Hogwarts and Ghosts
A voice echoed through the train. “We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minutes’ time. Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately.”
To say Delilah Jackson was nervous was an understatement. In the last fifteen minutes that she and Hermione left Harry and Ron’s compartment, she had made more than a hundred ways that things could go wrong. Snapping out of her daze, she joined her new friend in the crowded hall of the train.
The train slowed right down and finally stopped. People pushed their way toward the door and out onto a tiny, dark platform. Delilah shivered in the cold night air, wishing she didn’t have to wear the thin fabric of the school robes. Then a lamp came bobbing over the heads of the students. “Firs’ years! Firs’ years over here!”
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 seemed to be a steep, narrow path. It was so dark on either side of them that Delilah thought they must be near a forest. Nobody spoke much. Neville, the boy who kept losing his toad, sniffed once or twice, Delilah offering him a tissue.
“Ye’ all get yer firs’ sight o’ Hogwarts in a sec,” Hagrid called over his shoulder, “jus’ round this bend here.”
There was a loud, “Oooooh!”
The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black take. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.
“No more’n four to a boat!” Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Harry and Ron were followed into their boat by Neville and a black haired boy.
Hermione and Delilah got into a boat together, followed by two brunette kids. “Everyone in?” shouted Hagrid, who had a boat to himself. “Right then– Forward!”
And the fleet of little boats moved off all at once, gliding across the lake, which was as smooth as glass. Everyone was silent, staring up at the great castle overhead. Delilah turned around to the kids behind her. “Hi! I’m Delilah Jackson, and this is Hermione Granger.”
“I’m Tessa Martin.” Tessa had hazel eyes and long brown hair. Her smile was full of innocence. Behind her sat a boy, also brunette, his hair was parted, but he didn’t look uptight. He had brown eyes that looked like it had speckles of green in the moonlight.
“I’m Andrew Turner. It’s a pleasure to meet you all.” The castle towered over them as they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which it stood, conversations just beginning and new friends in the making.
“Heads down!” yelled Hagrid as the first boats reached the cliff; they all bent their heads and the little boats carried them through a curtain of ivy that hid a wide opening in the cliff face. They were carried along a dark tunnel, which seemed to be taking them right underneath the castle, until they reached a kind of underground harbor, where they clambered out onto rocks and pebbles.
“Oy, you there! Is this your toad?” implored Hagrid, who was checking the boats as people climbed out of them.
“Trevor!” cried Neville blissfully, holding out his hands. Then they clambered up a passageway in the rock after Hagrid’s lamp, coming out at last onto smooth, damp grass right in the shadow of the castle.
They walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around the huge, oak front door. “Everyone here? You there, still got yer toad?” Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked three times on the castle door.
The door swung open at once. A tall, black-haired witch in emerald-green robes stood there. She had a very stern face and almost everybody’s first thought was that this was not someone to cross.
“The firs’ years, Professor McGonagall,” bid Hagrid.
“Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here.” She pulled the door wide. The entrance hall was so big you could have fit the whole Jackson house in it. The stone walls were lit with flaming torches like the ones at Gringotts, the ceiling was too high to make out, and a magnificent marble staircase facing them led to the upper floors.
They followed Professor McGonagall across the flagged stone floor. You could hear the drone of hundreds of voices from a doorway to the right -the rest of the school must already be here– but Professor McGonagall showed the first years into a small, empty chamber off the hall. They crowded in, standing rather closer together than they would usually have done, peering about nervously.
“Welcome to Hogwarts,” said Professor McGonagall. “The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room.
“The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rule breaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours. “The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting.” Her eyes lingered for a moment on Neville’s cloak, which was fastened under his left ear, and on Ron’s smudged nose. Harry nervously tried to flatten his hair.
“Hey, Deli!” Dean walked up to his neighbor and her friends.
“Dean!” Delilah squealed, hugging her friend. ” I didn’t know you were coming! Hermione, Andrew, Tessa, meet my neighbor, Dean. Dean, meet Hermione Granger, Andrew Turner, and Tessa Martin.”
“Nice to meet you all.”
“Likewise,” Tessa said, her cheeks dusted with pink. Delilah looked back and forth between her neighbor and Tessa, smirking.
Before she could say anything, something happened that made them all jump about a foot in the air– several people around them screamed.
About twenty ghosts had just streamed through the back wall. Pearly-white and slightly transparent, they glided across the room talking to one another and hardly glancing at the first years.
They seemed to be arguing. What looked like a fat little monk was saying: “Forgive and forget, I say, we ought to give him a second chance–“
“My dear Friar, haven’t we given Peeves all the chances he deserves? He gives us all a bad name and you know, he’s not really even a ghost– I say, what are you all doing here?” A ghost wearing a ruff and tights had suddenly noticed the first years. Nobody answered.
“New students!” said the Fat Friar, smiling around at them. “About to be Sorted, I suppose?” A few people nodded mutely. “Hope to see you in Hufflepuff!” said the Friar. “My old house, you know.”
“Move along now,” said a sharp voice. “The Sorting Ceremony’s about to start.” Professor McGonagall had returned.
One by one, the ghosts floated away through the opposite wall. “Now, form a line,” Professor McGonagall told the first years, “and follow me.”
Feeling oddly as though her legs had turned to noodles, Delilah got into line behind Hermione with Dean behind her, and they walked out of the chamber, back across the hall, and through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall.
Delilah had never even imagined such a strange and splendid place, unless you counted their house. The hall was lit by thousands and thousands of candles that were floating in midair over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting.
These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets. At the top of the hall was another long table where the teachers were sitting. Professor McGonagall led the first years up here, so that they came to a halt in a line facing the other students, with the teachers behind them.
The hundreds of faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the flickering candlelight. Dotted here and there among the students, the ghosts shone misty silver. Mainly to avoid all the staring eyes, Delilah looked upward and saw a velvety black ceiling dotted with stars. “Hermione whispered, “Its bewitched to look like the sky outside. I read about it in Hogwarts, A History.”
She turned to her friend. “You know, I’m going to have to get around to reading that at some point.”
Don’t forget to comment and vote! I love reading your comments!
QOTC: What is your favorite Hogwarts Subject?
My answer: Probably Potions because it’s kind of like baking.