Chapter 3 – Sorting at Hogwarts
The train lurched to a halt, and the Hogwarts students filed off. People kept looking at Matt and Saige, particularly at the HB and HG badges on their robes. “Why is everyone staring?” Saige finally hissed at Matt and Dante, who were raising eyebrows at a couple of first-years. “It’s like I’ve suddenly joined the circus.” “I know. It feels…odd,” said Matt, trying to block himself from view of a group of third-year girls. “Well, set a good example, you two,” said Dante. “Where did Holly go?” “Here,” said Holly. She had gotten lost among a large crowd that was hustling toward the lake: the first-years. Dante could make out Hagrid’s silhouette against the sunset-streaked horizon; he was doing his yearly duty and ushering first-years to the boats. Each little boat was floating away over the lake one by one. “Do you remember when we were first-years?” said Holly softly, looking at them too. “Yes. We were strange,” said Matt. Saige laughed. “Here’s a carriage,” said Dante, and they all climbed inside and the carriage set off. It was a bumpy ride, and Dante nearly pitched forward out of his seat at the end of it. People were already hurrying to get seats in the Great Hall, so the four of them hustled too. “Bye,” Dante said to the other three when they reached the Gryffindor table. He sat on the edge, as was their tradition, so he could see his friends at all times, in case they wanted to tell him something. After everyone was in, Professor McGonagall led in a long line of about forty first-years, all with varying degrees of anxiety etched upon their faces. Dante looked at the nearest one, a small girl, and saw that she was quaking in her shoes. He remembered that he had been probably twice as nervous during his first-year. He had actually fallen off the stool when the hat was on his head. It had taken a year and a half for everyone to forget about the incident, but he never had. There were too many good times to count, however, that made up for that one. Professor Flitwick hurried forward and handed Professor McGonagall a scroll and set the stool with the Sorting Hat in front of the room. Dante waited patiently for the Hat to begin singing, and it didn’t take long before the Hat ripped at a seam and began to belt out a tune. “Hello. I am the Sorting Hat. So good to meet you here. I’d ask you all to listen up and lend this hat an ear. There are four Houses and I’ll try to list them one by one. Whichever one you’re placed in, I’ll assure you it’s much fun. The Gryffindors are strong and brave and chivalrous and true. The Hufflepuffs, they are good friends. They’ll help you if you’re blue. The Ravenclaws are full of wit. Their assets are their brains. The Slytherins are cunning. They’ll take tears and sweat and pain. So now you know about each House. Attention has been paid. So try me on, I’ll pick your place, so just don’t be afraid!” Applause broke out from every corner of the Great Hall, and Dante noticed that his stomach felt like the Gryffindor lion was trying to escape from it. It had been a long time since his brunch before he had left at eleven. The first first-year, the same small girl that Dante had noticed, was being Sorted into Slytherin. Dante had heard all the rumors about all Slytherins being evil, and even though he knew it wasn’t true, that Saige was as normal as Matt, Holly, or him, he still had to admonish himself not to pity the poor child. The next was a boy in Hufflepuff. He sat near Holly at the Hufflepuff table, and Holly waved at the newcomer cheerfully. He smiled back. The Sorting went by slowly, and Dante began counting the minutes until the plates would fill with food and he would be able to dig in. His stomach now had two lions fighting for territory inside. Finally, McGonagall called out the last name on the list (“Yardman, Joseph!”) and Dumbledore stood to give out the announcements for the year. “Welcome back to another year at Hogwarts, boys and girls,” he said merrily, his eyes twinkling. “Before you dig into your food—” “What food?” asked a boy behind Dante. “—I would like to give out the notices for this year. First of all, Mr. Filch, the ardent caretaker of our school, has extended the list of do’s and don’ts in what we shall call his hallways.” He paused, making Dante sure that he had not originally agreed to saying this. “The list was completed this summer, so make sure to see what it comprises of so you will not find yourself in any unpleasant situations regarding corridor discipline. Secondly, I would like to introduce you to our newest addition to the staff, Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Professor Stephan Loopwore.” There was scattered applause for the man now sitting up at the High Table. He looked like a regular man in all respects, but he had small beady eyes that were nearly completely masked by his shaggy brown hair. Dante clapped slowly, staring. “Next, I would like to say that this year, we will not be holding the Inter-House Quidditch Cup.” Several younger students gaped at him, mouthing wordlessly, but suddenly Dante had a sort of déjà vu. This had happened once before, in his second year at Hogwarts, and maybe it was true that it was happening once again… “This year we will be engaging in a contest of will and strength that takes place every five years. Some of you older students will remember it.” He smiled at the older members of the audience. “This year, we are proud to host the Triwizard Tournament!” The whole Hall cheered. Even those who hadn’t been in attendance for the last one screamed and clapped and made a lot of noise; the entire thing had been publicized in the newspapers every step of the way. There wasn’t a student who didn’t know what the Triwizard Tournament was. “I know it is customary for each participating school to take turns hosting it, but we had some…difficulties locating a different arena for the activities of the tournament,” said Dumbledore. “As it was, we had a tough time finding another school to participate. Durmstrang, unfortunately, has decided to withdraw its competition due to some misfortunes that occurred against their champion last time the Triwizard Tournament was held, so we extended the invitation to the rest of Europe. No one wanted to, however, so we stretched it to include the entire global wizarding community, and we have a third participating school. So come October, the delegations from two different schools will be arriving.” He waved his wand and two flags unfurled from the ceiling above him. One depicted two wands, crossed, with sparks flying out of the ends. It said BEAUXBATONS over the top of the image. The second one was an eagle with its wings spread maybe twenty times the normal wingspan. In its beak were three wands, one each of red, white, and blue. Over the symbol were the words: AMERICAN MAGIC INSTITUTE. The two schools were Beauxbatons and AMI. A/N: Hey, I know, short chappie, but I had to update...Hope you enjoy!

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