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    Chapter Three

    The Sorting Hat

     

    The long train ride finally came to a halt. The sky dark sky had turned a navy shade of blue, and smoke was beginning to fill the air. Albus, Rose, and Hugo clung to each other as the students for Hogwarts began pouring out of the train.

    Over the cacophonic voices of all of the people, a rather deep, loud voice was bellowing.

    ‘First years, this way! Form a huddle!’

    Suddenly, a chunk of the students split and followed the man (who seemed to be at least a meter or two taller than everyone), picking up Albus, Rose, and Hugo with them. They were led to a littoral, where they split up onto boats.

    The only source of light was the lantern of which the man that met them there had raised in his arm, which was unfortunately only enough to illuminate the area around him for a few meters.

    From a distance, and undoubtedly from up close, Hogwarts was beautiful. It was lined with turrets and towers, and the windows shined bright yellow from the inside.

    Although he was far away, and shivering from the cold at that, Albus could feel the warmth surrounding him from the castle. The fact that it was built around a lake that looked so dark in the night it was similar to a black void, made it even more magical than it possibly could have been. On the whole, the genuine landscape in the area was to marvel at, and, let alone the lake, there were mountains and forests, which all contributed to the fascinating illusion of Hogwarts.

    They were dropped off at the other end of the bay, to the gates of the building.

    ‘Thank you, Hagrid, I’ll take care of them from here.’ A woman, who was wearing emerald green robes, and had her hair packed tightly into a bun, said.

    The man waddled off into the distance, leaving the, rather frightened group of First-Years in her presence.

    Without a word of greeting, nor of welcome, she led them down a muddy path, which, inevitably entered the castle.

    She stopped her stride in front of a pair of large, wooden doors. Her face was wrinkled, her lips ever so slightly pursed, and her robe falling just below her feet.

    ‘Hello everybody. My name is Professor McGonagall, and I am the Headmaster of this school. Before we enter the Great Hall for the Sorting Ceremony-‘

    The Sorting Ceremony? Albus hadn’t heard of such a thing, though it would have been only silly to assume that he would learn his house the moment he got there, otherwise it wouldn’t have been that important to him. He turned to Rose and Hugo, who had the same expressions on their faces.

    ‘Sorting Ceremony?’ Hugo mouthed; his face troubled.

    Albus shrugged.

    ‘Hogwarts is split up into four houses: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. Each house is known for the traits it possesses. In a moment, I shall take you through these doors, to where the rest of the school is sat, waiting for the start of year feast to commence, as well as for the Sorting Ceremony.’

    Then, a gush of tension and pressure cascaded through him. In front of the whole school? Not only did he have to go through the process of the ceremony, he had to do it in front of the whole school, which was undoubtedly a number of students in the thousands.

    ‘Once I open these doors, you are to follow me up to the platform, where the ceremony is to begin.

    The group of students, which all mirrored the exact look on Albus’ face; confusion and panic- nodded their heads.

    Then, the doors flung open and they entered the Great Hall.

    If possible, it was more stunning than it had seemed on the outside. The stained windows were reflecting the moonlight, the walls were bordered with flaming torches, but on top of all, the most enchanting aspect of it all was the ceiling. As it was rumored, it had been ‘bewitched’ to replicate the sky above, which, in this case, displayed a gloomy sky, dotted with grey clouds.

    Albus, Rose, and Hugo stayed as close together as they could, whilst they felt hundreds of pairs of eyes follow them down the path to the front.

    Though, the eyes that were staring at him weren’t Albus’ only concern. He still had the Sorting Ceremony to go through, and he didn’t quite understand what to expect. He searched frantically for James among the students that were seated but failed because of the fact that Professor McGonagall had stopped walking and had instead pulled out a scroll of parchment, a stool, and what looked like a very battered and greying hat.

    ‘Greetings to all the students.’ She began. ‘I would like to welcome you to another year at Hogwarts, which will bring new friends, classes, and Professors. Now, before you all begin on the start of year feast, the Sorting Ceremony for the new students is to occur.’

    She cracked a smile down at the group.

    Then, silence lingered in the air of the hall. And as the tension grew by the second, the most unexpected thing happened; the Sorting Hat broke into song.

    -… This new year before us has come.

    Bringing learning, adventures, and much fun.

    And we all have nothing to shun,

    For once all is said and done,

    This year will not even have begun.

     

    Gryffindor, of braveness and courageousness,

    Ravenclaw, of wit and wisdom,

    Hufflepuff, of kindness and hearts of a kingdom,

    Slytherin, of pride and ambition… -

     

    The Great Hall broke into applause. Albus exchanged looks with Hugo and Rose, both of whom seemed as bewildered and puzzled as he did. (Along with the rest of the First-Years)

     

    ‘Right, starting off, we have Lucy Adromedon, please walk up to the stage.’

    A frightened young girl walked towards Professor McGonagall; her hands folded together nervously.

    She walked up to the stage, and when the hat was placed on her head it dipped just below her eyes.

    ‘Ravenclaw!’

    A group of the students in the Great Hall rose in applause, as Lucy went over to sit down at the table.

    After that, came Madeline Lawyson, a rather chubby girl whose eyes were sunken and grey. When she sat down on the stool, she didn’t turn away from staring at her feet. 

    After she was announced a Hufflepuff, Arthur Paxton was called.

    ‘-Slytherin!’

    ‘Weasley, Hugo.’ The Headmistress said, peering at the parchment through her spectacles.

    He felt the hall go silent. His legs tremble as he walked up to the platform. Although, on a brighter note, he, along with Albus and Rose, had been delighted to find out that the Sorting Ceremony wasn’t as frightening as they had assumed it to be-and instead was just the procedure of the hat being placed on your head until it selected a house for you to be in. But that fact still didn’t stop him from being rather flustered at having to do it in front of the whole school. 

    The Sorting Hat fell a mere few centimeters over Hugo’s eyes once he sat down on the stool. And it seemed as if luck as on his side because, unlike it was for some other students, the Sorting Hat barely even took a moment to decide what house to put Hugo in, before bellowing ‘Gryffindor!”

    A rather pleasant feeling of ecstasy, as well as the burden off of his shoulders, gushed through Hugo as the Hat was lifted off his head and he approached the Gryffindor table (which had risen in cheers).

    Then, finally, after what had seemed like an eternity of waiting, Albus’ name was called out, and, it seemed as if he was a topic of interest, because once hiss name was declared by Professor McGonagall, it indeed seemed as if some of the teachers leaned forward for a better a look, and the students fell quieter than they had for the other First-Years when they were about to get sorted. Nonetheless, having seen Hugo walk up to the stage prior, it was much easier for him to feel relaxed. After all, what were the chances of him becoming a Slytherin?

    Albus found his legs carrying him to the stage. The piercing eyes of the rest of his peers pinching his back. He sat down on the stool. The moment of truth.

    Then came the worst. Unlike it had been for many of the other students, Albus found that the Sorting Hat was taking a considerable amount of time to find him a house. Another thing, however, that he found as he was sitting on that platform, was that perhaps it wasn’t as easy for the Sorting Hat to select a house for him. Though, it should have been evident that something that would affect the rest of his ‘career’ at Hogwarts was going to be a decision that was going to take some more responsibility than to give one of a bewitched hat. (That had rather an attitude at that.)

    Then his mind went blank.

    For a few moments, all he could hear was the deafening silence that rang in his ears, and, undoubtedly inside Rose and Hugo’s too.

    Gryffindor!’

    With those words, the weight upon Albus’ shoulders lifted. The burden that had been bothering him ever since the beginning of Summer had finally gone, and in the best way possible, at that. Albus felt an overwhelming, yet comfortable feeling of fleeting happiness as he took off the hat and strode to the Gryffindor table.

    The crowd arose in cheers. Albus managed to single out Rose and Hugo, who were also seated there waiting for him, out of the mob of cheering students. They were smiling.

    As a matter of fact, even Professor McGonagall, along with the man who had led them from Hogsmeade station and across the river were smiling.

    Fighting the grin on her face, the Headmistress walked back up to the podium.

    ‘Now that the sorting has been completed, behold, the anticipated, Start of Year Feast!’

    As she said those words, plates, goblets, and cutlery began filling the tables, and it all had happened in the blink of an eye. Lavishing smells filled the air. And dishes that Albus, Rose, and Hugo could have only imagined were spawning themselves aloft the tables. Truly, it was palatial and glorious and was nothing but appealing to the students who lucky enough to be in its presence.

    It was just sort of two hours later that all of the students were instructed to go to their dormitories. Gryffindor’s Head Boy, George Shelton, had led them up to the Gryffindor common room, and, as Albus had picked up from other students, the place immediately felt like home.

    ‘Just to recap,’ He begun, ‘The boys’ dormitories are to the left of the staircase and the girls’ are on the right.’

     

    George pointed out two separate winding staircases, followed by Albus and Hugo, who had proceeded to run up to their dormitory in order to capture the top bunk; they were very soon later accompanied by the rest of the students.

     

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