Harry's last month with the Dursleys wasn't fun. True, Dudley wasnow so scared of Harry he wouldn't stay in the same room, while AuntPetunia and Uncle Vernon didn't shut Harry in his cupboard, forcehim to do anything, or shout at him -- in fact, they didn't speak tohim at all. Half terrified, half furious, they acted as though anychair with Harry in it were empty. Although this was an improvementin many ways, it did become a bit depressing after a while. Harry kept to his room, with his new owl for company. He haddecided to call her Hedwig, a name he had found in A History ofMagic. His school books were very interesting. He lay on his bedreading late into the night, Hedwig swooping in and out of theopen window as she pleased. It was lucky that Aunt Petunia didn'tcome in to vacuum anymore, because Hedwig kept bringing back deadmice. Every night before he went to sleep, Harry ticked off anotherday on the piece of paper he had pinned to the wall, counting downto September the first. On the last day of August he thought he'd better speak to hisaunt and uncle about getting to King's Cross station the next day,so he went down to the living room where they were watching a quizshow on television. He cleared his throat to let them know he wasthere, and Dudley screamed and ran from the room. "Er -- Uncle Vernon?" Uncle Vernon grunted to show he was listening. "Er -- I need to be at King's Cross tomorrow to -- to go toHogwarts." Uncle Vernon grunted again. "Would it be all right if you gave me a lift?" Grunt. Harry supposed that meant yes. "Thank you." He was about to go back upstairs when Uncle Vernon actuallyspoke. "Funny way to get to a wizards' school, the train. Magic carpetsall got punctures, have they?" Harry didn't say anything. "Where is this school, anyway?" "I don't know," said Harry, realizing this for the first time. Hepulled the ticket Hagrid had given him out of his pocket. "I just take the train from platform nine and three-quartersat eleven o'clock," he read. His aunt and uncle stared. "Platform what?" "Nine and three-quarters." "Don't talk rubbish," said Uncle Vernon. "There is no platformnine and three-quarters." "It's on my ticket." "Barking," said Uncle Vernon, "howling mad, the lot ofthem. You'll see. You just wait. All right, we'll take you toKing's Cross. We're going up to London tomorrow anyway, or Iwouldn't bother." "Why are you going to London?" Harry asked, trying to keepthings friendly. "Taking Dudley to the hospital," growled Uncle Vernon. "Got tohave that ruddy tail removed before he goes to Smeltings." Harry woke at five o'clock the next morning and was too excitedand nervous to go back to sleep. He got up and pulled on his jeansbecause he didn't want to walk into the station in his wizard'srobes -- he'd change on the train. He checked his Hogwarts list yetagain to make sure he had everything he needed, saw that Hedwig wasshut safely in her cage, and then paced the room, waiting for theDursleys to get up. Two hours later, Harry's huge, heavy trunk hadbeen loaded into the Dursleys' car, Aunt Petunia had talked Dudleyinto sitting next to Harry, and they had set off. They reached King's Cross at half past ten. Uncle Vernondumped Harry's trunk onto a cart and wheeled it into the stationfor him. Harry thought this was strangely kind until Uncle Vernonstopped dead, facing the platforms with a nasty grin on his face. "Well, there you are, boy. Platform nine -- platform ten. Yourplatform should be somewhere in the middle, but they don't seem tohave built it yet, do they?" He was quite right, of course. There was a big plastic numbernine over one platform and a big plastic number ten over the onenext to it, and in the middle, nothing at all. "Have a good term," said Uncle Vernon with an even nastiersmile. He left without another word. Harry turned and saw theDursleys drive away. All three of them were laughing. Harry's mouthwent rather dry. What on earth was he going to do? He was startingto attract a lot of funny looks, because of Hedwig. He'd have toask someone. He stopped a passing guard, but didn't dare mention platformnine and three-quarters. The guard had never heard of Hogwarts andwhen Harry couldn't even tell him what part of the country it wasin, he started to get annoyed, as though Harry was being stupid onpurpose. Getting desperate, Harry asked for the train that left ateleven o'clock, but the guard said there wasn't one. In the endthe guard strode away, muttering about time wasters. Harry wasnow trying hard not to panic. According to the large clock overthe arrivals board, he had ten minutes left to get on the train toHogwarts and he had no idea how to do it; he was stranded in themiddle of a station with a trunk he could hardly lift, a pocketfull of wizard money, and a large owl. Hagrid must have forgotten to tell him something you had to do,like tapping the third brick on the left to get into Diagon Alley. Hewondered if he should get out his wand and start tapping the ticketinspector's stand between platforms nine and ten. At that moment a group of people passed just behind him and hecaught a few words of what they were saying. "-- packed with Muggles, of course --" Harry swung round. The speaker was a plump woman who was talkingto four boys, all with flaming red hair. Each of them was pushinga trunk like Harry's in front of him -- and they had an owl. Heart hammering, Harry pushed his cart after them. They stoppedand so did he, just near enough to hear what they were saying. "Now, what's the platform number?" said the boys' mother. "Nine and three-quarters!" piped a small girl, also red-headed,who was holding her hand, "Mom, can't I go... " "You're not old enough, Ginny, now be quiet. All right, Percy,you go first." What looked like the oldest boy marched toward platforms nineand ten. Harry watched, careful not to blink in case he missed it-- but just as the boy reached the dividing barrier between thetwo platforms, a large crowd of tourists came swarming in frontof him and by the time the last backpack had cleared away, the boyhad vanished. "Fred, you next," the plump woman said. "I'm not Fred, I'm George," said the boy. "Honestly, woman,you call yourself our mother? CarA you tell I'm George?" "Sorry, George, dear." "Only joking, I am Fred," said the boy, and off he went. Histwin called after him to hurry up, and he must have done so,because a second later, he had gone -- but how had he done it? Now the third brother was walking briskly toward the barrierhe was almost there -- and then, quite suddenly, he wasn't anywhere. There was nothing else for it. "Excuse me," Harry said to the plump woman. "Hello, dear," she said. "First time at Hogwarts? Ron's new,too." She pointed at the last and youngest of her sons. He was tall,thin, and gangling, with freckles, big hands and feet, and along nose. "Yes," said Harry. "The thing is -- the thing is, I don't knowhow to --" "How to get onto the platform?" she said kindly, and Harrynodded. "Not to worry," she said. "All you have to do is walk straightat the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Don't stop and don'tbe scared you'll crash into it, that's very important. Best do itat a bit of a run if you're nervous. Go on, go now before Ron." "Er -- okay," said Harry. He pushed his trolley around and stared at the barrier. Itlooked very solid. He started to walk toward it. People jostled him on their wayto platforms nine and ten. Harry walked more quickly. He was goingto smash right into that barrier and then he'd be in trouble --leaning forward on his cart, he broke into a heavy run -- thebarrier was coming nearer and nearer -- he wouldn't be able to stop-- the cart was out of control -- he was a foot away -- he closedhis eyes ready for the crash -- It didn't come... he kept on running... he opened his eyes. Ascarlet steam engine was waiting next to a platform packed withpeople. A sign overhead said Hogwarts Express, eleven O'clock. Harrylooked behind him and saw a wrought-iron archway where the barrierhad been, with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it,He had done it. Smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the chatteringcrowd, while cats of every color wound here and there between theirlegs. Owls hooted to one another in a disgruntled sort of way overthe babble and the scraping of heavy trunks. The first few carriages were already packed with students,some hanging out of the window to talk to their families, somefighting over seats. Harry pushed his cart off down the platform insearch of an empty seat. He passed a round-faced boy who was saying,"Gran, I've lost my toad again." "Oh, Neville," he heard the old woman sigh. A boy with dreadlocks was surrounded by a small crowd. "Give us a look, Lee, go on." The boy lifted the lid of a box in his arms, and the peoplearound him shrieked and yelled as something inside poked out a long,hairy leg. Harry pressed on through the crowd until he found an emptycompartment near the end of the train. He put Hedwig inside firstand then started to shove and heave his trunk toward the traindoor. He tried to lift it up the steps but could hardly raise oneend and twice he dropped it painfully on his foot. "Want a hand?" It was one of the red-haired twins he'd followedthrough the barrier. "Yes, please," Harry panted. "Oy, Fred! C'mere and help!" With the twins' help, Harry's trunk was at last tucked away ina corner of the compartment. "Thanks," said Harry, pushing his sweaty hair out of his eyes. "What's that?" said one of the twins suddenly, pointing atHarry's lightning scar. "Blimey," said the other twin. "Are you "He is," said the first twin. "Aren't you?" he added to Harry. "What?" said Harry. "Harry Potter, "chorused the twins. "Oh, him," said Harry. "I mean, yes, I am." The two boys gawked at him, and Harry felt himself turningred. Then, to his relief, a voice came floating in through thetrain's open door. "Fred? George? Are you there?" "Coming, Mom." With a last look at Harry, the twins hopped off the train. Harry sat down next to the window where, half hidden, he couldwatch the red-haired family on the platform and hear what they weresaying. Their mother had just taken out her handkerchief. "Ron, you've got something on your nose." The youngest boy tried to jerk out of the way, but she grabbedhim and began rubbing the end of his nose. "Mom -- geroff" He wriggled free. "Aaah, has ickle Ronnie got somefink on his nosie?" said oneof the twins. "Shut up," said Ron. "Where's Percy?" said their mother. "He's coming now." The oldest boy came striding into sight. He had already changedinto his billowing black Hogwarts robes, and Harry noticed a shinysilver badge on his chest with the letter P on it. "Can't stay long, Mother," he said. "I'm up front, the prefectshave got two compartments to themselves --" "Oh, are you a prefect, Percy?" said one of the twins, withan air of great surprise. "You should have said something, we hadno idea." "Hang on, I think I remember him saying something about it,"said the other twin. "Once --" "Or twice --" "A minute --" "All summer --" "Oh, shut up," said Percy the Prefect. "How come Percy gets new robes, anyway?" said one of the twins. "Because he's a prefect," said their mother fondly. "All right,dear, well, have a good term -- send me an owl when you get there." She kissed Percy on the cheek and he left. Then she turned tothe twins. "Now, you two -- this year, you behave yourselves. If I getone more owl telling me you've -- you've blown up a toilet or --" "Blown up a toilet? We've never blown up a toilet." "Great idea though, thanks, Mom." "It's not funny. And look after Ron." "Don't worry, ickle Ronniekins is safe with us." "Shut up," said Ron again. He was almost as tall as the twinsalready and his nose was still pink where his mother had rubbed it. "Hey, Mom, guess what? Guess who we just met on the train?" Harry leaned back quickly so they couldn't see him looking. "You know that black-haired boy who was near us in thestation? Know who he is?" "Who?" "Harry Potter!" Harry heard the little girl's voice. "Oh, Mom, can I go on the train and see him, Mom, eh please...." "You've already seen him, Ginny, and the poor boy isn't somethingyou goggle at in a zoo. Is he really, Fred? How do you know?" "Asked him. Saw his scar. It's really there - like lightning." "Poor dear - no wonder he was alone, I wondered. He was everso polite when he asked how to get onto the platform." "Never mind that, do you think he remembers what You-Know-Wholooks like?" Their mother suddenly became very stern. "I forbid you to ask him, Fred. No, don't you dare. As thoughhe needs reminding of that on his first day at school." "All right, keep your hair on." A whistle sounded. "Hurry up!" their mother said, and the three boys clamberedonto the train. They leaned out of the window for her to kiss themgood-bye, and their younger sister began to cry. "Don't, Ginny, we'll send you loads of owls." "We'll send you a Hogwarts toilet seat." "George!" "Only joking, Mom." The train began to move. Harry saw the boys' mother waving andtheir sister, half laughing, half crying, running to keep up with thetrain until it gathered too much speed, then she fell back and waved. Harry watched the girl and her mother disappear as the trainrounded the corner. Houses flashed past the window. Harry felt agreat leap of excitement. He didn't know what he was going to butit had to be better than what he was leaving behind. The door of the compartment slid open and the youngest redheadedboy came in. "Anyone sitting there?" he asked, pointing at the seat oppositeHarry. "Everywhere else is full." Harry shook his head and the boy sat down. He glanced at Harryand then looked quickly out of the window, pretending he hadn'tlooked. Harry saw he still had a black mark on his nose. "Hey, Ron." The twins were back. "Listen, we're going down the middle of the train -- Lee Jordan'sgot a giant tarantula down there." "Right," mumbled Ron. "Harry," said the other twin, "did we introduce ourselves? Fredand George Weasley. And this is Ron, our brother. See you later,then. "Bye," said Harry and Ron. The twins slid the compartment doorshut behind them. "Are you really Harry Potter?" Ron blurted out. Harry nodded. "Oh -well, I thought it might be one of Fred and George's jokes,"said Ron. "And have you really got -- you know..." He pointed at Harry's forehead. Harry pulled back his bangs to show the lightning scar. Ronstared. "So that's where You-Know-Who "Yes," said Harry, "but I can't remember it." "Nothing?" said Ron eagerly. "Well -- I remember a lot of green light, but nothing else." "Wow," said Ron. He sat and stared at Harry for a few moments,then, as though he had suddenly realized what he was doing, helooked quickly out of the window again. "Are all your family wizards?" asked Harry, who found Ron justas interesting as Ron found him. "Er -- Yes, I think so," said Ron. "I think Mom's got a secondcousin who's an accountant, but we never talk about him." "So you must know loads of magic already." The Weasleys were clearly one of those old wizarding familiesthe pale boy in Diagon Alley had talked about. "I heard you went to live with Muggles," said Ron. "What arethey like?" "Horrible -well, not all of them. My aunt and uncle and cousinare, though. Wish I'd had three wizard brothers." "Five," said Ron. For some reason, he was looking gloomy. "I'mthe sixth in our family to go to Hogwarts. You could say I've gota lot to live up to. Bill and Charlie have already left -- Billwas head boy and Charlie was captain of Quidditch. Now Percy'sa prefect. Fred and George mess around a lot, but they still getreally good marks and everyone thinks they're really funny. Everyoneexpects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, it's no bigdeal, because they did it first. You never get anything new, either,with five brothers. I've got Bill's old robes, Charlie's old wand,and Percy's old rat." Ron reached inside his jacket and pulled out a fat gray rat,which was asleep. "His name's Scabbers and he's useless, he hardly ever wakesup. Percy got an owl from my dad for being made a prefect, but theycouldn't aff -- I mean, I got Scabbers instead." Ron's ears went pink. He seemed to think he'd said too much,because he went back to staring out of the window. Harry didn't think there was anything wrong with not beingable to afford an owl. After all, he'd never had any money in hislife until a month ago, and he told Ron so, all about having to wearDudley's old clothes and never getting proper birthday presents. Thisseemed to cheer Ron up. "... and until Hagrid told me, I didn't know anything about being a wizard or about my parents or Voldemort" Ron gasped. "What?" said Harry. "You said You-Know-Who's name!" said Ron, sounding both shockedand impressed. "I'd have thought you, of all people --" "I'm not trying to be brave or anything, saying the name,"said Harry, I just never knew you shouldn't. See what I mean? I'vegot loads to learn.... I bet," he added, voicing for the first timesomething that had been worrying him a lot lately, "I bet I'm theworst in the class." "You won't be. There's loads of people who come from Mugglefamilies and they learn quick enough." While they had been talking, the train had carried them outof London. Now they were speeding past fields full of cows andsheep. They were quiet for a time, watching the fields and lanesflick past. Around half past twelve there was a great clattering outsidein the corridor and a smiling, dimpled woman slid back their doorand said, "Anything off the cart, dears?" Harry, who hadn't had any breakfast, leapt to his feet,but Ron's ears went pink again and he muttered that he'd broughtsandwiches. Harry went out into the corridor. He had never had any money for candy with the Dursleys, andnow that he had pockets rattling with gold and silver he was readyto buy as many Mars Bars as he could carry -- but the woman didn'thave Mars Bars. What she did have were Bettie Bott's Every FlavorBeans, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs. Pumpkin Pasties,Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other strange thingsHarry had never seen in his life. Not wanting to miss anything,he got some of everything and paid the woman eleven silver Sicklesand seven bronze Knuts. Ron stared as Harry brought it all back in to the compartmentand tipped it onto an empty seat. "Hungry, are you?" "Starving," said Harry, taking a large bite out of a pumpkinpasty. Ron had taken out a lumpy package and unwrapped it. Therewere four sandwiches inside. He pulled one of them apart and said,"She always forgets I don't like corned beef." "Swap you for one of these," said Harry, holding up a pasty. "Goon --" "You don't want this, it's all dry," said Ron. "She hasn't gotmuch time," he added quickly, "you know, with five of us." "Go on, have a pasty," said Harry, who had never had anythingto share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with. It was anice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through allHarry's pasties, cakes, and candies (the sandwiches lay forgotten). "What are these?" Harry asked Ron, holding up a pack of ChocolateFrogs. "They're not really frogs, are they?" He was starting tofeel that nothing would surprise him. "No," said Ron. "But see what the card is. I'm missing Agrippa." "What?" "Oh, of course, you wouldn't know -- Chocolate Frogs have cards,inside them, you know, to collect -- famous witches and wizards. I'vegot about five hundred, but I haven't got Agrippa or Ptolemy." Harry unwrapped his Chocolate Frog and picked up the card. Itshowed a man's face. He wore half- moon glasses, had a long, crookednose, and flowing silver hair, beard, and mustache. Underneath thepicture was the name Albus Dumbledore. "So this is Dumbledore!" said Harry. "Don't tell me you'd never heard of Dumbledore!" said Ron. "CanI have a frog? I might get Agrippa -- thanks Harry turned over his card and read: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE CURRENTLY HEADMASTER OF HOGWARTS Considered by many the greatest wizard of modern times,Dumbledore is particularly famous for his defeat of the darkwizard Grindelwald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses ofdragon's blood, and his work on alchemy with his partner, NicolasFlamel. Professor Dumbledore enjoys chamber music and tenpin bowling. Harry turned the card back over and saw, to his astonishment,that Dumbledore's face had disappeared. "He's gone!" "Well, you can't expect him to hang around all day," saidRon. "He'll be back. No, I've got Morgana again and I've got aboutsix of her... do you want it? You can start collecting." Ron's eyes strayed to the pile of Chocolate Frogs waiting tobe unwrapped. "Help yourself," said Harry. "But in, you know, the Muggle world,people just stay put in photos." "Do they? What, they don't move at all?" Ron soundedamazed. "weird!" Harry stared as Dumbledore sidled back into the picture on hiscard and gave him a small smile. Ron was more interested in eatingthe frogs than looking at the Famous Witches and Wizards cards,but Harry couldn't keep his eyes off them. Soon he had not onlyDumbledore and Morgana, but Hengist of Woodcroft, Alberic Grunnion,Circe, Paracelsus, and Merlin. He finally tore his eyes away fromthe druidess Cliodna, who was scratching her nose, to open a bagof Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. "You want to be careful with those," Ron warned Harry. "Whenthey say every flavor, they mean every flavor -- you know, youget all the ordinary ones like chocolate and peppermint and mar-malade, but then you can get spinach and liver and tripe. Georgereckons he had a booger- flavored one once." Ron picked up a green bean, looked at it carefully, and bitinto a corner. "Bleaaargh -- see? Sprouts." They had a good time eating the Every Flavor Beans. Harrygot toast, coconut, baked bean, strawberry, curry, grass, coffee,sardine, and was even brave enough to nibble the end off a funnygray one Ron wouldn't touch, which turned out to be pepper. The countryside now flying past the window was becomingwilder. The neat fields had gone. Now there were woods, twistingrivers, and dark green hills. There was a knock on the door of their compartment and theround-faced boy Harry had passed on platform nine and threequarterscame in. He looked tearful. "Sorry," he said, "but have you seen a toad at all?" When they shook their heads, he wailed, "I've lost him! Hekeeps getting away from me!" "He'll turn up," said Harry. "Yes," said the boy miserably. "Well, if you see him..." He left. "Don't know why he's so bothered," said Ron. "If I'd brought atoad I'd lose it as quick as I could. Mind you, I brought Scabbers,so I can't talk." The rat was still snoozing on Ron's lap. "He might have died and you wouldn't know the difference," saidRon in disgust. "I tried to turn him yellow yesterday to make himmore interesting, but the spell didn't work. I'll show you, look..." He rummaged around in his trunk and pulled out a verybattered-looking wand. It was chipped in places and something whitewas glinting at the end. "Unicorn hair's nearly poking out. Anyway He had just raised his 'wand when the compartment door slidopen again. The toadless boy was back, but this time he had a girlwith him. She was already wearing her new Hogwarts robes. "Has anyone seen a toad? Neville's lost one," she said. She hada bossy sort of voice, lots of bushy brown hair, and rather largefront teeth. "We've already told him we haven't seen it," said Ron, but thegirl wasn't listening, she was looking at the wand in his hand. "Oh, are you doing magic? Let's see it, then." She sat down. Ron looked taken aback. "Er -- all right." He cleared his throat. "Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, Turn this stupid, fat ratyellow." He waved his wand, but nothing happened. Scabbers stayed grayand fast asleep. "Are you sure that's a real spell?" said the girl. "Well,it's not very good, is it? I've tried a few simple spells justfor practice and it's all worked for me. Nobody in my family'smagic 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 bestschool of witchcraft there is, I've heard -- I've learned all ourcourse books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough --I'm Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you. She said all this very fast. Harry looked at Ron, and was relieved to see by his stunnedface that he hadn't learned all the course books by heart either. "I'm Ron Weasley," Ron muttered. "Harry Potter," said Harry. "Are you really?" said Hermione. "I know all about you, of course-- I got a few extra books. for background reading, and you're inModern Magical History and The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts andGreat Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century. "Am I?" said Harry, feeling dazed. "Goodness, didn't you know, I'd have found out everything Icould if it was me," said Hermione. "Do either of you know what houseyou'll be in? I've been asking around, and I hope I'm in Gryffindor,it sounds by far the best; I hear Dumbledore himself was in it, butI suppose Ravenclaw wouldn't be too bad.... Anyway, we'd better goand look for Neville's toad. You two had better change, you know,I expect we'll be there soon." And she left, taking the toadless boy with her. "Whatever house I'm in, I hope she's not in it," said Ron. Hethrew his wand back into his trunk. "Stupid spell -- George gaveit to me, bet he knew it was a dud." "What house are your brothers in?" asked Harry. "Gryffindor," said Ron. Gloom seemed to be settling on himagain. "Mom and Dad were in it, too. I don't know what they'll sayif I'm not. I don't suppose Ravenclaw would be too bad, but imagineif they put me in Slytherin." "That's the house Vol-, I mean, You-Know-Who was in?" "Yeah," said Ron. He flopped back into his seat, lookingdepressed. "You know, I think the ends of Scabbers' whiskers are a bitlighter," said Harry, trying to take Ron's mind off houses. "Sowhat do your oldest brothers do now that they've left, anyway?" Harry was wondering what a wizard did once he'd finished school. "Charlie's in Romania studying dragons, and Bill's in Africadoing something for Gringotts," said Ron. "Did you hear about Gringotts? It's been all over the Daily Prophet, but I don'tsuppose you get that with the Muggles -- someone tried to rob ahigh security vault." Harry stared. "Really? What happened to them?" "Nothing, that's why it's such big news. They haven't beencaught. My dad says it must've been a powerful Dark wizard to getround Gringotts, but they don't think they took anything, that'swhat's odd. 'Course, everyone gets scared when something like thishappens in case You-Know-Who's behind it." Harry turned this news over in his mind. He was starting toget a prickle of fear every time You- Know-Who was mentioned. Hesupposed this was all part of entering the magical world, but ithad been a lot more comfortable saying "Voldemort" without worrying. "What's your Quidditch team?" Ron asked. "Er -- I don't know any," Harry confessed. "What!" Ron looked dumbfounded. "Oh, you wait, it's the best gamein the world --" And he was off, explaining all about the four ballsand the positions of the seven players, describing famous games he'dbeen to with his brothers and the broomstick he'd like to get if hehad the money. He was just taking Harry through the finer pointsof the game when the compartment door slid open yet again, but itwasn't Neville the toadless boy, or Hermione Granger this time. Three boys entered, and Harry recognized the middle one at once:it was the pale boy from Madam Malkin's robe shop. He was looking atHarry with a lot more interest than he'd shown back in Diagon Alley. "Is it true?" he said. "They're saying all down the train thatHarry Potter's in this compartment. So it's you, is it?" "Yes," said Harry. He was looking at the other boys. Both ofthem were thickset and looked extremely mean. Standing on eitherside of the pale boy, they looked like bodyguards. "Oh, this is Crabbe and this is Goyle," said the pale boycarelessly, noticing where Harry was looking. "And my name's Malfoy,Draco Malfoy." Ron gave a slight cough, which might have been hiding asnigget. Draco Malfoy looked at him. "Think my name's funny, do you? No need to ask who you are. Myfather told me all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and morechildren than they can afford." He turned back to Harry. "You'll soon find out some wizardingfamilies are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to gomaking friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there." He held out his hand to shake Harry's, but Harry didn't take it. "I think I can tell who the wrong sort are for myself, thanks,"he said coolly. Draco Malfoy didn't go red, but a pink tinge appeared in hispale cheeks. "I'd be careful if I were you, Potter," he said slowly. "Unlessyou're a bit politer you'll go the same way as your parents. Theydidn't know what was good for them, either. You hang around withriffraff like the Weasleys and that Hagrid, and it'll rub offon you." Both Harry and Ron stood up. "Say that again," Ron said, his face as red as his hair. "Oh, you're going to fight us, are you?" Malfoy sneered. "Unless you get out now," said Harry, more bravely than he felt,because Crabbe and Goyle were a lot bigger than him or Ron. "But we don't feet like leaving, do we, boys? We've eaten allour food and you still seem to have some." Goyle reached toward the Chocolate Frogs next to Ron - Ronleapt forward, but before he'd so much as touched Goyle, Goyle letout a horrible yell. Scabbers the rat was hanging off his finger, sharp little teethsunk deep into Goyle's knuckle - Crabbe and Malfoy backed away asGoyle swung Scabbers round and round, howling, and when Scabbetsfinally flew off and hit the window, all three of them disappearedat once. Perhaps they thought there were more rats lurking among thesweets, or perhaps they'd heard footsteps, because a second later,Hermione Granger had come in. "What has been going on?" she said, looking at the sweets allover the floor and Ron picking up Scabbers by his tail. I think he's been knocked out," Ron said to Harry. He lookedcloser at Scabbers. "No -- I don't believe it -- he's gone backto sleep-" And so he had. "You've met Malfoy before?" Harry explained about their meeting in Diagon Alley. "I've heard of his family," said Ron darkly. "They weresome of the first to come back to our side after You-Know-Whodisappeared. Said they'd been bewitched. My dad doesn't believeit. He says Malfoy's father didn't need an excuse to go over to theDark Side." He turned to Hermione. "Can we help you with something?" "You'd better hurry up and put your robes on, I've just beenup to the front to ask the conductor, and he says we're nearlythere. You haven't been fighting, have you? You'll be in troublebefore we even get there!" "Scabbers has been fighting, not us," said Ron, scowling ather. "Would you mind leaving while we change?" "All right -- I only came in here because people outside arebehaving very childishly, racing up and down the corridors," saidHermione in a sniffy voice. "And you've got dirt on your nose,by the way, did you know?" Ron glared at her as she left. Harry peered out of the window. Itwas getting dark. He could see mountains and forests under a deeppurple sky. The train did seem to be slowing down. He and Ron took off their jackets and pulled on their long blackrobes. Ron's were a bit short for him, you could see his sneakersunderneath them. A voice echoed through the train: "We will be reaching Hogwartsin five minutes' time. Please leave your luggage on the train,it will be taken to the school separately." Harry's stomach lurched with nerves and Ron, he saw, lookedpale under his freckles. They crammed their pockets with the lastof the sweets and joined the crowd thronging the corridor. The train slowed right down and finally stopped. People pushedtheir way toward the door and out on to a tiny, dark platform. Harryshivered in the cold night air. Then a lamp came bobbing over theheads of the students, and Harry heard a familiar voice: "Firs'years! Firs' years over here! All right there, Harry?" Hagrid's big hairy face beamed over the sea of heads. "C'mon, follow me -- any more firs' years? Mind yer step,now! Firs' years follow me!" Slipping and stumbling, they followed Hagrid down what seemedto be a steep, narrow path. It was so dark on either side of themthat Harry thought there must be thick trees there. Nobody spokemuch. Neville, the boy who kept losing his toad, sniffed onceor twice. "Ye' all get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in a sec," Hagridcalled over his shoulder, "jus' round this bend here." There was a loud "Oooooh!" The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a greatblack take. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, itswindows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with manyturrets and towers. "No more'n four to a boat!" Hagrid called, pointing to a fleetof little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Harry and Ronwere followed into their boat by Neville and Hermione. "Everyonein?" shouted Hagrid, who had a boat to himself. "Right then --FORWARD!" And the fleet of little boats moved off all at once, glidingacross the lake, which was as smooth as glass. Everyone was silent,staring up at the great castle overhead. It towered over them asthey sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which it stood. "Heads down!" yelled Hagrid as the first boats reached the cliff;they all bent their heads and the little boats carried them through acurtain of ivy that hid a wide opening in the cliff face. They werecarried along a dark tunnel, which seemed to be taking them rightunderneath the castle, until they reached a kind of undergroundharbor, where they clambered out onto rocks and pebbles. "Oy, you there! Is this your toad?" said Hagrid, who was checkingthe boats as people climbed out of them. "Trevor!" cried Neville blissfully, holding out his hands. Thenthey clambered up a passageway in the rock after Hagrid's lamp,coming out at last onto smooth, damp grass right in the shadow ofthe castle. They walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around thehuge, Oak front door. "Everyone here? You there, still got yer toad?" Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked three times on thecastle door.