Ted Morgan pushed his trolley through King's Cross Station. Just a short distance behind him was his fraternal twin brother Callan. The pair of eleven year olds were looking for Platform 9 and ¾ at the moment, but seemed unable to locate it. They could see the ticket inspector's stand between platforms nine and ten, but there was no indication that a platform existed somewhere in between. Ted gazed at the barrier between platforms and shared a significant glance with Callan, who returned the glance with a shrug. They had been instructed to come here so they could catch the train to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which they had learned about a month ago when a giant named Hagrid came to their aunt and uncle's house and delivered them their official invitation to attend the magical school.
Ted stood the slightly shorter twin, with piercing blue eyes, a kind expression to his face, and hair that was messy, thick, and a dark shade of brown that could be mistaken for black. Callan's hair was reddish and he was both taller and thinner, but his eyes were exactly the same as Ted's. The twins even differed in personalities. Ted was very outgoing, somewhat wild, and extremely upbeat. Callan was quieter and more reserved than Ted, and more disciplined, but nevertheless a very fine boy.
Ted's dark hair presently looked even wilder and more windswept than it usually did, for he and Callan had been very hurriedly dropped off in front of King's Cross by their horrible relatives, the Hemsworths. Their uncle Vincent Hemsworth had insisted upon ridding himself of Ted and Callan as soon as possible, and their aunt Kendra couldn't agree with him more. Preston and Priscilla had made faces at them out the window as their car pulled away from the station, leaving the twins totally stranded there.
You see, Ted and Callan had lost their parents when they were very young, in fact, both were only a year old. Their parents had been killed by Death Eaters, and the twins were left with the Hemsworths after their parents' deaths. Uncle Vincent had a tendency for barking orders at them. Kendra merely looked at them with disgust most of the time. Preston and Priscilla were terrible though. Preston was far larger than them, and loved to beat up on them, while Priscilla used her scathing words to taunt them.
Ted and Callan both looked and felt very shabby next to others in the station, not only because of how small and thin they were, but also because of how baggy their clothes were. The clothes belonged to Preston, so they were a good deal too big. Ted's t-shirt nearly reached his knees, and he'd had to roll up the bottoms of the jeans he wore into large cuffs so it wouldn't drag along the ground.
They had continued walking after asking a passing guard about the platform. The passing guard had turned away, mumbling about pranksters and punks these days, when they heard something.
"All right, all right, Mum. Don't bite my head off. I know how to get onto Platform 9 and ¾." said someone in what Ted noted to be an Australian accent. The twins shared another significant glance (their primary means of communication) before spinning around.
There was a big boy there, about their age. He was tall and wiry with muscle, and possessed thick brown hair. He was walking, looking slightly harassed as his mother fixed his coat. He was also pushing a trolley, his owl a male Great Horned Owl that easily caught their attention.
"I can't believe my little Barky is going to Hogwarts." said the boy's mother. The boy flushed an embarrassed bright red.
"Mum, you're going to embarrass me before I even get on the train." the boy groaned.
"All right. Can you make it on your own from here? Your father needs a hand with the gnomes at home, I'm sure." she asked, ceasing her fretting.
"Yes." the boy said, beaming brightly.
"All right, Barku. Have a good term." his mother said, hugging him. "Make sure to keep Brutus fed up."
"Will do." replied the boy, hugging his mother back. His mother turned and disappeared in the crowd, while he examined his owl.
Ted bravely approached the boy.
"Excuse me?" he asked. The bigger boy turned to face the twins, a little surprised.
"What is it?" the boy asked.
"I wanted to know...if you knew...how to get onto the platform?" Ted asked with uncertainty.
The boy stared for a moment.
"Are you a Muggle-born or something?" the boy asked them.
"No. Our parents were wizards. We were raised by Muggles though." Callan said delicately. The boy looked them over curiously, cocking his head a bit before he made his decision.
"You just walk at that wall between platforms nine and ten. Do it at a run if you're scared." the boy explained. "Watch me have at it."
They attentively watched him approach the wall, then speed up. Just as he was about to collide with the brick wall, he suddenly vanished. Ted and Callan gaped.
"Well, you on first." Callan said, giving Ted's shoulder a light push. Ted boldly stepped forward and began to walk briskly towards the wall. His snowy owl, Hades, hooted in a bewildered manner as Ted broke into a run. The boy screwed his eyes shut, waiting for impact, and then...
Ted was suddenly standing before a scarlet steam engine. A sign overhead read "Hogwarts Express, eleven o' clock". The platform he now stood on was packed with others kids. Cats of all colors wound their way among legs and baggage, while owls either flew around briefly or hooted in cages being loaded onto the train. There were many parents and of course, children. The boy from before stood in front of Ted, grinning at him as Callan appeared from behind them, looking dazed.
"That was brilliant!" Callan exclaimed.
"I'm Barku, by the way." said the bigger boy, offering a hand. "Barku Altair. And you are?"
"Tedrick Morgan, but you can call me Ted. And this is my twin brother, Callan."
"Well Ted and Callan, wanna get a compartment on the train with me?" Barku offered. There was a genuine look of friendliness in his eyes, and Ted and Callan both enthusiastically accepted the offer, glad to have found a friend. The boys, with careful teamwork, slowly loaded their luggage away, as well as Ares and Brutus. Callan refused to leave his cat, so he carried Chief in his arms while they winded down the corridor, searching for an empty compartment. They located the last empty one on the train, located at the very end, and they flopped down in their seats.
The whistle sounded and the train began moving. Ted was sitting beside the window, facing towards the head of the train. Barku sat directly across from him, and Callan was seated beside him. They watched as the train abandoned the platform and was smoothly making its way through London.
The compartment door slid open, revealing a brown-haired boy that was bigger than Ted but not as big as Barku, around Callan's size. He had blue eyes and a kind, happy sort of face. His robes must have been short on him, for they ended a little higher than the robes usually seemed to end, only by a half-inch or so tops.
"Mind if I sit here? Everywhere else is packed." the boy asked.
"No, not at all." Ted answered. The boy smiled and sat in the space just across from Callan, beside Barku.
"I'm Clifford Dorsey, by the way." he said, smiling more brightly.
"I'm Ted Morgan. Across from you is my twin brother, Callan." Ted said, and he watched Clifford shake hands with Callan.
"And I'm Barku Altair." Barku said, leaning back in his seat.
"Nice to meet you all." Clifford said. "Aren't you all excited?"
"Fuck yeah." Barku said enthusiastically. Ted grinned.
"Of course." Callan replied in a much more disciplined manner, nonetheless smiling.
"I just hope the classes aren't difficult." Clifford sighed. "I haven't exactly memorized my textbooks."
"We haven't either." Ted said, glad that he and Callan weren't the only ones heading into the school without knowing the course material. From the look of things, Barku hadn't either.
"Even without memorizing them, they can't be too hard." Barku scoffed boldly. "They won't just throw us into the thick of things."
"You're right." Callan confirmed. "With Muggle-born students attending, they can't just pull a fast one on us. They'll give us a good amount of time for everyone to get a head-start."
The compartment door slid open. A plump witch with a cheery expression stood there, with a trolley full of sweets.
"Anything off the trolley, dears?" she asked. Ted and Barku both stood up, and the empty space on the seats of the compartment was occupied by armloads of sweets. Barku grinned at them all and bit into a Chocolate Frog, while Ted unwrapped a Cauldron Cake and bit into it as conversation broke out again.
"Oi, so what Quidditch team do you lot support?" Barku asked.
"Cal and I don't know much about Quidditch." Ted admitted. He had read a small explanation in a book on display while waiting for their books to be purchased at Flourish and Blotts.
"Well what team do you support?" Clifford asked Barku.
"The Australian team, of course." Barku said in a matter-of-fact way.
"Of the British and Irish teams, I mean." Clifford clarified.
"Chudley Cannons, I guess." Barku said, shrugging. "You?"
"Puddlemere United." Clifford replied
Ted and Callan listened intently as Barku and Clifford explained the game in detail to them. They were going over the finer points of Quidditch, when the compartment door slid open. It was a slightly older boy, with short, dark hair and brown eyes.
"Has anyone in here seen a Great Grey Owl? A boy named LT has lost one." he asked them.
"Not at all." Ted and Clifford replied.
"How did it get loose, exactly?" Callan asked.
"Well LT was sitting in his compartment. I was showing him Wizard's Chess. He was feeding his owl, Titan, at the time. My knight smashing LT's bishop ended up spooking Titan, and he flew out into the corridor."
"We'll keep an eye out for him, mate." Barku said. The older boy smiled.
"Thank you." he said, leaving the compartment. A rather tall boy with red hair followed him. The boy still wore Muggle clothes.
As time wore on, the train gradually began to slow, and the sky outside darkened. Ted and his friends changed out of their normal clothes and into their uniforms, placing the Muggle clothes in their trunks. All of the sweets had been eaten up. LT's owl had been found (albeit after leaving droppings all over a prefect) and Barku had just finished explaining his trips to the Australian Quidditch matches when a voice echoed throughout the train.
"We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minutes' time. Please leave your luggage on the train. It will be taken to the school separately."
The boys exited the compartment. Callan had to go and regretfully put Chief in his carrier, and they joined a throng of uniformed students traveling down the corridor. The train finally stopped completely, and they clambered off of the train and stepped onto a small, dark platform. Quite suddenly, Ted was shoved. He fell and knocked Callan over with him.
"Watch it!" a brown haired boy sneered. He was about their size, with pale blue eyes, glaring. He had a large companion with black hair and green eyes. The two of them exchanged a smirk.
"You shove off!" Barku said, stepping forward to meet the challenge. He shoved the brown-haired boy, who was noticeably smaller. The bigger boy with black hair stood to face Barku, and Clifford then reluctantly moved forward, frowning. Ted and Callan both shakily got up, and the brown-haired boy must have seen that they were outnumbered, for he turned away.
"C'mon Ross." he said. "They aren't worth another minute of our time."
"But Dillon, they pushed you." Ross protested, but Dillon shook his head, and Ross scowled at them before turning away and walking off with Dillon.
"Cowards." Barku spat. Just then, Callan pointed, for a lamp bobbed over a crowd of students. They walked over to it and discovered it was none other than Rubeus Hagrid, the man who had introduced Ted and Callan to the wizarding world. The twins beamed up at him.
"Firs' years! This way! Firs' years, over here! Hello Ted and Callan."
They stumbled behind Hagrid and went down a steep and narrow path and through trees. It was so dark all around them that it was as though the night had swallowed them whole. The darkness enveloped them in a kind of frightened and anxious silence. Nobody spoke much, but they packed close together, keeping in a dense herd.
"Yeh'll get see Hogwarts for the firs' time in a sec," Hagrid bellowed to them through the silence, "Righ' now."
Loud cries of "Oooh!" and "Ahh!" pierced the silent night at once as the path suddenly opened up on a most beautiful sight across a lake that looked as though it was made of smooth black glass. Resting atop a high mountain on the other side of the sparkling lake was a vast castle adorned with towers and turrets. The lights hung in the air like dozens of lanterns floating stationary in the sky, and their reflections made the lake shimmer even more.
"Four an' only four to a boat." Hagrid called out, and he gestured towards a fleet of ten small boats sitting in the water by the shore. He stood by a slightly bigger eleventh one, presumably his own boat. The first, second, and third boats in the fleet were claimed quickly, but Clifford and Callan managed to clamber into the fourth first, and Ted and Barku followed the lead of others and gently pushed the boat out into the water before climbing in behind their companions.
"Everyone's in?" Hagrid asked. "Righ' then...FORWARD!"
The fleet of little boats suddenly came to life and moved forward. Barku whispered to Ted, pointing out features of the castle while Callan and Clifford whispered excitedly in front of them.
"Heads down!" Hagrid shouted as the boats came up to the cliff. They bent over in the boats, with LT almost laying down in the boat as they were carried through a thick overhang of ivy that masked an opening in the face of the cliff. The boats then traveled along a dark corridor that seemed to be taking them below the castle.
They soon reached an underground harbor, where they climbed out. There was a moment of excitement as one dark-haired Filipino boy began to fight a small weedy boy with an unpleasant look to him, and they crowded around. Hagrid grabbed both of them by the back of their robes and hauled them apart.
"All righ' that's enough!" he boomed. They all fell silent and Hagrid, pleased that they were being obedient, led them through a passageway in the rock, coming out onto smooth, damp grass. The night air was welcoming and chilly, and Ted enjoyed the breeze whipping his hair gently in the wind. They presently came to a great oak door.
"Everyone here?" Hagrid asked. Some were unabashed enough to reply, and Hagrid raised his fist and knocked on the door.