Harry pushed his cart forward despite Mr. Gopal's insistence that he could do it. He looked at Rishi "So, we just run though the barrier?"
Rishi nodded "Yes. As simple as that."
They looked at the barrier and saw a gang of redheads crowding it. Harry groaned "It's the Weasleys. I'd rather not go through 'Hey, you're Harry Potter! I'm your best mate!'"
They then heard the Mother Weasley basically scream "What's the station number?"
Harry and Rishi cupped their ears as the Weasel (as Harry and Rishi called Ron) replied "9 and 3/4 mum!"
Harry rolled their eyes "Do they really think I'm that stupid?"
Rishi shrugged "They think you're muggle-raised so maybe. There are other ways to get on the platform, you know."
Harry looked at him quizzically as Rishi brought him to Mr. Gopal "Can we apparate there?"
Mr. Gopal nodded. He grabbed Harry's left hand as Rishi grabbed Harry's right one. Mrs. Gopal hung on to Rishi's free hand as the group apparated away. Harry fell to his knees and they landed before the train. His eyes widened at the scarlet beauty before him "Woah."
Rishi smirked "Told you it was cool. Nanna showed me pictures."
Mrs. Gopal looked at both boys "I'm going to miss you two."
She turned to Rishi "Keep Harry safe." Turning to Harry, she said "Keep Rishi out of trouble."
Rishi groaned "Amma! Don't worry! I have other plans at Hogwarts."
Mrs. Gopal laughed "Okay. Harry, make sure he doesn't fall asleep reading."
Shrugging, Rishi conceded the point.
Mr. Gopal smiled "We'll see you kid for Christmas. Bye!"
They waved as the kids ran off for the train. As they got on, Harry asked "Do you guys even celebrate Christmas?"
Rishi shook his head "We didn't until you came. Then we decided it wouldn't be fair to make you celebrate all our Hindu holidays without celebrating your holidays."
Harry nodded as they looked throughout the compartments for an empty. Finding one, they levitated their trunks onto the racks as they waited for their friends. They didn't wait long. Neville, Parvati and Padma quickly joined them. Soon, the compartment was filled with discussions of class materials and Quidditch. They were waiting for the train to start when a knock was heard. Curious, Harry turned the door and found a girl standing outside. She had sleek blond hair which went down to the small of her back.
Harry turned the rest of the group and upon seeing no sign of recognition, asked the burning question "Who are you?"
The girl nodded "Daphne Greengrass. I was hoping to sit with you in order to avoid the idiot Nott."
Neville shrugged "Sure."
She sat down and within minutes, was a part of their discussion. They were discussing classes when the girl from Flourish and Blotts appeared "May I join? I'm Hermione Granger. And Harry said I could sit here."
Harry nodded "I did."
She animatedly joined the discussion before the Weasel barged in "Is Harry Potter here?"
Harry looked up from his book "Indeed I am." He then went back to his book.
Ron grinned "Wicked! Can I see the scar?"
Harry looked up once again "No." He again returned to reading.
Ron groaned "Why are you reading? Books are for losers!"
Harry looked up at him, his emerald eyes showing no sign of kindness "Then I guess I'm a loser. I like reading. Now, could you please leave? You're disturbing me."
Ron sputtered "But, but I'm your best mate! We're going to be in Gryffindor together!"
Harry laughed "You, my best friend. I barely know you and what I do know makes me despise you. Also, if you're in Gryffindor, I definitely won't go there. Please leave."
Ron turned red and ran out to Rishi's laughter "Oh god, that was beautiful."
The rest of the ride was filled with the laughter of children until another visitor came by: a pale boy who came with 2 other boys
"Daphne" the pale boy nodded "Are you going to introduce me?"
Daphne smirked "This is Draco Malfoy and his two henchmen, Gregory Goyle and Vincent Crabbe. Draco, this is Harry Potter, Rishi Gopal, Parvati Patil, Padma Patil, Neville Longbottom and Hermione Granger."
Draco fixed his eyes on Harry "Is it true that you and Weasley are best friends and are going to destroy all the slimy snakes as Weasley put it?"
Harry shrugged "I hate Weasley and have nothing against snakes."
Draco smirked "That's nice to know. See you around Potter." He and his henchman then strode out of the compartment.
Daphne rolled her eyes "Draco's not so bad. He's just a bit stiff."
Parvati laughed "I could tell."
They continued chatting until the train rolled to the stop. The group then came out of the train and into Hogsmeade Station. They then heard the call "First years over here! First years over here! Get into the boats please. 4 to each boat!"
This also marked the return of Ron, who slid next to Harry and asked "Wanna share a boat?"
Harry glared at him "No."
He then hopped into a boat with Rishi, Neville and Draco quick to join.
Ron steamed at this "Why are you hanging around with Junior Death Eaters?"
Rishi laughed "Why are you being a prat? These kinds of questions can never be answered!"
Ron stomped off to another boat but found no one interested in joining him since they were smart.
Harry looked at the lack of paddles "I guess magic will move us."
With that the boat began moving and Harry smirked "Right again."
As the boats moved into a turn, the man, who Harry learned was named Hagrid, yelled "You'll see Hogwarts about now."
Harry looked and his eyes filled with wonder. Neville summed it all for them with a "Woah."
Finally, the boats stopped (which was good news since Rishi was looking a little green). The kids got off as a woman who Harry assumed was a professor appeared "Hello Hagrid. I will take them from here."
Hagrid nodded and set off. The woman led the students through the castle as they gaped at it. They finally arrived before a pair of huge doors. The lady paused and turned to them "I am Professor McGonnagall. Welcome to Hogwarts. The first step in this new journey is to be sorted into your houses. Your houses will be your family at Hogwarts. Any good behavior will earn you house points and misbehavior will lose them. The house with the most points win the house cup. Now then, I will alert them of your readiness."
McGonnagall left as the group burst into chatter. Harry overheard Ron talking about fighting a troll for a test. Harry quietly chuckled and whispered to Rishi "Is it wrong to cheer for the troll."
Rishi shook his head "I'd be worried if you weren't."
The doors opened as McGonnagall gestured for them to enter "When I read your name, go to the stool and place the hat on your head. It will tell you your house. You will then join your new house."
McGonnagall picked up a scroll and began the ceremony with "Abbott, Hannah."
A table decked out in yellow cheered.
Susan quickly went over to Hannah.
The blue table cheered and clapped with some shaking Terry's hand.
The green table cheered.
The red table exploded into cheers with some dancing.
Harry zoned out and only snapped back into reality when McGonnagall said "Gopal, Rishi."
The hat was placed on Rishi's head.
"Why hello Rishi" the hat said cheerfully.
"Hello" Rishi said "How does it go?"
"Good" was the response "Though I question whether some of these kids took a shower. Let's see here."
The hat was silent for some time then finally said "You're brave, that's for sure. And loyal to whom you care about. And there's definitely a cunning side to you. And that thirst for knowledge."
After 6 minutes of waiting, Terry looked at one of his older housemates "Is this normal?"
He got a head-shake in response "This is a hatstall, where the hat has a tough time deciding."
The hat gave Rishi a smile "You're definitely a special one. Ravenclaw or Slytherin. And unlike some, your friends haven't been sorted."
Rishi shrugged "Hey, this is your job. You know best."
The hat smirked "That helped. RAVENCLAW!"
Rishi took the hat off and walked over to his table and was greeted with handshakes and cheers."
The hat was placed on Hermione's hea. Quickly, the hat decided "Ravenclaw!" (AN: I should explain. In the actual story, it was Ravenclaw or Gryffindor for Hermione. What influenced it was her perception of Gryffindor. In this story, Ron greatly diminishes her respect for Gryffindor so she ends up in Ravenclaw).
Hermione walked over to Rishi and sat with him.
Daphne strode over, and was quickly put into Slytherin. Harry zoned out again until Neville, who was put into Gryffindor. He talked to the Patilt twins until they went up. Parvati went into Gryffindor while Padma joined Rishi and Hermione in Ravenclaw. Finally, it was Harry's turn.
Harry strode to the hat with whispers filling the hall. Albus finally got a good look at him. He wasn't as malnourished as he expected nor as timid. He definitely cared for by someone.
Harry placed the hat on its head and awaited a decision.
The hat smiled "You remind me of your friend, Rishi. He was split to, between Slytherin and Ravenclaw. Which for you though?"
Harry waited and the hat spoke again "You want to be with your friend, I see. Well then, RAVENCLAW!"
Ravenclaw erupted into cheers as Harry walked over and sat next to Rishi with Hermione sliding over.
Albus glared at the hat. Harry was supposed to go into the Gryffindor! Clearly, the Weasley didn't do his job right. Harry was supposed to be told of Gryffindor's greatness and Slytherin's evil. Now, he had to hope that Weasley ended up with Harry, though he knew that wouldn't happen.
Malfoy was called up soon was put with Daphne in Slytherin. Harry watched the rest of the sorting, hoping and praying that the Weasel wouldn't be a Ravenclaw. Thankfully, the Gryffindor propagandist joined Gryffindor. And with Blaise Zabini joining Slytherin, the sorting ended.
Albus Dumbledore had gotten to his feet. He was beaming at the students, his arms opened wide, as if nothing could have pleased him more than to see them all there (though he would be happier if Harry was a Gryffindor).
"Welcome," he said. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!
Harry chuckled. "Definitely mad" he told Rishi.
Rishi laughed "No doubt."
With that, Harry's first year at Hogwarts began.