The door swings open to reveal a tall, thickset man. He is bald, and his dark grey eyes survey the new students critically. His ears stick out in what would be a comical way, if he had not been so intimidating. His beer belly hangs slightly over his belt, yet he has strong, muscular arms.
“The firs’ years, Professor Dermot,” says Hagrid. Professor Dermot nods, studying each face carefully with a calculating expression.
“Thank you. I’ll take them from here.” Hagrid walks off into the darkness, leaving us, the first years, and Professor Dermot standing in the doorway of the castle. Professor Dermot stands aside, and sweeps a thick hand through the doorway, gesturing for us to walk inside. We did so hesitantly, and congregate a few feet away from the door, gazing around at our new surroundings.
The Entrance Hall is huge — I hear Jason let out a low whistle as we look up at the ceiling, which is almost too high to make out. A grand, sweeping marble staircase is opposite me, probably leading to the upper levels. We follow Professor Dermot across the flagged stone floor to a little chamber. I can hear the buzz of hundreds of voices next door.
“Welcome to Hogwarts,” says Professor Dermot in a bored voice. He has a thick Northern Irish accent. “The start-of-term banquet will begin in a few short moments, but you must first be sorted into your houses. This is very important because your house will become like your family whilst you are here at Hogwarts. There are four houses-” I know all this already, and I feel my attention waver. I can tell that Professor Dermot’s done this several times before because of the monotone of his voice. Finally, Dermot finishes his speech, and leaves the room, shouting over his shoulder that we should smarten ourselves up before the Sorting Ceremony. I gulp as we are left alone to wait.
Jason turns to me, a panicked look on his face.
“How do they sort us? D-do they expect us to do magic? I haven’t learnt anything!”
“Don’t worry, it’s nothing like that,” I say weakly. I’d tell him about the Sorting Hat, but I feel too ill. Suddenly rather worried about appearing in front of the entire school, I turn my hair a modest dark brown, and try to straighten my robes a little more, even though they are perfectly straight already. After a few of the longest minutes I’ve ever experienced, Professor Dermot returned through the door and ordered us to get into a line. We did so — I went behind Jason, and, unfortunately, Corrine was behind me.
“I’m so excited, aren’t you?” she whispered in my ear enthusiastically.
“Uh-huh,” I whisper meekly back, wanting more than ever to run away and hide.
Professor Dermot leads us into the Great Hall. If I thought the Entrance Hall was big, it’s nothing compared to this. It’s so vast that I have to hold in an awed gasp. All the other students are sitting at four long tables; their faces all seem to blur into one huge pink mass. Above the tables, hundreds and hundreds of candles float magically in the air, lighting up the magnificent room. I remember the stories about Hogwarts that I’ve always been told, and look eagerly up at the enchanted ceiling, where the thick clouds and glittering stars can be seen. I can barely believe that the ceiling is there at all. We reach the end of the hall, where there is another table, higher than the rest, where the staff sits. We move out of the line, and form more of a group, standing on tiptoes to see what’s happening.
Professor Dermot places a four-legged stool in front of the High table, and on it places the very old and battered Sorting Hat. It has lots of patches, and looks rather burnt in places. I vaguely remember Harry saying that Voldemort set it on fire once, but I’m too nervous to care. The hat opened at a rip near the brim like a mouth, and the hat began to sing:
Oh, I’ve been through a lot, poor old me,
But there’s nothing in your head I can’t see,
So pop me on and I will tell you,
Where you ought to be,
Maybe you should be a Gryffindor,
Brave and proud and daring,
Always there, and always caring.
Or possibly in Hufflepuff,
Loyal, trusting and kind,
Those ‘Puffs are sure to have a thoughtful mind;
Or you might belong in Ravenclaw,
With a keen and ready mind,
Your friends in there are sure to be the clever kind;
Perhaps you’re a Slytherin,
Ambitious, cunning and sly,
With ideas like yours, you’re bound to fly high.
So perch me atop your head,
And don’t worry!
You’re going to get sorted now,
If you run off, you’ll be sorry!
The hall erupts in applause as the hat bows to the students, and then closes once again at the brim. Dermot unrolls a piece of mottled yellow parchment, and in a loud, booming voice, begins to read.
A short, stocky boy with a buzz cut saunters over to the stool. When Dermot places the hat upon his head, I see him bite his lip. It takes a long time to decide.
I feel even sicker. What if the hat puts me in Slytherin? I either want to be in Hufflepuff, like my mum, or Gryffindor like my dad… or Ravenclaw, I wouldn’t mind that so much.
Okay then, so any house but Slytherin.
“Oi,” hisses Jason in my ear as “Abhay, Ravinda,” is sorted into Ravenclaw, “d’you think we’ll be in the same house?”
I shrug helplessly.
“Cadfan, Charles,” calls Dermot, and a weedy little boy with long, floppy blonde hair shakily shuffles over to the stool.
“RAVENCLAW!” screams the hat. Ricky Ewan and Ancantha Floyd get sorted into Hufflepuff and Slytherin respectively, and I am feeling sicker by the second.
“Good luck,” I whisper hurriedly as he walks off. He seems very confident, but there is seriousness to his face that was not there on the train ride.
The hat has barely touched his head when it yells “Gryffindor”, and Jason’s face breaks into a relieved smile. I see him go down to the Gryffindor table, and my insides seem to clench horribly. I don’t feel brave at all, so it looks like I’m not going to be in the same house as him…
Feeling like throwing up, I close my eyes and listen to the sounds of Edith Gunner and Alfie Hague both get sorted into Gryffindor (Jason seems to have set off a trend) and then I seem to blank out, and hear nothing, but the faint sounds of applause and the distant sound of the hat.
Years seem to pass, and then I hear:
“L…” Dermot’s voice falters slightly, but he soon regains his composure. “Lupin, Ted!” To my surprise, there is a cold edge to Dermot’s voice, and as I walk up (stumbling) I can feel him gazing at me with… hatred?
There are faint whispers from the students as I sit, trembling, on the stool.
The hat is placed upon my head.
Ah, Ted Lupin. Yes, yes, I remember Sorting your parents. Your father was easy — incredibly brave man at heart, though your mother was rather more difficult to place. You look quite difficult too…
Please don’t put me in Slytherin — I’ll go in any house, but Slytherin…I think desperately.
Oh, don’t worry… you’re not sly or cunning enough to be put in Slytherin. I am rather insulted by this, and I immediately tell the hat so (through thought, of course). The hat gives a small chuckle.
Hmm… you are very brave… Gryffindor, perhaps? Maybe, maybe… you’re kind and loyal… that’s surely Hufflepuff, and yet… you have determination, boy…
“GRYFFINDOR!” I grin as the hall erupts into applause. I bounce down to the Gryffindor table and immediately sit next to Jason, who grins as I turn my hair blue again.
“Wicked! We’re in the same house!”
“Yeah, yeah we are!” I say, and I close my eyes, grinning broadly, relieved.
“Shlea, Corrine!” My eyes snap open as I see that irritating girl skip up to the stool. She perches on it daintily, her hands neatly folded in her lap. She sees me watching her and mistakes my look of dislike for… a look of admiration or something, I suppose. She flashes me a smile and a Lady Diana look before the hat is placed on her head.
“HUFFLEPUFF!” shouts the hat after a long wait. I smile. At least she isn’t in my house.
“Shlea, Mickey!” Corrine’s brother heads up to the Sorting Hat and, to my dismay, he is sorted into Gryffindor. He sits next to me and claps me on the back.
“Hey, we’re in the same house! Shame Corrine couldn’t have joined us, but we can see her in class and stuff, can’t we? Harry Potter was in this house too, so it must be the best,” I grunt in fake agreement while “Wigens, Matthew,” is sorted into Ravenclaw. I can see Jason trying not to laugh as Mickey starts nattering about Harry.
I try to focus on the Sorting. Finally, “Ziv, Albert,” is sorted into Ravenclaw, and Dermot takes the stool and hat away. Up at the head table, an old man stands up.
“Who’s that?” asks Jason.
“Osbert Obando,” I whisper quietly, “the Headmaster.”
Professor Obando is a rather eccentric wizard, with a spindly little beard that reaches to about the center of his chest, and a ridiculously tall wizard hat, that’s bent at the very tip.
“Welcome to another year at Hogwarts for the older students,” he says, “and to the new students welcome for the very first time. Lots of new things have been banned by Mr. Filch this year — for a full list of everything that can be sold at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, please see the list of the banned items on the door of his office.” Everyone laughed. “Also, no student is allowed in the Forbidden Forest, named for obvious reasons, even if they are looking for the fabled Resurrection Stone. I assure you, you will not find it.”
Everyone laughs again, and I find myself warming up to the Headmaster. Nevertheless, my stomach is rumbling rather loudly, and I somewhat wish he’d stop with the corny jokes and let us eat.
“Finally, as you may have already noticed, it has been a long day, and you are all probably very hungry. Therefore, I shall stop my ramblings and allow you to eat.”
The most beautiful food suddenly appears before us, and everyone in the hall gratefully tucks in.
A/N Kevin the review box: Thank you all for the lovely reviews you have written on me. I really do like being written on, you know. My friend Evie apologises for not responding to them, but she has been VERY busy lately, and you have written a lot. ;) But don't stop there! She will get round to them all! :D
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