Chapter 6 : A Train Ride and a Look Inside
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King’s Cross Station was bursting to the seams with impatient travellers jostling past one another towards their destination platforms. Trolleys burdened with ornate suitcases, overstuffed parcels, and other worldly possessions squeaked their lamentations to one another as they passed in the busy corridors. Muggles of every age and build directed these pitiable trolleys across the ceramic tile floors. Impatient remarks, fond farewells, and enthusiastic greetings intertwined and joined the chorus directed by the poorly oiled wheels traversing the station.
Teddy anxiously surveyed his surrounding. He tried desperately to take in everything around him; as far as he was concerned, King’s Cross Station was the most interesting place he had ever seen. He strained his ears to decipher the passing conversations and his eyes to pick out other people his own age. After all, there was a chance that they could be his future schoolmates – perhaps even classmates. Teddy’s anxious eyes were continually disappointed as one strangely dressed Muggle after another filled the station. He swallowed back a growing black fear that he was the only Hogwarts student making his way towards the platform.
His heart soared into his throat as he finally spied a middle-aged woman dressed in neutral grey robes on a platform across the corridor. She looked tired and strained as an anxious dark-haired boy, already dressed in crisp black robes, who looked around Teddy’s age raced ahead of her pushing a familiar looking trolley. On this dark-haired boy’s trolley was a Hogwarts trunk and an owl cage. If he would have hiccupped, Teddy was certain his heart would have landed in his hands.
“Gran, Gran!” Teddy tugged at the sleeve of his grandmother’s prim robes. “Look, Gran, over there, do you see them?”
Teddy’s outstretched arm pointed in the direction where the boy had been standing. His gaze followed his arm to the platform where the wizard boy and his mother had been standing. To his surprise and disappointment, they were both gone. He sheepishly looked up at his gran whose displeasure in pranks was written all over her stern face.
“Well, they were over there. I saw them.” With an assured nod Teddy resumed scanning the crowd as he made his way towards Platform 9 ¾ with Andromeda.
Never before had such a short walk seemed so long. If he didn’t explode soon, Teddy was certain he was going to die. His heart was racing, his stomach was tied into knots, and his hands and forehead were sweaty as he did his best to stand patiently next to his properly-dressed, stone-faced grandmother in front of the platform. This was the spot where the other wizard boy had disappeared from moments earlier. Teddy nervously wondered if his own disappearance would be as successful as the other boy’s had been.
Teddy nervously shifted his weight between his feet and accidentally bumped into the large wire cage that sat atop an old-fashioned wooden trunk emblazoned with the initials TRL. The cage rattled and the tiny black owl within it flapped her wings indignantly and gave a screech of disapproval. Andromeda looked down at her only grandson with a look of disapproval that was well-noted by the boy.
“Artemis,” Teddy hissed. “Shh. Now you have to be quiet. The Muggles already think it’s strange enough to walk around with an owl. They don’t need to hear your squawking.”
Though his voice feigned sternness, Teddy retrieved a scrap of an owl treat from his trouser pockets and slipped it in between the bars of the cage. The owl affectionately took the scrap from his fingers and hooted in contentment.
This small sound reassured Teddy, and he could feel his heart rate slow down and his stomach relax. After all, Hogwarts wasn’t anything to worry about. Every adult that Teddy knew had attended Hogwarts when they were his age, and each one of them had reassured Teddy that it was sure to be the best seven years of his life. Feeling a surge of confidence, he looked up at his gran. She pursed her lips together, forced a sentimental smile from forming on her face, and lightly shook her head at him and his mischievous owl. Teddy grinned, scuffed his shoes along the tile flooring, and ran a hand through his blue hair. He only needed Gran’s signal and his grand adventure could begin.
Impatience bubbled in Teddy’s stomach and his skin crawled. He couldn’t keep himself from fidgeting and watched as his left foot lightly kicked his trolley. Artemis eyed him with disapproval and ruffled her feathers. A light, exasperated hoot escaped her beak. Teddy grinned and tossed another scrap of treat through the bars. He looked back up at his gran.
Andromeda glanced down and met her grandson’s earnest grey eyes. They were his father’s eyes, kind and curious, but they shone with a glint of mischievousness. It was this glint of mischievousness that she knew so well. Her daughter had worn the very same look all of her life. Andromeda swallowed back an icy bitterness that Nymphadora and Remus could not be here today to see their little boy off to school and feigned a warm smile as she ran her hand over Teddy’s smooth, heart-shaped face.
“So, young man, are we going to stand around outside the platform all day then? I reckon you need to be on the platform if you plan on boarding the train.” Andromeda’s light words masked the heavy well of emotion that had settled in her heart. She placed her wrinkled hand on Teddy’s shoulder and gave it a light squeeze.
“Gra-an.” Teddy inconspicuously shrugged out of his gran’s grasp. He was eleven years old after all and couldn’t very well be seen having a sentimental moment with his grandmother of all people.
“I know that. I was just, erm, waiting for you to be ready to go.” Truth was, Teddy was a bit nervous about his first venture onto the platform but impressed at his own feigned nonchalance.
“Well, then.” Andromeda was not ignorant to her grandson’s act and refrained from chuckling. “Shall we?”
Teddy’s eyes lit up his face as a wide grin split across it. He paused for a moment, swallowed down the worst of his nerves, and placed his right foot forward. His left foot quickly followed. Picking up speed, Teddy and his trolley approached the seemingly solid stone barrier. At the last moment, Teddy shut his eyes tightly and tensed his body for the impending crash. No crash happened.
The sound of the passing Muggles conversation and squeaking trolleys was replaced by the sounds of a steam engine merrily puffing, a myriad of owls contentedly hooting to one another, and the sound of young voices greeting one another after a long summer apart. He had not crashed. He was truly going to Hogwarts. Teddy felt the tension seep out of his body and he tentatively opened his eyes.
Teddy stood clutching the handle of his trolley and greedily tried to take the entire scene in at once. Dozens of Hogwarts students milled about the platform, all pushing Trolleys much like his cart. Some students already wore their crisp black school robes, others wore jumpers and trousers with robes casually slung over them, and others still – obviously Muggleborn, wore strange outfits that would blend easily into down town London.
Teddy noticed the dark-haired boy that he had seen outside the platform. He was standing with his mother desperately trying to evade her doting, motherly hands and ignore her concerned, protective advice. Teddy grinned. Although he was never glad that he did not have a mother, this was one scenario he was quite content to live without. There was no way his gran would ever fuss over him like that.
As if on cue, Andromeda Tonks appeared through the barrier and came to stand next to her grandson’s shoulder. Her practiced and precise mannerisms were slipping, and she lovingly ran a rough hand over Teddy’s cheek.
Teddy blanched and quickly ducked away from her hand. He debated for a moment whether he could make a run towards the train and skip being seen with his aged carer before discounting the option. Why did the Auror Office require Harry’s presence today? Teddy wished that his godfather would have been able to bring him to the station.
“Well, Gran, I suppose I should get on the train now.” Feeling both momentarily bold and certain that any further time spent with his Gran would only end in embarrassment, Teddy began pulling away. “I wouldn’t want to be the last one on the train. It’d be my luck I’d get stuck in a compartment with a load of duffers, or trolls, or Slytherins.”
“Ted Remus Lupin,” Andromeda’s voice was sharp, “you’re daft if you think you can just go board the train without saying goodbye – and there is nothing wrong with Slytherin House. You know that. People make choices for themselves; their house doesn’t do it for them.”
Teddy walked back to his gran’s waiting arms and suffered through a brief and formal hug. He felt a surge of guilt over his prejudiced comment. Harry had imbedded the philosophy voiced by his gran onto him since he was a young lad. Time spent with the Weasley’s had given him reason to doubt his godfather’s teaching, but he had promised Harry to meet every person with a fair and open mind.
“All right now, get yourself onto that train.” Andromeda gave Teddy’s shoulder a slight push that set his feet into motion. “And behave yourself. I won’t have you making anything but a good name for yourself.”
Teddy was in a daze as his feet carried him onto the train and into a relatively empty compartment. He tucked his trunk and belongings into the luggage rack and took his seat next to the window looking out over Platform 9 ¾. His heart thudded with a mixture of excitement and nervousness; he sincerely wished Victoire was here to see the train station and the platform.
The sound of a throat clearing tore Teddy’s attention away from the window. He turned his head towards the source of the noise and noticed that the only other occupant of the compartment was the dark-haired boy he had seen in the station.
Teddy’s insides clammed up into a sweaty ball of nerves. He was quite accustomed to meeting and talking with adults and with the Potter children and their Weasley cousins, but he had never had to meet someone his own age. Once again, Teddy fervently wished that Victoire was here. She was the brave one. She would know just what to say. He on the other hand was speechless and sat staring back at the other boy. Thankfully, Teddy was relieved of having to talk first.
“Hello there,” the boy said in a confident tone. “I’m Cornelius Lynch. But you can just call me Corey. Only my mother calls me Cornelius.” The boy looked anxiously at Teddy and professionally stuck out his right hand to be shaken.
“Erm, hi.” Teddy’s face blanched and his voice shook. He paused, dispelled his nerves, and found his manners. Clearing his throat, he continued, “It’s very nice to meet you Corey. I’m Teddy Lupin. I suppose you can call me Ted if you’d like.” Teddy took the other boy’s hand and shook it politely.
As the train sped over the rolling landscape, the conversation followed suit. Teddy was quite relieved to have met someone who was willing to talk with him. The long ride was passing quickly in light of the pleasant conversation.
“So you follow Quidditch don’t you?” Corey voice was much less professional now as he sat flipping through a copy of The Standard Book of Spells Grade 1.
Teddy could detect a hint of an Irish accent in the boy’s drawl and was willing to put Galleons on him being an Irish Nationals fan.
“Of course I follow Quidditch. I’d be mad not too.” Teddy grinned playfully.
He loved talking about Quidditch. Many dinners with the Potters and summer gatherings with the Weasley had left Teddy a seasoned Quidditch connoisseur.
“I support two teams though. The Cannons are my favourite, but I follow the Harpies too.” Corey’s face made no attempt to hide his disgust in his new acquaintance’s taste.
“The bloody Cannons haven’t won a match since before our parents were born! And the Harpies are a girl’s team – are you sure your head’s on right?” Corey chuckled and snapped his textbook shut. Teddy’s face screwed up a bit and his mind raced trying to formulate a defence on his behalf.
“The Cannons keep playing even though they never win. That’s more than you can say about most teams that sulk around if they lose.” Teddy’s voice raised an octave throughout his defence. “And I only follow the Harpies ‘cause my godmum used to play for them.” Teddy could feel his face redden and hoped that his reasoning would at least be accepted by Corey.
“Fair enough, even though I still think that it’s a bit wonky. Me personally, I follow the Irish National team.” Teddy could feel his face break into a smile as Corey spoke. “Of course, me Dad was their Captain up until about three seasons ago.” Corey’s face made no attempt to hide his pride. “So, what about you? What’s your dad do?”
Teddy was speechless. He knew the great things his dad had done before he had died of which he was quite proud, but he had never before had to explain to someone that his dad was dead. This explanation was not something Teddy was sure he knew how to do. Under no circumstance did he want anyone’s pity, especially not his classmates.
“Erm, I think I need to use the loo. I’ll be back. I think I’ll change into my robes while I’m up.” Teddy rushed out of the compartment without looking back.
As he aimlessly walked down the corridor, he chided himself for his cowardice. Absorbed in his own thoughts, he paid no attention to where he was walking. Somehow, he managed to find his way to the toilets. As he reached for the door handle, the door flew open and Teddy collided with a larger, more solid body.
“Merlin’s beard,” the older boy that Teddy had collided with exclaimed. “First day on the job and I go knocking into first years.” He seemed to be talking more to himself than to Teddy, and as he chattered Teddy noticed a shiny gold Prefect’s badge pinned to his chest. “Here, fella, let me help you up. I’m right sorry ‘bout that.” The prefect extended his arm and helped Teddy up to his feet.
“Thanks,” Teddy said, brushing his jumper off. “I didn’t know anyone was in the loo.” Taking a leaf out of Corey’s book, he decided that he’d better introduce himself. “I’m Teddy Lupin. You can call me Ted though.” He extended his hand and waited for the older student’s response.
“Well, pleased to meet you, Ted.” The prefect extended his own hand and shook Teddy’s smaller one. “I’m Dirk Creswell Junior, but you can just call me Dirk.” Dirk chuckled jovially. “I’m a Hufflepuff prefect. I’m in the fifth year.”
Teddy liked this prefect’s voice. It was very comforting and encouraging. He smiled up at older boy.
“My youngest brother is a first year this term too. I should introduce you to him at some time. He’s bloody nervous about starting at Hogwarts – youngest of five, you see. He fancies he’s under a fair bit of pressure to do well. You seem like the type of bloke that’d do him some good.” Dirk jovially rattled.
Teddy hopefully imagined his youngest bother. If he was anything like his brother, Teddy was certain that they could be friends. Dirk must have realized that he was still standing in the corridor outside the loo with a first year. He pushed up his robe sleeve and checked his wristwatch.
“Ah, Ted,” he said briskly. “You better get changed into your robes. We’ll be arriving at Hogwarts in a short bit. The school’s quite a sight the first time you see it. You don’t want to be missing that.” With that, Dirk strode away. Teddy imagined that he was off to remind the other students of the impending arrival time as well.
The next few minutes passed by Teddy like a Muggle picture show. The Hogwarts Express rolled into a quaint station in a small town. Chaos ensued as students anxiously exited the train. Luggage was placed in piles along the train and abandoned. Teddy found himself wondering if the correct parcels and trunks would find their way to the correct dormitories. The older students jostled by the first years and made there way up the path that he imagined led to the castle. He began to follow the older students when a large voice stopped him in his tracks. Teddy turned to see who the voice belonged to.
“Firs’ years! Firs’ years this way. Follow me.” Teddy’s face lit up. He had heard stories about Hagrid from Harry but had never met him. He was even bigger than Teddy had imagined. Standing on the path, Teddy studied the half giant’s appearance. He wore a large coat adorned with many pockets, his face was partially obscured by an unruly, greying beard, and he waved what appeared to be a grubby, pink umbrella towards him and a cluster of other first years. “Oi. You over there. Git yourself over here. Just where you think you be goin’?”
Teddy realized that Hagrid was talking to him and he hurriedly rushed over to the waiting group with red cheeks. Hagrid warmly introduced himself to the gaggle of youngsters and loaded them into a fleet of waiting rowboats. Teddy found himself in a boat with Corey, a scrawny blond boy with freckles, and a round-faced black boy with a singular gold earring in one of his ear lobes. As the magical fleet began to glide through the quiet black water, Corey, who apparently already knew everybody, took it upon himself to introduce everybody. Teddy was relieved that the awkward end to their conversation on the train was forgotten. The black boy turned out to be Alastor Shacklebolt, and the scrawny blond boy turned out to be Braden Creswell. Teddy began to tell Braden about his run in on the train with his brother when a gasp from Alastor’s direction claimed Teddy’s attention.
Now visible in the distance was the most wondrous thing Teddy had ever seen. The walls, turrets, and towers of Hogwarts castle were illuminated against the dark night sky. All four boys were speechless. Corey, who seemed to always be the one to say something, opened and closed his mouth repeatedly at a loss for words. Teddy was simply stunned; he was finally here at Hogwarts.
The boats sailed through a curtain of ivy and into a cave near the bank of the lake. The four boys made their way up a winding passage to the Entrance Hall of the castle along the rest of their year. Teddy stood amongst nearly thirty other first years anxiously staring at the large oak doors that surely led into the Great Hall. He had heard rumour that they were a small class. They had all been born during an extremely trying and dangerous year during which few wizarding children were born. Teddy did a quick head count; there were twenty seven of them. He wondered which houses they were all about to be sorted into and his stomach gave a nervous flip flop. What if he wasn’t sorted into any house? Was that even possible?
As the nerves threatened to consume Teddy’s composure, a short and stubby witch appeared at the front of the small group of students. Teddy focused on the older witch and hung onto the words that she spoke.
“Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.” Her voice was pleasant and had an almost motherly quality to it. “I am Professor Sprout, Deputy Head-Mistress, Head of Hufflepuff House and the Advanced Professor of Herbology. I wish the best of luck to each of you and hope that over the next seven years you come to consider this castle your home. As with any home, Hogwarts is not without rules and responsibilities which you are expected to follow and uphold from this point forward. Now, let’s walk through these doors and discover where each of you belongs within our family.”
Numbly, Teddy walked through the large oaken doors following Professor Sprout with the rest of his class. He could only hear his heart pounding in his ears as he walked past long rows of students already seated at their respective tables. He only became vaguely aware of the manky old hat sitting on a stool when a mouth split from its brim and a song filled the air of the Great Hall.
When it finished, Teddy’s fuzzy attention was captured by a stern-looking, elderly witch dressed in prim robes and a traditional pointed hat with grey hair pulled back tightly from her face. She stood in the centre of the high table and cleared her throat. The hall fell silent. Professor Sprout sat to the headmistress’ right stood and began calling names off of a roll of parchment.
The scrawny blond boy timidly walked from the crowd, lifted the hat from the stool, sat down on the edge of the three-legged seat, and placed the old hat on his head. Only a few moments passed before the hat had made its decision. The Hufflepuff table stood in loud applause, welcoming their newest housemate.
The list continued as young witches and wizards were sorted to one of the four long tables in the hall. Teddy was hoping that the list would just bypass his name, but after a Lucida Karson was welcomed by the Slytherin table, Professor Sprout read out the next name on the list.
Teddy robotically walked forward and took his seat on the rickety stool. He purposefully exhaled to calm his nerves and placed the ancient hat on his head. It fell down past his eyes.
“Another Lupin?” said a voice in Teddy’s ears. “It’s been years since I sorted your father into Gryffindor. He was quite surprised by his placement there. Let me have a look inside that head of yours. Yes, you share in his bravery. Yes, yes, you’ve your mother’s fierce and patient loyalty. You’ve a bright mind too, eager to learn. Now, where to put you?”
Teddy felt as though his Sorting was taking forever. He wished the hat would just pick a house and wondered if there was a time limit for sitting under the hat. He shuffled nervously on the stool. Why on earth was the hat asking him where to put him? Teddy only knew that he wanted to be in the house in which he could do his best; the house in which he could be welcomed and make friends and find a home away from home. He really had no preference as to which house this was.
“No preference, eh?” the hat said into Teddy’s ears as a shiver ran down his back. “You are patient and kind and will work hard to achieve your own successes and help others achieve their successes. You could be the champion of the downtrodden. Yes, of course, it’ll have to be – Hufflepuff.”
Teddy was acutely aware that the last word was spoken aloud to the entire hall. He removed the hat from his head and slid off of the stool. He eagerly made his way to his house table which was cheering enthusiastically for him. He took a seat next to Braden and smiled. He was a Hufflepuff.
Well there you have it. Thanks for taking the time to read this!! Reviews are always appreciated.
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