Disclaimer: In this story I used quotes from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I don't mean any harm by it, nor do I wish to sell this. Anything un-canonly the characters do in this story is all my fault.
Author's Note: Lots and lots of thanks to my brilliant beta readers CornedBee, Jo Wickaninnish and Whimsy.
The Godfather Part III - The Philosopher’s Stone
Chapter 2 – The Journey from Platform Nine and Three Quarters
Exasperated, Harry looked around his room. Clothes were strewn all over the floor, his bed was littered with spellbooks and other magical equipment, his cauldron was blocking the door, and his trunk was in the middle of all of it, empty except for the precious bag from Gambol and Japes, which he had only just got back from Paddy on the condition that it was dropped straight into his trunk and would stay there.
Harry heaved a sigh, kicked his cauldron out of the way and thundered down the stairs.
“Paddy!” he called, running into the kitchen. “Pad, I can’t find my set of Gobstones!”
Paddy looked up from the Daily Prophet he was reading at the kitchen table. “Are you sure you didn’t already put it into your trunk?”
“Positive,” Harry replied. “And I looked in my desk and my wardrobe and under my bed, but it’s nowhere. I played with Uncle Remus only two days ago, and now it’s gone.”
Paddy folded the newspaper and stood up. “I’ll help you look.”
They walked up the stairs and entered Harry’s room. Paddy froze on the threshold.
“Merlin’s beard, Harry, I thought you were packing.”
Harry grinned sheepishly. “I’m trying to, really. I just don’t know where to start.”
“So you decided to empty your wardrobe on the floor,” Paddy said dryly, his gaze moving from the floor to the – indeed completely empty – wardrobe. “Right, Harry. First we’re going to sort and fold your clothes. I can’t even walk in here, let alone search for your Gobstones.”
Under Paddy’s direction, they picked up all the clothes, folded them and neatly stacked them in Harry’s trunk. They continued with the books, the cauldron, parchment, quills, Harry’s favourite Quidditch poster, his telescope and finally his Gobstones set, which was found below the covers on Harry’s bed. Harry swore he had no idea how it got there.
At last they closed the lid of the trunk, and Harry looked around his bare room with wide eyes.
“Now what am I going to do the rest of the day?”
Paddy laughed. “Do you want to head over to Uncle Remus’ to fly for a bit? Then you can say goodbye to your friends around here after dinner. And, of course, you’ll have to go to bed early – you have a long journey ahead tomorrow.”
Harry stuck out his tongue at Paddy, picked up his broomstick and stalked from the room. But before he had gone two paces, he heard a growl behind him and was tackled to the floor by a huge, shaggy dog that happily began to lick his face. Harry spluttered and pushed the large animal off him.
“You can’t fly that way, you know,” he told the dog as he sat up. “Of course, you’d never beat me at flying anyway.”
The dog barked indignantly and prepared for another attack, but Harry was quicker. He slipped away, jumped to his feet and ran down the stairs to the living room. By the time the dog arrived downstairs as well, Harry already had the Floo powder ready. He waved cheerily at the dog and was whisked away just as the dog lunged for him.
“Hello, Harry,” a pleasant voice sounded as Harry rolled from the grate, still grinning. “Come to say goodbye?”
Harry stood up and turned around. “No – I mean, yes, that too. You didn’t think I’d leave without saying goodbye, did you? But right now I’m actually – you know – on the run.”
Remus raised an eyebrow, but before he had the chance to reply, a low roar came from the fireplace, announcing another arrival. Harry jumped away, clutching his broomstick. Moments later, Paddy stepped out of the grate, grinning devilishly at Harry as he showed him his own broomstick.
“Let’s see who’s the better flyer, Harry! Remus, you’re the judge.”
They left Uncle Remus’ flat and headed for the forest, in which a small Quidditch training field was hidden. Three children, somewhat younger than Harry, were having a game at one end of the pitch, so Paddy, Uncle Remus and Harry took the other end. They had a very enjoyable afternoon, doing all sorts of odd flying exercises while Uncle Remus dealt out points. Even though Uncle Remus favoured Paddy enormously, awarding huge amounts of points to him for things like ‘sitting straight on his broomstick’ or ‘being tall’, Harry easily won.
“You tell those people at Hogwarts that you don’t need flying lessons,” Paddy panted when they were finally back on the ground. “Seriously, I don’t know where you learnt it all. Even your father wasn’t this good when he was your age.”
Harry woke at five o’clock the next morning and was too excited and nervous to go back to sleep. This was the day he had been looking forward to for so long. Finally he would go to Hogwarts, explore the huge castle and find those secret passages Paddy and Uncle Remus had told him about, have fascinating lessons and learn to do magic, and, most importantly, meet and live with other magical children. It was everything Harry had ever wished for – well, except for becoming a professional Quidditch player.
Going to Hogwarts also meant going away from home. Harry knew it would be very exciting to see more of the wizarding world and to be able to decide for himself what he wanted to eat and when he wanted to sleep, but he couldn’t help but think he would miss Paddy terribly. He would write letters, of course, but what if he had a nightmare? What if he fell ill? There would be no Paddy to care for him. There would be no Paddy to help him with his homework. There would be no Paddy to hug him if he made a fool of himself.
Harry vowed to himself that he would write to Paddy every day, telling him everything that had happened.
There was another thing Harry feared about Hogwarts. Ever since his birthday and the trip to Diagon Alley, he had been worried about the other students’ reactions to him. Paddy had tried to convince him that the worst would be over after a few days and that the only people who really mattered were the ones that didn’t care about his scar, but Harry was very afraid there wouldn’t be many of those people. He’d much rather let them get to know him without revealing his name, but even Paddy had admitted that that was impossible. Everybody at Hogwarts would know his name. The teachers would probably expect him to be a brilliant student, and the students – Harry didn’t really know what they would think.
The only thing that cheered him up was the thought that, if everything went wrong, he could always become friends with Neville.
At seven o’clock, Paddy peered around the door. He seemed unsurprised to see Harry sitting on his bed reading A Beginners’ Guide to Transfiguration.
“Coming down for breakfast?” he asked.
Harry snapped the book shut and put it back into his trunk before following Paddy down the stairs. He didn’t eat much; his insides seemed to be twisted in a very odd way. Paddy didn’t notice, though, as he was frowning at the Daily Prophet.
“They’re still going on about that break-in at Gringotts,” he told Harry. “Wild speculations about what might have been inside the vault.”
“It was already empty when they got there, wasn’t it?” Harry asked, for the sake of having something to say. He wasn’t really interested in the matter.
“Yes, it was emptied a few days earlier,” Paddy replied, still studying the article. “Lucky for the rightful owner, of course, but it doesn’t make it any better for Gringotts. It says here that many wizards and witches have come to empty their vaults lately, as they don’t feel it’s safe any more.” He sighed and folded the paper, standing up. “Let’s check if you’ve got everything you need, Harry.”
That was completely unnecessary, of course, as they had already packed everything yesterday and Harry wasn’t stupid enough to get things out of his trunk and not put them back in again, but Harry didn’t protest. Being with Paddy made the time pass more quickly and made him forget a few of his worries.
At half past nine, Paddy announced that it was time to go. They dragged Harry’s trunk downstairs, secured Hedwig in her cage – Harry had named his owl after someone he had read about in A History of Magic – and Flooed to the Leaky Cauldron. Harry wanted to have another peek in Diagon Alley, but Paddy resolutely steered him towards the other exit of the shabby pub, into Muggle London, to prevent Harry from being recognised by anyone.
They walked to Charing Cross Road, Paddy carrying Harry’s trunk without any visible effort, and Harry suspected he had put a charm on it to make it light. From there they took the Underground, something Hedwig didn’t like at all. They attracted a lot of attraction from the other people in the Underground as she screeched and flapped her wings, rattling the bars of her cage. Fortunately, the ride to King’s Cross didn’t take too long.
Ever since Paddy had explained to Harry about the Hogwarts Express and platform nine and three quarters, Harry had been looking forward to passing the barrier, and now he could barely conceal his excitement at finally being in King’s Cross. He waited impatiently as Paddy loaded his trunk and Hedwig’s cage on a trolley (maybe the trunk wasn’t so light after all) and he almost exploded with anxiety when Paddy slowly and carefully wheeled the trolley towards platform nine.
“You’re doing it on purpose,” Harry accused him.
“What?” Paddy asked, feigning innocence.
Harry didn’t answer, but grabbed the trolley himself and pushed it forwards at increasing speed, until he was almost running. Only when Hedwig flapped her wings again to let him know she didn’t approve of moving so fast, causing her cage to sway dangerously on top of the trunk, did Harry slow down a bit.
Paddy came jogging after him. “In a hurry, Harry? We still have half an hour, you know.”
“I want to get to the barrier!” Harry called back.
Finally, they were there. The barrier looked completely normal, which, in hindsight, was something Harry should have expected. The whole point of the barrier was to prevent Muggles from getting onto platform nine and three quarters.
Paddy laid a hand on his shoulder. “Ready?”
Harry nodded nervously. The barrier suddenly looked very solid.
“We’ll do it at a run,” Paddy suggested, grasping the handle of the trolley too. He looked around. “All right, Muggles looking the other way. Go!”
Harry pushed the trolley forward, breaking into a sprint, feeling Paddy next to him. As the wall came very close, Harry closed his eyes; he couldn’t help it, even though he knew they wouldn’t crash.
A second later, they were through it. Harry opened his eyes to the most wonderful sight. The long, scarlet Hogwarts Express was blowing steam over the chattering crowd on the platform. Harry had never in his life seen so many wizards and witches together, not even in Diagon Alley. Numerous students, some already in their black Hogwarts robes, were kissing their parents goodbye, heaving their luggage onto the train, or chasing their cats. No one looked twice at Harry, for which he was glad. He didn’t think he could deal with so many people staring at his scar just now.
“Come on, let’s find you a compartment,” Paddy said. “The ones at the end are usually free.”
They steered the trolley through the crowd, while Hedwig hooted loudly at the other owls. Harry kept an eye out for Neville, but his vision was obscured by the many taller students and adult wizards and witches, and he didn’t see him anywhere.
They stopped at the very last carriage. Paddy lifted Harry’s trunk onto the train before getting outside again to talk for a bit. Some of the nerves left Harry as they talked quietly in a corner of the platform, and he felt positively excited again when he jumped onto the train at five to eleven.
“Now, have fun,” Paddy said, smiling, “and take care of yourself, Harry!”
Harry nodded and walked to his compartment, where he leaned out of the window. A whistle sounded, the doors were slammed shut, and the train began to move. Harry grinned and waved at Paddy, until the train rounded a corner and the platform vanished from sight.
As he sat down, several people came barging into his compartment.
“Oh sorry, we hadn’t noticed anyone else was here,” the boy in the front said. He had a freckled face and flaming red hair.
Harry looked up and noticed that three other trunks had been put into the luggage rack.
“Never mind,” the boy said. “We were going to visit Lee Jordan anyway. He’s got a giant tarantula.” He turned his back to Harry to leave the compartment, and Harry blinked as another boy came into view, identical to the first one.
“We’ll leave you here, then, Ron,” he said to a third red-haired boy standing next to him. This one seemed slightly younger. “Will you be all right?”
“’Course,” the youngest boy said, his cheeks flushing dark red, clashing horribly with his hair.
“See you, then,” one of the twins said, and he and his brother vanished into the corridor.
The third boy moved further into the compartment. “Is it all right if I sit here?”
“Sure,” Harry said.
The boy sat down and grinned at Harry. “I’m Ron Weasley. Those two nutters were my brothers, Fred and George.”
Harry grinned back. “I’m Harry Potter.”
Ron’s jaw dropped. Awe-struck, he gazed at Harry, making Harry feel extremely uncomfortable. Finally, Ron asked, “Have you really got the – you know ...” He pointed at Harry’s forehead.
Harry lifted his fringe and showed him. Then he quickly changed the topic.
“So, do you have any more brothers?”
“Yeah, I’ve got five of them,” Ron said. “And a little sister, but she hasn’t started Hogwarts yet.”
For a while, they talked about Ron’s family, and after several minutes, Ron’s gaze stopped moving upwards to Harry’s forehead every few seconds. Ron had apparently forgotten who he was talking to, which was fine with Harry, of course.
At half past twelve there was a great clattering outside in the corridor and a smiling, dimpled woman slid back their door and said, “Anything off the trolley, dears?”
As Harry had got money from Paddy to buy his lunch off the trolley, he leapt to his feet at once and went into the corridor to pick all of his favourites: Droobles Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs, Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans and Fizzing Whizzbees. Ron, however, remained seated, muttering something about having brought sandwiches. Harry didn’t question him, but added some Pumpkin Pasties and Cauldron Cakes to his pile of sweets.
“Go on, have a pasty,” Harry said, throwing one to Ron, who was unpacking his sandwiches. Ron caught it and smiled gratefully at Harry. Harry smiled happily back. He had never been able to share his liking for magical sweets with his Muggle friends, and he now thoroughly enjoyed trying out Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans and swapping Chocolate Frog Cards with Ron.
Ron was just munching on the last Cauldron Cake when a cheerful, round-faced boy came in. Harry recognised him immediately.
“Hi Harry!” Neville said, grinning. “Have you seen a toad? I’ve lost mine.”
Harry shook his head.
“Oh,” Neville said, sitting down. “Well, he’ll turn up again. He always does.”
“Do you lose him often?” Harry asked.
Neville nodded eagerly. “About twice a week. It drives my parents mad.” He turned to Ron. “Hi, I’m Neville. Are you a first-year too? Do you know what house you’ll be in yet?”
Ron looked a bit taken aback. “I’m Ron,” he murmured. “I hope I’m in Gryffindor, my whole family has been there. I don’t know what my parents will say if I’m not.”
“My parents will be all right with it,” Neville said happily. “They think I’m going to be in Gryffindor, though, as I tend to dive head-first into danger. Literally head-first, mind you. Only last week I tripped in the garden and ended up with my head in a gnome hole.”
Ron stared at Neville in amazement, but Neville had already turned to Harry. “What about you, Harry? What house d’you think you’ll be in?”
Harry shrugged. “My parents were in Gryffindor, but my godfather says all houses are OK except Slytherin, as that was Voldemort’s house.”
Both Neville and Ron gasped and shuddered. Neville’s grin had vanished, and he was staring at Harry with wide fearful eyes.
“What?” Harry asked, looking from Neville to Ron, who had gone pale.
“You said the name,” Ron stated, still looking at Harry as though he had gone mad.
It took a few moments for Harry to understand what he was talking about. “Oh, that. I’m sorry, my godfather always says the name, just like Uncle Remus and Professor Dumbledore, and I don’t know many other wizards.”
“You know Professor Dumbledore?” Ron asked. Meanwhile, Neville looked at Harry as if something had suddenly clicked in his brain. He was grinning again.
“You’re Harry Potter!” he said.
“Yeah, I am,” Harry replied, shifting in his seat. Would Neville still like him now?
“I hadn’t realised, sorry about that,” Neville said cheerfully. “So, which Quidditch team do you support?”
Relieved, Harry leaned back in his chair and started talking about his favourite topic. The three of them had a heated discussion, as Ron supported the Chudley Cannons, Neville, the Wimbourne Wasps and Harry, Puddlemere United. Then Ron and Neville gave Harry, who had never been allowed to a Quidditch match, play-by-play descriptions of all matches they had ever seen, including one between the Chudley Cannons and the Wimbourne Wasps both of them had seen. Neville, on the other hand, listened in awe as Harry and Ron talked about the moves they could do on their broomsticks.
“I’ve never been allowed on a real broomstick,” Neville said. “My father says I’m getting in quite enough accidents with both feet on the ground, and my mother has told me I used to have a toy broomstick when I was three, but I always fell off it. They reckon I shouldn’t go into the air before I’ve had some proper lessons with a real flying instructor.”
“Neville, here you are!”
All three boys looked around to the door of the compartment, where a girl stood with her hands on her hips. She was already in her Hogwarts robes.
“I’ve been looking for you all over the train,” the girl said in a bossy sort of voice. “Have you found your toad yet?”
Neville shook his head.
“No? Then why have you stopped looking for him? I’d perform a Tracking Spell, but it’s almost at the end of the spellbook, so I suppose it’s too difficult for now. I tried a few simple spells at home, and they worked quite well.” The girl now looked around at Harry and Ron, while she kept talking very fast without pausing to breathe. “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 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?”
Ron looked just as stunned as Harry felt, while Neville looked puzzled.
“I’m Ron Weasley,” Ron muttered.
“Harry Potter,” Harry said.
“Are you really?” Hermione asked. “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.”
Harry didn’t see why anyone would want to read books with such boring titles at all, and he wasn’t interested in the slightest in where his name was mentioned, so he just made a non-committal noise. Hermione Granger didn’t seem to mind, and happily jumped to a new topic.
“Do either of you know how we’ll be Sorted? I’ve been asking around about the houses – I hope I’m in Gryffindor, it sounds by far the best, even Dumbledore was in it, although Ravenclaw wouldn’t be too bad, I suppose – but no one wanted to tell me how your house is chosen.”
“My parents say it’s a surprise,” Neville said. “It’s some traditional ceremony in front of the whole school.”
Ron looked very worried. “My parents and brothers wouldn’t tell me either, although Fred said it hurt a lot. I hope he was joking.”
“He must have been,” Harry said firmly. “My godfather always says the day of his Sorting was one of the best he ever had at Hogwarts. Of course, that might also be because of the joke he pulled during the Starting Feast, but I don’t think he would have done that if the Sorting had been really painful.”
Immediately, the two other boys wanted to know everything about this joke, so Harry spent the next quarter of an hour explaining the finer points of it, which involved pink confetti, dozens of Fizzing Whizzbees and Dumbledore’s half-moon glasses. Hermione huffed impatiently when he started, muttered something unintelligible and disappeared into the corridor.
No other people came by their compartment for the next few hours, until it was already growing darker outside and Ron’s stomach could be heard rumbling loudly. That was when Ron’s twin brothers returned.
“Hey, Ron, have you heard?” the first one said, sticking his head into the compartment.
“Harry Potter is on the train,” the second one said, appearing next to him.
“Everyone is talking about it –”
“– he should be somewhere around here –”
“– in the final carriage, they said –”
“– but maybe he’s got a private compartment.”
“I bet we could manage to get in there, though, Fred.”
“Definitely, George. It would be awesome to be the first ones to meet him, wouldn’t it?”
“Do you reckon he really has that scar?”
“Do you think he remembers what You-Know-Who looks like?”
They finished each other’s thoughts without missing a beat, and Harry kept gaping at them even when they had stopped, utterly speechless. Fortunately, Neville was never speechless.
“He’s right here, so you can just ask him. Anyway, so you’re Ron’s brothers, are you? The ones that fell out of the stands in the middle of a Quidditch match when you were eight? I don’t care, mind you, I’m always doing that sort of thing. I’ve never fallen out of Quidditch stands, but I have fallen out of my bedroom window – nothing to worry about, you know, I just bounced all the way down the garden – and I once fell right into Mum and Dad’s secret cellar. They had put spells and things on it to prevent anyone from finding it, but they hadn’t counted on someone just crashing through the entrance.”
During this entire monologue, Ron’s head had been growing steadily redder, and Harry became worried that it would explode soon. Fred and George seemed oblivious to this, though. Their eyes were fixed on Neville.
“Wait a minute,” one of them said cautiously. “Did you say that Harry Potter is here?”
Both gazes began to move slowly towards Harry, but before they got there, Ron exploded with laughter, and the twins’ eyes snapped back to their brother. Ron was positively howling with laughter, his face almost purple now. He rolled in his seat, punched his fist into the seat next to him, and stamped his feet on the floor.
“I’ve got to – celebrate – you know –” he gasped. “I met him first!”
At this, Fred and George’s eyes narrowed and they turned to Harry. Their gazes moved upwards to Harry’s forehead and comprehension dawned on their faces.
“Well, congratulations, Ron,” one of them said coolly.
“You met him first,” the other added. Then he stepped forwards and extended his hand to Harry. “I suppose we’d better introduce ourselves. I’m Fred.”
“And I’m George,” the other one said, shaking Harry’s hand, too.
“Harry Potter,” Harry said, even though he knew it was completely unnecessary. He glanced at Ron, who had managed to compose himself and was now grinning broadly at his brothers. Fred and George glared at Ron, and Neville took advantage of the silence by starting yet another one of his stories. Even he was distracted, however, when Fred and George turned to go and collided with Hermione, her bushy hair flailing wildly on either side of them.
“OUCH! Look where you’re going before you storm out, will you?” She pushed them aside and entered the compartment, frowning as she saw the boys.
“You’d better hurry up and put your robes on, I’ve just been up the front to ask the driver and he says we’re nearly there. Neville, you still haven’t found your toad?”
She sniffed haughtily when Neville shook his head, and the three boys rolled their eyes at each other as soon as she had gone. They changed into their brand new (in Ron’s case, second-hand) Hogwarts robes, and when the train slowed down, they walked out into the corridor and joined the crowd in front of the door.
The train stopped, there was a mechanical noise and a light breeze ruffled Harry’s hair. With Ron at his side and Neville just behind them, he pushed his way towards the exit and stepped onto a small, dark platform. Butterflies were wreaking havoc in his stomach, and he suddenly wasn’t hungry any more.
“Firs’-years! Firs’-years over here!”
To Harry’s left, a huge man loomed in sight, his face illuminated sinisterly by the lamp he was carrying. He had a shaggy beard and long, equally shaggy hair, which, together with his enormous size, made him look like a wild giant. Then his glittering beetle eyes caught sight of Harry and his face split into a huge grin. At once, Harry felt that this was a man he could trust. He grinned back and, as the booming voice of the man called out once again, he started to make his way through the crowd towards the bobbing light.