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A/N: I am so, so sorry that I haven’t updated in so long! I haven’t had much time these past few months, but I’ve finally managed to get this chapter finished, so here it is. Enjoy!

Chapter Nine – Devon, 1943

Having become quite accustomed to time travelling, Harry didn’t take much notice of the strange sensation of falling through time. They landed softly, and he opened his eyes to see Ginny staggering slightly against her large suitcase.

“Are you all right?” He asked, and watched as she lifted a hand to her head, pressing her palm against her temples.

“I’m fine,” she said, faintly, “just a little dizzy.”

Harry nodded, and looked around. They were standing on the platform of a small train station. There was a waiting room further along the platform, next to a ticket office, but the platform was deserted. The large clock above the ticket office said that it was half past eleven.

“What do you suppose we do now?” Hermione asked, looking at their empty surroundings.

“Wait, I guess,” Harry replied, “Arnos said that the headmaster would be expecting us, so wait is all we can do.”

Hermione nodded, and led the way to a wooden bench, where they sat, taking in their surroundings and soaking up the late summer sunshine.

A few minutes later, the sound of an approaching steam train could be heard, and Harry peered out along the track to see an engine a little way off, steaming towards the station.

Moments later, the train pulled to a stop, the wheels screeching on the track and billows of smoke pouring onto the platform. From within the clouds of smoke, a cacophony of chattering and laughter could be heard, and then scores of schoolchildren poured onto the platform.

Harry and the others stared at the familiar scene; so similar to the arrival at Hogsmeade Station, but at the same time world’s apart. After the initial scrabble of feet and suitcases, the pupils seemed to be forming several lines, each headed by a formidable looking teacher.

Harry glanced at his friends, wondering if they should join one of the lines, when a hard-faced man cast his shadow over them.

“New students?” He asked, “Why weren’t you on the school train?”

“Erm,” Harry began, but before he could think up an excuse, Hermione interrupted.

“We caught the earlier train, Sir,” she said, her lie sounding convincing even to Harry’s ears, “our parents thought that it would be better for us to wait here than at the crowded London station.”

“I see,” the man’s lips pursed together, and a frown loomed across his face, but then he nodded. “Well, don’t dally! Join the line of new pupils over there.”

They traipsed towards the group of students that the teacher had indicated, dragging their suitcases behind them. Harry noticed that Ginny was still looking a little dizzy, and so held out an arm to steady her.

She grinned at him, and seemed to be about to say something, when the teacher at the head of their line began to talk.

“The old pupils will take the coaches up to the school, but as new students you will walk, and I will tell you about your new school. We are one of the most prestigious mixed boarding schools in the country, and I have no doubts that each and every one of you will enjoy your time with us. Follow me.”

There was a scuffle of feet and then the line began to move forwards, following the teacher along the stony path, their shoes becoming covered in the dust that lined the way.

Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny made up the rear of the line, and so they were able to examine the other new pupils without arousing too much suspicion. There were only a few, a dozen at the most, and the boys seemed to outnumber the girls. A few at the front were deep in conversation with the teacher, and it filtered down the line that this was the strict-but-nice Miss Reynolds.

The walk up to the school was pleasant, the sun was shining and the countryside was green and fresh. Miss Reynolds pointed out interesting landmarks along the way – “There’s the pond you’ll visit on nature walks,” and “In the summer, you’ll have riding lessons at those stables.”

Eventually, they arrived at the school, an old redbrick building covered in ivy. It didn’t look very big, but when Harry thought about the small number of pupils he’d seen at the train station, he supposed it was just right.

They were led into the building, and then into the school’s dining room. Miss Reynolds proceeded to split them up into houses, of which there were four. Ron and Ginny were placed in Warwick, and Harry and Hermione in Arden. The other two houses were Tudor and Vesey, and both of these seemed to receive the bulk of the new pupils.

Dormitories were assigned, timetables were given out, and then Miss Reynolds instructed them to go to see their House Matron to hand in their Medical Certificates.

The day wore on, and despite the strange situation, Harry found himself enjoying playing the role of a 1940’s schoolboy. He wasn’t in a dormitory with Ron, but three other boys in the Lower Sixth, named Sam, William and Anthony. They seemed pleasant enough, if a little earnest. They were all old students, and seemed genuinely happy to help Harry when he needed.

At one o’ clock, a bell rang and William informed him that it was time for lunch. They went down to the dining room, where Harry was rather bemused to see that the tables were not divided by House, but by gender. The boys sat at one table, and the girls at another.

“Why do the girls and boys sit apart from each other?” He asked William, when they’d sat down. William gave him a rather scornful look before answering.

“We don’t mix much,” he said eventually, “in fact, about the only time we’re allowed together is during class. The girls have separate common rooms too.”

Harry frowned, finding that a little odd, but didn’t say anything as he munched on his ham sandwich.

The rest of the day went by in a blur, with Sam, William and Anthony showing him the Arden boys’ common room, the Sixth Form classroom, the gym and the swimming pool. He barely saw the others at all for the rest of the day, and when he did it was only in passing.

The evening was spent in the common room, where games of marbles were played by the younger pupils, whilst the older ones listening to a play on the wireless. The bedtime bell rang at nine o’ clock, which Harry thought was ridiculously early, but he followed the others to the dormitory and settled down onto the hard mattress, and eventually drifted off to sleep.

Harry didn’t get a chance to talk to his friends until just before the first class the following day. As new pupils, they had to wait until all of the older ones had ‘bagsied’ a desk, and luckily, the last four desks happened to be together.

There were a few minutes until the teacher was due to arrive, and whilst a few conscientious members of the form sat in silence, most of the others chatted with their friends.

“How are you getting on?” Hermione asked, “Most of the girls in my dormy are pleasant enough but there are a couple of really catty ones. I feel quite settled though, it’s not all that different from Hogwarts.”

“Yeah,” Ron agreed, “I didn’t really talk to any of the boys in my dorm though. They seemed to want to keep themselves to themselves. It’s a pity we weren’t all put together in the same house.”

“How are we going to look for the you-know-what if the only time we can see each other is during class?” Harry asked, “The others in my dorm said that the boys and girls almost never mix.”

“It could be a problem,” Hermione said, “but Kathleen in my dorm told me that the rules are a little more relaxed over the weekend. Mr Darlington - that’s the headmaster - goes away every weekend so the pupils have more freedom.”

“That’s good,” Ginny started to say, but there was a sudden frantic shushing, and scraping of chairs as everyone leapt to their feet. There were whispers of “Reynolds is coming”, and in the silence that fell, the click-clack of heeled shoes could be heard.

The teacher swept into the room and stood at the front of the class, before nodding at the pupils, which was apparently the cue to sit down. The morning was spent handing out exercise books, pencils, rubbers and the like. A Form Prefect was chosen, and classroom duties were shared out.

Harry found it quite strange; the format of the class was so different to the way things were done at Hogwarts, yet the atmosphere of boarding school was very much the same.

When the bell rang for lunch at one o’ clock, Harry copied the other pupils by storing everything neatly into his desk, and followed the crowd towards the dining room. Hermione seemed to be in her element, and Harry was sure he heard her whisper to Ginny that “it was just like being in an Enid Blyton novel”.

Harry couldn’t help feeling a little frustrated though. The rules were so strict, the timetable so inflexible…how were they going to find time to search for the Horcrux? They only had five days, and they were on the second day already. Like in the 1800’s, finding the Horcrux seemed an impossible task.

Harry spent the lunch hour listening to William and Anthony share tales of the various teachers.

“Mam’zelle’s a brick, she really is,” William said, through a mouthful of lamb stew, “but she’s got a nasty temper if you get on the wrong side of her. Mr Jameson is the games teacher, absolutely fanatical about cricket and swimming, not so keen on lacrosse, and let me tell you, that makes the girls angry. Now, Miss Jordan, she teaches history…”

Harry tuned out as William continued to talk about the teachers, and looked around the small dining room, once again marvelling at the small number of pupils. There only seemed to be around one hundred all together, and compared to the thousand or so that attended Hogwarts, it seemed very tiny indeed.

It was during the afternoon that it became apparent they had a slight problem. The first lesson of the afternoon was French with Mam’zelle, and at first, everything seemed to go well. She introduced herself, and handed out a textbook to each pupil, before assuming her position in front of the blackboard.

“And now, we will begin with the French verbs. Perhaps one of our new pupils will share their knowledge of vouloir? Mr Patterson, if you could conjugate vouloir for us please, in the présent, passé simple et passé composé.”

It took Harry a few moments to remember that he was Harry Patterson, and then another moment to realise that he understood nothing of what Mam’zelle had said.

“I’m sorry, Mam’zelle, could you repeat that please?”

Mam’zelle heaved a sigh and lifted her eyes to the ceiling. “These new boys, always playing the fool. I would like you to conjugate vouloir into the présent, passé simple and passé composé.”

Harry felt his cheeks growing red as the class waited in silence for him to do what Mam’zelle had asked. But he knew nothing about French.

“Well, Mr Patterson?” Mam’zelle said sharply, after a minute or so had passed, “Have you lost your voice?”

“I’m sorry, Mam’zelle,” Harry replied, feeling incredibly stupid, “but I don’t know the answer. We didn’t do much French at my old school.”

“What is this! A school that does not teach its pupils how to conjugate the French verbs? Alors!

She looked around the class, her eyes finally settling on a ruddy-cheeked girl in the front row. “Mary, perhaps you can conjugate the verb for us, non?”

“Yes, Mam’zelle,” the girl replied, and began to reel off the answers the French teacher desired, “Je veux, tu veux, il veut…

Harry tuned her out and shared a worried glance with Ron at his side. If all the classes were like this, would they even survive five days here?

A/N: Most of my knowledge of 1940’s boarding schools comes from Enid Blyton books, and so I’m sorry if anything seems inaccurate or clichéd. I admit that I did re-read a couple of Malory Towers before writing this chapter! Please review!

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