In Chapter 10, we meet one of the most beloved characters in the series. Let’s go!
It’s been an emotional few days, but it’s finally time to get ready to go to Hogwarts! Yay! It’s a flurry of chaos getting all the kids ready (including Ginny being knocked down the stairs by the twins – by accident, of course) and Moody is upset because they are one guard short. Harry doesn’t understand why he has to go to Kings Cross with a guard at all.
“I thought Voldemort was supposed to be lying low, or are you telling me he’s going to jump out from behind a dustbin and try to do me in?”
You know, Harry, after everything you’ve seen over the past year, it’s not a good idea to take that sort of lackadaisical tone about this. At all. What’s more is that Sirius, in his dog form, bounds ahead and comes with them, despite Dumbledore saying it was a bad idea. Their trip to the station is uneventful though, so that’s good at least. Harry is so excited and relieved to be going back. Lupin wishes them well and tells them to be careful. Moody tells them to keep an eye out for any trouble and to be careful what they put down in writing. No use getting important messages intercepted.
When they get on the train though, Ron and Hermione can’t sit with Harry – they have to go meet up with the other prefects first. It’s immediately clear that Ron isn’t too happy about it.
“It’s a pain having to go down there, I’d rather — but we have to — I mean, I’m not enjoying it, I’m not Percy.”
Poor Ron. Being named prefect is an honor, but Ron’s not taking it well, from being afraid that Harry is jealous, to the twins’ reactions, to knowing what happened with the last prefect in their family. It’s a tough situation. Harry sets off with Ginny, feeling weird since he’s never traveled on the Hogwarts Express without Ron, and run into Neville. The three of them end up in a compartment with another Hogwarts-bound student, a girl by the name of Luna Lovegood.
She had straggly, waist-length, dirty-blond hair, very pale eyebrows, and protuberant eyes that gave her a permanently surprised look. Harry knew at once why Neville had chosen to pass this compartment by. The girl gave off an aura of distinct dottiness. Perhaps it was the fact that she had stuck her wand behind her left ear for safekeeping, or that she had chosen to wear a necklace of butterbeer caps, or that she was reading a magazine upside down.
That’s our girl! I love Luna so much! She is her own person, infinitely weird, and doesn’t care who knows it. Ginny introduces the boys to Luna, who is in her year at school, only in Ravenclaw house. While they travel, Neville shows them what he got over the summer holiday: a rare, disgusting looking plant called mimbulus mimbletonia. It also likes to squirt out smelly green goo when it feels threatened, which it does, covering everyone in the compartment.
Of course, it’s at that time that Cho Chang comes by to say hello. Doesn’t everyone want to run into their crush while covered in stinksap?
Ron and Hermione turn up later and let them know that Malfoy is also a prefect this year, along with Pansy Parkinson for Slytherin, Ernie Macmillan and Hannah Abbot for Hufflepuff, and Anthony Goldstein and Padma Patil for Ravenclaw. Luna pipes up again because she knows Padma, being in the same house, and mentions that Ron went to the Yule Ball with Padma.
“Yeah, I know I did,” he said, looking mildly surprised.
“She didn’t enjoy it very much,” Luna informed him. “She doesn’t think you treated her very well, because you wouldn’t dance with her. I don’t think I’d have minded,” she added thoughtfully, “I don’t like dancing very much.”
It’s an odd conversation to have with someone, because it almost sounds like Luna maybe likes Ron, but I don’t think that’s it. I think Luna is just very literal and matter-of-fact about things. And I’m sure Ron was a topic of discussion after the Yule Ball fiasco up in Ravenclaw Tower. Right now, Ron doesn’t even know quite what to say in response to this. It’s all so odd.
Ron mentions that he and Hermione need to patrol the corridors and that they are allowed to hand out punishments for bad behavior. He can’t wait to catch Crabbe and Goyle doing something. Hermione admonishes him for this, saying that he shouldn’t want to abuse his position, which Ron rightly points out is exactly what Malfoy will be doing. Honestly, can you imagine Malfoy NOT taking advantage of this? Ron wants to give Goyle lines since he hates writing things, and make him write “I . . . must . . . not . . . look . . . like . . . a . . . baboon’s . . . backside . . .”
Everyone laughed, but nobody laughed harder than Luna Lovegood. She let out a scream of mirth that caused Hedwig to wake up and flap her wings indignantly and Crookshanks to leap up into the luggage rack, hissing. She laughed so hard that her magazine slipped out of her grasp, slid down her legs, and onto the floor.
“That was funny!”
Example #2 of how I thought Luna maybe had a crush on Ron the first time I read this. First she talks to him about going to the Yule Ball with him, then laughs really hard at his jokes. Ron, for his part, is completely confused by Luna, as are most people who encounter her, I think.
Harry takes a moment to look at Luna’s magazine, The Quibbler, which has a headline on the front about Sirius. He borrows it to see a very odd article about Sirius . . . sort of. The article claims that “Sirius Black” is actually the stage name for a singer, Stubby Boardman, who couldn’t have committed murder because he was with his girlfriend at the time it happened. Turns out, every article in the magazine is as bizarre and outlandish as this one. Hermione tells everyone that everyone knows that The Quibbler is a rubbish tabloid, but Luna is quick to say that her father is the editor. Whoops. She’s not quite as friendly anymore.
They are interrupted by Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle. Malfoy makes a snide remark about Harry not getting made prefect, but then makes a very suspicious comment.
“I seem to have touched a nerve,” said Malfoy, smirking. “Well, just watch yourself, Potter, because I’ll be dogging your footsteps in case you step out of line.”
He does seem to emphasize the word “dogging,” which makes Harry worry that he knew about Sirius on the train platform.
They change into their school robes and get ready to arrive at Hogwarts, Ron and Hermione leaving to assist everyone getting off the train. Luna offers to help carry an owl, since Harry is also carrying Ron’s owl, Pig, along with Hedwig. He climbs off the train with Luna, Ginny and Neville and the first thing he notices is that Hagrid is not there to greet the first years. Instead, it’s Professor Grubbly-Plank, who had filled in for Hagrid when he was gone the previous year. They don’t have time to wonder about that as the students are all making their way to the horseless carriages to go up to the school.
Harry is on the lookout for Hagrid, and also Ron and Hermione, when he looks up and realizes that the carriages are no longer horseless.
There were creatures standing between the carriage shafts; if he had had to give them a name, he supposed he would have called them horses, thought there was something reptilian about them, too. They were completely fleshless, their black coats clinging to their skeletons, of which every bone was visible. Their heads were dragonish, and their pupil-less eyes were white and staring. Wings sprouted from each wither — vast, black leathery wings that looked as though they ought to belong to giant bats.
That’s not creepy at all. Harry can’t understand why these things are pulling the carriages when they’ve always moved by themselves before. Ron and Hermione turn up. Here’s the weird part: they don’t see the creatures pulling the carriages. At all. Luna is quick to reassure Harry, in her own Luna way.
“I’ve been able to see them every sine my first day here. They’ve always pulled the carriages. Don’t worry. You’re just as sane as I am.”
I don’t think Harry is reassured by this at all.
See you next time for Chapter 11!