Harry made his way to platforms nine and ten, hoping that his inklings were right and platform nine and three quarters would be somewhere there - that is, if this wasn’t all a joke. He asked a guard and felt a bit embarrassed and annoyed when the man laughed and walked away, turning in a little circle in despair.
“Why do we have to come all the way here Mam, it would be quicker to just go from Ireland!” A loud voice caught his attention, and Harry edged slowly along the platform closer to the young boy complaining to his mother. “I don’t know Seamus, I’ve asked Professor McGonagall several times but she still says it’s a tradition for everyone to get the Hogwarts Express. Now come along, we don’t want to miss it.” The woman straightened Seamus’ jumper and pulled him along down the platform. Before they could get too far away, Harry rushed over, Hedwig turning in her cage to hiss at him in confusion. “I don’t know, I have to ask! She mentioned the professor my letter was from, and Hogwarts!” Harry was sure that if a snake could roll it’s eyes, Hedwig would be rolling hers constantly.
“Um, excuse me!” Seamus and his mother turned, both looking annoyed to have been interrupted on their journey. “Sorry, I just.. I overheard you talking about the Hogwarts Express? I’m not quite sure how to get to the platform...” The woman looked Harry over quickly, from his messy hair to his slightly lopsided glasses to his baggy clothes and then the trunk and animal cage in his arms. She faffed at her hair for a moment before stepping towards him and holding out her hand. “Come along with us dear, it’s my boy Seamus’ first year too. Lucky he has me to show him everything, his father would be useless.” Seamus grinned at Harry from around his mum, and Harry gave a tentative smile back. “Mam, it’s almost time!” She gave a small shriek and grabbed them both, rushing down the platform. “Oh Jesus! Sorry boys, not much time to explain! Just run at the wall, it’ll be fine!” Harry’s eyes widened and he looked at the two before back at the wall that was fast approaching, all he could do was get dragged along, and he squeezed his eyes shut tight, waiting for impact-
He opened his eyes to a steam train whistle, seeing a bright red locomotive with the words “Hogwarts Express” stamped on the front. Looking around in amazement, he just caught the end of Seamus’ conversation. “Be good, don’t worry about what house you’re in, don’t forget to write your pa will want to know everything!” “Yeah alright Mam, we gotta go!” She nodded and gave him a big hug before grabbing Harry up as well. “I’m sure you’ll get used to it all before long, I’m a muggleborn too. Seamus will keep an eye out for you.” She gave him a reassuring smile and then hurried the two into a carriage. “Safe journey boys! I love ya Seamus!” Seamus waved out the window as the train started moving, shaking his head slightly at Harry. “Sorry abou’ her, she’s a bit overprotective.” Harry shrugged in response. “Better than family that don’t care, my aunt and uncle dropped me off at the station and said ‘see you next year’.” A small hiss from his side made Harry frown, and Seamus’s jaw dropped slightly. “Do you have a snake?” “Oh, yeah. Her name’s Hedwig.” Harry smiled and lifted the cage up so Seamus could see the little green creature who nodded slightly at him. “Awesome! Let’s go find some seats.” Before Harry could say any more about Hedwig, Seamus had rushed off with his trunk, leaving Harry running after him.
A short way down the train, a compartment door opened and Seamus rushed in before poking his head back out to yell, “Oi! There’s space in here!” Harry rolled his eyes and followed. “Did you even ask if we could sit in here?” “No he didn’t, but I wouldn’t expect anybody to have manners here.” A snide, familiar voice came from behind Harry before they spoke again. “You’re the boy I saw in Diagon Alley! Wait, are those hand-me down clothes? And red hair... You must be a Weasley.” Harry turned and blinked at the blond boy in confusion. “A what?” He then looked at Seamus. “Is that some kind of animal?” Seamus grinned and shrugged, and the other boy snorted with stifled laughter. “He’s not a Weasley, Malfoy. He was alone.” The boy (Malfoy) frowned slightly. “Again? You were alone before weren’t you, you were just with that man from the school.” Harry nodded, not ashamed that he had been with Hagrid. “Eh, what’s your name anyway?” Harry blinked at Seamus. “Oh, I suppose we never introduced ourselves. I’m Harry. Harry Potter.” Both boys mouths fell wide open, Malfoy recovered first. “I can’t believe I accused you of being a Weasley.” “What is a Weasley?” Seamus grinned. “Weasley is the name of a wizarding family, I think one of the boys is starting this year too. Mam was a couple years below his mam, I think.”
They were disrupted then by the compartment door opening and a girl with bushy brown hair and a smattering of freckles over her nose looking around them. “Can we help you?” Malfoy asked, his nose turned up slightly. “I’m looking for a toad, have you seen one?” “Um, no. Sorry?” Harry was pushed aside as she crouched on the floor. “You’re sure? A boy named Neville is all in a state about it. It’s quite upsetting really, he said his grandmother bought it for him.” “We haven’t seen a toad! Get out of our compartment!” Malfoy sneered at her, and Harry frowned at him. “We really haven’t seen one, I’ll come and help you look.” The girl stood up again quickly. “Really? Oh thank you, nobody else has even cared!” Harry smiled a little and nodded, not able to say anything before she sat down next to him. “I’m Hermione Granger, by the way. And, you all are?” Her nose scrunched a little when she looked back at Malfoy. “Seamus, Harry and Draco.” The blond replied, giving her a similar look. “I thought you were off to find a toad?” She jumped up with a small gasp and hurried off, her voice echoing back down the carriage as she asked other students if they’d seen a toad.
The three boys looked between each other, none of them really knowing what to say, it was too quiet now that Hermione had left them. Thankfully they were interrupted again by the door opening and an elderly woman smiled at them. “Anything from the trolly dears? I made sure to try and get to all the first years before the older ones snag their favourites.” Harry’s eyes lit up as Draco and Seamus asked for liquorice wands, every flavour beans, chocolate frogs, sugar quills and chocolate cauldrons. “And for you dear? Oh!” Harry had taken off his glasses to give them a quick clean so he could see the options better when the woman gasped. “Forgive me, you must be Mr Potter. You have your fathers eyes through and through, I remember him having glasses just like those.” Harry looked down at his glasses before putting them back on with a small, proud smile. “Could I get a couple sugar quills and chocolate frogs, please?” She nodded and handed them over, taking his money with a smile. “You’re polite like your mother too, she always said hello to me. Welcome home.” The woman carried on her way, leaving Harry sat sucking on a sugar quill in deep thought.
Seamus and Draco found they actually had a little in common, they both supported the Falmouth Falcons and already had their own brooms. While Harry zoned out they complained about not being allowed to join their house quidditch teams until second year, and came up with theories as to why first years weren’t allowed brooms. Harry had only just finished his first sugar quill when the other two noticed it was getting dark. “Better get into our robes, we don’t want to be the last ones off the train.” Harry nodded up at Draco, who had stood to get his trunk. The loud thud it made on the seat made Hedwig jolt awake, hissing angrily. Draco’s eyes widened as Harry took her out of the cage, holding her gently in his hands and hissing back. “It’s alright, nothing will hurt you. It was just Draco getting his things.” Harry looked up to smile at Draco, his smile dropping at his shocked face. Seamus was looking warily between Harry and the snake, all of a sudden not so in awe of the pet. “What?” “How can you speak parseltongue?!” Draco demanded, forgetting about the robes in his hands and focusing entirely on Harry. ”I’m speaking what?” Harry blinked, and then looked down as Hedwig hissed again. But to Harry, she wasn’t hissing. ”I thhh-ought you knew.. not many wizards can under-ss-tand snake-ss.” ”Really? So, I’m the only one that can talk to you?” Hedwig nodded and curled up in his hands, giving a soft hiss to say she was going back to sleep. Harry looked back at the other two and shrugged. ”I didn’t realise I was speaking a different language.. I just could understand what she was saying and I talked back. I accidentally set a snake on my cousin at the zoo actually, he was fine! It just wanted to go home to Brazil and I somehow vanished the glass on it’s cage.” Draco’s eyes were wider than the Dursley’s poshest dinner plates, and Seamus was laughing again. ”I can tell we’re gonna be good friends Harry.” The ginger boy looked up at him and smiled, nodding in agreement before sliding Hedwig gently back into her cage and finding his own robes.
After a few minutes of silence from Draco as they got changed, the boys started talking about Hogwarts, what they thought lessons were going to be like and what houses they’d be in. Harry joined in half-heartedly, not knowing anywhere near as much as the other two. Thankfully it didn’t take long until the train came to a stop, and everyone started piling off the train. The three dragged their trunks behind them and stacked them with everyone else's, and Harry noticed a family of all ginger boys not far ahead of them on the platform. “So are they Weasleys?” Draco gave a short nod. “I recognise a couple of the older ones. My father and their father both work at the ministry, doing very different jobs though.” Harry nodded slowly, he had heard about the government from Uncle Vernon’s complaining and he supposed the ministry was the magic version. “Firs’ years over here! Come with me to the boats!” A loud voice called out over the crowd and Harry’s face lit up. “Come on!” He squeezed through other students to get to the front where Hagrid was holding a lantern up high. “Hi Hagrid!” “Harry! Ye made it alrigh’ then? No more mishaps with yer aunt and uncle?” Harry shook his head before he jumped at a hand grabbing his shoulder, but it was only Seamus. “I wondered where you’d gone! Malfoy got stuck behind but I’m sure we’ll find him again before the sorting.” “Malfoy?” Hagrid asked, frowning down at Harry and his friend. He was surprised when the boys nodded with smiles. “Yeah, we sat in a compartment with Draco on the way here.” Before they could say anything else, the rest of the first years had gathered behind them and Hagrid had to lead the way to the boats that had been enchanted to take them across the black lake. Harry was sat in a boat with Seamus, a boy called Dean and a small girl called Hannah. They all gasped as they got closer to Hogwarts, the lights from the castle reflecting in the lake in front of them. Hannah turned round to them with a smile, eyes twinkling from the reflections. “Isn’t it beautiful? My mother told me this was her favourite part of her whole seven years.” Harry smiled back, wondering what his parents would have told him about the school as he grew up. “I can see why.” The rest of the journey was spent in silence, but it was agitated, the air was electric around them all as they climbed out of the boats and walked up crooked stone steps towards the castle, the pathway lit with lanterns floating high above them.
When Hagrid finally brought them to the entrance of the castle, there was a quiet, nervous chatter amongst the new students, and Professor McGonagall had to hide a smile. These were the children of children she had to watch grow up too quickly, and it filled her with joy to see these eleven year olds that she knew had so much potential. Of course, there was sadness there as well, for Harry and Neville, and their lost families, but Minerva couldn’t focus on that or she’d be crying and she had a reputation to uphold for goodness sake. She walked down the steps into the entrance hall and a silence fell over the crowd. “I am deputy headmistress, Professor McGonagall. You are about to be sorted into your houses. Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin will be like your family here at Hogwarts. Your achievements will earn you house points, if you break any rules, you will lose points. Now, wait here for me while I check that everyone is ready for the sorting.” They all nodded silently as she walked past them and through to the Great Hall. Harry had watched her go, feeling like he recognised the professor from somewhere, but he couldn’t place it. “I can’t wait to get this over and done with. I already know I’m going to be in Slytherin, all Malfoys are.” The impatient voice next to him made him smile. “Draco, how do you know what house you’ll be in? You might be in a different one, and then all Malfoys won’t be Slytherins.” Draco blinked at him like he was an idiot. “No, won’t happen. I’m a Slytherin.” “I don’t know why anyone would want to be a Slytherin, they’re all evil.” A voice came from behind them and both boys turned to see a lanky boy with short bright orange hair (much more carrot coloured than Harry’s fiery auburn mess), freckles and what looked like dirt on the side of his nose. “And I suppose Gryffindor, or perhaps Hufflepuff would be a better option. You must be a Weasley.” Seamus turned round and shared a look with Harry, who had to try not to laugh. “Think my name’s funny?” The boy defended and Harry spoke quickly. “No! Draco just thought I was a Weasley at first.” The boy sniffed slightly and shrugged. “Whatever. Slytherin is still the worst house.” There was the sound of a throat clearing from behind them and Professor McGonagall was looking down at them with raised eyebrows. The three of them managed to look sheepish as Harry and Draco turned back around. “We are ready for you..” She opened the Great Hall doors with a small smile. “Welcome to Hogwarts.”