Status: In very, very, very slow progress


New Experiences

Back in the compartment…..

The rain increased as the train sped still further north; the windows were now a complete, glittering grey, which gradually darkened until lanterns flickered into life all along the corridors and over the luggage racks. The train rattled, the rain pounded, the wind whistled, but still, Professor Lupin slept.

“We must be nearly there by now,” said Ron, leaning forward to look past Professor Lupin at the now entirely black window.
The words had barely left him when the train started to slow down.

“Brilliant,” said Ron, getting up and walking carefully past Professor Lupin to try and see outside. “I’m starving; I want to get to the feast….”

“We can’t be there yet,” said Hermione, checking her watch.

“So why’re we stopping?”

The train was getting slower and slower. As the noise of the pistons fell away, the wind and rain sounded louder than ever against the windows.
Harry, who was nearest the door got up to look into the corridor. All along the carriage heads were sticking curiously out of their compartments.
The train came to a stop with a jolt and distant thuds and bangs told them that luggage had fallen out of the racks. Then, without warning, all the lamps went out and they were plunged into total darkness.

“What’s going on?” said Ron’s voice from behind Harry.

“Ouch!” gasped Hermione. “Ron, that was my foot!”
Harry felt his way back to his seat.

“D’you think we’ve broken down?”

“Dunno …”

“We can’t have, trust me, the Hogwarts Express never breaks down. My family has been attending Hogwarts since it was built and it has never broken down, not even once.” Vanessa remarked, a slightly proud, Slytherin tone appearing in her voice.
There was a squeaking sound, and Harry saw the dim black outline of Ron, wiping a patch clean on the window and peering out.

“There’s something moving out there,” Ron said. “I think people are coming aboard …”

“I sure hope they’re people….” Vanessa muttered.

The compartment door suddenly opened and someone fell painfully over Harry’s legs.

“Sorry! D’you know what’s going on? Ouch! Sorry –”

“Hello, Neville,” said Harry, feeling around in the dark and pulling Neville up by his cloak.

“Harry? Is that you? What’s happening?”

“No idea! Sit down –”

There was a loud hissing and a yelp of pain; Neville had tried to sit on Crookshanks.

“I’m going to go and ask the driver what’s going on,” Hermione’s voice rang out. Vanessa heard the door slide open again and then a thud and two loud squeals of pain.

“Who’s that?”

“Who’s that?”



“What are you doing?”

“I was looking for Ron –”

“Come in and sit down –”

“Not here!” said Harry hurriedly. “I’m here!”

“Ouch!” said Neville.

“Quiet!” said a hoarse voice suddenly.
Professor Lupin appeared to have woken up at last. Vanessa could hear movements in his corner. None of them spoke.

There was a soft, crackling noise and a shivering light filled the compartment. Professor Lupin appeared to be holding a handful of flames. They illuminated his tired grey face, but his eyes looked alert and wary.

“Stay where you are,” he said, in the same hoarse voice, and he got slowly to his feet with his handful of fire held out in front of him.
But the door slid slowly open before Lupin could reach it.

Standing in the doorway, illuminated by the shivering flames in Lupin’s hand, was a cloaked figure that towered to the ceiling. Its face was completely hidden beneath its hood. Vanessa stared at this strange being – it couldn’t be what she thought it was, it just couldn’t be … or could it?