From the moment Harry first stepped onto a packed platform nine and three-quarters and spied the Hogwarts Express, we knew we were in for a trip. Some of the most important relationships in the wizarding world began aboard that magical scarlet steam train. Here are some of our favourite moments.
Basically, that first journey to Hogwarts set the tone for the rest of Harry’s school career. Hermione referenced three books within seconds of meeting him. Neville showed up, in tears, looking for something. A sneering Malfoy barged in, accompanied by Crabbe and Goyle, throwing insults around. Harry even got his first proper look at Dumbledore, via the medium of a Chocolate Frog card – at least, until Dumbledore wondered out of the frame and left Harry bewildered.
But arguably it was his initial meeting with Ron that really sealed his fate. The two got on instantly, cementing their bond with a selection of the Trolley Witch’s sweets and a run-in with Malfoy. And that friendship also gave Harry something he’d never really experi-enced before: a sense of family. So when Ron’s (apparent) rat Scabbers bit Goyle’s finger, it was just the icing on the Cauldron Cake.
Harry’s second outbound journey on the Hogwarts Express was just as eventful, if less enjoyable, thanks to some unwanted passengers. This was when Harry first came face-to-almost-face with a Dementor, which stirred up some feelings...
His intense reaction to the Dementors was certainly not pleasant, but it also gave Harry some insight into the night his parents died – something that would haunt him for the rest of the school year. Still, there was another pretty memorable moment on that journey to Hogwarts, as it was also the day Harry met Lupin. Plus, we learnt the appropriate remedy for fighting down a Dementor: chocolate. Good to know.
For many of us, Luna Lovegood made such a lasting impression it’s hard to believe we didn’t meet her until Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, when, once again, it was the Hogwarts Express that delivered her into our lives.
There are surely parts of that train journey Harry himself would prefer not to remember – greeting Cho whilst covered in Stinksap from Neville’s Mimbulus mimbletonia, listening to Malfoy goad him about not being a prefect – but who could possibly forget that first view of Luna, staring unashamedly over the top of her upside-down copy of The Quibbler, necklace of Butterbeer corks bouncing? Talk about making an impression.
At this point it’s safe to say every trip to Hogwarts was pretty eventful for Harry (and we haven’t even discussed the flying Ford Anglia), but the one that would become his last was perhaps the most action-packed of all.
It started with an invitation to join Professor Slughorn’s bizarrely exclusive Slug Club, which somehow led to an Invisibility Cloak-clad Harry spying on Malfoy from atop a luggage rack, and ended with him on the carriage floor, sporting a broken nose and being unable to move or speak, thanks to a sneaky spell from Malfoy.
Harry could not move a muscle. He lay there beneath the Invisibility Cloak feeling the blood from his nose flow, hot and wet, over his face, listening to the voices and footsteps in the corridor beyond. His immediate thought was that someone, surely, would check the compartments before the train departed again? But at once came the dispiriting realisation that even if somebody looked into the compartment, he would be neither seen nor heard. His best hope was that somebody else would walk in and step on him.
All pretty full-on, yes, but let’s not forget that this was also when we first heard about Ginny’s infamous Bat-Bogey Hex, a spell so brilliant it earned her Slughorn’s immediate (if unwanted) approval. Now that’s a hex we’d like to learn.
The Hogwarts Express was not only important in Harry’s life – in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child it was also the setting for his son, Albus, to meet the son of Harry’s old enemy, Malfoy. And guess what? Just as Harry and Ron had bonded over the Trolley Witch’s epic sweet selection all those years before, so too did Albus and Scorpius, leading to a friendship that was no less eventful.
That Trolley Witch – she and her Pepper Imps must have helped create a lot of friendships over the years. Still, we suppose there are worse things to bond over.