Chapter Six: Aboard the Hogwarts Express
Disclaimer: See Chapter One
Summary: Buffy’s going to King’s Cross to board the train to Hogwarts.
A/N: I started writing this right after I finished five. So hopefully this flows better. And as promise, there will be introductions of some of the future Scoobies. Chapter Six: Aboard the Hogwarts Express
The last month at home flew by. The days sort of blurred together until the morning when she was supposed to go to Hogwarts came. It had started like any other day. Dawn bouncing around excitedly on her bed, Buffy wondering why her sister was so chipper in the morning, the smell of breakfast beckoning her downstairs; not before she brushed her hair, of course, checked her baggage one last time, and dressed herself for the trip to King’s Cross.
It was an emotionally charged breakfast. Joyce seemed to be holding back tears. And the realization that Buffy wasn’t going to be here all year had finally dawned on her little sister and she was not happy about it, which was glaringly obvious by they way Dawn was eating her hotcakes. Almost like she was murdering them before she feasted on their mangled corpses. A gruesome sight to behold. And Buffy… well, she didn’t know how she felt. She knew that she was uncertain of how she was going to act around Harry. Would she be as strange as she had been in the Leaky Cauldron or had she finally come to terms with her secret identity? Buffy wouldn’t know until she was face to face with Harry again. For now, she supposed she felt nothing.
“Ready to go, dear?” Joyce asked. Buffy hadn’t even realized her mother had been talking to her this whole time,
“Huh? What?” Buffy replied.
Dawn frowned, crossing her arms. “She’s sick, mom. She can’t go to Hogwarts this year. I guess she’ll just have to stay.”
Even that made Buffy laugh.
“Dawnie, we’ve talked about this. Soon it’ll be your time to go and I’ll have to send you both off to Hogwarts,” Joyce said, her voice cracking a bit. Buffy fought the urge to sigh. She understood that her mother wanted her to stay her little girl. But Buffy was ready for Hogwarts, she just didn’t know if she was ready to face Harry.
During the car ride Dawn bombarded Buffy and Joyce with all sorts of questions about Hogwarts. Buffy’s favorites involved a tree that tried to smash children to bits, and a giant basilisk that lived under the castle. Joyce laughed most them off. But Buffy suspected there was some truth to the tree thing.Note to self: avoid killer tree.
Once they got to the King’s Cross Station, Buffy followed her mother as she led them to platforms nine and ten. Buffy looked around but saw no Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.
“Well, it’s not here. Buffy has to stay,” Dawn said, matter-of-factly.
“We’ve been over this three times this morning, Dawn. Buffy is eleven and a witch. It’s time of her first year at Hogwarts,” Joyce told her.
“Um… excuse me?” sounded a voice behind them. Buffy whipped around to find a boy about her age, with a trolley pushing his trunk along. He was taller than her with a wiry frame and dark hair that he didn’t care to brush. His clothes also spoke to his lack of effort when it came to his outward appearance.
“Yes, dear?” Joyce asked the young boy.
“Do you know… Do you know where I can… where I can find…” He couldn’t get the words out.
“You’re looking for the train that leaves at eleven?” Joyce asked. The boy nodded. “Well, then follow us. This must be your first year at Hogwarts.” The boy nodded again. “Great, its Buffy’s first year too.”
Buffy smiled. “Hi.”
The boy shot her a lazy smile. “Hi.”
“So what’s your name?” Dawn asked, abruptly.
“Er… Alexander… uh… Harris… People call me Xander,” he replied.
“I’m Dawn. This is my mom, Joyce. And my sister, Buffy,” Dawn told him. “Where are your parents?”
“Dawn!” Buffy chided. “You don’t ask people that.”
“I’m sorry. I was just curious,” Dawn said, sheepishly.
“S’ok, my folks had a hard enough time with finding out I’m a wizard. I didn’t want them to have to deal with this, too,” Xander confessed.
Dawn looked at him like he was an alien. “Muggle-Born… wow. My mom is a muggle-born too.”
When Xander shot her a confused look Buffy elaborated. “Muggle is a word we use for non-magical people.”
“Oh… That’s a brilliant name for the magically challenged,” Xander said. Buffy laughed and his smile grew wider.
“Magically challenged. I like it,” she told him.
“Really? ‘Cos I got loads more…” Xander paused. “I just can’t think of any of them right now.”
Dawn cocked her head to the side and studied Xander for a moment before she gave her professional opinion. “You’re weird.”
He laughed. “You’re not the first person to realize that, Dawn.”
“You should be friends with my sister. She’s weird too.”
“Thanks, Dawnie,” Buffy muttered.
Dawn grinned. “You’re welcome.”
Silence descended upon them as Buffy scowled at her sister. And for a moment the reason for being at the station was forgotten.
“So…” Xander broke the tension-filled silence. “I see a platform nine and a platform ten. But color me stunned, I don’t see a platform nine and three-quarters.”
As soon as Xander spoke a pack of children zoomed passed them, running full speed toward the dividing barrier between the two platforms and disappeared.
“Whoa! Did you see that?” Xander exclaimed.
Joyce smiled. “That’s where the platform is.”
“You have to run through that barrier?” Xander asked, amazed.
Joyce nodded. “It’s very simple. All you have to do is walk straight into that barrier between the platforms. Don’t stop, and most importantly don’t be scared or you’ll crash. I did my first time. If you’re nervous just run. You can go before Buffy.”
“Me? Go first?” Xander didn’t seem too thrilled about the idea.
“We can go together,” Buffy offered. And that seemed to put him at ease.
“Yeah, that sounds brilliant.”
Buffy smiled and lined her trolley up with Xander’s. She glanced at him. He had a smirk on his face. It was the kind of grin you couldn’t help but return. And she giggled.
“Ready?” she asked. He nodded and they both took off running. She didn’t look terrified but Buffy was scared out of her mind. She didn’t want to start her year off by completely humiliating herself at the train station. That kind of embarrassment Buffy just couldn’t handle this early in the school year. She closed her eyes just before they hit the barrier, willing herself calm. And as she felt herself pass through Buffy opened her eyes and what she saw took the words right out of her mouth.
“Whoa…” Xander said, awestruck.
“You say that a lot,” Dawn’s voice sounded behind them. Buffy turned around to find her mother and sister had followed them safely through the barrier.
“Is that something Muggles say a lot?” Dawn asked Xander.
He shrugged. “It’s something I
say a lot.”
“Okay,” Joyce said. “Do you have everything you need? Books, robes, gloves… Buffy, you have your owl. I want you to write as soon as you can.”
“Yes, mom. I will,” Buffy replied as they made their way toward the train. She hugged her mother and Dawn. Buffy had a bit of trouble prying Dawn off of her and in the end had to have her mother help.
“Be good and stay safe,” Joyce told her before getting in one last hug. “You better get going. We’ll be here until the train leaves. Don’t forget to wave.”
“And don’t forget about me,” Dawn added.
Buffy chuckled. “I won’t Dawnie. How could I forget my favorite sister?”
Dawn frowned. “I’m your only sister.”
“I love you, too, Dawn.”
After Buffy and Xander found an empty compartment and got settled, Buffy excused herself and jumped off the train again.
“Buffy?” her mother said, perplexed. “Why aren’t you on the train?”
“Because I wanted to say that I love you,” Buffy said.
Joyce’s eyes watered as she pulled her daughter in for another hug. “I love you, too.”
“Mom?” Buffy’s voice was barely above a whisper. “Are we… am I still your daughter?”
“Oh honey, of course you are,” Joyce replied, low enough that only Buffy heard her. The last whistle sound and they broke their embrace. “Go Buffy, before you miss your train.”
“Or you can stay,” Dawn blurted out. Buffy shook her head, ruffling her sister’s hair. A small or rather a large part of her was going to miss this. She jogged back to the train and hopped back on, finding Xander sitting quietly in their compartment. As the train departed, Buffy waved to her mother and sister until she couldn’t see them anymore and then slumped back into her seat.
“Your mom seems nice,” Xander said, trying to make small talk.
“Yeah. She can be a pain sometimes. But she my mom, you know?” Buffy replied.
Xander nodded. “I don’t actually know. My parents are nice enough people. Just not to me…” His face reddened. “I mean… They’re just like everyone else’s parents.”
“It’s okay. My dad isn’t perfect, either. I’m just lucky to have my mom.” Buffy hoped that was reassuring.
He smiled. “And I’m lucky I have you… as a friend. ‘Cos you know, we’re friends… We are friends, right?”
She nodded. “I think so. Unless you’re secretly evil. You’re not secretly evil, are you?”
“Not since the last time I checked.”
They both laughed.
Their compartment door opened, revealing a mousy girl. She had flaming red hair and the freckles. Buffy almost mistook her for a Weasley if it wasn’t for the fact that Molly Weasley had watched her and Dawn for as long as she could remember.
“Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize anyone was any here. I mean, I didn’t think anyone was in here. I just thought that maybe this was empty and I could sit down.” The red-haired girl said quickly, very quickly.
Buffy and Xander were taken aback. Neither of them knew just what to say.
“Well, I’ll just be going,” she told them
“Wait,” Xander called out to her. “Have a seat. The more the merrier. Right, Buff?”
She nodded, smiling at the red haired girl. “I’m Buffy Summers. And this is Xander Harris.”
“Willow… Willow Prewett,” she said, as she sat. And then it clicked for Buffy.
“You’re Molly’s niece.” It wasn’t a question. But Willow answered it all the same.
“Yeah…” she replied, her eyes dimming a bit.
“Oh, I’m sorry Willow. I didn’t mean—”
“No, it’s okay.”
Xander looked confused but he didn’t ask what was going on. Even though it was obvious that he had no clue who Voldemort was or that Willow’s dad had died fighting Death Eaters.
The three fell silent, watching the fields of cows and sheep as the train passed them. None of them talked. None of them had to.
Around noon there was a loud clattering outside in the corridor and a cheerful, dimpled woman, opened their door, asking, “Anything off the cart, dears?”
Willow and Xander said nothing. But Buffy nodded and ten silver Sickles later the trio had a sugar filled feast. Buffy and Willow knew what they liked and picked up piles of Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, and Cauldron Cakes. But Xander didn’t know what to pick so he got a little bit of everything.
“You sure you don’t want any money for this, Buffy?” Xander asked.
“No, it’s fine. It’s what friends do, right?” Buffy said with a smile.
“Right,” Xander affirmed. “So… Willow you want to get in on this friend thing with me and Buffy. I have to say so far it’s pretty amazing.”
Willow looked between them; a look that was half-elation and half-shock was etched on her face. “O…Okay.”
“Lovely. Now what’s all this stuff?” Xander asked. He glanced at Willow. “I’m a muggle-born. I didn’t even know magic existed until I turned my uncle Rory into a newt… Don’t worry. He got better… Eventually.”
They laughed. And Buffy and Willow explained the finer points of magical candy.
“Chocolate frogs are my favorite,” Buffy said.
“Are they real frogs?” Xander asked.
Willow giggled. “No. But they have cards of famous witches and wizards. Some kids collect them. My cousin, Ron has every one expect Agrippa and Ptolemy.”
“See what card you got,” Buffy urged.
Xander turned the card over and nearly dropped it. “It’s someone named… Al-bus… Dumb-bel-dor-ray.”
“It’s Albus Dumbledore,” Willow said. “He’s the Headmaster at Hogwarts. He’s one of the greatest wizards of the modern era. In 1945 he defeated the dark wizard Grindelwald. He discovered the twelve uses for Dragon’s blood--”
“There are dragons!?!?”
“—And worked with famed Alchemist Nicolas Flamel.”
Buffy and Xander looked at Willow absolutely astonished. She must have memorized all of the course books and then some. Because… Buffy who had grown up around magic her whole life probably didn’t know a tenth of what Willow knew. Or at least that’s what she suspected.
“Uh… guys… I think my card is broken. Dumbledore is gone,” Xander said, holding his card out.
“No, he probably just had better things to do,” Willow explained.
Xander cocked an eyebrow and then shook his head. “All of my pictures don’t move around.”
It was Willow’s turn to look amazed. “Really? Strange…”
They all had a good laugh with that one. And it only got worse as opened a bag of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, popped one in his mouth and cringed, like he had just swallowed a spoonful of cough syrup.
“Eck… what was that?” Xander asked.
“Oh, we should have probably warned you. When it says every flavor it means every flavor,” Buffy replied, between giggling fits.
“It was one of the yellow ones so you probably got Limburger cheese or toe jam,” Willow said. When Xander stared at her in abject terror she added, “I’m kidding about the toe jam.”
The compartment door slid open again. A small boy with unruly blond hair stood before them with a worried look on his face.
“Have you seen a cat? I lost one,” the small boy said.
“No, we’ve been here the whole time. What’s it look like?” Xander asked.
“It’s grey with white paws. His name is Sir Meow-Meow,” the boy replied.
“We’ll keep a look out,” Buffy promised and the boy was gone.
The trio went back to their conversation, Buffy and Willow being Xander’s guides to the wizarding world. They talked about Quidditch, dragons, rumors that they heard about Hogwarts, and some of the spells they’ve seen. As they talked, Buffy realized that she hadn’t been thinking about how difficult it was being around Harry. She had made two friends (she hoped) and it seemed to ease her fear of being alone. It was a good feeling. One she wanted to keep it as long as she could.
The compartment door slid open once and Xander groaned.
“I’m starting to think we should lock this door. Or at least put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign out front,” he said.
Three girls entered and Buffy recognized the one in the middle. It was the dark-haired girl from Madam Malkin’s. Cordelia Chase. The other two with her, Buffy had never seen before. She looked between the three girls, studying Cordy’s minions. To her right stood a pale girl with long, blond hair that was bone straight and fell past her shoulders. The one to Cordy’s left wasn’t as pale as the other one and her hair was a bundle of dark auburn curls that fell down her back like reddish brown waves. Neither of them appeared to be critical thinkers.
“I had to see it for myself,” Cordy started. “A Summers consorting with a Prewett and a nobody mu-.”
“Cordelia… You really don’t want to finish that do you? Because that would make me angry. And you wouldn’t like me if I got angry,” Buffy replied. She couldn’t help but smile as Cordy’s face turned a deep shade of red. And if grew wider when Xander tried to swallow his laughter and failed.
“You just made an enemy, Summers,” Cordelia said before she stormed out, with her blond minion in tow. The auburn hair girl lingered; her eyes narrow as she stared at Buffy.
“And what kind of name is Buffy anyway?” she sneered.
They heard Cordy shout her friend’s name. “Aphrodesia! Let’s go.”
The compartment door slid shut again and the trio erupted in laughter.
“Aphrodesia? Seriously?” Xander chuckled. “Also, didn’t know you were up on your comic book lore, Buff.”
“My what?” she asked.
Xander shook his head. “You two should thank your lucky stars you’ve got someone like me.”
As the giggling died down, Xander finally composed himself to ask a serious question. “So what was Cordy’s problem? Why doesn’t she like me or Willow?”
Buffy and Willow exchanged a look. She could see Will didn’t want to explain, so Buffy did in her stead. “There are some families that think they’re better than everyone else because they’re what some called pure-blood.”
“I’m a pure-blood,” Willow said. “But my family’s not like them, because we know it really doesn’t matter.”
“And I’m a half-blood,” Buffy added. “My father’s family is like Cordelia’s. Blood purity is big thing on my dad’s side.”
“Oh… And I guess, that makes me the ‘nobody, muggle-born,’” Xander said. “So does that mean we can’t sit at the popular kids’ table?”
They all smiled.
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."
Xander excused himself so the girls could change and they returned the favor once they were finished.
As the train slowed to a stop, Buffy could feel a wave of panic wash over her. There was no going back now. And sooner or later she’d have to face her twin brother who didn’t even know she existed. Buffy took a deep breath, made sure Willow and Xander where near her, and stepped out onto the tiny, dark platform. It was a cold September night. And Buffy’s body trembled as the chilly air cut through her.
Then the light from a lantern came bobbing toward them. A rich, deep voice pierced the air around them.
“Firs' years! Firs' years over here!”
Xander’s mouth hung wide open. And Buffy’s too. But not because of Hagrid. Because the boy standing next to Hagrid was her twin, the famous Harry Potter. She wanted to call to him, but she didn’t know what to say. Or what she could say. ‘Hey, I’m your dead twin, we should hang,’
was definitely out.
“Is that who I think it is?” Willow asked, nodding toward Harry.
“Yeah, it’s Harry Potter,” Buffy confirmed.
“The Boy Who Lived is going to be in our year. I hope he gets sorted into Gryffindor. I hope I get sorted in there too. My whole family was,” Willow said.
“Anything besides Slytherin would be fine,” Buffy replied.
Xander looked at them completely lost… again. “I trust that you two are going to explain to me what all of those words mean.”
The girls smiled, he’d find out soon enough.
"C'mon, follow me -- any more firs' years? Mind yer step, now! Firs' years follow me!"
Following Hagrid was harder than it looked. The first years tried to heed the half-giant’s advice and most of them failed. There were a few (who must have been part-mountain goat) that kept up without slipping and stumbling down a steep, narrow path.
Buffy, Xander, and Willow stayed toward the back of the group, to avoid another confrontation with Cordelia and her Cordettes and secretly to avoid being near Harry, though only Buffy knew that.
"Yeh'll get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in a sec," Hagrid called to them over his shoulder, "jus' round this bend here."
“Oooooh!” Xander said, loudly.
The path had spilled out to the shore of a massive dark lake. Off in the distance, atop a mountain, Buffy could see the windows of a castle twinkle in the night sky.
“That’s Hogwarts,” Willow whispered to Xander.
Hagrid pointed to the mini fleet of boats. "No more'n four to a boat!"
Buffy, Willow, and Xander climbed into an empty boat followed by the small yellow haired girl.
“C-c-can I ride with you guys?” she asked with a slight stutter.
Buffy nodded, smiling. “Yeah, of course. I’m Buffy, this Xander and Willow.”
“I-I’m Tara,” she said.
They all jumped when Hagrid shouted, “Everyone in? Right then -- FORWARD!”
The boats move smoothly across the black lake. Everyone was quiet. Not just their boat, Buffy noted, but everyone. The first years were all looking up at the quickly approaching castle.
Hagrid’s voice boomed over them. "Heads down!"
The fleet passed through a thick, ivy curtain, which was hiding an opening in the face of the cliff. Everyone ducked as their boats reached the curtain and into a dark tunnel that must have put them right under the castle. They didn’t stop until they reached a small underground harbor, where everyone piled out onto the rocks and pebbles.
Before they all rushed up to the castle, Hagrid apparently had found someone’s lost toad. Buffy thought of the small blond boy who had lost his cat and hoped he had found it.
The group scrambled up a passageway cut into the rock, following Hagrid’s lamp. The passage gave way to a patch of shiny, wet grass, directly in Hogwarts' shadow.
“Okay, this is definitely better close up,” Buffy heard Xander say to Willow and Tara before they walked up a flight of stone steps that lead to a large oak door.
"Everyone here? You there, still got yer toad?" Hagrid asked a dark-haired kid. Buffy watched him as he raised a huge fist and knocked on the castle door three times. And Buffy held her breath as the heavy door swung open.Alright. Two chapters. Two days. Gonna start on Chapter Seven right now. Though, I should probably proofread this stuff and edit some of the early chapters. Thanks for the reviews, you guys. It's been fun.