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Thorns on Roses

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Sunday September 1st 1991

 

     After several hours on the scarlet steam engine Harry and Ron had gone through about 5 pounds of sweets and, reluctantly, changed into their robes. According to what the girl with the bushy hair had said, they would be arriving within 15 minutes, and that had to have been at least seven minutes ago.

 

     They had just finished checking to make sure the other had tied their tie correctly when two boys burst into their compartment. Both looked to be about the same as age as Harry and Ron, which Harry soon realized must be true as both were wearing the same ties as him and Ron and not the stripped ones he had seen older students wearing.

 

     “Bug off Zabini, I got here first!” The boy who stood closest to Harry spat to the one next to him. His hair was a dark shade of brown that, for whatever reason, quite reminded Harry of a burnt chestnut, and his eyes were a light shade of brown that Harry deemed to be close to the color of honey.

 

     The other boy, who Harry assumed was something Zabini, elbowed the other boy in the stomach as he shot back, “No youbug off Nott! I was the one who found that spell so if the toad is here then I win the bet!” His dark brown eyes gave Nott a murderous glare as he shoved him back and stepped fully into Harry and Ron’s compartment, dusting himself off.

 

     Zabini then pulled out a wand which was polished so much that it’s colors seemed to range from beige to chocolate brown in different lighting. “Now let’s see… Invenio Bufo.” He moved his want in a circular motion and to Harry’s great surprise, a pale blue arrow appeared from the end of his wand and pointed underneath Ron’s bench.

 

     “There. I’ve found it. That’s three galleons Nott.” Zabini said with a small smug smile on his face. The whole thing had happened in such a short period of time that both Harry and Ron had just stared at the two boys up until now.

 

     “What in the name of Merlin’s big left toe are the two of you doing?” Ron exclaimed. Zabini ignored Ron and got on his hands and knees to reach around for the toad. Nott then stumbled into the compartment smoothing down his hair.

 

     “My apologies good lads. I’m Theodore Nott and this here is Blaise Zabini. We’re here to retrieve a toad.” He smiled brightly at the two of them. Blaise Zabini then popped up next to him, toad in hand.

 

     “Three gallons Nott.” Theodore Nott made a show of dramatically sighing and rolling his eyes before reaching into the pocket of his robes and pulling out two shinny gold coins and placing them in Zabini’s waiting hand. “This is only two gallons.” Zabini stated, hardening his glare at Nott.

 

   Nott simply shrugged. “It was a team effort.” Zabini didn’t seem to like that excuse, judging by the way he crossed his arms, but he soon closed his eyes and sighed, shaking his head.

 

     “You’re bloody lucky were friends Nott. Otherwise I’d just steal it from you.” Nott elbowed him lightly in the stomach.

 

     “That’s a lie. You’ll steal it from me anyway.” He said with a small smile on his face, which his friend returned. Harry felt awkward sitting there watching them. The two boys seemed to have been friends for awhile, as well as completely forgotten about the presence of himself and Ron.

 

     Harry cleared his throat to remind the boys of their presence and Zabini’s head snapped in his direction. “Sorry for disturbing you, we’ll be going now.” He said nodding curtly, before leaving their compartment, Nott not far behind him.

 

     “Pleasure to meet you… um… what were your names?” He asked them, hand on the door, leaning back to look at the two of them.

 

     “Ron. Ron Weasley.” Harry looked over to Ron, only now noticing how stiff he looked.

 

     “Oh.” Nott’s smile vanished and his face became wary. For what reason Harry was not exactly sure why, though he had a pretty good idea of what it might be.

 

     Nott shook his head and turned to Harry, smile back on his face. “And you?” He asked politely.

 

     “Harry Potter.” There were those wide surprised eyes again. Harry had a feeling he’d be getting a lot of those.

 

     “Blimey.” Nott whispered under his breath. His eyes were scanning Harry’s forehead, looking for the scar, which he couldn’t see until Harry pushed his bangs off of his forehead.

 

     Nott then stared at it for a few seconds before whispering something that sounded like ‘Eh rehlly ooks like linin’. It really looks like lightning.

 

     Of course this all made Harry very uncomfortable. He was not yet used to being admired, well known, and stared at for something he couldn’t even remember.

 

     Luckily, Nott seemed to notice this and pulled his gaze away from Harry’s forehead and looking between him and Ron. “Well it’s been a pleasure but I’ve got to be going now.” he said as he left their compartment, closing the door behind him.

 

     Blaise Zabini and Theodore Nott. The names meant very little to Harry at the time, but in just a few years, both would become friends that Harry would not hesitate to sacrifice his life for.

——————————

     The train had arrived not long after Nott and Zabini left Harry and Ron’s compartment. The two had luckily had enough time however, for Ron to explain to Harry why he had been so tense and to confirm Harry’s suspicions about Nott’s reaction to learning Ron’s name.

 

     Apparently there were a lot of Pureblood families in the Wizarding world. Pureblood families were families that were made up of witches and wizards for generations. Not all of them though, we’re considered to be completely 'pure’ due to various things that Harry could not entirely understand.

 

     Ron told Harry that of these Pureblood families, there were 28 families, called The Sacred Twenty-Eight, which were considered among themselves, to be real Purebloods. Over the years several families had been removed from the sacred twenty-eight but the Avery, Black, Bustrode, Burke, Carrow, Crouch, Fawley, Flint, Greengrass, Lestrange, Malfoy, Nott, Parkinson, Rosier, Rowle, Selwyn, Slughorn, Travers, and Yaxley families remained apart of the ‘purest of the purebloods’.

 

     To be perfectly honest, Harry thought all this blood nonsense was quite stupid (though he didn’t mention it to Ron), and was extremely grateful when the train arrived and they could get outside and breathe in the cool evening air.

 

     An announcement on the train had told them to leave their belongings on the train so as soon as he stepped off of the Hogwarts Express Harry began stretching his arms high above his head, then to the left, the right, and finally down towards the ground.

 

     “Firs’ years! Firs’ years over here! All right there, Harry?” Harry saw Hagrid smiling brightly at him over the sea of heads and his face instantly brightened at the familiar sight. He grabbed Ron by the arm and rushed over to Hagrid.

 

     “Hello Hagrid, nice to see you.” Harry greeted. He was so happy to have finally arrived that he forgot all about his plans to be mad at Hagrid for not giving him any instructions about how to get onto Platform 9 3/4.

 

     “Same to you. Got no time for conversatin’’ though. C’mon, follow me - any more firs’ year? Mind yer step now! Firs’ years follow me!” With that, Hagrid started leading Harry and his fellow new students (most of which, he noticed, seemed to be nervous and at least a little frightened of Hagrid, which was pretty reasonable considering his size) down a narrow path that was so step that Harry and Ron both had to keep catch each other’s robes to prevent themselves falling.

 

     “Yeh’ll get yer firs’ sight o’ Hogwarts in a sec! Jus’ round this bend here!” Hagrid called over his shoulder. Several of the students in front of Harry gasped and pointed and when the path opened up to the shore of a large black lake. Sitting on top of the mountains across the lake was a majestic castle that looked like something out of a storybook.

 

     So this was Hogwarts.

 

     Hagrid let the group of eleven year olds gape at the castle for a few seconds before pointing them to a group of boats a couple of feet to the right of them. “No more’n four to a boat!” Hagrid instructed the group.

 

     Harry and Ron clambered into the nearest boat with two seats available and found themselves sitting behind two girls. The girls turned to face them as they got in and Harry almost fell out of the boat when they did. Both girls were absolutely gorgeous.

 

     The one sitting in front of Harry had extremely light brown hair that flowed like water down past her shoulders, and electric blue eyes that were nearly impossible to look away from. It was even more breathtaking when she spoke, her voice sounded like that of an angel’s. “Hello there, I’m Daphne Greengrass.” And then she smiled as bright as the sun.

 

     “Ron Weasley.” Harry looked over to Ron and saw that his face matched how Harry knew his must look if it showed any of the awe he was feeling, “I’m Harry Potter.” She gave a small nod after Harry said this. “Yeah, I figured. With the scar and all.” Harry’s hand subconsciously went up to brush against his forehead.

 

     The other one then spoke, “Harry Potter? Blimley!” Her eyes were green, like Harry’s, but there was something softer about them, and they looked slightly darker than his. Her hair was tied loosely in a ponytail over one of her shoulders and it was a medium shade of blond that stopped about halfway down her back. She also had a very nice tan and on her face, right above her lip, was a beauty mark.

 

     “I mean of course I knew that we were the same age but it’s still kind of surreal ya know. I’m Tracey Davis by the way, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” She told him, “Both of you.” She corrected before giving him a quick smile and, with Daphne, turning around to face the castle.

 

     At that moment Harry heard Hagrid call something out and the boats started moving forward, gliding on top of the lake as they sailed towards the magnificent Hogwarts castle.

 

     After only a few minutes (which was not at all enough time to marvel at Hogwarts in Harry’s opinion), they arrived at a curtain of ivy that revealed a tunnel leading to a harbor. All the students hurriedly stumbled out of the boats and looked over to Hagrid for some sign of what to do next.

 

     The giant man then led the group down a path in the tunnel that Harry wouldn’t have noticed without it being pointed out. The path was considerably less narrow and steep than the one they had previously taken much to Harry (and Ron’s) relief.

 

     In no time at all they had reached the castle and walked up its steps to come face to face with its great oak doors. After making sure no one was missing, Hagrid knocked exactly three times on one of the doors and it swung open instantly.

 

     The door was opened by a tall witch in emerald green robes with a stern face and black hair that was once most likely as dark as Harry’s, pulled up neatly into a tight bun. Harry’s first thought was that this woman was not someone to be crossed.

 

     “The firs’ years, Professor McGonagall,” Hagrid said as way of greeting. She nodded at Hagrid and replied. “Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here.” She pulled the door open wider and all of the first years walked into the hall and looked around in wonder.

 

     The ceiling was so high that Harry couldn’t exactly pinpoint where it’s top was. There were marble staircases further up which were probably the most expensive thing Harry had ever laid eyes on, and the walls, which were made of stone, were lined with brightly lit torches.

 

     McGonagall led them down the corridor - past a door on their right (which Harry realized because of all the noise coming from it) was where the rest of the school was - and into a small room off the hall. The room was so small in fact, that they were all touching arms in order to fit in.

 

     “Welcome to Hogwarts,” Professor McGonagall addressed them. “The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your Houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your House will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your House, sleep in your House dormitory, and spend free time in your House common rooms.”

 

     Everyone seemed to be paying extremely close attention to McGonagall’s words. As if they were commands for battle and not simply a speech that she probably gave to the new students every year. “The four Houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each House has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your House points, and any rule breaking will lose House points. At the end of the year, the House with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.”

 

     Harry gulped. He had been nervous before but that was nothing compared to the way he felt now. He was absolutely positive he was so crummy at magic that by the end of the year his entire house would loathe him.

 

     “The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting.” Harry could’ve sworn that McGonagall’s eyes lingered on Ron, whose nose, despite his best efforts, still had dirt on it, and on Neville (the boy who lost his toad) who had somehow managed to fasten his robe under his left ear (Harry had to keep himself from laughing at the sight).

 

     “I shall return when we are ready for you,” Professor McGonagall’s voice instantly refocused his attention. “Please wait quietly.” With that she left them in the small room and Harry felt again how nervous he was.

 

     “Remind me again how exactly they sort us into houses.” He said out of the corner of his mouth to Ron.

 

     “I’m not exactly sure. Apperently it’s some sort of test though, Fred said it’s pretty painful but I think he was just joking to scare me and Ginny.” Ron's words did not make Harry feel any better. If anything they made him feel worse.

 

     He looked around nervously, hoping there might be some sort of sign - a clue maybe, about what they would have to do. All Harry could see though was his fellow eleven year olds looking just as frightened as he was. No one even said a word except Hermione Granger, the girl from the train, who was mumbling quietly to herself about spells she’d read about and which ones she thought she might need.

 

     This also did not make Harry any better, seeing as her barely touched his textbooks. He was so preoccupied worrying about the worst way he could possibly fail that he almost didn’t notice when a huge group of ghosts floated into the room through the back wall.

 

     Almost.

 

     “Forgive and forget, I say, we ought to give him a second chance-”

 

     “My dear Friar, haven’t we given Peeves all the chances he deserves? He gives us all a bad name and you know, he’s not even really a ghost- I say what are you all doing here?” The ghosts seemed to finally notice the presence of all the tiny first years as a ghost wearing a ruff and tights spoke to them.

 

     “New students!” exclaimed the Fat Friar smiling down at them when no one answered. “About to be sorted I suppose?” A few brave students nodded at him. “Hope to see you in Hufflepuff! My old House, you know.” He piped cheerfully at them.

 

     “Move along now,” a familiar sharp voice ringed out as the door reopened. “The Sorting Ceremony’s about to start.” With that the ghosts slowly floated out of the opposite wall, not bothering with the door.

 

     “Now, form a line,” Professor McGonagall said, now directing her voice at Harry and his fellow students, “and follow me.”