to buy nearly everything second hand.

Harry and Ron continued munching on the sweets until they heard another knock at the door. This time, the door did not open on its own, and Harry scrambled towards it, knocking away some of the chocolate frogs that had been on his lap, looking curious. A small, slightly heavy boy stood outside, the laces on his shoes undone.

"Sorry, but have you seen a toad at all?" he asked, looking first at Harry and then at Ron.

Harry and Ron both shook their heads. "We haven't seen anything," Harry added. "Just the trolley."

Neville's eyes leapt towards the candy. "Ooh, you've got pumpkin pastries!" he said, looking considerably more cheerful.

Harry grinned. "Yeah, want to join us?"

Neville nodded. "Just got to get my things…S'okay if my friend comes along?"

"Sure!" Ron blurted out, smiling. "What's his name?"

"Her name," Neville corrected. "Hermione Granger. She's real nice."

Then he left the room, shutting the door behind him rather loudly. Merlie, who had been content to sit lazily on the empty bench, now suspected that she would have to move and gave Harry what looked like an exasperated look.

"Aw, Merl, it's okay," Harry coaxed. "Come on, you can sit in Daddy's lap."

Ron hid a snicker with a loud cough. "Ever hear of that girl before?" Ron asked, quickly changing the subject.

Harry shook his head. "Bet she's related to Hector Dagworth-Granger," he said, remembering the name come up between Sirius and Uncle Remus.

"Sorry…who?" Ron asked, looking up from the chewing gum.

"He founded some society for people who made potions. He helped invent the wolfsbane potion," Harry replied. "You know, the one that makes sure Uncle Remus doesn't go nutters when he transforms…"

"Oh, right." Ron nodded, looking gloomy. "Reckon she's pretty smart then."

Harry shrugged. "Sirius said Neville's parents were awesome, but he can't even find his toad. And he's always going on about how great my dad was in school, but when we studied at home, I had to work a lot harder than he did to get some of the stuff."

Ron looked considerably cheered up at this. "Guess so."

The door opened again. Neville appeared, holding his frog, with a taller girl wearing the Hogwarts uniform. Her brown hair was very wild and long, much how Harry imagined his would look if he were female. He smiled.

"Hi," he greeted.

Hermione smiled briefly. "Hello. I'm Hermione Granger," she introduced herself.

"Yeah, we know," Ron muttered. "I'm Ron Weasley."

"I'm Harry Potter," Harry replied, bracing himself for the usual ogling.

Hermione and Neville took seats on the now vacant bench, placing their trunks and school bags on the floor in a half hazard manner.

"Are you really?" Hermione asked, eagerly. "I've read all about you—I got some extra books for background reading, you see, after I got my letter."

"Your parents never told you?" Ron questioned, frowning slightly.

"How could they?" she laughed. "They're muggles."

"So you're muggle born, then," Harry realized. Before he could stop himself, he added, "I've never met one of you before."

Hermione raised her eyebrows. "Well, surely you know that a third of the students at Hogwarts are Muggle born or have at least three muggle—or muggle born—grandparents," she huffed.

"We thought you were related to the guy who formed a potion society," Ron explained, trying to be helpful.

"No," Hermione responded. "I'm the first person in my entire family to be magical." She sniffed. "I know that there are some people opposed to us…I hope you two aren't them," she added. "I'm quite a good witch so far—every spell I've tried has worked for me, even if they are fairly simple."

Ron's ears reddened while Harry felt his face grow red. "We're not," Harry reassured her. "My godfather says that if you have magic, then you have magic, and blood's got nothing to do with it. I reckon there are some people who won't like it, though."

Hermione nodded wisely. "Yes, You-Know-Who was not a large supporter of muggles," she replied.

"That's putting it mildly," Neville piped in. "But Dumbledore likes your lot."

Hermione raised her bushy eyebrows, clearly offended at being referred to as another class of people, but chose to refrain from commenting on that.

"He has to, when the school is mostly half bloods or less," Ron laughed. "Not to mention the wizarding world…Dad says there have been more muggle born witches and wizards since You-Know-Who was defeated than ever. 'Course, most of them go to Hogwarts…"

Hermione took a chocolate frog without asking and turned to Harry. "What do you remember about the night You-Know-Who tried to kill you?" she asked.

Ron and Neville looked shocked, as though she had uttered a disgusting swear word.

"You're not supposed to ask about that!" Ron gasped. "He was only one."

"That's still old enough to remember things, isn't it?" she replied, though looked somewhat embarrassed.

"Just green light," Harry murmured. He exchanged glances at Ron, and knew they were both thinking the same thing: Were all muggle borns like this?

Based on Harry's experience with the Dursleys, he wouldn't be surprised if this was the case. Still, Sirius had always said not to judge people by their blood, and that his mum could out hex his dad any day.

But Harry was sure his mum wasn't as bossy or nosy as Hermione Granger.

Hermione glanced at her watch. "It's getting late. I'm going to ask the conductor if we'll be there soon," she announced, standing up. "Anyone want to come along?"

But all three boys shook their heads. "We'll wait," Neville replied, voicing the common opinion.

"All right, then," Hermione replied, surveying them. "You'll want to change into your robes while I'm gone…Hogwarts, a History says that students are supposed to arrive at the feast in full uniform."

With that, she shut the door behind her and promptly disappeared from their sight.

Ron and Harry let out enormous sighs of relief.

"What a git," Ron announced, after waiting a few seconds to be sure Hermione was out of sight. "What a nasty, presumptuous little prat…"

Harry was having a hard time convincing himself that this was not the case. "Why'd you sit with her, Neville? Anywhere else would have been better."

Neville stared at the floor. "No one else's door was open, and she seemed nice enough," he replied glumly. "Gosh, Harry, I'm sorry she was so rude about your parents."

Harry shook his head. "Let's just hope she's not in our house," he stated grimly, unzipping his bag to retrieve his school robes. To his amusement, they were considerably wrinkled despite the anti wrinkling charm Sirius had used earlier…several times. Probably that made it less effective…he grinned. "She seems like a real know it all, so I bet she'll be in Ravenclaw. They don't care about blood…"

"Hope so." Ron followed Harry in opening his suitcase. His robes were even worse off than Harry's. "Blimey," he stated, holding up a pair. "Percy's going to kill me."

"Hermione can probably fix them," replied Neville. "She was going on and on about how easy magic was for her…bet she'll do everything right on the first try."

Ron made an angry noise which Harry knew translated as "She better not but she probably will."

Remus was awake when Sirius Apparated into his house.

"I found the note about you moving in today," the marauder informed Sirius. "It was on my head."

Sirius feigned innocence. "I wonder how it got there."

Remus smiled. "How's Harry doing?"

Sirius sighed. "He's fine. Looked sad when the train left, but I know he'll be okay. Good thing he has Ron."

"A very good thing," Remus agreed. "A shame about the others."

"Never would have expected it," Sirius grumbled, plopping down on the couch. "Sure, parents have home schooled their kids and sent them to other schools, but it seems unfair that five of Harry's friends won't be at Hogwarts. He was counting on Andrew, too."

Remus sighed. "Any idea why that was?"

"His parents say that the other school…which they won't even name…would be better for him, because he's kind of slow."

"Well, that's fair," Remus replied.

"Probably didn't even get into Hogwarts. Andrew did his first magic kind of late, but he would have caught up…bet that's what it was. His parents don't hate Dumbledore or anything." Sirius paused. "Wish I had convinced Harry to sneak in my Cleansweep…"

"Having a broom won't make it any easier to get on the team, Padfoot. You know that first years are never picked," Remus reminded his friend gently, stretching out on his favorite chair. Sirius seemed determined to hog the couch.

"I've seen him fly before. He's a natural. I wish he still had the toy broom I got him for his first birthday…James almost killed me, getting a broom for someone that little." Sirius rolled his eyes. "Turned out okay, though. Except for the vase."

"Which Lily could have repaired had she wanted to," Remus remembered, smiling. "You did her a favor. She couldn't get rid of it without feeling guilty, but you know how much she hated it."

"I know," Sirius replied smugly. "I am a genius."

Moony threw a pillow at his head, which Sirius easily deflected with a wave of his wand, but Remus knew that Sirius was already lost in memories of the past...

He took advantage of the silence to recall some of the events at school as well. Sirius and James were always smart, always ready for anything, and they knew it. Half the times they got in trouble was because they wanted to be caught, to claim credit before the school for doing something as outlandish as putting an engorgement charm in Filch's drink. It was an interesting dynamic. Peter had always known he was the least important among the group, although this was by very little; all of the Marauders saw themselves as brothers. Remus was a little above Peter and not quite equal to James and Sirius, and yet they had become animagi to help him when he became a werewolf…Remus smiled at the memory of their first transformations on the full moon. That time, changing barely seemed to hurt at all.

James and Sirius were both incredibly popular, and you rarely saw one without the other. Remus suspected he might have been a third member of this group had he not been so secretive about his condition during the first two years of school. Yet anyone who was watching would see that although they seemed equal, Sirius was the only one who could make James stop showing off when he became truly unbearable. Even though they saw themselves as brothers, it seemed that Sirius was the older brother and the true ringleader of the group. Not that James would ever admit to this…After all, James prided himself on being a Quidditch star.

Remus had always known that if Harry ever became too big headed, Sirius was the right person to bring him back to earth. He had a way with James, a way to silence him without humiliating him (as Lily and Snape had so often done), and Remus knew that he'd be the same way with Harry. And of course, Sirius didn't want Harry to have the kind of ego that he and James had. It had been something Sirius worried about after first adopting Harry, but it seemed to be for naught. Harry may look like James, but he had much more of Lily's common sense in him.

Then again, Remus recalled this could also be because he still grew up around the Dursleys. Being told that you were a freak every day probably damaged his self esteem, even with Sirius around to hex them if they went too far, at least enough to keep Harry from becoming pig headed.

Not to mention the fact that both Marauders knew that, deep down inside, Harry genuinely missed his parents. Sirius was his guardian, and he loved him ferociously, but his real parents had been dead for nearly ten years. This was a loss that didn't just go away in a heartbeat. Maybe Harry stayed so level headed because he knew the cost of his fame.

Not that he was perfect, of course. Harry had tried the "But I'm the Boy Who Lived" act a few times, usually when Sirius tried to make Harry eat broccoli or go to bed early. It never worked, but Sirius usually laughed when it happened. Remus still remembered one time when they had been visiting…

"Sirius, what is that?" asked the six year old, pointing at a tomato on his plate.

"It's a tomato, Puppy," Sirius replied. "It's very good. You'll like it."

Harry poked it. "It looks like blood. It smells gross."

"Just a little bite?"

Harry shook his head. "I don't like red stuff."

Lupin had a hard time keeping a straight face at this comment, knowing where it came from. He knew the reason behind Harry's hatred of "red stuff". He had only had one red thing before, aside from apples, and that had been a particularly nasty Bertie Butt Every Flavor Bean. Sirius had tried the bean after Harry had made a horrible face and drank a whole cup of milk. He thought the flavor was old socks.

"This isn't a bean," Sirius encouraged. "It's a fruit. Like apples. You like apples, remember?"

Harry poked the tomato again, and pouted. "Do I have to?"

Sirius never knew how to respond to that question. There were parents, muggle and wizarding, who would force children to try new foods, either by force feeding (the muggle way or the magical way—Sirius and Remus often debated which way was worse) or denying the child a privilege, such as dessert. Sirius did not like the first approach and was not a large fan of the second approach.

Seeing Sirius paused, Harry continued, with an impish grin on his face. "Do famous people have to eat food they don't like?"


"I'm famous. You said so. So, if they don't need to eat gross foods, then I won't either."

"Many famous people are much older than you," Sirius tried, feeling trapped.

He also felt it wasn't quite fair for Harry to use his fame in this way. All Harry knew, at this point, was that wizards stared at him and called him "The Boy Who Lived", and Harry knew this was supposed to be considered a good thing, but the six year old hadn't connected his fame with the loss of his parents, which relieved Sirius immensely.

Harry pouted again. "That's not fair."

Whether Harry was referring to the fact that most people who were famous were older than him, or other famous people didn't need to try new foods, Sirius did not know.

Sirius decided a new approach. He pouted. "I know. You're not fair," he informed Harry.

"Me?" Harry's eyes turned wide.

"I'm trying to be nice and share my yummy tomato with you. I love tomatoes, but I want you to have one so you can see how good they are. But you're being mean to me." Sirius folded his arms and made a sad puppy face.

Harry was smarter than that. "You never eat tomatoes!"

"I'll eat one if you try yours," Sirius volunteered.

He had never been a fan of the fruit. He almost never ate them. He did, however, know that they were supposed to be healthy. If he could get Harry to take a few bites, it would be worth the disgusting taste.

Harry considered this for a minute. "No."

"I'll make us ice cream after dinner," Remus offered. He knew that Sirius was not above bribery.

Harry paused. "Sirius only gets some if he eats his tomato."

Sirius pouted. "Meanie head."

Harry made a face. "You're the meanie head, making me eat this yucky thing," Harry grumbled, poking at the tomato sadly.

It turned out that both of the tomatoes were very close to being rotten. Neither of them could manage more than one bite. A week later, though, Sirius did convince Harry to try another one, with the same promise, and Harry found that they weren't "too yucky", as he put it.

Remus, who never cared for the fruit or the color, had been exceptionally glad that his tomato was both small and fairly fresh.

They passed the rest of the afternoon in silence, recollecting various memories involving their school days and experiences with Harry as a child.

"What's your favorite Quidditch team, Neville?" Ron asked as he tried, for the fifth time, to straighten his robes.

"I don't have one. Gram's not much for the game," Neville replied, zipping up his bag. "No, Trevor, don't!"

Neville failed to catch the frog as it leaped towards Merlie. Merlie eyed it curiously, but did not attack, as Neville had clearly feared.

"Good girl," said Harry, absent mindedly. "Ron's always talking about the Chudley Cannons, but they're one of the worst in the league."

"They'll get better!" Ron protested.

The door opened again, and Harry was sure it would be Hermione, but instead, a pale faced boy entered the compartment, flanked by two large boys. All of them were in their Hogwarts uniforms, but Harry noticed that their robes weren't creased.

"Is it true?" the pale boy asked. "They're saying all down the train that Harry Potter's in this compartment. So it's you, is it?"

Bet he looked everywhere else, Harry thought, hiding a laugh.

He tried to smile without grimacing. "Yes." He glanced at the other two boys. "Who are you?"

"That's Crabbe and that's Goyle," the pale boy replied, pointing carelessly to his friends. "And my name's Malfoy, Draco Malfoy."

Harry nodded, wishing that Crabbe and Goyle would leave. So far, Draco Malfoy didn't seem nearly as irritating as Hermione Granger, but his guards looked as though they could be in Dudley's gang.

"That's Ron Weasley, and Neville Longbottom," Harry replied.

Draco eyed them with considerable dislike. "You'll soon find that some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there."

Before Harry could reply, however, Hermione had raced back into the compartment, nearly toppling over Crabbe.

"The conductor says we'll be there shortly!" she gasped, ignoring the three additional boys. "So you'd better get your sweets put away and tidy up in here." She looked at Ron and Harry. "Ugh, your robes look disgusting! Remindio!" she said, pointing her wand at Harry. As he saw that his creases had vanished, Hermione did the same thing with Ron.

"Thanks," Harry muttered, eying Hermione enviously. Sirius had never taught him that charm, but he would have to remember it—it was bound to be useful.

"And who are you?" asked Draco, turning pink at being ignored.

"I'm Hermione Granger," she replied, smiling and showing her large front teeth. "Are you lot first years as well?"

"Yes," Draco muttered. "Never heard of your surname before…"

"Well, that's because no one in my family has ever been to Hogwarts," she replied briskly. "Now, if you'll excuse us…"

Hermione stepped in front of Draco on her way to the bench. Draco muttered darkly and started to leave, sensing that things were not going according to plan.

"Remember what I said, Potter!" he stated before leaving, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle.

Hermione shut the door behind them and sniffed loudly. "They don't sound very pleasant."

Ron exchanged glances with Harry as though to say "She's one to talk."

"From what Sirius told me, they're not. Their parents were Death Eaters," Harry replied tactfully.

Hermione must have known what a Death Eater was from her reading, because she turned pale. "And they're not in Azkaban?" she nearly shrieked.

"Course not," Neville put in, stroking Trevor the toad. "Malfoy's dad's got loads of money and, well…"

Harry and Ron nodded grimly. "No one can prove anything," Ron explained. "His dad said they were under the Imperious curse, and really, who knows?"

The way he said it, it was clear he didn't believe this for a second.

"Well, I certainly hope I'm not in their house!" Hermione sniffed.

"You won't be," Harry reassured her. "They're sure to be in Slytherin, and Slytherin rarely allows muggle borns."

Hermione pursed her lips. "Well, good."

Harry wondered if this was enough to make Hermione try to get into Slytherin…as though such a thing were possible. Sirius had always said that only half bloods and pure bloods thrived in Slytherin, mostly because everyone else wouldn't want to be where there was so much animosity towards them.

Then again, Hermione had a way of driving people crazy, so dirty looks and mumblings about her blood status may not faze her.

A voice from the front of the train startled everyone. "We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minutes' time. Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately."

"Cool," said Harry, grinning at the others. His had been almost too heavy to carry by himself, and he didn't like the idea of dragging it in through the castle, not to mention carrying it onto the boats without soaking everyone.

The train slowed down and then stopped. Everyone started making their way out of their compartments so, of course, it was pure chaos for awhile. Hermione tsked at this and muttered about everyone being so childish, but Harry used the time to get a glimpse of people he thought would be his classmates. First years were usually the shortest of everyone, and the most scared looking, so it was fairly easy to distinguish them from the older students.

Of course, Harry felt fairly nervous then and there as well.

A large body with a hairy face made the first years freeze—the others had seen it before and scurried ahead.

"Firs' years! Firs' years over here!" he called.

Harry remembered Sirius telling him about the gamekeeper…a large man called Hagrid with a fondness for dangerous creatures. Fortunately, Harry remembered that Hagrid was also supposed to be very kind.

"C'mon, follow me—any more firs' years? Mind yer step, now! Firs' years follow me!" he yelled, leading the way.

It was awfully dark and rainy out, so many of the students fell or stumbled, causing the person beside them to fall, as they walked about the narrow path. Harry couldn't help but think that Sirius' and Hermione's charms would end up being useless in the long run.

"Yeh'll get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in a sec," Hagrid yelled, turning around. "Jus' round this bend here."

Nearly everyone gasped, including Harry. Neville let out a large "Oooh!"

This was because the path suddenly gave way to a great lake and, at the other side of the lake, was an enormous castle that looked like the kind that could only exist in muggle fairy tales.

"No more'n four to a boat!" Hagrid was saying.

Ron and Harry quickly teamed up with Neville and Hermione. Harry was anxious to get across quickly—the boats were small and crowded.

Good thing we didn't need to bring our luggage, he thought as he tried shifting his weight towards the middle of the boat.

He didn't see any oars…maybe Hagrid would bring them across the lake by magic? He looked over his head and saw that the boat behind him also contained no oars.

"Everyone in?" Hagrid was shouting. Harry noticed that he wasn't sharing with three other people, but then he realized that he was probably larger than four first year students combined.

Except Dudley. Harry cracked a grin at that thought.

"Right then—FORWARD," Hagrid commanded, and to everyone's astonishment, the boats took off at once. A little later, he warned, "Heads down!" as they neared a cliff.

Harry watched all of this with anticipation and excitement. It seemed that the dread of leaving home escaped him then, and he could understand what Sirius meant about the importance of going away for school. He hadn't seen anything like this before.

Too soon, in Harry's opinion, the boat ride was over and they were climbing in towards some passageway. Hagrid then knocked on the door three times, which opened immediately from the other side.

"The firs' years, Professor McGonagall," he informed the tall, somewhat aged looking witch with black hair pulled into a tight bun.

"Thank you, Hagrid," the professor said in a voice that Harry would later see as warm. "I will take them from here."

A/N: Thanks goes to Jayley and Jessica for beta reading this chapter!

As always, reviews are greatly appreciated/begged for. I can't improve without construction criticism!