I know I posted this chapter 2 days ago but as the database of hpff crashed I lost everthing so that's why I post it again. Please R/R! A big thanks to my beta reader, Mishty! Title: Dying Young Author: Silmwarwen Nenmacil Chapter: 3/? Lenght: +4,000 words Rating: PG-13/R Warnings: Strong language, violence, kissing Key: bold: stressed words italics: Harry’s thoughts + sorting song “…”: normal speech ‘…’: certain expressions Disclaimer: I don't own anything exept the plot and the sorting song CHAPTER THREE – THE HOGWARTS SORTING CEREMONY SHOCK Sometimes just walking is surreal; I pass right through the nameless ones. I know that hope is unknown. Sometimes the water feels so real as I walk through it, it fills my lungs. My god, I’m drowning. (- A.F.I.) When I stepped into the Hogwarts Express the first thing I noticed were all the people who were staring at me, nudging their neighbours as they saw me approaching and speaking in low voices about things I couldn’t quite comprehend. They didn’t even bother to look away as I glanced back at them. I ignored all of them, lowering my gaze and speeding up a bit. All the sudden attention made me feel highly uncomfortable, as usual. Honestly, after five years you would expect they’d be used to seeing me running around in the train, right? Hermione was calling something after me but I ignored her too. The Creevey brothers tried to ambush me further down the corridor, but I managed to sneak through a gap between their arms while they were gesturing avidly at the camera in Colin’s hand. Some Slytherins were pointing at me when I passed. Near the end of the train I found myself an empty compartment. I slammed the door shut and kicked my trunk in frustration (which I regretted a second or so later as my big toe hurt like mad). Grumbling, I took my wand out of my pocket and levitated my trunk onto one of the baggage racks. That was before I plumped down on the bench and buried my head in my hands. This is going to be such a long year... Images of all gazing people flashed in front of my eyes that I kept pinned on to the palms of my hands. It had been two months since the last time they had posted my name in the papers, right? So why, for god’s sake, were they all looking at me like that? I felt an uncomfortable pang in my stomach when I realised that I had, in fact, not read a single newspaper during the summer holidays. What if something had happened I didn’t know about? Damn! I mentally cursed myself for being such a prat and not asking Hermione (or Ron) anything about the wizarding world at all during my stay at the Leaky Cauldron. “Hello Harry.” I started at a sound so close to my ear. I jerked my head upwards to find Cho standing right in front of me; her long black hair was hanging nonchalantly down her back, and she was leaning slightly against the still open compartment door with her right arm. “Eh... hi Cho,” I said looking up at her. No fluttering in the stomach, no feeling like I had just skipped a step, no catching my breath, no blushing... nothing. She was slightly blushing though. “How were your holidays?” She asked. “I eh...” I gulped. How could she even consider asking that? She bloody well knew Sirius had died! It didn’t at all occur to me that I had asked her the same question last year. I decided to stay polite anyway, in case she would start crying again. “They were OK.” Downright lie, Harry... Downright lie! “And yours?” I added as she remained silent. “Oh, they were fine, Harry. Thank you.” She answered, smiling slightly. “See I-” Actually I had wanted to ask her to bugger off but I fell silent when I saw Draco Malfoy passing with some Slytherins, behind Cho, sneering and glaring at me before pretending to gag. I mentally rolled my eyes. “Why don’t you sit down here?” I asked, changing my mind and gesturing at the place next to me. “Yeah sure, Harry.” Oh god, why did I just ask her to sit with me? Why? This is just great. Maybe that nice friend of her, Marietta, will come to sit here too. That would be fun. Cho’s smile brightened as she sat down next to me and took my hand. Frowning slightly at this gesture I remained silent, silently hoping Marietta wouldn’t stroll in here any time soon. As if she had been reading my mind, Cho suddenly spoke, suddenly looking a lot less cheerful and happy. “Marietta left school. Her parents seemed to think Hogwarts wasn’t exactly a good place for her.” She smiled sadly, “Maybe it’s better this way... I mean; with her getting private lessons and all.” She bit her lip. “Yeah, probably.” I assured her. Cho’s face was so glum that it seemed she would start crying any second now. Oh no, not again! My mind inwardly groaned. After considering for a moment I took my hand from hers and awkwardly slipped my arm around her shoulders and patted her head softly. She was clutching my pullover as if she was afraid I might run away. “It’s okay, Cho. Hogwarts will be fine without her as well, and I’m sure she’ll have a great education at home.” I stroked her jet-black hair gently. Maybe she’ll stop crying sooner if I’m being nice to her, I thought. Please, let her stop crying... Please! “Do you really think so?” She asked in a soft, trembling voice, turning her head a little to face me. Now she definitely is sitting way too close... I had an odd feeling of déjà-vu when I looked at her like this. I swallowed. “Cho, I-” A soft knock on the door hampered me from saying anything more. Cho glared at the intruder. I let out a breath I didn’t realise I had been holding. “Hi Luna.” Luna’s constantly surprised looking eyes travelled over Cho’s so obviously annoyed ones, and my jumper which was slightly askew. “Good morning, Harry,” she said in her most dreamy voice. Cho snorted. “And good morning to you too, Cho,” She added, misinterpreting Cho’s reaction. “Hi Loony. I’m sorry, Luna,” she said chilly. I frowned at her. Was I misreading the situation or did these two really couldn’t get along with each other? “Everywhere else is full,” Luna said by way of explanation, completely ignoring Cho’s comment. I nodded in understanding as Luna sat down opposite me, staring at me with those slightly protruding bright blue eyes. Cho was still clutching my jumper possessively. “How were your holidays, Luna?” I asked to break the awkward silence. “Did you manage to see those crumple-horned snorkaks you went looking for?” “No,” she said in a serene voice, “But father said we’ll go again next year because it was quite a funny vacation. And we still have some money left from your interview.” “That’s nice,” I answered, smiling. Cho was rolling her eyes; it looked as though she wanted to catch my attention. However, I only got more irritated by her, even though she did not seem to notice that. I still wondered why exactly she had come to my compartment, acting as if she wanted to seduce me. She had that Roger Davis bloke, right? I didn’t even feel the lightest tingle of jealousy when this thought occurred to me. “I went to see the Tornados during the summer,” Cho said, snaking her arm around my waist now and pulling me closer. My body stiffened at her closeness but she did not seem to take in. Did that woman really didn’t notice I wasn’t at all enjoying her closeness? “Really?” Luna asked, looking up from a new edition of The Quibbler she had started reading only a few seconds ago. “I heard they are ranked second last. My father always said they had been cheating during the last season.” I couldn’t help but laugh a little at the look of indignation on Cho’s face. When she looked at me, I could see she was highly offended. I profited from this situation by extricating myself from her arms. Sulking, she moved towards the other side of the bench and stuck to window staring outside. As time passed, the silence became heavier. The only sounds that could be heard, except for the voices of the students in nearby compartments, were the soft tapping of rain against the window, and the howling of the wind. Uncomfortable with the situation I got up quickly when the witch with the food trolley passed. I went to the corridor to buy some Cauldron Cakes. Luna and Cho rose as well, following me down the corridor. And it was just when I was about to return to my compartment I came to stand face to face with no-one less then Draco Malfoy and his gang. I should have known... “Had a nice holiday, Potter?” He spat, looking at me like I was a filthy thing on his left shoe. “Or did you miss your little doggy to comfort you when you felt lonely?” Crabbe and Goyle laughed rather stupidly. “Shut up, Malfoy,” I snarled; I felt the cakes in my hand getting crushed in my fury when I started heading towards my compartment again. “What’s the matter, Potter? Don’t you want to be reminded of that? I bet you didn’t even-” I grasped him firmly by the collar of his robes before he could even finish his sentence; my eyes were glittering in pure malice. “Fuck you Malfoy,” I hissed, “At least Sirius wasn’t a convicted Death Eater like your father.” Malfoy was having a hard time trying to breathe due the pressure on his throat, leave alone being capable of saying anything back to me. I paused for a second, still not loosening my grip, and becoming aware of the number of people standing around us, watching the spectacle eagerly. The silver Prefect badge on Malfoy’s chest was standing out in sharp contrast to his black robes. “You really don’t have a clue how it feels like to lose someone you love, do you?” I added in a low voice so that only he could hear it. Malfoy’s somewhat frightened-looking eyes were filled with pure malice and hatred. He was wheezing by now. I released him and my fist collided hard with his cheekbone before he even managed to get away. He firmly hit the ground. I pushed through the crowd hurriedly, running towards my compartment. “You’re going to pay for that, Potter! I swear. Do you hear me? You are so going to pay for that!” I heard Malfoy yell after me, before he spat on the ground bitterly. My freshly bought Cauldron Cakes were lying somewhere in the middle of the crowd, crushed, trampled, and abandoned. *** “What was that all about?” A Hufflepufff girl asked in awe as I passed a group of girls, who were standing in the pouring rain on the Hogmeade platform. “Did you see the look on Malfoy’s face after Harry hit him?” Another girl enquired. “I didn’t know Harry liked dogs...” Yet another girl mused aloud. “No, you idiot. He was talking about Harry’s Godfather, Sirius Black. He could change into a dog!” “You’re kidding. That man’s a Death Eater!” “Honestly, don’t you ever read the papers? He never supported You-Know-Who!” “And that man was an Animagus? Wow, that is so cool. I bet Harry can change into a dog himself as well!” One of the younger Gryffindor girls squeaked. I closed my eyes for a few seconds in frustration, pretending not to hear any of the gossip the girls were telling each other enthusiastically; they didn’t even bother to keep their voices down. It was as if they wanted to get me angry again. The wind was blowing so hard I needed hold down my black hat to prevent it from flying away. I hurried over towards the carriages on the other side of the station and cautiously glanced at the Thestrals pulling them. They still looked as eerie as always, but they had gained my utmost respect now. Remembering how the flight towards the Ministry of Magic had been I bit my lip. Why had I been so stupid to believe that fucking vision Voldemort had sent me? Why? When I got into one of the carriages I briefly caught a glimpse of two long, red lines on my left inner arm. It was kind of hard to resist the temptation to conjure a knife and start cutting myself again. I felt the tiniest twinge of guilt in my stomach when I thought this though. “Harry!” Hermione came running towards the carriage as well and she only just managed to get in before it started its ride towards the Hogwarts castle. “Harry...” she breathed, clutching her chest. “You shouldn’t have hit him!” I looked into her eyes, my temper rising again. “Well, hello to you too!” I snapped. Hermione didn’t look at all put out by my reaction. On the contrary: she just repeated her sentence. “You really shouldn’t have hit him, Harry,” she emphasised. My mouth dropped open in anger. “What is it with everyone today? First all those people watching me like I was a mutated alien or something like that, then Cho being all rude to Luna and clutching me as if she was some sort of freak, and then all those stupid girls going on about Sirius, and now finally you saying ‘shouldn’t have hit him, Harry. Shouldn’t have hit him, Harry!’” I exclaimed, mocking Hermione’s high-pitched voice. “Well: Fuck You! I bloody well am glad I hit the bastard!” She didn’t even do so much as blink while I was yelling at her like that; that angered me even more. Her sincere brown eyes calmed me though. “Malfoy’s a prefect,” she said softly, “It isn’t exactly smart to play with him like that. He really could make your life a living hell.” I snorted. “As if he hasn’t done that during the past five years.” “This year is different in many ways, Harry. Malfoy has changed, the Dark Lord is recruiting an army; Hogwarts isn’t the safe place it used to be any more... And most important: you have changed. You’ve changed so much since Sirius’s death and you don’t even seem to notice it yourself.” I wasn’t aware of the odd way Hermione was looking at me, as I exclaimed, “But-” I was silenced by Hermione’s lips pressing on mine; her mouth opened a little, allowing her tongue to force itself a bit through my slightly parted lips. My eyes went wide in surprise. In my state of utter shock I almost suffocated when her tongue softly ghosted over the roof of my mouth. She pulled back quite abruptly. “I’m sorry,” she said, blushing slightly. But before I could ask any explanation of her behaviour at all she sprinted out of the carriage which had halted only some instants before. That was the first and last time Hermione would ever touch me in this way, I swore to myself silently. Still feeling somewhat numb inside I got out of the carriage; I didn’t notice I had landed in the middle of a puddle, neither did I notice a group of Slytherins talking about me in loud whispers. For once they didn’t even wear a look of pure loathing when I passed by. The Great Hall looked perfect as always in the dim candlelight of the candles, which were floating above the four House tables. The stormy clouds perfectly reflected the ones outside and from time to time a lightning bolt crossed the dark sky. My stomach was slightly rumbling by the time I sat down, which wasn’t surprising as I hadn’t eaten anything all day except for the poor breakfast this morning back in the Leaky Cauldron. Why had Hermione kissed me? I asked myself over and over again. It felt as if I had ended up on the set of some really cheap Muggle soap-opera, which Aunt Petunia used to watch, where nothing seemed to be realistic. Hello, Hermione! My mind shouted. Why the hell did you just do that to me? You’re about the only girl in our year I never thought about in that way! Have you finally gone completely nuts thanks to all those books you have read? I looked down at my empty plate. She probably hadn’t meant anything by it, I then told myself. Yeah sure, Harry. It’s completely normal when your best friend snogs you in an empty carriage. It happens every day! Sarcasm abounded. Coincidence or not, Hermione was already in a busy conversation with Lavender Brown not so far from me, on the opposite side of the table. She looked as if she hadn’t even seen me walk in as well. Not that I cared. The kiss had meant nothing for me anyway. Hermione was and would always be just a friend of mine, and if she couldn’t live with that... my thoughts trailed off. “Hiya Harry.” A flash of light caught me off-guard. Blinking, I murmured: “Hello Colin.” “See Harry, I received a new camera over the summer. Isn’t it cool? Would you pose for a second, Harry, so I can take another picture?” Ron, who was sitting next to Hermione, rolled his eyes at this. His jealousy was so sickening, it irritated me illimitable. “No, sorry. Colin. Could you please take it some other time?” People are watching, you idiot. Do you really think I want to be on photographed in the middle of the Great Hall? He looked slightly disappointed but I didn’t care. He went to sit on the far end of the table with some other fifth years. My eyes travelled over all the familiar and not-so familiar faces in the Hall. Most of them were chatting merrily but I couldn’t help but notice many sad-looking students as well. Maybe Voldemort had indeed struck some wizarding targets during the holidays. Cho was waving at me happily when she saw me, and very reluctantly I gave her a short wave. Luna was being her dreamy self again: staring in with glassy eyes right in front of her. You couldn’t quite see what she was staring at. Draco Malfoy was nowhere to be seen, which gave me some satisfaction. Maybe he even needed to visit the Hospital Wing thanks to my little outburst. I smirked evilly. “All right, Harry?” I jumped back to reality with a start. “Huh? I’m sorry, Neville. What exactly did you say?” “I saw you in Diagon Alley a few days ago, and you promptly ignored me there as well.” He said looking slightly put out. “If you don’t want to talk to me, just tell me okay?” “Don’t mind Harry, Neville.” Ron answered darkly, “He somehow likes to disregard people nowadays…” I glared at Ron. “I’m sorry, Neville. Really. I just really wasn’t paying attention to things…” I fell silent when I saw Malfoy strolling into the Great Hall; the smug look on his face somehow made me feel slightly sick. He sneered at me before sitting down at the Slytherin House table next to Crabbe and Goyle. It was only then I noticed Snape had entered the Great Hall right after him, with an equally smug face. It was as though a huge block of solid wood had just hit me hard on the head. “Shit…” I muttered. Hermione’s eyes went wide when she noticed this too. I swallowed hard as Snape leaned forward a little to talk to Dumbledore before he went to sit on his usual spot at the table. The old man nodded slowly, watching me piercingly through the crowd of people. I blinked and broke off the eye-contact, knowing my headmaster had just made an attempt to read my mind. The Great Hall fell silent as Professor McGonagall strode through the huge oak doors, with a long line of utterly terrified-looking first years behind her. Almost all of them were gaping open-mouthed at the enchanted ceiling. A small, pointy-faced boy caught my eye; with his patina-blond hair he looked awfully like Malfoy. He wore a look, though, which I hadn’t seen Malfoy wearing ever since first year, when we had been serving detention in the Forbidden Forest. McGonagall placed the old Sorting Hat on the small stool in front of the assembled students. All sounds died away when a tear near the brim opened and it began to sing:
I welcome you all, people old and new
And every year I tell you four tales
Of friendship, great wisdom, guile,
And of great courage that never fails
Of sharp Rowena Ravenclaw,
Brilliant, with such a strong will
That few ever realized just how
Very pretentious was her skill
People’s champion Gryffindor –
Bold strength was his primary tool
His courage is legendary – But
His impetuosity got him labelled a fool
Now Salazar Slytherin, dear people
Never claimed to be the best of men
Though a sharp and cunning breaker of rules
He never moved without a clever plan
Gentle, kind-hearted Hufflepuff
Chooses hard-workers as you know
But if you don’t fit anywhere else
Rest assured, this is where you’ll go.
Now, a Gryffindor can be found
In each and every single one of you
And yes, you will be shocked, but
The same goes for Slytherin too.
So if you are pushed into Ravenclaw
That doesn’t mean that you are clever.
Even if you are a die-hard Hufflepuff
You can still be unfaithful, whenever.
Everyone here is a mixture
A potion, mingled a certain way
Yet you all are someone unique
So listen to me when I say
That when you put me on your head
Then please don’t nag or whine
Because when I sort you into a house
I know that there you will be fine
One thing you must always remember,
Because, to Sorting, that is the only key
That no one is a perfect Hufflepuff,
Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, for me.
You are all unique and that is true
But you all have parts of these great four
Their many, varied qualities abound in you,
But what guides me is the one at your core.
Heed my advice, my warning, my words:
Resist all attempts to break you apart:
Stand united! Reinforce your strengths!
That’s all, now let the sorting start.
A low murmur spread itself throughout the dining hall as soon as the Hat stopped singing. If a foreigner would have entered the Great Hall, he would have thought he’d ended up in a nest of really angry bees who were about to sting anyone who came too close or insulted them in any way.
My gaze wandered over all the horror-struck faces; practically every House had been offended so it was quite obvious no applause came. Even Dumbledore seemed to be completely dumbfounded by the song.
Most of the Slytherins, however, were (Surprise, surprise!) looking rather pleased with themselves. It was the only house that was used to being dragged through the mud, and were obviously happy that, for once, this wasn’t the case at all.
At the Gryffindor table my eyes strayed over my outraged-looking house-mates.
Simon Filister was actually yelling at the Sorting Hat even though it remained frighteningly silent and even Nearly Headless Nick seemed to be shocked beyond words.
The first-years were all positively puzzled and almost visibly shaking in fear of all the angry students.
Hermione hadn’t even opened her mouth ever since the beginning of the song, but the frown that crossed her brow clearly told me that she didn’t at all approve the Sorting Hat’s words.
“How can that bloody Hat actually say something like that?” A furious Ron shouted, “there is no way that there is even one Gryffindor on earth that would even do so much as fit into Slytherin?”
Forgetting our dispute for a moment I answered. “Do you really think that’s true, Ron?” I asked loudly, looking at him. “If there are Gryffindors fitting in Ravenclaw, like Hermione, or Hufflepuff, like Neville, why, for god’s sake, why can’t there be a Slytherin among all Gryffindors? That is just one of the zillion prejudices most of the pure-blood wizarding families have: Slytherin is bad. Well, the only thing I can say about that statement is that you are seriously mistaken. It’s not your skills or qualities or whatever that are important, no, it’s the choices you make during your life that influence it fully!”
I silenced for a moment, not able to find the correct words and reaching my boiling point before I yelled: “I’m a Slytherin, damnit! That bloody Sorting Hat wanted to put me in Slytherin first!”
It was remarkably quiet around me by the time I had finished shouting, and just about everyone was looking at me in horror. Without realising it I had just admitted in front of a whole public what I had been refusing to admit towards myself during the last five years.
I didn’t hear when Dumbledore started talking again or when the first years finally were sorted but the only thing I knew was that when I looked down at my with plate loaded with food sometime later, I didn’t feel hungry any more.
Okay guys, this was it. I hope you enjoyed it. Please everyone review, if you reviewed this chapter yesterday please do so again cause I lost all of them (12 reviews from the 3th chapter and about 25 for the other two chapters).
I love you all!
PS: Yes, I will update FA as soon as I finish the next chapter.
PPS: Yes, I will send you your ficlet, it's more or less finished exept for the beginning which doesn't fit at all yet.
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