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- Chapter 7 -


Before Harry had had time to realise it, it was the last day of August. He had spent most of the holiday in relative peace, making sure to avoid his Uncle Vernon. Harry had read through every one of the books he had bought in Diagon Alley, and all, apart from the History of Magic book, were very interesting. Harry had also managed to sneak out fairly often, and had, in fact, gained a very slight tan. It had been a good holiday, having no contact with the Dursleys, particularly the volatile Vernon. However, looking at the ticket in his hand, Harry knew he was going to have to bite the bullet and talk to the man. The train ticket had appeared in the letter after Harry had brought all of his school things.

When Harry had first seen it, he hadn’t believed that it was real; it was surely impossible for there to be a platform nine and three quarters, but when he had owled Draco with the conundrum, Draco had informed him that the platform was real and that every Hogwarts student boarded the same train. The only problem was that the train left from King’s Cross Station - in London.

Breathing deeply, Harry headed downstairs. He knew that his aunt had taken his cousin out to her friend’s house, but he had heard Vernon refuse to go as ‘the woman only serves salads’. Harry could picture how green Dudley’s face must have been; Dudley had never, in living memory, eaten anything remotely healthy. Harry found his uncle in the sitting room watching snooker on the television.

Harry cleared his throat to let his uncle know he was there, but the large man didn’t even turn his head to acknowledge the presence of his nephew. Harry took this lack of response to be a good thing, at least he hadn’t been shouted at or been beaten. Yet.

“Erm - Uncle Vernon?” He began hesitantly.

“What is it, boy?” The man growled. Harry gulped and plucked up his courage once more.

“I umm… need to be at King’s Cross tomorrow so I can get to school.” Uncle Vernon grunted noncommittally. “Would it be all right if you gave me a lift? Grunt. Harry supposed that meant yes. “Thank you.”

“Funny way to get to a magic school,” Vernon smirked. “Can’t you go by broomstick or magic carpet? Ooh, better yet, your bloody owl could carry you.” Harry froze, unsure what to say. “Where is the damn place, anyway?”

“I umm… I don’t know.” Harry blinked in surprise at the revelation, whilst his uncle guffawed. Harry raised his ticket in his hand to eye level, and read through it again. “My ticket just says that it’s to Hogwarts, and that it’s at eleven.”

The ticket also said that the train left from Platform nine and three-quarters, but Harry decided not to mention that fact to his uncle. If Harry had wondered about it, then Vernon surely would. When nothing else was said, Harry quietly headed back upstairs to pack his things.

* * * * *

Harry woke at five the next morning thanks to Draco’s eagle owl tapping on his window. Harry swung his tired legs out of bed and rose to let him into the room. He flew in gracefully and perched on the end of Harry’s bed, affectionately nipping at his finger as he untied a note from the bird’s right leg. He unrolled it and read it to himself slowly.


I didn’t think you’d be able to sleep this morning, so I decided to write before I see you later today. I won’t be arriving until just before eleven, so save me a seat in your carriage if you’re there before me. If not, I’ll save one for you. I can’t wait until we get there. I hope we’re in the same House together.

Father says that if the Muggles won’t bring you, he can stop by and apparate you to the station, but it will be fairly late. He just read this over my shoulder and told me to tell you that he thinks we’ll both be sorted into Slytherin. Personally, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s right.

Mother sends her love (eww) and wants me to remind you to pack absolutely everything you own into the trunk. She also says to dress in Muggle clothes for the train, as we can change into our uniforms when we’re on our way there.

See you later,

Draco M.

Harry smiled to himself. He had realised through the course of their letters that Draco was rather insecure, no matter how much he tried to hide it. His early morning letter wasn’t to reassure Harry’s nerves, but to assuage Draco’s own. Reading between the lines, Harry got the impression that Draco had woken his entire family with his worries.

Although, on second thoughts, it was nice to know that he’d know at least one person on the train. One person that he knew he could get along with. One person who wanted to be around him. One person more than he’d had for most of his life. Harry sighed, and his face twisted into a bitter frown, but he gave himself only a moment to reflect on the vagaries of life.

Looking over at the bedside table, Harry checked the watch, seeing it was now nearly half past five. He would write Draco a letter and then get dressed before checking his trunk, as he had promised. He pulled out a piece of parchment, a quill and a pot of ink before sitting down on the floor to write his letter.


Thanks very much for the wake up call. Believe it or not, I could sleep. Give your father my gratitude, but my uncle is bringing me to London, so I won’t need his help. Tell your mother that I have packed and that although absolutely everything has been checked and rechecked at least seventeen times already, that yes, I will check once more.

With any luck, I will be on the train before you, so I’ll be sure to save you a seat with me. If not, we’ll just have to ‘convince’ someone else to move, I’m sure those big guys you mentioned, Vincent and Gregory, would come in useful for that.

I know it’s terrible of me to ask, but I just have to know; are you really coming to the station in Muggle clothes? I can’t really imagine you in jeans or a t-shirt and trainers, for some reason.

Don’t bother replying to this, I’ll already be gone by the time your owl gets here. I suppose I’ll just have to see what clothes you’re wearing on the train later.

Talk soon,


Harry turned to the eagle owl that still sat on the end of his bed and tied the parchment securely to its leg. He pulled an old biscuit from the top of his dressing table and fed it to the bird, who cooed in delight.

“Take this to your master, okay, Stymie?” Harry had inwardly snorted when Draco had first told him the name of the bird; Stymphalia, after the Stymphalian birds that Heracles had had to slay in the ancient Greek poem of the labours of Heracles. Harry had thought the name very fanciful, after all, Stymphalia didn’t eat people, and he didn’t have a bronze beak either. Stymie cawed gently before gracefully flying out of the still-open window.

Harry pulled out his Hogwarts letter once more and checked the list against the contents of his trunk, pulling everything out and repacking it as he did so. The trunk, thanks to the spell work of Narcissa, was larger on the inside than it was on the outside, and thanks to the spell work of Lucius, it would only open at his touch. He saw that Hedwig was shut safely in her cage and that she had water and several biscuits that would see her through the long journey.

Harry carefully pulled out the new clothes he had left in his chest of drawers for today. New underwear and socks, soft, dark-grey jeans and a black polo shirt. He put them on, inwardly marvelling at the way they clung to his figure, unlike Dudley’s cast offs, which he usually wore. Harry ran a hand down the soft fabric of the shirt, and then sighed in defeat. Vernon would know something was up if he wore all new clothes, so time for the disguise; a pair of really, really ratty trainers with a hole in the bottom, and an overly large jumper in an off-green colour. He stuffed his new black ‘Vans’ boat shoes, and an emerald green cardigan that a sales woman said ‘matched his eyes perfectly’ into his school satchel, and then placed it at the top of his trunk once more.

Harry checked his watch, which was carefully hidden under the long sleeves of the jumper; half six. He jumped as the boiler in the cupboard next to his room clicked and hummed loudly, calming when he realised it was just Vernon taking a shower. Harry had been careful to take one late last night, when all of the Dursleys were in bed.

Thirty minutes later, Harry was sitting in the back of Vernon’s car on the way to London. Vernon had barely said three words to Harry that morning. In fact, as Harry reflected, it had been exactly three words.

“In the car.”

They arrived at King’s Cross station at ten fifteen, having driven for hours in silence. Harry had been itching to speak or to move around, even just to reread one of his school books, but he didn’t dare. With any luck, Vernon’s morning daze would last until after Harry got out of the car.

“You know what, boy?” Vernon said unexpectedly, as they pulled into the parking lot. “I’m not going to see you for months, am I?”

“No Uncle Vernon,” Harry answered warily as Vernon parked the car in an empty space.

“I think I should give you something to remind you of me, boy.” He said, turning around. Harry jerked away quickly, but not quick enough. Vernon’s fist hit cleanly across Harry’s nose. Harry heard, rather than felt it crack, as blood began to stream down his face. Vernon just smiled cruelly. “Have a good time at school, boy. Try not to come back.”

Harry fumbled for the door handle, and leapt out of the car as soon as he could, barely having the presence of mind to grab his trunk before Vernon drove off. He lugged it onto a trolley, and sat on the edge of it as he stemmed his bleeding nose with the old jumper.

Once the bleeding had stopped, Harry exchanged the old jumper and trainers for his new clothes. He edged into the station carefully keeping his head down and the blood on his face out of sight until he could get to a bathroom to wipe it off.

Once his face was clean of blood, Harry headed in the direction of platforms nine and ten, figuring that nine and three quarters would be somewhere in between. He stood, looking fruitlessly from one platform to the next, unwilling to ask for help.

People all around him were rushing around, getting on and off trains, and dragging luggage behind them. He could hear snippets of conversations passing him by.

“ -darling, come on, we need to go and see-”

“-mind where you’re going!”

“Fred, George, behave! Don’t act up around the Muggles!”

Harry’s eyes flicked almost imperceptibly at the word. It had come from a plump, ginger haired woman surrounded by a gaggle of children. That raggedy family of redheads were wizards. Draco and his parents had mentioned Muggles. Harry’s nose wrinkled slightly at the state the family was in. They all wore slightly ill fitting or worn out clothes. All of the wizards he had seen in Diagon Alley were well dressed, like the Malfoy family, so why weren’t these?

 Perhaps, Harry thought to himself, they know where platform nine and three quarters is! He shook his head, his long, dark fringe falling over his eyes. Through his hair Harry surreptitiously watched the tallest (and best dressed) walk at the wall between platforms nine and ten.

Harry very nearly gaped as they – first the man’s luggage trolley and then the man – disappeared through the wall. Next, the two twins ran at the wall and were swallowed up by it. As the eldest man walked nonchalantly through, Harry carefully watched his mouth; it didn’t move. You must just be able to walk through, thought Harry.

With his newfound knowledge in mind, Harry picked his head up and threw his shoulders back, pushing his trolley at the stretch of wall. The youngest redheaded boy skidded to a halt a few feet from Harry, who merely looked disdainfully at him as he passed through the wall, closing his eyes at the last moment.

When he opened them again, he saw a bright red train waiting at the platform. The people milling around looked the same as those who had been in Diagon Alley; some wore robes and others a very odd assortment of Muggle clothes. However, unlike in Diagon Alley, there were a lot more young Witches and Wizards.

Harry’s eyes flicked around, desperately taking in everything he could. He glanced upwards and read a sign that said Hogwarts Express, 11 o’clock. Behind him, where he had just come from, was a wrought iron archway with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it.

Pushing his trolley as hard as he could, Harry made his way through the crowd. Looking into the windows of the train, he could see that most of the first few carriages were full of older students already, who seemed to know each other well. As he walked, he caught little scraps of conversation.

A round faced boy about his age looked despairingly at an older woman.

“Oh Gran, I’ve lost my toad again! Have you seen where he went?”

A mother, sobbing over her son, arms wrapped around him. An older version of the boy stood to one side rolling his eyes.

“Marcus, dear! I will miss you so much, and your father will, too. Stay safe, promise me?”

Two girls stood together, holding hands a little nervously. The smaller one was crying.

“It’ll be alright, Astoria,” the bigger girl was saying consolingly. “You’ll be here in a couple of years, too. You’ll see, it won’t be long! And I’ll be back for Christmas, too. I promise.”

Harry ducked his way through the crowd until he found an empty compartment near the end of the train. He ran inside and put Hedwig down first, before asking a porter to help him lift his trunk in. The man waved his wand once and all of Harry’s luggage appeared in the carriage. Harry thanked him before entering again, and he sat down comfortably.

He rummaged in his trunk for a moment or two, pulling out some treats for Hedwig and feeding them to her while he waited for Draco to arrive. As it was, he was only waiting for a few minutes before Draco’s blond hair flashed at the door to the carriage. The boys grinned at each other as Draco entered, closely followed by his father floating a trunk.

“Harry, so nice to see you again,” Lucius patted Harry on the shoulder and bestowed him with a truly charming smile. “I’ll let you two get on, I hope you have at least one conversation topic left after the amount you owled this summer.” Harry just smiled and nodded his head along with Draco. “Have a good year, both of you. And Draco? Please owl at least once a week, or your mother will make me come to the school to make sure you’re okay.”

“Of course I will, father.” Draco said, rolling his eyes. “I believe you said something about leaving?” Lucius held his hands up in mock defeat and edged back off the train, waving at them.

“Now, Harry,” Draco turned to his friend with a menacing gleam in his eyes. “What about me in Muggle clothes?” Harry sniggered and leaned back into his seat, speculatively eyeing Draco’s tasteful clothes.

He wore charcoal grey trousers and matching waistcoat, which covered most of his pale blue shirt with the top button undone and navy tie. He looked impeccable, which made Harry think that perhaps Narcissa had starched the shirt so heavily that Draco couldn’t move.

“Nothing’s wrong…” Harry said, after a moment. “I just couldn’t imagine it, that’s all.” Draco grinned and settled back into his seat.

“Hey, have you done something to your nose?” Draco asked as he sat back in his seat. “It looks more crooked than it did before.”

“Walked into something,” Harry mumbled, before changing the conversation topic. “We’re leaving, you know. You ought to wave at your parents, they’re looking this way.” Harry pointed to Lucius and Narcissa, the former holding a pristine white handkerchief and dabbing it at her eyes. Draco waved at them, smiling until the train pulled out of the station.

“Took us long enough,” he said. “Merlin, it’s been a long summer. Bet you’re glad to be rid of those Muggles, though, aren’t you?” Harry nodded in agreement.

“Too right. I hate them. Last thing my uncle said to me? That he wished I didn’t come back. Well I bloody wish the same thing.”

“Father made some enquiries at the Ministry, you know, but he couldn’t get to talk to whoever was in charge of you living there. He was going to try to fix it so you could come live with us, at the Manor.”

“You have a Manor?” Harry asked incredulously. “Is it big?”

“Yeah, it’s massive. Father says that when I’m older, I can have my own suite, rather than just my rooms. I bet you’ll be able to stay over too, if you like. Just watch, Father will get things sorted, he always does. After all, everyone has a price, right?”

“Yeah, I guess.” Harry trailed off, and stared at the countryside out of the window. He was glad when a clattering outside in the corridor startled them both. A smiling, dimpled woman slid open their compartment door.

“Anything from the trolley, dears?” Harry and Draco jumped up enthusiastically.

“You know,” Draco looked slyly back at Harry. “We could have anything we want. Everything. Nobody to stop us, and you’ve never tried Wizarding sweets… How do you fancy getting some of everything, and then splitting it?”

“Sure, just make sure there’s enough for both of us, though.” Harry grinned widely, and both of them began snaffling items from the trolley. The grand total came to two Galleons and four Sickles, which they shared between them

Neither of the pair wasted a moment before diving into the pile of sweets. Draco kept up a running commentary on all of the different confectionary.

“This is an Acid Pop. You can only eat them really slowly, one lick at a time or they burn through your tongue. Father gave me one when I was younger, and I didn’t know so I actually burnt a hole through my tongue. Mother was so mad at him, it was hilarious.” They ate their way through any number of sweets.

Exploding bonbons blew up in your mouth, or if you swallowed quickly you could feel it in the pit of your stomach. Harry nearly choked the first time it did, causing Draco to laugh at him to no end. Fizzing Whizzbees made you float in the air for a minute or two and after Draco had a Pepper Imp he breathed fire for a whole minute.

They ate Cauldron Cakes, Jelly Slugs and Pumpkin Pasties, taking their time over the Sugar Quills. Next, they carried on with the strange sweets by eating Liquorice Wands and Shock-a-Choc chocolate. It was a strange experience for Harry, never having had food speak to him. They had a competition to see whose chocolate would say the worst things, but all of Harry’s seemed to recognise him somehow, and only tried to compliment him.

Harry’s first experience with a chocolate frog actually made Draco snort; as soon as the packet was opened, the frog jumped out, and led Harry on a merry dance all around the compartment before escaping out of the open window. The second frog, however, faced death by digestion instantly.

They were lazing about, discussing the worst Bertie Bott's flavours and the best Wizard cards when their compartment door slid open again. A tall, muscular boy entered, followed by a younger girl with dark brown hair. Both wore their school uniform and wizarding robes with green accents.

“Have either of you seen a black cat?” the boy asked in a bored tone of voice, without looking at them. “Olivia here’s lost one.” The girl nodded shyly, with dark, wide eyes belying her awe of the older boy.

“No, we’ve seen no cat,” Draco said. Harry noticed the way that Draco had shifted slightly, with a straightened back. He looked bigger, and his lifted chin showed his lack of fear. Harry copied the pose, causing a small smirk to show on Draco’s face.

“Go search down the train again, then, Olivia,” the boy said, turning away from Harry and Draco. As he turned back to take his leave, his eyes narrowed at Draco. “A Malfoy?” At Draco’s cautious nod he chuckled slightly. “It’s your hair. No other family has blonde that white. I’m Flint, Marcus Flint. You have to be Draco. Who’s your friend?” He turned to look at Harry curiously. “You don’t look like any of the Pureblood families I know…”

“Potter, Harry Potter.” Harry consciously copied Marcus Flint’s order of words. “Pleased to meet you.”

“Borderline, Malfoy,” Flint said. “Your father heard of this?”

“Harry has met my father, Flint. He approves of the friendship.” Marcus nodded slowly, his hand coming up to rub at his chin.

“So, Potter, what house are you looking for?” he asked, leaning back against the now-closed door.

“Lucius seems to think I’ll be sorted into Slytherin,” Harry responded. “Along with Draco.”

“Good,” Flint nodded his head absently. “Good. We’ll be wanting some decent wizards in Slytherin again. Last year was a travesty; most of them are fools. Good luck.” Flint turned to leave again but turned back at the last minute. “You should put your uniform and robes on; we’ll be arriving soon enough.”

After Marcus left, the two decided to try their last sweets - Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. Harry managed eight, flavoured strawberry, mint, grass, pickle, burnt toast, turnip, cheese and tomato before  deciding that the beans would be better used as projectile missiles. They were in the midst of their warfare when another boy entered their compartment. Like them, he wore Muggle clothes, but his were much more worn. Harry recognised him as being from the raggedy family he had seen on the platform.

The boy’s head was turned away from the compartment; he was looking at somebody else in the corridor and saying something Harry nor Draco could hear properly. He closed the door behind him and then turned, freezing in shock as three beans hit his face.

“Oi! Why’d you throw those for?” He scowled darkly at Draco. “Oh, silly me, it’s a Malfoy. Of course you threw them.” His eyes flicked over to rest on Harry. “You’re Harry Potter… what are you doing sharing a compartment with him?”

Harry self-consciously flattened his fringe over his forehead again, making sure it covered his lightening bolt scar.

“Well, we were having fun before you turned up,” Draco took a sniff, and pulled a face. “You smell, Weasley. Guess your family couldn’t afford soap to wash with.”

“Yeah, well it’s obvious that you spend all your time washing, you little ponce!” The redhead retorted angrily, taking a step towards Draco, who snorted rather inelegantly.

“Ah, so being clean is a bad thing now, Weasley? Do us a favour will you, and close the door when you leave? The room is really starting to stink.” Draco turned away with a disaffected air, but Harry could see him watching the other boy’s reflection in the window.

“I don’t think you know who you’re sharing a compartment with,” the redhead told Harry. “I’m Ron Weasley, and he,” here Ron jerked a thumb at Draco, “is a piece of scum. Why don’t you come and share my compartment, you’ll get much better company.”

“You know what? I think I’ll pass. The company here is pretty good.” Harry said, mimicking Draco’s blasé attitude.

“You don’t know what his family’s like,” the brat persisted. “I bet they were the ones who killed your parents.”

“Really?” Harry asked, mock-seriously. “Do you think so?”

“Yeah, I do!” The Weasley boy turned up his nose in what he probably thought was magnanimity, but in reality just gave Harry a clear view up his nose. Harry laughed at the sight.

“Get a grip. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named killed my parents. I’m sure if you could read, you’d find it in the history books.” Harry snapped spitefully. “And, for the record, I’ve met Draco’s parents. They’re a damn sight better than you.”

“Look, Harry, who you meet at Hogwarts can change your whole life,” Weasley tried again, this time with a softer hand. “You don’t want to be mixing with the wrong people from the start.”

“I don’t remember telling you that you could use my name, Weasley.” Ron stepped back slightly as Harry stood, his venomous words clearly hitting home.

“Listen, mate, his parents are a bad sort, everyone knows they were-”

“You leave my parents out of this!” Draco yelled heatedly, but his words were ignored as Harry stepped up close to Ron, emerald eyes fixed on the cornflower blue ones.

“Really? When I met them they were a damn sight nicer than you seem to have been. Also, I am not, and I doubt that I ever will be, your ‘mate’. I think you should leave,” he said quietly, his eyes never wavering from the taller boy’s.

“Stupid bastard!” Ron cried and struck out at Harry’s stomach, then his face. Draco dived forward to catch Harry, but was surprised when Harry didn’t even blink at the blood running down his face once more.

“Leave,” Harry said darkly. “Before you regret staying.” For a moment, Ron Weasley wasn’t going to move, but thankfully he whirled round and removed himself. Harry sagged with relief as Draco guided him back to his seat.

“Are you alright, Harry?” he asked in concern. “Do you want me to get someone from the teachers’ carriage?”

“No,” Harry’s head shook vehemently. “I’ll be fine. It’s just a broken nose, nothing new.” He stood abruptly and rummaged through his trunk. “I’ll be back in a few minutes, I’m going to go get changed and clean up.” He left the room, robes clutched tightly in his hands.

When Harry returned, all of the blood had been carefully washed from his face, and his clothes had been replaced with school uniform and tailored robes. His nose was a little more crooked than it had been before he got on the train, and a little red, but other than that it would be difficult to tell that he had been injured just minutes before.

“Harry?” Draco asked tentatively. “Are you…?”

“You should go put your robes on,” Harry said blankly. “The train will get there in a few minutes. Just please, don’t mention this to anyone.” Draco nodded, his jaw set and exited the compartment brusquely. Draco somehow managed to take longer to change than Harry, even without having blood to clean up, so he only just made it back into the compartment as the train slowed to a halt.

Both Harry and Draco pressed their faces to the glass of the window. A voice echoed through the carriage as they stared at the small station.

“We have reached the final destination; Hogsmeade, Wizarding Village. Would all students enrolling at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry please leave their luggage on the train; it will be taken to the school separately.”

Harry and Draco were among the last off the train, both quickly putting the clothes they’d just taken off back into their trunks before disembarking. They looked round curiously, eyes wide in excitement, although they did take particular care to stay fairly close to one another.

“Firs’-years! Firs’-years over here!” A booming voice shouted over the noisy crowd of students. Harry nodded towards the direction of the voice, and Draco followed him that way. When they got closer, Harry could see exactly who was shouting; Hagrid. “All righ’ there, Harry?” He called with a grin on his face.

“Hagrid.” Harry called back, a tight smile on his face. Hagrid beamed at the sights, before turning away, still shouting.

“Firs’-years, follow me! C’mon! Mind yer step!” Slipping and stumbling, Harry and Draco joined the small crowd that followed the bumbling giant.

Hagrid led them down a narrow, badly lit, muddy path.  The area around the path was so dark that Harry rightly guessed it must be tree lined. Draco nudged Harry gently in the side as they hit a bend in the path.

“Just look at that, Harry,” he breathed in delight. “Isn’t it amazing?” Harry merely nodded, dumbstruck by the sight. The castle was the brightest thing they could see. Light shone from its many windows, making it almost glow, as if the castle was part of an eerie fairy tale. Even from the distance they were at, Harry could see the many turrets and towers that protruded from the natural roof-line.

“It’s beautiful,” a girl’s voice from behind them squeaked. “So beautiful. I never imagined it could be so…”

“Yeah.” Harry gulped. “It is. I’m Harry, by the way.”

“Hermione, Hermione Granger,” the girl said. As Harry turned to look at her, he saw a wild mane of bushy hair and honey coloured eyes set into a pale, thin face. Before either of them could say any more, Hagrid stopped still in front of a wide, still lake. In the darkness, the water looked pitch black.

“No more’n four to a boat!” Hagrid yelled back at them, pointing to a fleet of boats not unlike the one in which Harry and Hagrid had first travelled in. “Get in, then!” Following his own advice, Hagrid took up a whole boat to himself.

Harry and Draco headed towards the nearest boat to them, and jumped in quickly, sitting next to each other. The girl that Harry had been talking to, Hermione, followed them, as did a slightly chubbier boy that Harry hadn’t seen before.

“Forward!” Hagrid commanded the boats. “Forward.”

“I’m Hermione Granger.” The girl introduced herself to Draco first, and then to the fat boy, whose name turned out to be Neville.

“Harry Potter,” Harry said to Neville, shaking his hand. Neville’s hand went slack, and Hermione gasped incredulously.

“I’ve read all about you! You’re so famous! But I don’t suppose I ever thought you’d be here!” Draco rolled his eyes with a teasing grin at Harry, who had groaned quietly at the enthusiasm.

“Well, it looks like I am here,” Harry said shortly. Thankfully, the boats soon bumped against the bank on the other side of the lake. Everybody clambered out of the boats, Draco dragging Harry in front of everyone else, leaving them right at the head of the group as they walked across the grass of the castle grounds towards the imposing stonework. They stumbled up a set of steep steps, where Hagrid turned to face them all.

“Ever’one still here?” He did a quick head count and nodded to himself. “Good. ‘Ere we go!”

Hagrid raised a gargantuan fist, and banged against the solid oak three times. Harry looked nervously to Draco, who smiled reassuringly as the door slowly swung open.