Hogwarts and the Wolf in the Fold

Voldemort puts a spy into Hogwarts.
Set during the year of the Half-blood Prince.

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13. The Train Journey

 The Train Journey

David felt as if the world had dropped from under his feet. He was being pulled through space as if a rope were attached to his stomach. The feeling was not as oppressively crushing as being apparated alongside Voldemort, but it was still a confusion of colours and swirling wind that made his head spin.
He managed to land upright in a dark space. In front of him was an opening into the daylight. He dragged his trunk out into the light and Dusty cawed on his shoulder.
There was a sudden increase in the noise around him and he saw that he was on the platform of a train station. He had no idea which station it could be, but there were plenty of people further along from whom he could find out.
He found an empty trolley and lifted the trunk onto it. Up towards the main concourse he could see a station guard. He gave the trolley a huge shove and headed towards him. Dusty sat patiently on the handle as he pushed.
Before he had got within ten yards of the guard, he saw to his left a man and woman wearing wizard’s robes. They were with a girl around fourteen years of age and she too had a large trunk on a trolley. He decided to follow them instead.
He watched as the three people chatted to each other and then came to a stop in front of a brick wall. Above their heads were two signs, one saying ‘PLATFORM 9’ and the other ‘PLATFORM 10’.
David pulled out his ticket and took another quick look at it. ‘Platform nine and three quarters?’ He thought. ‘Surely not.’
The three looked around to make sure that nobody was watching them. They didn’t notice David crouched behind his trunk, or they had seen it and assumed it belonged to another wizard.
Suddenly they raced towards the brick wall and disappeared through it.
“Whoa!” David said out loud.
It was a real eye opener for him. They had run straight through the brick wall. Or was it really a wall? ‘Maybe it’s a trick wall, or just well-camouflaged?’ He told himself.
“Ah well Dusty, what do you reckon?” He took a huge breath.
“Here goes!”
With a silent expletive he pushed the trolley at the wall and held his breath. It was as if someone had turned the channel on a television. The modern, clean and tidy railway station had been replaced by something that wouldn’t look out of place in the Victorian era.
There was a huge red steam engine puffing away at the platform. It was noisy, as the platform was filled with a mass of people, baggage and assorted animals all talking at once.
The steam from the train filled the air and it was thick and smoky. David choked a little and tried to get his bearings. He could see a gaggle of railway guards running here and there, sorting out trunks and cases and getting them all on board the train.
One of them noticed David standing there holding his ticket and he came over. He was wearing a dark red waistcoat and black jacket. Black pinstriped trousers and peaked cap completed the uniform.
“Ticket for Hogwarts?” He shouted to David, above the din.
David handed over his ticket and the man took it and pointing his wand, he burned a hole into one corner. He gave back the smoking ticket to a bemused David.
“I’ll take your trunk and put it in the van. You get yourself onboard.” He said and indicated an open carriage door.
Glad to be getting off the platform, David waited for Dusty to hop onto his shoulder then climbed up the steps that led into the train. He moved along the corridor and found the first carriage to be empty, so he went in and settled down by the window.
Outside he could see wizards and witches of all ages hugging each other goodbye. There were tears and waving, and lots of happy smiling faces as friends were re-united with each other after the long summer break.
He wondered who they all were and where they lived. How could so many wizards live in the country and never been seen by ordinary people? Muggles.
The butterflies in his stomach started to jump around as the train blew a long blast on its whistle. A flood of people moved towards the train and David heard chattering and feet moving towards him outside in the corridor.
A small group of students came in and sat around him, all talking excitedly. They threw their bags up onto the luggage rack and sat down.
One of them went to the window and opened up the sliding section at the top. He tried to put his face to the opening so that he could shout his goodbyes, but he was too short to reach so he stood up on the seat and leaned towards it.
“Bye mum, see you soon!”
Outside, a woman waved back at him and shouted something unintelligible.
“Get off the seat, Widdershins.” Said another boy.
“You’re getting mud all over it.”
“One more minute, Creavey.” He said and tried to fend off the sitting boy who was yanking on his pullover to get him down.
David looked at the sitting boy and grinned. The boy grinned back and then let go of the pullover, causing the standing boy to fall forwards and be left hanging backwards at the window.
The woman outside held up her hands to her face in horror. Everyone in the carriage laughed at his predicament.
When he had let go of the window and managed to sit back down, he waved happily through the window.
There were five of them in the carriage altogether. The window-waving boy and the pullover-puller sat beside him. Nearest to the door across from David was another boy who looked like a slightly smaller version of the puller. At David’s side sat a girl with mousey coloured hair and big blue eyes. She was cradling a small light-brown owl in her arms.
There was a sudden jolt and the train started to move slowly along. The platform slid past and David watch a myriad of faces and coloured robes pass by the window. Some faces were tearful, some were smiling, but all were waving madly and before too long they were swallowed up in a cloud of steam as the train passed into a tunnel.
There was a cheer all around the train as it fell into darkness and the candles in the carriages sparked into life, but it wasn’t too long before they came back out into the daylight and everyone settled back into their seats.
David listened as the boys and girl caught up on each other’s comings and goings through the summer holidays.
From what they said, it appeared that the two similar-looking boys were indeed brothers, while the other boy and girl were their friends from school. They were all younger than David, he guessed around fourteen or so years.
The older brother eventually realised that David was not part of their conversations, so he looked over at him and said.
“I haven’t met you at school before, have I? What’s your name?”
“It’s David, David Bertillon, but my friends all call me Daffers. I’m an exchange student. I did my studies at Beauxbatons up until now.”
The others looked at him, startled at this revelation.
“Wow!” Said the older brother.
“My name’s Colin Creavey and this is my brother Dennis.” He pointed his thumb to the smaller boy on his left.
“This is Jack Widdershins.” He looked round at the boy near the window.
“And that’s Alice Chattox.” He nodded towards the girls at David’s side.
“We’re all in the fifth year this time round and we’re all in Gryffindor.”
He beamed with pride at this last piece of information.
“Cool.” Said David.
“My house at Beauxbatons was called Sournois. I don’t know if they’ll put me into a house at Hogwarts though.”
“So, what’s it like at Hogwarts? I can’t say that I’ve heard much at all about the place. I just know that it’s got a good reputation for producing great wizards so I thought it would be good to learn some new stuff here.”
“Ohh, it’s the best school in the world.” Said Colin proudly.
David grinned appreciatively.
Colin then went on to give David a potted history of Hogwarts. He told him about the castle, the surrounding hills and countryside. He spoke of each of the Professors and what studies they taught. The other three added their own thoughts and observations about the ways of the school and David learned more in a few short hours than he would ever have thought possible.
In return David talked about Beauxbatons and all that he could remember of the Professors and lessons there. The Hogwarts students were most impressed by the way that the Beauxbatons students were taught the utmost respect for their school and Professors. It was apparent that the Beauxbatons school prided itself on its history more than the actual quality of the education. There was a lot of emphasis on traditions and order.
David surprised himself with the amount of detail that he was able to recall, considering that in reality he’d never actually set foot in the place.
“Is that your familiar?” David asked Alice and pointed to the owl.
“What do you mean?” She replied.
“That owl, is it your familiar?”
Alice looked at him as if he wasn’t making sense.
“Does that mean something in French?” She asked.
“No, I was asking about your owl.” David repeated.
“This is Pudge, he’s my post-owl. You know? Delivers my mail.”
David didn’t know, but he let out a noise to pretend that he understood.
“I like your raven.” Said Alice.
“Does he take your mail? She asked.
“Yeah, sure.” Said David, hoping that he sounded vaguely credible.
He looked up at Dusty who was sat on the luggage rack preening his feathers. Dusty looked back at him contemptuously.
When they had all tired of conversation, they sat back and relaxed. David stared out through the window, while Jack and Colin fell asleep. Dennis took a small chessboard out of his pocket and began to play against Alice.
In the reflection of the window David saw the miniature chess pieces moving on their own and engaging in tiny battles against each other. He was fascinated by them and eventually turned to study the game rather than sit and watch the endless countryside go past.
David only turned away after Alice had trounced Dennis’ white army. She had taken all of his major pieces and then chased a shrieking queen around the board with her remaining knights. The game ended with a stomping of the cowering queen by one particularly brutal knight.
A loud noise from the carriage door brought David out of his reverie. There was a bushy-haired girl looking in and behind her stood tall gangly boy with flaming red hair. They both had an air of authority about them.
“Hello there.” Said the girl.
“Just checking that everything’s okay in here.”
The boy behind her seemed eager to be gone.
“Come on, Hermione. The food trolley will be coming round again soon. I’m absolutely starving.”
He peered around the girl, who was looking at Dusty with some interest.
“Hi there, Dennis. Where’s Colin? Oh there he is. Look, he’s sleeping like a baby and he’s small enough to pass for one, hehe.” He tried to push past, but the girl elbowed him in the stomach.
“Come on, Ron.” She said and taking hold of his ear she twisted it and led him away up the corridor.
David looked over at Dennis who shrugged his shoulders and grinned.
“Prefects.” He said.
“Ron Weasley and Hermione Grainger. They’re friends of ours. We all learned to duel together in Dumbledore’s army.”
David did a quick double-take. He had been taken by surprise at hearing Dumbledore’s name.
“ It wasn’t a real army.” He assured him.
“We just got together to fight against Dolores Umbridge last year. She was a hag from the ministry who tried to take over the school. Everyone hated her and it was the D.A. that got rid of her. We were all trained by Harry Potter.”
David’s eyebrows rose higher and higher as he listened with incredulity.
“He’s the guy that beat your Fleur Delacourt in the Tri-Wizards Championship.”
“Ohh.” Said David, unable to think of anything.
He didn’t have much memory of what Dennis was talking about and Dennis took his lack of response to mean that David was embarrassed that Beauxbatons had been beaten by Hogwarts.
Dennis grinned and David just looked blankly back at him. He was thinking about the names Harry Potter and Dumbledore. He made a mental note to find out more about Dumbledore’s army and its members.
He wanted to ask Dennis right then and there, but a slight doubt had crept into his mind and he thought better of it. ‘Take things slowly’ He thought to himself. There would be plenty of time to eke out the information for his Master.
Now that he had a source, he knew that it could be done.
The hours rolled by and the food trolley came and went. David bought himself a pumpkin pasty, something he’d never heard of before and it tasted delicious.
He chatted some more with Colin after he had woken up and learned that he had known Harry Potter for four years. He also found out that Harry played seeker on the Gryffindor quidditch team and that his best friend was Ron Weasley, who also played on the team as keeper.
Outside it had turned dark and the lamps inside the carriage had been lit. When the lamps flickered off and on, Colin told David that the train was approaching Hogsmeade station and that they all needed to put on their school robes.
David remembered that his own robes were still locked in his trunk, so he had to leave the others and make his way to the luggage car. He whistled to Dusty who skipped onto his shoulder and out he went.
He made his way along the corridors and through several doors, peeking in at the occupants. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits. At the front end of the train was a large carriage filled with students who weren’t making preparations for the train’s arrival at its destination.
They were sitting at their ease, chatting nonchalantly. One blond-haired boy was even laid down in the lap of a girl who was stroking his head.
David looked through the carriage and realised that he must be heading the wrong way, as he could see the guard’s van beyond.
He retraced his steps and going past his own carriage he eventually reached the luggage car which was crammed with trunks and cases. There was no chance of finding his own, so he decided to try a spell with his new wand.
“Accio robes!”
With a flourish of his wand he called out the spell and almost instantly there was the sound of rumbling and scraping, as his trunk forced itself open somewhere in the mass.
His robes danced over the piles of luggage and he put them straight on, since this was a quiet enough place to do it.
With a feeling of elation that his wand was working perfectly, he went back to the carriage. Everyone was ready to go.
“I can see the platform lights.” Said Jack, who had his face pressed to the window and was looking ahead.
The train began to slow and as bright lamps outside began to fill the train with light, it eventually came to a stop. A loud whistle from the train told them that they had arrived at Hogsmeade.
There was a mad rush for the doors and David was caught in the crush, along with Dusty who was now perched on top of his head. His claws were tickling David’s crown, but David didn’t care.
Around him was almost pandemonium. The adults waiting at the station were shouting instructions and students were splitting up into groups of older and younger.
He saw a giant of a man waving his arms in the air and pointing to one side. Around him was a crowd of tiny boys and girls. He looked big enough to pick the whole lot up in one go and carry them off to the castle himself.
He accidentally bumped into a young woman who was getting onto the train and he turned and apologised to her.
“No problem.” She said.
“Are you okay? You look lost.”
“I’m an exchange student.” Explained David.
“I don’t know where I should go from here.”
She looked at him and smiled.
“See that witch over there?” She asked and pointed to a slim grey-haired witch with a tartan cloak.
“Her name is Professor McGonagall. She can point you towards the carriages that take you up to the castle.”
“Thanks.” Said David
The woman turned and climbed into the train.
David passed through the throng and approached Professor McGonagall.
“Excuse me.” He said.
“My name is David Bertillon. It’s my first time here. Could you..”
“Ahh, our new exchange student. I was asked to look out for you. If you give me a few minutes, I’ll just get the students on their way and we can follow in the last carriage.”
She shouted more instructions to the people milling around her and eventually order was restored and everyone was put into a carriage, the platform was empty and just herself and David were left.
“Good, good. Let’s get inside, it’s starting to get a bit chilly now.”
She chivvied David before her and they climbed into the carriage. He stopped just before he got in to look at the strange animals that were pulling it. They looked like some kind of starved horses, black and shining in the dark.
“Thestrals.” Said Professor McGonagall from behind him.
As they travelled together, they chatted about the Hogwarts castle and Hogsmeade. Dusty slept with his head under one wing, balanced on David’s shoulder. David mentioned to Professor McGonagall that he needed to buy books from the shop in Hogsmeade.
Professor McGonagall told him what would happen when they arrived at school. The greeting of the new students, the sorting of them into their houses and then the welcoming feast.
David was looking forward to that. The train journey had made him very hungry and thirsty.
The carriage rocked to and fro, bumping along the stony path that weaved its way upwards between fields and trees and finally high rocks on either side. Then as they rounded one corner, David got his first glimpse of Hogwarts.
He saw a huge castle with many towers and spires looming up ahead. It was framed with rocky peaks and trees. Above it, dark clouds were billowing in the wind and the moon was shining brightly overhead.
David held his breath. What a place to live! And he could stay here for a whole year at least. The memory of children’s homes and foster parents was lost in this new experience of somewhere that would be worth staying in.
Hogwarts!
 

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