The Journey From Platform Nine and Three-Quarters
chapter six of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
After convincing the Dursleys to take him, Harry goes to Kings Cross Station, where he runs into the Weasleys and they help him find Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Then, aboard the Hogwarts Express, he befriends Ron Weasley, meets several other schoolmates, and is introduced to the wizarding world as the train winds its way to Hogwarts.
Harry kept to his room, with his new owl for company. He had decided to call her Hedwig, a name he had found in A History of Magic.
Harry’s mouth went rather dry. What on earth was he going to do? … According to the large clock over the arrivals board, he had ten minutes left to get on the train to Hogwarts and he had no idea how to do it.
“Hello, dear,” she said. “First time at Hogwarts? Ron’s new, too.”
(by Drew Graham)
“Oh, are you a prefect, Percy?” said one of the twins, with an air of great surprise. “You should have said something, we had no idea.”
(by Michael Greenholt)
The train began to move. Harry saw the boys’ mother waving and their sister, half laughing, half crying, running to keep up with the train until it gathered too much speed, then she fell back and waved.
It was a nice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all Harry’s pasties, cakes, and candies (the sandwiches lay forgotten).
(by Sheena Kristen Sy)
“Goodness, didn’t you know, I’d have found out everything I could if it was me.”
(by Keith James)
He turned back to Harry. “You’ll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don’t want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there.”
(by Michael Greenholt)
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.
about the chapter
The Wizarding World
After reading about the Weasleys in later books, some of the family’s dialogue here doesn’t make much sense. It’s surely written for the sake of first-time readers who haven’t yet been introduced to the world, but for someone familiar with the later books, it’s odd (and a bit distracting) for Mrs. Weasley to be asking her children to repeat the number of a platform they’ve all visited dozens of times, or for Ron to be reciting a fake spell that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the spells he’s grown up hearing his parents use. For that matter, how can Malfoy identify Ron as a Weasley based on a simplistic description from his father (and why would his father have talked to him about them anyway)? These aren’t mistakes in the writing, but they do require a few narrative backbends to make sense of.
The Boy Who Lived
After years of being forced to “share” his things with Dudley but not being allowed near his cousin’s room himself, it’s fairly remarkable that Harry is so excited about having “anyone to share with.” The Dursleys may be proud of Dudley and embarrassed by Harry, but in ways they would never even think to notice, Harry is turning out to be far more worthy of their pride.
A visit to platforms nine and ten in the real King’s Cross Station reveals, rather undramatically, a scene bearing little resemblance to the one described in this chapter. Rowling admitted in a 2001 interview that this was a mistake – that while she was writing this chapter, she was in fact visualizing Euston Station, another London train depot not far from King’s Cross.
The Final Word
“For me King’s Cross is a very, very romantic place. Probably the most romantic station purely because my parents met there. So that’s always been part of my childhood folklore…. So I wanted Harry to go to Hogwarts by train. I just love trains, I’m a bit nerdy like that, and obviously therefore it had to be King’s Cross.”–J.K. Rowling, 2001