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Chapter 4 : Letter Home
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It had been a perfectly lovely day. In honour of the first Saturday of term, Ron had a bit of a lie-in, getting up just in time to make it downstairs for a late breakfast. He and Harry had spent the few hours between breakfast and lunch wandering around the lake, chucking in bits of toast to feed the giant squid. They met up with two of their dormmates, Dean and Seamus, at lunch, and the four of them spent the afternoon exploring the grounds.
Now, it was after dinner, and Ron was sprawled out on a sofa in the common room. He was perfectly content to spend the evening here, watching Dean and Seamus attempt to build card houses with a deck of Seamus’s exploding playing cards.
“Reckon we should get started on that transfiguration homework?” Harry asked without enthusiasm.
Ron groaned in response, casting a look at the boy sitting on the other end of the sofa, “Why did you have to mention homework. I was having such a good day.”
Harry shrugged, getting to his feet. “Sorry, it’s just that we have that assignment due for potions, too, and reading for charms and herbology, and I haven’t started any of it.”
Ron hadn’t started any of it either, but that didn’t mean that he wanted to dedicate his first Saturday night of term to his text books. Still, he followed Harry up the stairs to their dorm to get his things. “I can’t believe McGonagall gave us so much already. It’s only the first week!”
Harry mumbled agreement, and the two of them grabbed their bags and returned to the common room, this time choosing a table along the wall. Ron glanced around the room. Dean and Seamus were still playing with the exploding cards, though from the looks of Seamus’s hair, the cards had gone off on him more than once already. His brothers, Fred and George, were telling some sort of story to a crowd of laughing, older students. A group of girls was sitting in one of the corners, giggling and pouring over a stack of magazines. Scattered about the room were smaller groups of students playing wizard chess or gobstones or just chatting with one another. Ron moaned again. He knew that he should work on his school work, but he couldn’t bear the idea of doing it when everyone else was having fun.
Just then, he was struck by an idea. “You know,” he said, nonchalantly, “I should probably write a letter to Mum. She worries, you know.” He wasn’t much of a fan of letter writing, but it had to be better than school work. He looked across the table to where Harry was sitting. “Have you written to your family at all?”
Harry shrugged in response. “The Dursleys aren’t very fond of owl post, or of me for that matter. They’re probably only worried that something will go wrong and I’ll show up earlier than next summer.”
Harry’s matter-of-fact speech made Ron feel a bit uncomfortable. How could Harry Potter’s family not care about him? He figured Harry was just exaggerating and turned his attention to the parchment in front of him.
Dear Mum, Dad, and Ginny,
Hogwarts is pretty great so far. The food is almost as good as yours, Mum.
There, that was a good start. He ran the quill through his fingers, trying to decide what else to say.
You probably heard from Percy that I got sorted into Gryffindor. There are four other boys in my dorm. They all seem alright.
He glanced across the table to where Harry was sitting. The other boy seemed focused on reading his Transfiguration text, but Ron pulled the parchment a little closer to himself before writing this next part anyway.
Guess who I sat next to on the train…Harry Potter! For real, Ginny! Fred and George weren’t kidding when they said they had met him. He has the lightning scar and everything. Harry got sorted into Gryffindor, too, so we’ve been spending loads of time together.
Ron glanced up to ensure that Harry wasn’t paying him any attention and wrapped his arm around the letter to better hide it from view.
He’s not at all what I expected. He doesn’t seem to be super powerful or anything. He said that he didn’t even know he was a wizard until he got his letter! His Muggle relatives never told him anything about Hogwarts or magic or You-Know-Who, can you believe it? He’s pretty normal, really, but a lot of the other kids still stare at him a lot. I think it kind of bugs him.
The sound of a throat being cleared caused Ron to look up guiltily, afraid that he had been caught. Standing there was none other than the annoying, bushy-haired girl they had first met on the Hogwarts Express, and she wasn’t paying Ron the slightest bit of attention.
“Hi, Harry. I see you’re working on the transfiguration homework. I finished that ages ago, so if you need any help…” she trailed off.
Harry shot a look to Ron, seeming unsure of how to react. “No…I, er, I think I’ve got it, thanks.”
“All right then. I just thought I’d offer,” she responded, seeming a bit disappointed. She then turned her attention to Ron. “You should get started on the homework, too, you know.” With that, she strode off across the common room. Ron stared at her, dumbfounded as she settled herself at a table in the corner and pulled a massive book out of her bag. It looked like a school book, but it was far thicker than any of the standard first year ones.
“What was that about?” Harry asked in confusion.
Ron shrugged in response, turning his attention back to his own table. “Beats me. A bit too keen on school work, that one.”
Harry nodded in agreement, then with a sigh, picked back up the book he had been reading.
Harry’s not the only one I met on the train. There was a really bossy girl named Hermione Granger who barged into our compartment and started going on about how she had read all of the text books already. I only know her name because she ended up in Gryffindor too, and I’ve heard the teachers call on her about 100 times a day.
Ron spared another glance across the common room. Hermione was still there, sitting at her table alone, curled over the massive book she was reading. Ron shook his head and returned to his letter.
But Hermione wasn’t the worst of it. A prat named Draco Malfoy came into our compartment and tried to make friends with Harry. He told Harry that he should be careful not to make friends with the wrong sort of person and tried to shake his hand. But Harry told him he could choose his own friends, and Malfoy turned red and left.
Ron decided to leave out the bit about Scabbers biting one of Malfoy’s cronies. He had a feeling his mother wouldn’t react positively to that news. After a moment of thought, Ron added:
He got sorted into Slytherin of course. As if Harry Potter would ever be friends with some slimy git from Slytherin.
Re-reading the last paragraph, Ron beamed down at the parchment. He couldn’t put it in a letter, but it had felt really good to see Harry stand up to Malfoy. It was the only time since they had met that Ron had gotten so much as a glimpse of the Harry he had imagined in the stories. The more time they spent together, the more Ron found himself forgetting that Harry was famous. It was only when he thought of that moment with Malfoy on the train that he remembered that this was the same Harry Potter that he had grown up listening to stories about. The same Harry that he had play acted as on multiple occasions. Ron certainly hoped Harry never found out about that.
If Ron were being honest, thinking about that moment on the train felt good for another reason. After all, he had decided to be Harry’s friend long before the two ever met, but it seemed that now that they had, Harry was actually choosing him back.
By this time, Harry had put down the book and was scribbling away at his own roll of parchment, so Ron figured he should probably wrap up the letter and get started on his own essay.
Harry also introduced me to Hagrid. He’s the gamekeeper here and he’s enormous! Harry knew him because Hagrid is the one who took him to buy his school things in Diagon Alley.
He paused for a moment. Why hadn’t Harry’s relatives taken him to Diagon Alley? Plenty of other Muggle parents took their children there every year. He thought about asking Harry about it, but decided not to. Harry didn’t seem to like talking about his aunt and uncle very much.
I should probably get started on this Transfiguration essay that McGonagall assigned (two whole feet and it’s only the first week!) but I wanted to write to you to let you know that everything is fine, so you can stop worrying, Mum.
He scrawled his name at the bottom of the page and rolled it up tightly. In writing the letter, Ron was beginning to realize that he didn’t really know Harry at all. Sure, he knew the stories better than anyone, but this Harry sitting across from him didn’t really seem to fit those stories.
“Finished?” Harry asked, looking up from his parchment. “You can borrow Hedwig to send it if you want. She’d probably love a job.”
“Thanks, I’ll send it tomorrow,” Ron replied, “it’s getting close to curfew and I don’t fancy getting caught by Filch twice in one week.”
Harry grimaced, presumably at the memory of the telling off they had received early that week when they accidently tried to get through the door to the out of bounds corridor, but it changed to a grin as he met Ron’s eye.
Ron grinned back at him. Maybe it didn’t matter if Harry seemed different than the stories. He was still sitting across the table from his hero, and they were well on their way to becoming friends.
“So,” Ron said, finally opening his transfiguration text, “how’d you start your essay?”
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by K Stahl