Nov 21, 2019 8:21 AM
Pottervor
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Certain other kids are definitely not containing themselves so.

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That's all right for them. Victor is content with his pie.

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The conversation turns to families. "I'm half-and-half," says Seamus. "Me dad's a Muggle. Mom didn't tell him she was a witch 'til after they were married. Bit of a nasty shock for him."

The others laugh. "What about you, Neville?" asks Ron.

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"Well, my gran brought me up and she's a witch," he explains, "but the family thought I was all-muggle for ages. My Great Uncle Algie kept trying to catch me off my guard and force some magic out of me - he pushed me off the end of Blackpool pier once, I nearly drowned - but nothing happened until I was eight. Great Uncle Algie came round for dinner, and he was hanging me out of an upstairs window by the ankles when my Great Auntie Enid offered him a meringue and he accidentally let go. But I bounced - all the way down the garden and into the road. They were all really pleased, Gran was crying, she was so happy. And you should have seen their faces when I got in here - they thought I might not be magic enough to come, you see. Great Uncle Algie was so pleased he bought me my toad."

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...that sounds... well, at least they're happy for him?

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Conversation proceeds apace even on the Head Table, where Hagrid drinks deeply from his goblet and Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore seem to be talking about something.

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Professor Quirrell, in his absurd purple turban, whom Victor met at the Leaky Cauldron, seems to be talking to a teacher with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin.

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And very suddenly, the hook-nosed teacher looks past Quirrell's turban straight into Victor's eyes - and a sharp, hot pain shoots across the scar on Victor's forehead.

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- ow. He blinks and looks away.

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The pain is gone almost as soon as it appeared.

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That's... at least better than the alternative of it not being gone. What just happened?

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Who knows.

Eventually the dessert, too, disappears, and Professor Dumbledore gets to his feet again, that action enough to bring the hall to silence.

"Ahem - just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few start-of-term notices to give you.

"First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well." Dumbledore's twinkling eyes flash in the direction of the Weasley twins. "I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors.

"Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their House teams should contact Madam Hooch.

"And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death."

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...well that's an unusually specific warning. The right-hand side coming from what direction? Perhaps he should just refrain from going anywhere on the third floor at all.

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Percy and some other older students seem to be frowning at Dumbledore.

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"Do you know which part of the corridor he means?" he asks Percy.

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"Yes, but... it's odd, because he usually gives us a reason why we're not allowed to go somewhere - the forest's full of dangerous beasts, everyone knows that. I do think he might have told us prefects, at least."

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"Maybe it's a secret. Or very frightening so he doesn't want to tell the whole school," Victor suggests.

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"Maybe," Percy agrees.

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"And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!" cries Dumbledore. The other teachers' smiles become rather fixed. Dumbledore gives his wand a little flick, as if he's trying to get a fly off the end, and a long golden ribbon flies out of it, which rises high above the tables and twists itself, snakelike, into words. "Everyone pick their favorite tune," he says, "and off we go!"

And the school bellows:

"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,

"Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they’re bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,

"So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we’ve forgot,
Just do your best, we’ll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot."

Everybody finishes the song at different times. At last, only the Weasley twins are left singing along to a very slow funeral march. Dumbledore conducts their last few lines with his wand and when they've finished, he's one of those who claps loudest.

"Ah, music," he says, wiping his eyes. "A magic beyond all we do here! And now, bedtime. Off you trot!"

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Percy starts leading the Gryffindors through the chattering crowds, out of the Great Hall, and up the marble staircase.

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Victor follows along. It's very comforting to have Muninn on his shoulder.

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The people in the portraits along the corridors whisper and point as they pass, and Percy leads them through doorways hidden behind sliding panels and hanging tapestries twice. They climb more staircases, yawning and dragging their feet, until they come to a sudden halt.

A bundle of walking sticks is floating in midair ahead of them, and as Percy takes a step towards them they start throwing themselves at him.

"Peeves," Percy whispers to the first years. "A poltergeist." He raises his voice, "Peeves - show yourself."

A loud, rude sound, like the air being let out of a balloon, answers.

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Oh dear.

(He has been paying careful attention to the route, of course.)

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"Do you want me to go to the Bloody Baron?"

There's a pop, and a little man with wicked, dark eyes and a wide mouth appears, floating cross-legged in the air, clutching the walking sticks. "Oooooooh!" he says, with an evil cackle. "Ickle Firsties! What fun!"

He swoops suddenly at them.

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... Yep. That's a thing that's happening.

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