Feasting and Bed
Harry and Delilah’s mouths fell open. The dishes in front of them were now piled with food.
Delilah herself had never seen so many things she liked to eat on one table. Roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and, for some strange reason, peppermint humbugs. She thought about Family Thanksgiving, but she never had the things she liked to eat.
Delilah watched as Harry piled his plate with a bit of everything except the peppermints and began to eat like he was starved.
Delilah grabbed her plate, pitting on Roast Beef, roast potatoes, and carrots.
“That does look good,” said the ghost in the ruff sadly, watching Harry and Delilah cut their meat.
Harry looked up at the ghost. “Can’t you–?”
I haven’t eaten for nearly four hundred years,” said the ghost. “I don’t need to, of course, but one does miss it. I don’t think I’ve introduced myself? Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington at your service. Resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower.”
“I know who you are!” said Ron suddenly. “My brothers told me about you– you’re Nearly Headless Nick!”
“I would prefer you to call me Sir Nicholas de Mimsy–” the ghost began stiffly, but Hermione interrupted.
“Nearly Headless? How can you be nearly headless?” Sir Nicholas looked extremely miffed, as if their little chat wasn’t going at all the way he wanted.
“Like this,” he said irritably. He seized his left ear and pulled. His whole head swung off his neck and fell onto his shoulder as if it was on a hinge. Someone had obviously tried to behead him, but not done it properly.
Looking at Delilah, who had a sympathetic look on her face. Nearly Headless Nick smiled gratefully at the young girl and flipped his head back onto his neck, coughed, and said, “So – new Gryffindors! I hope you’re going to help us win the house championship this year? Gryffindors have never gone so long without winning. Slytherins have got the cup six years in a row! The Bloody Baron’s becoming almost unbearable– he’s the Slytherin ghost.”
The group looked over at the Slytherin table and saw a horrible ghost sitting there, with blank staring eyes, a gaunt face, and robes stained with silver blood.
“Mr. Nicholas?” asked Delilah, getting the ghost’s attention. He knew he would warm up greatly to the girl. “How did he get covered in blood?”
“I’ve never asked,” said Nearly Headless Nick delicately
When everyone had eaten as much as they could, the remains of the food faded from the plates, leaving them sparkling clean as before. A moment later the desserts appeared. Blocks of ice cream in every flavor you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate eclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, Jell-O, rice pudding…
As Delilah helped herself to a piece of Apple Pie, her favorite, the talk turned to their families.
“I’m half-and-half,” said Seamus. “Me dad’s a Muggle. Mom didn’t tell him she was a witch ’til after they were married. Bit of a nasty shock for him.” The others laughed.
“What about you, Neville?” said Ron. “Well, my gran brought me up and she’s a witch,” said Neville, “but the family thought I was all- Muggle for ages. My Great Uncle Algie kept trying to catch me off my guard and force some magic out of me– he pushed me off the end of Blackpool pier once,” Delilah eyes were wide.
“I nearly drowned– but nothing happened until I was eight. Great Uncle Algie came round for dinner, and he was hanging me out of an upstairs window by the ankles when my Great Auntie Enid offered him a meringue and he accidentally let go. But I bounced– all the way down the garden and into the road. They were all really pleased, Gran was crying, she was so happy. And you should have seen their faces when I got in here– they thought I might not be magic enough to come, you see. Great Uncle Algie was so pleased he bought me my toad.”
‘Some family that is,’ Delilah thought.
“What about you? Dean, Delilah?” Harry asked, wanting to know more about the girl.
“Well, we don’t exactly know…” Dean trailed off.
“How do you not know?” asked Seamus confused.
“Well, we know both of Mums are muggles. They have no magic whatsoever. But our dads… mine ran off when I was five, so he might’ve been a wizard. Who knows?” Delilah finished.
“And when did you discover your magic?” Hermione asked. Now everybody at their end of the table was looking at the girl and boy.
“Bit of a funny story, really. Delilah and I discovered our magic together. So we were in our school, it was for non- magical folk.” Dean started.
“A muggle school?” Neville asked.
“Yeah, a muggle school.” Delilah said. “We just got finished with our class, and Mr. Harris, our teacher decided to keep us after class for a detention. We pulled this epic prank, but that’s a story for another time.”
“We were really bored there, so we asked Mr. Harris if we could go to the school library. Delilah took Peter Pan off the shelf and started reading it aloud to me.”
“Soon, we were playing and acting out the book. Dean was Peter and I was Wendy. But then we started going off the ground.”
“And that is how we discovered our magic.”
“The end.” The friends finished.
At last, the desserts too disappeared, and Professor Dumbledore got to his feet again. The hall fell silent. “Ahem– just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few start-of-term notices to give you. First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well.” Dumbledore’s twinkling eyes flashed in the direction of the Weasley twins. Delilah grinned at them and they both grinned back. She made a mental note to talk to them better.
“I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors. Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact your Head of House. And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death.”
Delilah laughed, but he was one of the few who did. “He’s not serious?” she muttered to Percy.
“Must be,” said Percy, frowning at Dumbledore. “It’s odd, because he usually gives us a reason why we’re not allowed to go somewhere– the forest’s full of dangerous beasts, everyone knows that. I do think he might have told us prefects, at least.”
“And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!” cheered Dumbledore.
Delilah noticed that the other teachers’ smiles had become rather fixed.
Dumbledore gave his wand a little flick, as if he was trying to get a fly off the end, and a long golden ribbon flew out of it, which rose high above the tables and twisted itself, snakelike, into words. “Everyone pick your favorite tune,” said Dumbledore, “and off we go!”
And the school bellowed:
Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they’re bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we’ve forgot,
Just do your best, we’ll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot.
Everybody finished the song at different times. At last, only the Weasley twins were left singing along to a very slow funeral march. Dumbledore conducted their last few lines with his wand and when they had finished, he was one of those who clapped loudest.
“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here! And now, bedtime. Off you trot!”
The Gryffindor first years followed Percy through the chattering crowds, out of the Great Hall, and up the marble staircase. Delilah was too sleepy even to be surprised that the people in the portraits along the corridors whispered and pointed as they passed, or that twice Percy led them through doorways hidden behind sliding panels and hanging tapestries.
They climbed more staircases, yawning and dragging their feet, and Delilah was just wondering how much farther they had to go when they came to a sudden halt.
A bundle of walking sticks was floating in midair ahead of them, and as Percy took a step toward them they started throwing themselves at him.
“Peeves,” Percy whispered to the first years. “A poltergeist.” He raised his voice, “Peeves– show yourself”
A loud sound, like the air being let out of a balloon, answered, waking Delilah up from her almost falling asleep on Harry’s shoulder. “Do you want me to go to the Bloody Baron?”
There was a pop, and a little man with wicked, dark eyes and a wide mouth appeared, floating cross-legged in the air, clutching the walking sticks. “Oooooooh!” he said, with an evil cackle. “Ickle Firsties! What fun!”
He swooped suddenly at them. They all ducked. “Go away, Peeves, or the Baron’ll hear about this, I mean it!” barked Percy.
Peeves stuck out his tongue and vanished, dropping the walking sticks on Neville’s head. They heard him zooming away, rattling coats of armor as he passed.
“You want to watch out for Peeves,” said Percy, as they set off again. “The Bloody Baron’s the only one who can control him, he won’t even listen to us prefects. Here we are.”
At the very end of the corridor hung a portrait of a very fat woman in a pink silk dress.
“Password?” she said.
“Caput Draconis,” said Percy, and the portrait swung forward to reveal a round hole in the wall. They all scrambled through it. Neville needed a leg up.
They found themselves in the Gryffindor common room, a cozy, round room full of squashy armchairs.
Percy directed the girls through one door to their dormitory and the boys through another. At the top of a spiral staircase– they were obviously in one of the towers– they found their dorm rooms at last: two beds with mattresses.
Hermione and Delilah’s trunks had already been brought up to their room. Too tired to talk much, they pulled on their pajamas and fell into bed. They fell asleep at once.
A/N: I like how this is going!
QOTC: What’s your Hogwarts House?
My Answer: I’m in Gryffindor and Slytherin, but I feel like I have more Slytherin traits. But I am not evil, my house isn’t evil.