A/N: So it seems I got a positive response for my fanfiction, which is awesome. To my reviewer, I'm glad you've chosen to give this story a chance, and I hope you continue to enjoy this fanfic! On with the story!
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Chapter 1: A Train Ride to Hogwarts on James' Cousin
Stupid. Different. Foolish. Weird. Those are only few words that people who knew him would use to describe Benjamin Garner. He was eleven years old, with jet black hair, light skinned complexion, and an athletic build. He also had dark blue eyes that seemed to change color, like stones in a kaleidoscope. A bit mature looking for his age, Ben was currently looking for the platform for the train that would take him to his new school for learning magic.
As he thought of that his mind went back to the discussion he'd had with his mother when he first told her about his decision to apply to attend Hogwarts. Needless to say, it wasn't pretty…
In any case, he could imagine how much of an idiot he looked like now. The letter he received told him that he needed to find platform nine and three-quarters, because that is where he was going to find the train that would take him to Hogwarts. Unfortunately, he thought that the British had different ways of numbering their platforms, and was met with a cruel awakening when he arrived, only to find out that, according to the people at King's Cross Station, nothing like platform nine and three-quarters existed. He went asking around, and after a while the people started looking at him like he was mad, and he knew that the security personnel nearby were considering arresting him, but then he wondered if they could arrest a foreigner on charges of insanity, and then came to the conclusion that he probably shouldn't test out that theory.
He stood at platform nine, wondering if the staff at Hogwarts made a typo in writing nine and three-quarters, then figured that was unlikely. His next thought was that someone might be playing a joke on him, but brushed that aside as well. He came to the conclusion that there was no error and the platform was hidden somewhere here. But how to find out where?
Then an idea popped into his head. He looked around, and then closed his eyes and concentrated. As he opened his eyes, he began seeing into the Duat. Now, the world was awash in color. The ground had turned translucent – gelatinous layers descending into darkness below. The air rippled with shimmering veils, each one vibrant but slightly out of sync, as if multiple high-definition videos had been superimposed on top of one another. Everything invisible had been revealed, painted with magic light. Ben looked around, noting the many mortals walking around the station as there were many colorless forms surrounding him. However, in the midst of theses colorless forms there were forms shimmering with silvery light, which Ben identified as wizards. He thought about going to ask one, but decided to keep looking around.
He looked to his left, and found what he was looking for. There was a portal, and on the other side he could see a large mass of silvery lights that almost looked like one bright light. Smirking in triumph, Ben walked through the portal and blinked once, turning off his Duat vision. Already he could feel his head throbbing, but it would go away in a few seconds. Meanwhile, he focused on the train that would be taking him to his new school for learning magic. A scarlet steam engine was waiting next to a platform packed with people. A sign overhead said Hogwarts Express, eleven O'clock. Smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the chattering crowd, while cats of every color wound here and there between their legs. Owls hooted to one another in a disgruntled sort of way over the babble and the scraping of heavy trunks.
Ben took note of the fact that the carriages closer to the front were filled up with his fellow students, some sitting down talking to their friends, others talking to their family members who were still standing on the platform. Considering he didn't have any family to say goodbye to here, and the train's whistle sounded, Ben decided to board the train, looking for a place to sit. However, all the seats closer to the front were occupied, and the only place that he could find a free spot was closer to the back, and even then there were already two boys sitting down there, who were in the midst of a conversation, but stopped when he opened the compartment door.
The first boy was a bit short. He was small and skinny, with a thin face, almond-shaped startling green eyes, untidy jet-black hair similar to Ben's, and round rimmed glasses which were held together by tape and had tiny cracks in the glass portion of the glasses. Ben noticed he was wearing clothes that fit him a bit loosely, though. The other one was taller than the first, but also on the thin side, lanky, with freckles on his face, big hands and feet and a long nose. Ben found his flaming red hair slightly distracting.
"Excuse me," Ben said politely. "Do you mind if I join you here?" When he asked his question both boys looked startled, but the one with red hair stammered, "S-sure. Have a seat." Ben took the seat next to the black haired boy, and even as he sat down both boys still stared at him. Ben began to wonder if there was dirt somewhere on him, when the red-haired boy opened his mouth to speak.
"Hello," he said. "My name's Ron Weasley. That's Harry Potter," he added, gesturing to the boy on the right of Ben. When Ron said that, it rang a bell somewhere in his mind, but he couldn't remember what was so important about him. He did recall seeing his face about a month earlier, thought he didn't get a very good look at him then.
"You wouldn't happen to be Benjamin Garner, would you?" Ron asked eagerly, earning a look of shock from Ben.
"Um, yeah. How'd you know?"
"Well, everyone in the Ministry's been talking about you. You might be the first magician to school outside of Per Ankh, and people are excited to meet you. 'Spcially my dad. He wants to know all about your interaction with Muggles."
"Muggles? What are those?" Ben asked.
"Non-magical humans," Ron answered.
"Oh. We usually refer to them as mortals. But you still didn't explain how you knew it was me."
"Your accent," Ron said.
Ben flushed. "Oh."
Ron turned to face Harry. "Sorry about that."
"Don't worry about it," Harry said, who was just as excited as Ron was about meeting Ben. "What's the Per Ankh?"
"It's the name of another school for learning magic," Ron started. "But it's located in United States. It's special though. They teach a different type of magic there, I've heard."
"Yeah. We call ourselves magicians instead of wizards. I attended the school for six years before I applied to Hogwarts." Ben said.
"Why?" Ron inquired.
"I heard about Hogwarts, and honestly, I wanted to be different. Learn different type of magic. Not to mention stressful," Ben said. "Of course, my mom didn't approve, but here I am." Ron turned to Harry.
"I heard you went to live with Muggles," said Ron. "What are they like?"
"Horrible -well, not all of them. My aunt and uncle and cousin are, though. Wish I'd had three wizard brothers."
"Five," said Ron. For some reason, he was looking gloomy. "I'm the sixth in our family to go to Hogwarts. You could say I've got a lot to live up to. Bill and Charlie have already left - Bill was head boy and Charlie was captain of Quidditch. Now Percy's a prefect. Fred and George mess around a lot, but they still get really good marks and everyone thinks they're really funny. Everyone expects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, it's no big deal, because they did it first. You never get anything new, either, with five brothers. I've got Bill's old robes, Charlie's old wand, and Percy's old rat."
"Still, I think it's pretty cool to have relatives. I mean, at the Per Ankh we all live together, but it's not the same as have a brother or sister of your own." Ben said. "Of course, I see them all as my family, but I'm kind of jealous." Ron's ears turned a little red.
Ron reached inside his jacket and pulled out a fat gray rat, which was asleep. Ben noticed that one of its toes was missing.
"His name's Scabbers and he's useless, he hardly ever wakes up. Percy got an owl from my dad for being made a prefect, but they couldn't aff-I mean, I got Scabbers instead."
Ron's ears went pink. He seemed to be embarrassed. Of course, Ben didn't think any less of Ron or his family for not having a lot of money, and neither did Harry. He went on to narrate his experience, talking about how he always got hand-me-down clothes from his cousin.
"I didn't even know anything about my magical life until Hagrid told me. Not my parents, not Voldermort-"
Ron gasped. Then it clicked. Ben remembered that Harry Potter was the Boy-Who-Lived, and he alone survived an attack from Voldermort which backfired on the Dark Lord, and as an infant no less. He also remembered that people generally avoided saying his name.
"What is it?" Harry asked.
"You said his name!" Ron said, surprised. "People usually avoid saying his actual name."
"Sorry. I didn't know that. Just proves how much I know." Harry said "I bet I'll be the worst student in the class."
"Don't say that," Ron said earnestly. "Many wizards are raised by Muggles, but they learn fast."
"Yeah," Ben said. "I'm pretty sure you know more than me at this point."
Around half past twelve there was a great clattering outside in the corridor and a smiling, dimpled woman slid back their door and said,
"Anything off the cart, dears?" Harry jumped out of his seat like he hadn't eaten for a while. Ron flushed and murmured something about bringing his own food. Ben wasn't really hungry, but he decided to buy some food anyway. To the shock of both Harry and Ben, none of the candies that they were familiar with were present on the cart. There were a number of strange candies present, though: Bettie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands. Harry bought little bit of everything, while Ben only bought a few.
Ron stared at all of the candy Harry bought. "Wow. You sure are hungry."
"Famished," Harry said, before digging into his food. Ben left some out and, when neither boy was looking, let the rest fall out of his hand. But instead of hitting the ground, they disappeared.
Meanwhile, Ron had taken out a wrapped package and began to unwrap it. Inside were four sandwiches. He took one out and pulled it apart and said, "Corned Beef. My mom forgets that I don't like corned beef."
"Swap you for one of these," Harry said, holding a pumpkin pasty.
"Yeah, help yourself," Ben said, who wasn't really present.
"You probably wouldn't like it now," Ron said. "She's always busy taking care of five of us so she occasionally forgets things."
Harry still insisted on sharing his candy, and eventually Ron caved in.
"Are these really frogs?" Harry asked, holding up a pack of Chocolate Frogs.
"I doubt it," Ben said. He seriously didn't think wizards were that weird.
"He's right, they're not. But they have collectable cards inside them. Famous wizards and witches, along with a description of the wizard. You can start collecting them now."
Intrigued, Ben picked up a couple of cards, unwrapped them, and saw what was on the cards. The first was a wizard named Grindelwald, a dark wizard defeated by the headmaster of Hogwarts, Professor Albus Dumbledore, Icarus, a wizard famous for creating spells focused on flying, a card for a wizard named Newt Scamander, famous author of the popular textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and others. Ben was vaguely aware of Harry and Ron collecting more cards and consuming other magical candy, but he was more focused on reading about famous wizards and witches.
Eventually, their conversation was disrupted by a round-faced boy with tears in his eyes.
"Excuse me, but have you seen a toad pass by here?" he asked. The trio of boys shook their heads, resulting in him flat out crying, wailing about how he lost his toad, Trevor.
"I'm sure he'll turn up," Harry consoled. "Just keep looking."
"Yes," the boy replied miserably, walking away from the door.
"I don't understand why he's so bothered," Ron said. "If I had a toad, I'd try to lose is as soon as I can. But then, I have Scabbers, so I can't complain. He's so lazy and inactive that he could die right now, and you wouldn't even notice."
The rat in question was busy scrounging around the piles of candy.
"I tried to turn him yellow yesterday, to make him a tad more interesting, but it didn't work. Here, I'll show you…"
He looked around in his trunk, pulling out a worn out wand. It was chipped in some areas, and a white hair could be seen glinting at the end. Ron readied himself to perform the spell, when a girl appeared in the doorway. She began speaking about something, but noticed Rom holding his wand.
"Oh, are you about to do magic? Let's see it then."
She sat down right next to Ben and looked at Ron expectantly. Ron looked taken aback, but cleared his throat and prepared to do the spell. Ben also watched, intrigued to see how wizards did their magic.
"Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow." Ron waved his wand and pointed it at Scabbers, but the wand did nothing but let off a small yellow spark which startled the rat. Ron looked at Harry, who shrugged in response.
"I don't think that's a real spell," the girl said. "If it is, it's not very good. I tried simple spells for practice, and they've all worked for me." She moved closer to Harry.
"For example," she pointed her wand at Harry's glasses. "Reparo!"
All the cracks in Harry's glasses repaired themselves, and the tape holding it together flew off and disappeared. It resembled a pair of recently bought glasses. Ron, Harry and Ben were staring at the glasses in a mixture of shock and awe. The brown haired girl let out a gasp.
"You're Harry Potter. I'm Hermione Granger, and you are…?" she added, turning to Ron.
"I'm Ron Weasely." He said.
"Pleasure. What about you?" She turned to Ben.
"Oh, I'm Benjamin Garner," Ben said, smiling at Hermione. She let out a squeal of excitement.
"You're that American wizard from that school that teaches special magic! Would you mind showing some?"
Ben was a bit unsure about that, but he noticed that Harry and Ron also looked excited to see some magic. He caved in.
"Okay. Um, which spell to use…" he trailed off for a second, then his eyes fell on the closed compartment door, and a smile grew on his face. "Got it. W'peh."
A hieroglyph briefly alighted on the door, before the door slid open on its own accord. Harry, Ron and Hermione looked equally dumbfounded.
"Amazing," Hermione breathed. "You didn't even use a wand!"
"Yeah," Ben said, flushing a little. "We do have wands, but a lot of our magic doesn't require a wand to perform."
"Well, I have to go help Neville look for his toad. You three should probably change into you robes, I expect we'll be arriving soon."
She walked out the door, but came back a moment later. "You've got dirt on your nose, did you know?" she said to Ron. With that she walked away. A few minutes later, the train started slowing down and 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."
Rom and Harry put on their black robes, while Ben pulled his luggage out of his Duat locker, placing on the train, and then proceeded to change into his school robes as well. Finally, the train stopped and people pushed their way out the door and onto a tiny, dark, platform.
A giant of a man came hobbling. His face was almost completely hidden by a long, shaggy mane of hair and a wild, tangled beard, but you could make out his eyes, glinting like black beetles under all the hair. In his hand he held a lamp. Ben identified him as the man Harry went shopping with a month earlier.
"Firs' years! Firs' years over here! C'mon, follow me - any more firs' years? Mind yer step, now! Firs' years follow me"
All of the students followed the giant man down a steep, narrow path.
"Ye' all get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in a sec," the giant man called over his shoulder, "jus' round this bend here."
A few minutes after he said that 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.
The giant man pointed to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. "No more'n four to a boat!" he instructed. Harry and Ben entered into one boat, and were joined by Ron and Hermione. The giant man entered one boat by himself, and once he confirmed everyone was seated in a boat, shouted "FORWARD!"
And 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. 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.
"Oy, you there! Is this your toad?" the giant man asked, holding up a toad while looking at Neville, who happily took his toad into his hands.
As Ben stared up at the magnificent castle he was gradually approaching, he wondered how his first year at Hogwarts would go, having no idea of the adventures awaiting him.
A/N: Done! Hope you enjoy!