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"GRYFFINDOR!" shouted the hat to it's excited audience. I carefully put the hat back down and walk over to the Gryffindor table, sitting between Hermione Granger and a girl named Lavender Brown.

"SLYTHERIN!" yelled the hat at the next moment, for a boy named Blaise Zabini. Professor McGonagall took away the hat.

Just then, a tall man with a long white beard, who I could only guess was the headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, stood up. "Welcome! Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you!"

He sat down, and everyone cheered. I felt slightly amused, but was also aware that everyone else looked perfectly solemn, so I just said to Hermione, "That's our headmaster, right?"

"Yes. He's brilliant-" She started, and I thought she was about to ramble off about him, which I wouldn't really have minded, but instead she took a large bite of roast chicken.

With a start, I realized that the plates in front of me were filled with the most delicious things: roast beef, boiled potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, lamb chops, roast chicken, pork chops, treacle tart, and so much more! I started eating. It was all wonderful.

"So, when did you find out you were a witch?" I asked Hermione, curious about whether everyone got a surprise letter, or if they just knew.

"Well, no one in my family is magical, so it was a great surprise when I got the letter! I'm ever so excited of course, I've heard it's the best school of magic!" She replied. "What about you?"

"No one in my family's magical either- at least, I don't think so, and at first I thought this was all a prank!" I laughed, remembering my annoyance at the letter.

Hermione smiled, but then she furrowed her eyebrows. "Are you sure that no one in your family-"

Just at that moment though, a boy down the table asked her to pass the carrots, and when she turned back around, she said "Have you tried the carrots? They're very good, at least, I think so. I normally don't like steamed carrots, but these are very sweet and tasty, I wonder if they used a caramelizing method of cooking..."

"Yeah, they're pretty good." I agreed, slightly puzzled over this sudden change in conversation.

Only when Hermione started talking to Percy Weasley about lessons did I wonder about what she had been going to say. My family? How would she know my family?

My thoughts were interrupted by a "Hey, Arina!". I turned to see an older boy with blonde hair and bright blue eyes exactly like Katie's. "Katie told me you'd be here."

"Michael?" I wondered. Of course, Katie's brother!

"Long time no see! Great that you've got into Gryffindor- best of them all. You should probably write to Katie tonight, by the way. She'll bite your head off by tomorrow if you haven't." He grinned.

I laughed. "Yeah, I will."

"Well, see you around. We've got more classes this year though, studying for N.E.W.T.S., we have them this year, you know. Highest exams, they decide your career."

"See you." I replied, thinking How funny: newts! What a strange exam name.

Michael continued to talk with a boy next to him, and I ate some treacle tart, wondering about what Hogwarts life would be like. One thing I knew: Hogwarts had good cooks.

The things I didn't know? Too many to count.


That night, lying on my four-poster bed in my dorm room that I shared with Hermione, Lavender Brown, Parvati Patil, and Rosalyn Schwartz, I thought over the day. It hadn't been too bad, no one had expected me to spew out magic like I had done it all my life. The one thing that stuck in my mind was Professor Dumbledore's warning after the feast: Don't go into the third floor corridor unless you "wish to die a very painful death".

What could be in that corridor? And death?

But after I puzzled over this, I finally dropped off, deciding that I would have to think on it tomorrow. I had a strange dream that night.

The Sorting Hat started hopping about, singing "I know a secret, wouldn't you like to know it?" Then Hermione joined in, kicking out her feet and singing the same words smugly. My father came into the picture, too, holding a letter and saying "You'll have to wait and find out.", very calmly. Then, Katie came into the picture. She screamed "You didn't write me a letter!", which was true, I realized. And at the very end, a woman who looked exactly like me said "I'm your mother, Arina. I'm sorry I left you. I'll try to come back soon."

Then everyone chanted "Soon! Soon! Soon!", and then Katie did her special imitation of an evil laugh, showing off a ring on her finger. "The secret's in the ring!" She whispered gleefully.

I woke up suddenly, thinking The ring. The one from Gringotts. I didn't know why, but for some reason, I had to see it. Even dreams as crazy as that one could have shreds of truth.

When I got home that night after going to Diagon Alley, I put the ring in my special pouch. The one that my parents gave me. It seemed very important. I was sure I had put it in my trunk, at the bottom, and I rummaged around in it. It was dark, and I didn't want to wake my dormmates. Finally, my hands closed around a small silk case. I pulled the string to open it, and stuck my hand inside.

It was empty.

Except for a tiny scrap of paper. It was warm, as if it was hot off the press. As I unfolded it, it grew hotter and hotter, and I had to use the corner of my pajama top to finish, when it got too warm to hold.

When I finally opened it to reveal the message inside-

I screamed.

Ooh, what is it? Sorry I had to leave you hanging there, but I couldn't help it. It was just the right spot! I know this was a really short chapter, but I just wanted to stop there. So? Were you surprised by the house choice? Please let me know in the reviews, as well as what you think is going on with the scrap of paper! Thanks for reading! Sorry it's been so long!

- Lumione :D

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