The car ride was fun at first. They checked on the train every once in awhile to make sure they were going in the right direction. It was like an amazing new world, the car's wheels skimmed the clouds and they rode along in the blazing sunlight under a seemingly endless blue sky. There were toffees in the glove box which they ate happily as they chatted about how cool this was and laughed at how jealous Fred and George would be when they made their grand landing on the Hogwarts grounds. For a little while Ron drove one handed so that the two of them could hold hands. They also discussed Lockhart
"Bet he's gonna be an awful teacher." Harry commented, popping another toffee in his mouth as he ran his thumb over the back of Ron's hand
"He's full of himself." Ron replied, rolling his eyes "Setting us all his own books, what a prat."
After a few hours things started to get uncomfortable. It was hot, they stopped holding hands and tugged off their jackets but Harry's shirt was still sticking to him and his glasses kept slipping down his sweaty nose. The toffees had made them thirsty but they had nothing to drink and even the fantastic cloud shapes Harry had noticed when they'd firs gotten into the sky were losing their fun. Harry thought longingly of the cool train miles below them. Hermione was there and they could buy pumpkin juice from the nice witch who pushed a trolley full of sweets and drinks. Why oh why hadn't they been able to get through the barrier.
We've got to be nearly there. Ron thought after yet more uncomfortable hours his throat was dry with thirst so he hadn't bothered speaking out loud since their conversation about Lockhart. The sun had started to set now and they dipped below the clouds for another check on the train, it was still right below them. As Ron drove them upwards again the car's engine started to whine
Probably just tired...it's never been this far before..Ron thought nervously
The boys tried to ignore the whining becoming louder as night really fell and stars began to dot the black sky in front of them. Harry pulled his jacket back on. The cars windshield wipers had started to wave feebly of their own accord as if the car was protesting. The boys once again tried to ignore this although each could feel the growing anxiety radiating from the other.
"Not far now.." Ron whispered, more to the car than Harry as he patted the dashboard nervously.
"Look there!" Shouted Harry hoarsely. With great relief they saw the huge for of Hogwarts castle rising in front of them. The car however was nearing breaking point, the engine groaned louder than ever and steam had started to issue from under the hood. Harry gripped the edges of his seat as Ron steered them towards the lake
As they flew over the lake, Harry looked down at the glassy water below them and the car wobbled
"Come on come on.." Ron said, gripping the steering wheel so hard that his knuckles had gone white.
The car wobbled again, they were over the lake now, the castle was just ahead and Ron put his foot down. The engine gave a clunk and a sputter, and then it died altogether. The two boys stared at each other.
"Uh-oh..." They muttered together. Then they started to fall, gathering speed, heading right towards the castle wall.
"NO!" Ron yelled and spun the steering wheel they missed the castle wall by inches, they were soaring over the greenhouses and the vegetable patches and the black lawn all the time losing altitude. Ron lost his head, he let go of the steering wheel and grabbed his wand out of his back pocket
"Stop! Stop!" He yelled, whacking the dashboard, but they continued to fall
"LOOK OUT FOR THAT TREE!" Harry screamed suddenly, making a desperate grab for the steering wheel but it was too late they crashed into the thick trunk of the tree with an ear splitting crunch and crashed to the ground.
The engine was still steaming Hedwig was screeching, Harry's head was pounding because he'd it it against the windshield during the crash. Ron groaned next to him
"Are you alright?" Harry asked quickly
"My wand.." Ron muttered. He held it up for Harry to see. It had snapped almost clean in two the end hanging on only by a few splinters. Harry was about to tell him that he was sure that someone up at the school could fix it when something hit his side of the car like a charging bull, he tumbled sideways bumping into Ron
"What the.." Harry started, but Ron was staring through the windshield Harry followed his gaze to see a huge tree limb smash into the windshield. The tree they had hit was hitting them back! It's huge branches were pounding at every bit of the car it could reach.
"Run for it!" Ron said, pushing against his door but next second he had toppled into Harry's lap, knocked back by a vicious hit to his side of the car from another branch.
"We're dead." He whined as the roof sagged under the tree's heavy blows but next second they felt the floor of the car begin to vibrate. The engine had come back to life
"DRIVE!" Harry yelled as Ron scrambled out of his lap and back into the drivers seat. He flipped the car into reverse and floored it. The car sped backwards and out of the tree's reach. Harry looked back and saw that the mad tree was still trying to hit them, it's roots creaked as it nearly pulled itself out of the ground trying to get to them.
Ron stopped the car once he was sure they were safe "That was close!" He panted "Well done, car."
The car, however, had had enough. The doors clunked open and Harry felt his seat tip sideways and next second he was sprawled out on the grass. The car had thrown him out. He heard a few loud thuds that surely meant their trunks had been ejected from the trunk. Hedwig and Scabbers were tossed out of the back seat, Hedwig's cage burst open and she screeched angrily and soared towards the castle without a backwards glance.
The car disappeared into the forbidden forest, still steaming, it's rear lights blazing angrily back at them.
"Dad's gonna kill us." Ron groaned, watching it go.
He then bent down to pick up Scabbers' cage "Of all the rotten luck we had to hit the one tree that'll hit back!" he said, examining the his pet through the bars
"We'd better get up to the school."
They grabbed the handles of their trunks and began to drag them up to the castle. This was hardly the spectacular entrance they had imagined. Harry was sore and tired, all he wanted to do now was find Hermione, eat and then curl up in bed and sleep for a year.
"Feasts' probably started already." Ron commented, he then beckoned Harry over to a brightly lit window "Look! The sorting!"
They were looking for Ginny but couldn't really spot her Harry looked at the staff table and noted that Snape was missing they spent a few moments wondering where he could be (Was he sick, had he left, had he been fired?) Only to find out that he was right behind them. Uh-Oh..
They were dragged to Snape's office where they found out that they'd been seen. Snape had fetched McGonagall and Dumbledore. Miraculously though they weren't expelled although they each got a detention and Dumbledore told them he'd be writing to the Weasleys about the situation. Harry and Ron looked at each other, wide eyed, they were going to be in so much trouble. However it was better than they could have expected after reporting that Ginny had been sorted into Gryffindor Professor McGonagall left them alone with a plate of sandwiches and a jug of pumpkin juice telling them to eat and then return to Gryffindor tower.
All in all this hadn't been a great way to start the year...