Chapter 3 ~ Sorted, Settled and Snaped
Standing in the Great Hall, behind the first-years, Rick looked about in awe and wonder. Despite all his reading and everything he had learned about Hogwarts, to actually stand there, in the Great Hall under the enchanted ceiling was a rapturous experience. The magic was all around him. He felt it flowing through him like a gentle current, his whole being resonated with it. It was as if he had become aware of some other dimension, one that had been there all along, but which he had never noticed.
“Zarina Zabini,” said the Deputy Headmistress, calling the last of the first-years to be sorted.
“Slytherin,” the Sorting Hat decided almost immediately it touched her head.
“Rick Godfry,” said Professor McGonagall. Then turning to the hall, by way of explanation she said, “Mr. Godfry is joining us as a sixth year student. He has not attended a school of magic before as there are none in the remote part of New Zealand where he lives. I trust that his classmates and housemates will assist him in adjusting to Hogwarts.”
Rick sat down on the stool. It was a little small for a sixteen year-old. As soon as the Sorting Hat was placed on his head it started muttering in astonishment.
“My goodness gracious me, who in heaven can you be?
Now how am I supposed to sort this lot into a single house? Why there are witches and wizards here who have been in each of the four Hogwarts houses, how can I sort them all correctly? Why we even have three of the Founders who created me here, surely I must sort each one into their own house.... oh what ever shall I do?”
Rick knew that no one but himself could hear the confused ramblings of the Sorting Hat, but people were starting to become curious at the length of time it was taking.
He directed a thought at the hat “Please sort me into Gryffindor, that is what all these witches and wizards would like you to do, surly you can sense that.”
“Yes, you are right, I can feel it now. However this is most irregular, most irregular.... I’ve never encountered anything like this in the thousand years that I have been sorting Hogwarts students.”
Finally, it yelled out for all to hear, “Gryffindor!”
Rick got up in relief and found a seat at the top of the Gryffindor table amongst the first-year students. He found himself sitting next to the little girl with the brown plaits whom he had rescued from Draco Malfoy and Blaise Zabini on the train.
“Hello,” she smiled at him, “I’m Matilda Martyn, pleased to meet you.”
Rick took the small hand she extended in his, and replied gallantly, “Rick Godfry, the pleasure is all mine.” Matilda giggled and turned red and Rick realised that he had better tone down the charm before he started attracting attention.
Glancing down along the Gryffindor table he saw Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil giggling and staring at him admiringly. He quickly shifted his gaze, only to find his eyes locked with those of Ron Weasley, who was glaring at him with anything but admiration. He didn’t need his Legilimency skills to read Ron’s thoughts. He was making no secret of the fact that he thought Rick had used some kind of Dark magic to con the Sorting Hat and infiltrate his way into Gryffindor. In fact those were almost exactly the words he was saying to Harry and Hermione at that moment.
“Don’t be silly Ron,” said Hermione, “the Sorting Hat knows its job, and it’s been doing it for a thousand years now; no one can fool it. Why, it was created by the Hogwarts Founders themselves! Do you think a sixteen year old wizard is any match for their magic?”
But Ron wasn’t going to allow himself to be convinced by mere logic. “Just remember that one of those Founders was Salazar Slytherin,” he said darkly.
Harry interrupted their argument by pointing to a young witch with long blonde hair, sitting at the teachers’ table between the Arithmacy teacher Professor Vector and Professor Snape, who seemed to be ignoring her. “Who do you think she is?” asked Harry. “She looks somehow familiar, but I can’t think where I’ve seen her before. She sure is beautiful though,” he added.
“Well, obviously she must be the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,” said Hermione. “All the teachers from last year, except for that unbearable Umbridge, are here. Even Trelawney’s back. But you’re right, she does look familiar, I know I’ve seen that face before, somewhere....”
She was interrupted by Professor Dumbledore who rose to welcome the students to Hogwarts. Hermione was right of course. The mysterious newcomer was the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, but the three friends got a surprise when Dumbledore revealed her to be “Nymphadora Tonks.”
“Wow,” exclaimed Harry, “can you believe that that’s Tonks?”
“Well of course,” said Hermione, trying to cover up her embarrassment at missing the obvious. “She’s a Metamorphmagus after all. She’s just changed her hair and nose to look a bit more, umm respectable. I mean she’s a Professor now, so she has to look the part. Professor Dumbledore has probably asked her not to keep changing her appearance. Just imagine how confusing that would be for all the students.”
“Do you think that’s what she really looks like?” asked Ron. “I wonder why she doesn’t make herself look like that, all the time, she’s really beautiful you know.”
“Yeah,” said Harry, also staring at Tonks with his mouth open.
“I imagine it’s so she doesn’t have hoards of teenage boys gawping at her constantly,” said Hermione sharply. But that was the end of the conversation, because Dumbledore had just uttered that magical words, so beloved by generations of Hogwarts students “Tuck in,” and Ron and Harry had more important matters on their minds ... food.
Rick, meanwhile was fielding questions from Matilda and the other Gryffindor first-years, with whom he was sitting; about New Zealand and the magical creatures that lived there, high up in the Alps. The only one he had come across during his ‘speed read’ at Flourish and Blotts was the Antipodean Opaleye dragon. So he obliged their curiosity with a few of his own: The Monstrous Mountain Troll, the Flesheating Fiordland Flobberworm, the Abhorrent Alpine Acromantuala and the Giant Glacial Goblin. He only hoped that none of them asked Hagrid for more information about any of them.
When the meal was over, the Headmaster despatched them to their dormitories. It was time for Ginny Weasley and Colin Creevey to undertake their first duties as Gryffindor prefects. “First years follow us please,” said Colin. “We will show you the way to Gryffindor Tower.” Ginny smiled at Rick saying, “You can come with us too, if you like.” Rick smiled back at Ginny, she was really rather attractive, with her mane of vivid red hair and warm brown eyes.
Wow, thought Rick, I didn’t think Ginny would be so pretty. But then he had another thought which he found a little disturbing. If Dumbledore was right, that he had in a sense created this whole world himself, to be born – well not born in his case but sent – into, then he was responsible in a way, for how people were, how they acted and what they looked like. Ginny was pretty and Hermione was ... beautiful, because that’s how they had been in his mind ... I better be happy in this world, he thought to himself, because if I’m not, I’ve really got no one, but myself, to blame.
“Coming?” called Ginny for the third time, breaking Rick’s reverie. “Oh, sorry,” said Rick, realising that he had been staring at her all the while, and from the look on her face he had been pouring on the charm. As he jumped to his feet he saw that their exchange had not gone unnoticed. Her brother Ron was giving him a death glare. Rick groaned inwardly as he followed Ginny out of the Great Hall. Oh what I have I done now?
Ginny, meanwhile was making no attempt to catch up with Colin and the first-years, but seemed too overcome by Rick’s unintended charm to say anything to him. Rick asked her some questions about her background and family, willing her to relax. He knew the answers of course, but feigned ignorance. After a while Ginny loosened up a bit and started talking about her parents and many brothers. Her father had left the Ministry, she said, but did not elaborate on what he was doing now, though Rick guessed that he was probably working full time for the Order. She had mentioned Percy in passing, but had said nothing further about him. Rick was curious and asked Ginny what Percy was doing.
“Percy has parted ways with the rest of the family,” she said, her face becoming red with anger. “He’s become the perfect ‘Yes Wizard’ for Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic. Fudge has appointed him as Minister of Internal Security and he’s also Fudge’s deputy. We don’t mention his name in the Weasley family anymore, he’s a disgrace,” she finished with an expression of unmitigated disgust on her face.
Rick tried to draw Ginny out further with an innocent comment about how well Percy had done for someone so recently out of school, but she said that just thinking about Percy upset her too much, and she became silent once more. Well, thought Rick, it looks like mentioning Percy is the perfect antidote to ‘too much charm’ where Ginny Weasley is concerned.
Rick took the opportunity to take in the ancient corridors, bedecked with moving pictures, statues, suits of armour and various enchanted objects. The magic of it all was quite overwhelming. He sensed the trick stairs, even before Ginny pointed them out. It was as if he had walked these corridors many times before ... which in a sense, he had, or at least the spirits with whom he was connected, had.
“Snidget,” said Ginny at the portrait of the Fat Lady. It swung open and she led Rick into the Gryffindor common room, to join the first-years who were sitting together nervously and looking around in awe at the grandeur. Colin proceeded to give them the standard firsties orientation speech, and then handed them their class timetables. He then led the boys up to their dormitory while Ginny took the girls.
By now, the older students were coming into the common room, talking noisily about their holidays and prospects for the upcoming Quidditch season. Rick spotted Neville Longbottom all alone and walked over to introduce himself. Neville didn’t seem to be so shy anymore. The events of his fifth year had clearly matured him. He began talking animatedly about his summer project of growing Mandrake seedlings at his grandmother’s house for Professor Sprout, who had provided the seeds.
“Aren’t Mandrakes dangerous?” asked Rick.
“Well yes, but not at the seedling stage, all you have to worry about is Dugbogs. But I learned a Dugbog-repelling spell which worked a treat. I wonder why Professor Sprout needs so many Mandrakes this year. They’re mainly used to make restorative drafts for people who have been transfigured or cursed you know.”
“It sounds like Hogwarts is expecting trouble,” remarked Rick, sagely.
Neville’s eyes widened as he took in the import of Rick’s comment. It made him feel a little nervous, but also proud that he had been able to do something helpful, over the holidays.
“Would you like me to show you up to the sixth year boys’ dormitory?” asked Neville, thinking that it was going to be a little cramped with six beds now.
Of course it was the same dormitory they had slept in since their first year, but when he opened the door, Neville noticed that it had magically expanded, so there was plenty of space. “That must be your bed,” said Neville, pointing to the one closest to the door, spotting the unfamiliar trunk.
“Thanks,” said Rick, as Neville turned to descend back down to the common room.
Rick kicked off his shoes and lay down on his four poster bed, closing his eyes and trying to take stock of everything that had happened to him over the past two days. It just seemed incredible that he was really here at Hogwarts, just as he had dreamed so often in his previous life. For the moment he was not worrying about Voldemort and whatever trials lay ahead, but simply enjoying the magic of the moment. His peace however, was soon broken by the sound of an angry Ron Weasley.
“And just what do you think you’re doing in our dorm?” challenged Ron. Rick decided that it was time to take the ‘bull by the horns’ and try to sort things out with Ron.
“I’m in this dormitory, because I’m a sixth year Gryffindor, the same as you,” said Rick, sitting up and facing Ron and Harry. “I’ll be sleeping in the same dormitory as you, eating at the same table, attending the same classes, sitting in the same common room. Life will be much more pleasant for us both – and everyone else – if you would just give me a chance, instead of condemning me from the outset just because some Slytherins chose to sit in the same compartment as me on the train. Do you know what that’s called? It’s called prejudice. You know nothing about me and yet you’ve already made up your mind that I’m the enemy.”
Ron just stood there wordless, but Harry was moved by Rick’s words and walked up and shook his hand. “Welcome to Gryffindor, Rick, I’m prepared to keep an open mind and give you a chance, although I’m still not sure what you were up to on the train.”
“Come on Ron, let’s leave prejudice to Malfoy and the Slytherin bigots, we don’t need it in Gryffindor,” he added, turning to Ron.
But Ron looked unconvinced and just walked away to his bed saying over his shoulder, “And you’ll stay away from my sister if you know what’s good for you.”
Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan came in shortly afterwards and introduced themselves to Rick in a friendly manner. Well, thought Rick, four out of five isn’t too bad. He guessed that Dumbledore had instructed that the new bed be placed by the door. That put him next to Harry, who had Ron on his other side along the same wall. Rick would be able to keep an eye on Harry if he started sneaking out at night.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
When Rick arrived in the Great Hall for breakfast the following morning, he found a seat opposite Harry, Hermione and Ron. Harry and Hermione smiled at him and returned his friendly greetings, but Ron just ignored him, continuing to stuff sausage in his mouth. Well, thought Rick, being ignored is an improvement at least. “What subjects are you taking?” asked Hermione. Rick dug out his timetable and showed it to her.
“Oh, you’re doing Potions, I see, we’ve got double Potions straight after breakfast,” she said dejectedly. How interesting, you seem to have exactly the same subjects as Harry.”
“I hope you brought your cauldron and Potions ingredients with you,” said Harry, “We have to be down in the Snape’s dungeon in ten minutes and you won’t have time to go back to Gryffindor Tower to get them.”
“Oops,” said Rick, “Guess I’ll have to be quick about it.”
“Yes,” said Hermione, “Snape hates all Gryffindors and will take off house points, or give you a detention if you’re late.”
But Rick didn’t seem concerned and proceeded to enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Hermione disappeared behind a book and Ron and Harry started speculating on who would fill the vacancies on the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
As the three rose to leave, Hermione looked at Rick with concern, “Oh dear, I warned you about being late for Potions, you’re for it now,” however Rick just shrugged and followed them out.
After leaving the great Hall he ducked into an alcove and summoned his Potions things. He decided not to use the summoning charm Accio as, it would take too long, and it might be dangerous having heavy objects flying at speed through the castle. He just sort of Disapparated them from his dormitory and Apparated them to the alcove... Easy!
Then he visualised a ‘Marauders Map’ in his mind, located the Potions dungeon, spotted an empty room nearby and Apparated to it. He entered the dungeon and took a seat.
He noticed Draco Malfoy, Blaise Zabini, Pansy Parkinson and Millicent Bulstrode sitting together. Pansy gave Rick a coquettish smile, batting her eyelids at him. Draco scowled at him and the other two Slytherins ignored him.
Dean Thomas came in and sat next to Rick. Then came Harry and Hermione, who, noting his cauldron, asked in astonishment, “How on earth did you manage to get your things and get down here so fast?”
Rick grinned at her cheekily and said, “Apparated, how else?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” scoffed Hermione. “It states quite unequivocally in ‘Hogwarts, a History’ that it is impossible to Apparate into, out of, or anywhere within this castle, or the surrounding grounds.”
“Oh, but you see, I didn’t know that,” said Rick with an innocent grin, as if it explained everything.
“He’s just pulling your leg Hermione,” laughed Harry, “I’ll bet he had his Potions things with him all along.”
But Hermione wasn’t going to let it go so easily. “But he left the Great Hall after us, and got here before us!”
“Yeah, but I didn’t know the way, I got lost and must have taken a shortcut by mistake,” said Rick.
Hermione looked far from satisfied, but at that moment Professor Snape appeared and all talking immediately died as if so commanded, by his brooding presence.
“You will notice that our Potions class is smaller this year,” he began in his silky, insinuating voice. “Only those with a satisfactory OWL result are allowed to proceed to sixth year Potions and beyond. It’s no mystery, of course, why incompetents like Longbottom and most of his fellow Gryffindors are no longer with us,” he sneered, much to the delight of the Slytherins.
Then turning on Harry, he continued, “But a far greater mystery is how you Potter, managed to make the grade ... or perhaps some ‘special treatment’ for Hogwart’s ‘Special Hero’ was involved?”
“That’s impossible, and you know it,” Hermione blurted out angrily. “OWL and NEWT examinations are conducted by a totally independent qualifications authority – which is the reason why Harry received a fair Potions mark – for once.”
Snape was furious, but all he could do was spit out, “Ten points from Gryffindor for your unsolicited opinions Miss Granger,” because Hermione was right on both counts, and everyone knew it.
Next Snape turned on Rick. “And as for you Godfry, let me place it clearly on the record that I have only accepted you into this class at the express request of the Headmaster. I have no idea how he expects someone like you, with no Wizarding background, experience, or prior tuition to speak of, to be able take up magical studies of such an advanced level. I have made it clear to the Headmaster and other teaching staff, that I consider it highly inappropriate, and that your proper place is with the first year students – if indeed you should be at Hogwarts at all.”
Rick just sat there coolly, letting it all flow past. He was using the opportunity to probe Snape’s mind. He was determined to find out which side the Potions master was really on. Rick had to admit a grudging admiration for Snape’s Occlumency skills, it took a great deal of probing to penetrate his defences, but then again, he certainly had to be an expert, having to hide his true thoughts from Dumbledore or Voldemort ... or both.
Luckily, for Rick, Snape was enjoying himself so much – after all, it was his first opportunity at Gryffindor-bashing for almost three months – that he didn’t notice Rick’s intrusion.
Rick felt relieved, there was no doubt at all that Dumbledore was right in trusting Snape’s loyalty. Rick now knew who had ‘leaked’ the Prophecy to Voldemort. Snape was invaluable as a spy to Dumbledore, but yuck ... Snape’s mind was not a pretty place to visit.
“I have made it very clear to the Headmaster,” concluded Snape, “that if you fail to perform to my satisfaction, you will be out of this class in a trice, and that goes for the rest of you,” he said turning to Harry and the other Gryffindors.
“I have been doing my best to catch up by reading all the course materials for the past five years, sir,” said Rick earnestly.
“Potions ability is not just something you can get out of a book,” scoffed Snape, glaring meaningfully at Hermione. “It requires a certain disposition and an empathy for the subtle art of alchemy.”
“But let us see what you have learnt, Mr. Godfry. What is Polyjuice Potion and how would you make it?”
“But that’s unfair sir,” protested Hermione. “It’s not covered in the Hogwarts syllabus, and the only book in the library with that information is in the Restricted — ouch!” Harry had stomped on her foot and she stopped abruptly when she realised what she was saying.
“Yes Miss Granger, you were saying?”
But Rick quickly interrupted, “Polyjuice Potion is used to adopt the form of another person. It is made from lacewing flies, which must be stewed for 21 days; leeches; powdered bicorn horn; knotgrass; fluxweed, that has been picked during the full moon; and boomslang skin. You need to mix in a sample, such as hair, from the person whose form you wish to assume. It lasts for about an hour.”
Snape turned on Rick. “And which Professor gave you permission to visit the Restricted Section Mr. Godfry?”
“Err, no one sir, I think I must have read about it while I was looking through the Potions section in Flourish and Blotts.”
But Snape wasn’t finished with Rick, he started asking him a series of Potions question which became increasingly more difficult. The answers to some of them could only be found in obscure texts. Rick of course, had no difficulty finding the answers, because, after all, they were right there in Snape’s mind – ready for the taking.
Snape was getting increasingly frustrated at his inability to find a question that Rick couldn’t answer. But he was also getting suspicious at how he could know so much, and began to wonder if Rick could possibly possess Legilimency abilities.
So he set a trap. He asked him a question about a potion that he had recently developed himself and had not yet published in any of the Apothecary journals. Unfortunately for him, Rick clearly saw what he was doing and simply said, “I have no idea sir, I’ve read nothing at all about that potion.”
Hermione meanwhile was aghast – no outraged – even she didn’t know the answers to some of the questions which Rick answered with ease. How could he – how dare he know so much! There was definitely something very strange about Rick and she was not going to rest until she got to the bottom of it.
Snape was wise enough to know when he was beat and left Rick alone after that, confining his sadistic “sport” to Harry and Dean. It was also too difficult to find that know-it-all Granger wanting, when it came to Potions knowledge. He was starting to miss Neville Longbottom, sixth form was not going to be much fun at all.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
With each new subject they shared, Hermione noticed that Rick’s skill and knowledge very quickly matched her own. She was facing the terrible prospect, that for the first year since she had been at Hogwarts, that she might not finish top in all of her classes. At least Rick wasn’t taking Arithmacy, Ancient Runes and Muggles Studies, so she was safe in those three, at least.
She felt a growing sense of rivalry with Rick. For the first time she could remember, either at Hogwarts, or her Muggle school before that, there was someone who could match her intelligence. Although Rick didn’t appear to be trying to compete with her at all.
He was just naturally good at everything he did, it was just so annoying. He always handed in his assignments, often his parchments were as long as hers, yet she hardly ever saw him studying or doing homework. In fact he was often absent from the common room of an evening and he wasn’t in the library either. Hermione had no idea where he got to. She couldn’t figure him out, and she was finding it very frustrating.
Rick got along well with everyone in Gryffindor. He seemed to like everyone and everyone liked him. Although he was always very low key and never at the centre of things. In fact he was quite self-effacing and seemed to be trying to avoid attracting attention.
Those efforts were totally wasted in the case of Lavender and Parvati who just could not stay away from him. They were like bees around a honey pot whenever he was in the Gryffindor common room, draping themselves decoratively over the arms of any chair that Rick sat in, batting their eyelids at him endlessly.
Hermione found their behaviour utterly nauseating. In fact there were quite a few girls in Gryffindor and the other houses too, from first years up, who seemed to have developed a crush on Rick. Even Professors McGonagall and Sprout seemed to have a soft spot for him and Tonks was as bad as some of the younger girls.
Bur Rick’s popularity in Gryffindor was not quite universal. Ron Weasley was nothing if not stubborn. He took his prejudices seriously and didn’t change them easily. Rick never tried to intrude upon the ‘Dream Team’, although he was sometimes the subject of their private conversations.
Ron was convinced that if he was not working for You-Know-Who himself, Rick was certainly a closet Slytherin, spying for Malfoy and Co. Harry found himself liking Rick – it was hard not to. But like Hermione, he had noticed how good Rick was at everything, and in particular how powerful he was when it came to magic in classes like Transfiguration, Charms and Defense Against the Dark Arts.
Harry didn’t share Ron’s prejudice concerning Rick, but he agreed with Hermione that there was something peculiar about him and it worried him. If Rick did turn out to be hostile, he would be a very dangerous adversary.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Coming up: Chapter 4 ~ Slytherins and Skulduggery
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