Chapter Three: Bickering with Hats

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Disclaimer: Everything belongs to J.K. Rowling

Chapter Three: Bickering with Hats

The three first years pushed their way off the train nervously and shivered as the cold night air hit them. The platform was well lit for being outdoors. Students were everywhere running this way and that. Riley didn’t have a clue where she was supposed to go until she saw a lamp come bobbing over the heads of the students, and she heard a voice call: “Firs’ years! Firs’ years over here! All right there, Harry?”

Hagrid’s big hairy face beamed over the sea of heads. Riley almost laughed at how small he made all the students look; even the older ones.

“C’mon, follow me – anymore firs’ years? Mind yer step, now! Firs’ years follow me!”

Slipping and stumbling, they followed Hagrid down what seemed to be a steep, narrow path. The complete darkness on either side of them made Riley think there were probably thick trees there or something. Nobody spoke much out of nervousness. One boy with a round face and dark hair, sniffed once or twice, but over all they kept quiet. It was like they were afraid speaking would make everything disappear, like it was too good to be true to finally be at Hogwarts. That’s what Riley was thinking, at least.

“Yeh’ll get yer firs’ sight o’ Hogwarts in a sec,” Hagrid called over his shoulder, “Jus’ round this bend here.”

There was a loud “Oooooh!”

The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers. It was far better then any castle Riley had ever seen in person or on TV. Movies had nothing on this.

“No more’n four to a boat!” Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Harry, Ron and Riley were followed onto their boat by Sniffles.

“Everyone in?” shouted Hagrid, who had a boat to himself, “Right then- FORWARD!”

The fleet of little boats moved off all at once, gliding across the lake, which was as smooth as glass. Everyone was silent, staring up at the great castle overhead. It towered over them as they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which it stood. Riley though, had become distracted by the lake. She was sure something moved under them; something big. She tried to push that thought away, like this was anytime to be thinking about Nessie like monsters in Hogwarts’ lake.

"Heads down!" yelled Hagrid as the first boats reached the cliff. They all bent their heads and the little boats carried them through a curtain of ivy that hid a wide opening in the cliff face. Riley couldn’t help but wonder if Hanna-Barbera came here for Scooby-Doo inspiration; it was honestly the perfect place for such a thing. They were carried along a dark tunnel, which seemed to be taking them right underneath the castle, until they reached a kind of underground harbor, where they clambered out onto rocks and pebbles. Riley suddenly had a feeling like she was going to run into a real life Batman.

"Oy, you there! Is this your toad?" asked Hagrid, who was checking the boats as people climbed out of them.

"Trevor!" cried Sniffles blissfully, holding out his hands. Then they clambered up a passageway in the rock after Hagrid's lamp, coming out at last onto smooth, damp grass right in the shadow of the castle. They walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around the huge, oak front door.

"Everyone here? You there, still got yer toad?" Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked three times on the castle door. The door swung open at once. A tall, black-haired witch in emerald-green robes stood there. She had a very stern face and Riley immediately knew that it must be Professor McGonagall. Moony had warned Riley about how strict she was and not to cross her if she could help it.

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