Hogwarts – A Hysteria
All recognizable characters belong to J. K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
I am not a native speaker of English. Please excuse my mistakes.
Thanks to my wonderful husband for brainstorming and betaing!
'The last time,' Harry mused, feeling strangely sad at the thought as he walked through the barrier between platforms nine and ten at King's Cross station. Expecting to see the familiar red steam engine of the Hogwarts Express, he looked around in confusion when he noticed that the train was not waiting for the Hogwarts students yet. 'This has never happened before,' he thought. 'The train has always been here very early.'
"Harry!" Hermione's voice assaulted his eardrums, before his vision became blocked by a tornado of bushy brown hair as his best friend pulled him into a Hermione hug. "I couldn't wait to see you. How are you? Did you get..."
"Hermione, let Harry breathe," Ron scolded her lightly, gently pulling Hermione away from the boy.
"Hi Harry," another female voice said, and Harry looked up, his view automatically drawn towards the source of the voice.
"Ginny," he said, smiling, staring at the girl with amazement. 'Wow, she has become a beautiful young lady.'
While Harry greeted the other members of the Weasley clan, he slowly let his eyes wander around the platform. It was only fifteen minutes before the departure of the Hogwarts Express that had yet to arrive; however, even for the still early time, the platform was less crowded than usual.
'I wonder where they are,' he thought, flashing back on memories of the final battle at Hogwarts in his mind as his gaze fell on Draco Malfoy and the group of the Slytherin seventh years.
Suddenly, Mr. Weasley's voice brought him back to reality. "I wonder what's wrong with the train. It should have been here long ago. I really need to get to the Ministry soon."
"I'm sure it'll be here soon," Molly Weasley replied more calmly than she looked. "Arthur, please stay here a bit longer. What if the train doesn't come and we need to apparate the children to the school?
"Mum," the twins said, reproachfully. "We're all old enough to apparate."
"Well, you surely are," Mrs. Weasley said heatedly, "but I certainly don't want Ginny, Hermione, Ron or Harry to apparate and splinch themselves on their way to school."
'Oh well, thank Merlin she isn't aware of all our apparating experiences,' Harry thought, only remembering too well how Ron had managed to splinch himself a year ago.
"Why would the Hogwarts Express not come?" Ginny queried, sounding extremely upset. "Has that ever happened before?"
"No my dear," her mother replied, soothingly, glaring at the twins, who were chuckling as usual.
It was almost eleven o'clock, when they finally heard the usual whistle of the Hogwarts Express, and Harry noticed everyone letting out a simultaneous sigh of relief.
"See, Molly, no reason to worry," Mr. Weasley said, kissed his wife and left the platform.
However, there was still no sign of the train, and Harry glanced at his wristwatch in confusion.
"I think there is something wrong," Hermione spoke up. "Many students are still missing. Yes Ron, I know that many died in the war," she added, impatiently. "But still."
"Maybe the train leaves an hour later than usual today," Ron mused aloud, causing Hermione to glare at him.
"Ronald, why would it leave later? If that was the case, Professor McGonagall would have sent us a letter. I think..."
She interrupted herself, when Luna joined the group, a broom in her hand and her face uncharacteristically flushed. "Ahh, how nice that everyone is still waiting for us," she said, showing a dreamy smile.
"Luna, what happened?" Harry asked, giving the girl a concerned look.
"The Floo network was under emergency maintenance," Luna replied in a soft voice. "We had to fly all the way, and then we had to take a huge detour, since we aren't allowed to fly over London."
At 12 o'clock, they again heard the whistle of the Hogwarts Express, but no train was in sight. While a few families left the platform through the gate after unsuccessfully trying to apparate away, most students and their parents remained, still patiently waiting for the Hogwarts Express to arrive. Deciding that something had to happen, Mrs. Weasley finally went to Floo call her husband at the Ministry; however, a few minutes later, she returned, stating that the Floo network was still under maintenance.
"Strange, I've never seen the Floo being maintained before," she said, shaking her head in disapproval.
"How could they be so stupid to do such a thing when everyone needs to get to King's Cross?" Hermione said, frowning. "I'm going to apparate to Hogsmeade and walk to Hogwarts. Maybe Professor McGonagall knows what's wrong."
"Maybe the train is late, because the students are all late," Ron suggested, pointing to a group of fifth years, who were just only now entering the platform.
"It's strange anyway, but you can be sure that if McGonagall knew, one of the teachers would be here to tell us what to do," Harry said thoughtfully.
All of a sudden, the whistle of the Hogwarts Express could be heard again. "One o'clock," Hermione said grimly, glancing at her wrist watch.
"Maybe the train is here, but is just invisible?" Ginny suggested, causing Hermione to wave her wand at the rail in front of them.
"Nope," the seventh year said, letting out a long sigh. "Anyway, we need to do something." She glared at a group of Hufflepuffs that seemed to be animatedly talking about their summer holidays, before she turned to Mrs. Weasley. "Maybe we should send an owl to the Ministry and ask them for a Portkey to Hogwarts. The seventh years should all be able to apparate, but for the younger students..." She slowly trailed off, seeing that Mrs. Weasley was slowly shaking her head.
"Knowing the bureaucracy of our Ministry, it'll take days for them to make a Portkey for everyone here," she said, sighing, however, accepted a parchment and a quill from Hermione to scribble a few lines to her husband. "Even being the Minister of Magic, Arthur won't be able to get the Portkey crew to work faster in order to help the students," she mumbled, more to herself than to the others, as she handed the parchment to Guinness, Ginny's new owl, which she had received from Harry for her birthday.
"Harry," Ginny suddenly spoke up. "Will you come with me? I'm going to talk to the first years. They must be so scared."
Harry glanced over the groups of younger students. Many of them were crying or panicking, especially the first years, who were mostly standing there alone with their parents. He could well remember how he had felt at the beginning of his first Hogwarts year, when he didn't know anyone. "Okay, let's go and speak with them," he agreed and followed the girl along the platform.
While Ginny and Harry were introducing the first years to each other, Hermione scribbled a note for Professor McGonagall, in spite of knowing that it would take several hours, before the owl, which she had borrowed from one of the younger students, was going to reach Hogwarts. Only when she finally put away her quill, she realised what the commotion was, which had been unnerving her all the time, while she had written the letter. The Weasley twins were having a heated discussion.
"Oh Fred and George, shut up. This is unnerving enough," Mrs. Weasely lightly scolded the twins.
"But Mum, I think we should try it out," George replied firmly.
"Mum, we need to check if everyone fits in," Fred agreed. "The whole school in the Knight bus, go figure."
"I'm going to win the bet," George said, chuckling. "Only half of them will fit in."
The return of Ginny's owl ended the conversation, and everyone looked at Mrs. Weasley in expectance.
'Molly, I'll go and speak with the Portkey makers right away, but you know as well as I do that this is the department with the most bureaucratic and lazy wizards you can imagine. Please be patient. I have sent several people to enquire about the Hogwarts Express, and I'm going to order some Aurors to the station right away. Unfortunately, all magical transportation means seem to be interrupted today, and no one has been able to figure out the reason.'
"Who can tell them to hurry up if not the Minister of Magic?" Mrs. Weasley said, apparently annoyed.
"I think we should do something," Harry said slowly. "We can't rely on the Ministry. It's almost two o'clock and they haven't even noticed that the Hogwarts Express didn't come before Mr. Weasley received Mrs. Weasley's letter."
"I know what I'm going to do," Ron threw in, grumpily, pulling a sandwich out of his bag. "They could at least provide us with some food if they let us wait for such a long time."
"You can be glad that the weather is good today," Hermione replied crisply, rolling her eyes in annoyance.
'That's true,' Harry thought, looking up into the blue sky. 'The weather is better than it has ever been this summer.'
Meanwhile at Hogwarts...
The teachers were having their final staff meeting before the beginning of the new school year. "We are facing a problem," Headmistress McGonagall informed her colleagues. "The Sorting Hat told me that he believes he did enough for this school and should be allowed to retire. When I refused, he said that he was going to be on strike tonight. I believe..."
No one would hear what she was going to suggest, as an owl chose that instant to deliver a special edition of the Daily Prophet, displaying the main title 'Hogwarts Express Like Train Being Seen by Muggles at a Siding Near Leicester.'
"There is no train like the Hogwarts Express," McGonagall said in confusion. "I hope that doesn't mean that the Hogwarts Express failed to pick up our students."
"I can apparate to King's Cross and investigate," Hagrid readily announced and rose from his seat.
"Thank you, Hagrid," McGonagall said, sighing in relief at the half-giant's offer. "I'm also going to contact the Ministry, just to be sure."
Fortunately, the Floo connection between the Headmistress' Office at Hogwarts and the office of the Minister of magic was a direct connection, configured differently to the usual Floo network, so that Professor McGonagall was able to step through without any problems.
"I am sorry, Minerva, I should have come to Hogwarts and informed you earlier," Minister Weasley informed her, apologetically. "However, ever since I received the information from my wife, I have been busy talking with the Aurors as well as the members of the transportation department."
"Arthur," McGonagall replied, using the voice that was usually reserved for students in detention, "if you as the Minister of Magic are not capable of making these lazybones work, I'll have a discussion with the employees responsible for the issuing of Portkeys. We need 50 Portkeys within the next hour."
"Minerva, you have no idea..." Mr. Weasley began helplessly but was interrupted by his former teacher.
"Arthur, leave that to me. Most of them are my former students, and I'm well able to handle them," the older witch said firmly. With that she strode out of the room.
Just under thirty minutes later, Harry and his friends sighed in relief, when Professor McGonagall arrived on Platform nine and three quarters and announced, "All students stand together in groups of five. Today, you will travel to Hogwarts by Portkeys."
A week later in the lower security wing in Azkaban...
"Fred," George spoke up, sounding very bored, "we're never going to pull such a prank again."
"Definitely not, although I must say it was a huge success," his brother agreed, adding, "Oh well, let's transform and get to Hogwarts. We already missed a whole week of our seventh year."
"That's true. Thank Merlin the Ministry is so slow that they still haven't done anything to secure this place against Animagi," George said, chuckling.
The twins changed into their Animagus forms, and two small orange lovebirds swept through the small opening out of the wizarding prison.