This story is inspired by my own thoughts when I was sorted into Slytherin on Pottermore. It takes place years after the end of the book series and features only original characters.
Summary: Haley wasn't sure where she was going to be sorted, but she never expected Slytherin. Now, the night before classes begin, her mind is filled with uneasiness. She can't stop thinking: Does she really belong with the snakes?
Disclaimer: The universe of "Harry Potter" belongs to J.K. Rowling. I do not assume any ownership, other than this story and my two original characters (Haley and Reba).
For the umpteenth time that night, Haley tossed to her other side in her new bed. Normally, the eleven-year-old had no trouble falling asleep. She always slept through thunderstorms and hail, and on several occasions, she could fall into deep sleep on floors and benches. But despite the soothing sounds of the water lapping against the windows, Haley could not fall asleep in the Slytherin dorms.
Earlier that day, Haley had arrived at Hogwarts and gone through the sorting ceremony. She was very excited to begin classes as a witch, but she had felt pretty anxious for the sorting. Her heart had been in her throat when she walked up to the front, sat down, and had the hat placed on her head. And in just a few short moments...
"Best be... SLYTHERIN!"
The words of the Sorting Hat still rung in Haley's mind.
The young girl sat up in bed, taking a look around. The lake from outside the windows shone green, softly lighting up the dormitory with an emerald glow. All the beds were draped with green silk hangers and had bedsheets embroidered with silver thread. The walls were decorated with serpent sculptures and tapestries of famous past Slytherins. Silver lanterns hung from the ceilings. This was definitely a Slytherin dormitory.
Slytherin. Her new home for the next seven years.
Haley sighed, running a hand through her auburn, shoulder-length hair. When she was finally sorted, her anxiety didn't go away. In fact, it only seemed to get worse. She wasn't sure where she was going to be sorted, but she never expected Slytherin. They say the Sorting Hat knows best, but Haley still felt an uneasiness.
She shook her head and moved to get out of bed. Haley wasn't getting any rest from just lying around. Perhaps a walk to the Common Room would help clear her mind.
For several minutes, Haley stood in the Slytherin Common Room, right in front of the fireplace. She gazed at the crest of the serpent above the mantle. One of the prefects explained that Slytherins were like the snake: sleek, powerful, and misunderstood. And now, Haley was officially a snake. But did she really belong with them?
"You're up late."
Haley slightly jumped, surprised by the voice behind her. She turned around to see an older girl with long black hair walking toward her. The older girl gave a smirk, scrutinizing Haley with her narrow green eyes as she got closer.
"One of the first years, right?"
"Umm, yeah..." Haley replied quietly, moving a strand of hair behind her ear.
"Thought so," the green-eyed girl said, standing next to Haley by the fireplace. She chuckled slightly. "Yeah, I think I remember you at the sorting. If I remember correctly, you looked pretty stiff getting there!"
The auburn-hair girl grimaced slightly, looking down at her feet. She grumbled, "I was pretty nervous..."
"Hey, there's no need to be embarrassed," the older girl said, gently touching Haley's arm to get her to look back up. "It's natural to be nervous. At least you didn't throw up. One of my friends nearly did during his sorting!"
Haley gave the older girl a little smile, feeling more relaxed. She cocked her head to the side and asked, "So you are...?"
"Oh, sorry! Where are my manners?" the older girl laughed and held out her hand. "The name's Reba, fifth year Slytherin."
The eleven-year-old reached out to shake her hand. "I'm Haley."
"Haley, huh? Nice to meetcha, kid!"
"Nice to meet you, too..."
"So, Haley," Reba began, cocking her hip and putting a hand on it, "what's eating you?"
The younger girl slightly widened her eyes, shocked by the Reba's directness.
"Come on, I know there's something up. First years don't usually come to the Common Room in the middle of the night the day before classes begin."
Haley bit her lip and averted her eyes.
"It's okay, you can tell me," Reba said, encouraging. "We Slytherins look after each other."
Haley flinched slightly at the word 'Slytherin.' Sighing, she spoke up. "Well... the thing is... I don't think I belong here... in Slytherin..."
It was silent for a few beats. Then, Reba narrowed her eyes and asked, "You're not one of those people who believe that all Slytherins are a bunch of evil bastards, are you?"
The eleven-year-old looked back up at Reba and quickly shook her head. "No, no. I don't believe that."
"Good!" the fifth year gave a sigh of relief. "I'm really sick of that awful stereotype! I mean, seriously! The Battle of Hogwarts was so long ago, and yet people still think we're all as evil as Voldemort!"
"Yeah, it's stupid," Haley said, nodding slightly. "I mean, I understand the fear, but it isn't right to judge every Slytherin and think everyone is going to become a dark wizard or witch."
"Exactly!" Reba exclaimed, grinning happily at Haley. "Glad to hear you have more sense than some people, kid!"
The first year student gave a small smile as her upper classmate basked in happiness. After a moment, Reba calmed down and put on a serious face. "But back to business: why don't you think you belong in Slytherin?"
Haley bit her lip again, feeling nervous to proceed. She looked back at Reba. The older girl's green eyes gave off a reassuring vibe. Taking a deep breath, Haley continued.
"It's just... I'm not sure I really fit... what it means to be a Slytherin."
"How so?" Reba asked smoothly, raising her eyebrows.
"Well, you know... Slytherins are described as powerful and cunning and having strong leadership skills..."
"And you don't believe you possess those qualities?"
"I never thought so," Haley admitted. "You see... I had no idea where the Sorting Hat would place me. I've never felt a strong connection with any of the houses, and I felt like Slytherin the least. Like, I thought I might get into either Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw, since I've been described as loyal and smart. I could also see being placed in Gryffindor, since I can be brave. And yet, the Sorting Hat placed me in Slytherin, and I don't know why."
Reba brought a hand up to her chin. "So do you think the Sorting Hat made a mistake? Putting you in Slytherin?"
Haley sighed, looking down in slight sorrow. "Well, perhaps... I mean, it's just-
"You know what I've noticed?"
The first year student slightly jumped and looked up at Reba, a bit shocked to be cut off. The fifth year student had that smirk on her face again. Reba continued, "Every year, the Sorting Hat places roughly the same amount of first years in each house."
Haley raised an eyebrow, a bit baffled at the information.
"Let me give an example," Reba said, noticing Haley's confused face. "Say there were 100 newly admitted students. The Sorting Hat would try to place about twenty-five students in each house that year. That way, each house would gain about the same amount of students, and numbers would be kept pretty even."
"Really?" Haley questioned, her eyes growing wide. "Is that so?"
The older girl shrugged. "I mean, there's no way to definitely know for sure, but I think it's a pretty solid theory."
"So then, the Sorting Hat is more concerned with keeping the Houses even than putting students in the right house," Haley said sadly, looking down again. If that was the case, she was just placed in Slytherin because they needed more students for that house, rather than that Haley exemplified the right characteristics...
"Woah, woah, woah! I didn't say that!" Reba firmly stated, halting Haley's sorrow spell. "I'm just pointing out another potential factor! And like I said, we won't know for sure. But I think it might influence the fact that not every student may fit exactly with their House's characteristics."
"Huh?" The auburn-haired girl asked, feeling a bit confused again.
"Let me tell you about my boyfriend," Reba began, placing a hand against the mantel of the fireplace. "He's a pretty cool guy, popular and well-liked by teachers and students. He's very bright and witty, one of the top students in our class. He's also adventurous and a successful Seeker on the Quidditch team. Now, based on what I just told you, what House would you say he's in and why?"
Haley took a moment to think. "Ummm, maybe Gryffindor? Since he's popular and adventurous?"
Reba shook her head, grinning. "Thought you might guess that! But wrong. He's in Hufflepuff."
"Yup! Though he's brave and daring on the Quidditch field and is very intelligent in class, the Sorting Hat thought it best to sort him in Hufflepuff."
"Hmmm, interesting," Haley said softly, thinking to herself.
"I mean, it does make sense. He is very good at finding the Snitch, and Hufflepuffs are said to be exceptionally good finders. Plus, he's a very loyal boyfriend," the black-haired girl explained, smiling to herself as she thought of her significant other. "Here's another example: Hermione Granger."
"What about her?"
"Well, despite her being the most brilliant witch of her time and her immense love of knowledge, the Sorting Hat put her in Gryffindor. Of course, I've heard there was a hat stall, but she ended up into the brave and daring house."
Haley nodded, taking in the information.
"Anyway, here's my point: You may not be necessary sorted because of your most prominent characteristics. There may be something else that the Sorting Hat sees that you aren't even aware of. Or maybe the Sorting Hat thinks another house may be a better fit for other reasons. Like with my boyfriend, maybe the Sorting Hat thought Hufflepuff could use a strong personality or perhaps it knew about his future success with being a Seeker. You see what I mean?"
"I suppose," Haley responded softly. Reba was making sense, but Haley still felt anxious. Maybe she didn't have to possess the most prominent traits, but what was there for her in Slytherin?
"Okay, let me ask you something else," Reba said, snapping the younger girl out of her reverie. "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Once again, Haley was a bit jolted by Reba's sudden question. But she quickly relaxed and glanced outside the window. Smiling, she turned back to Reba and said, "I want to become a Magizoologist, specializing with water-based creatures."
"Ah!" Reba exclaimed. "Water-based creatures, huh?"
"Yeah," Haley said, passion growing in her voice. "I've always found those kind of creatures to be fascinating. So, in the future, I would love to explore bodies of water across the world and study magical water creatures."
"Hmmm, sounds like you might have an affinity for water."
"Well, I guess you could say that," Haley replied, gazing out one of the windows. "I generally do feel pretty relaxed whenever I'm nearby any bodies of water. Rivers, lakes, oceans, you name it. Actually, I was happy to hear that I would be living underwater in the Slytherin dorms, and I thought it might help relax my nerves. And yet..."
"But don't you see? That's it!"
Haley turned back to Reba, noticing that big smirk on her face. "Huh?"
"Come on! You must have heard that the Slytherin house relates to the element of water!"
Haley froze a bit. She did remember hearing about how each house relates to one of the elements. But was that really enough?
"Not to mention your future goals as a Magizoologist," Reba continued, her eyes shining. "Just hearing you talk, I can tell you're filled with great ambition and determination. And by the way: those happen to be Slytherin traits."
Haley could only gape. Since the sorting ceremony, she had been so concerned with everything that she didn't think she represented in Slytherin: the cunningness, the leadership, the power. She was so worried that she didn't even recognize the similarities: the relation to water and her own ambition with her career. Perhaps it did make sense after all.
A hand on her shoulder brought Haley out of her thoughts. She looked into the narrow green eyes of Reba, which seemed to be full of understanding and support.
"Listen," Reba began, her voice a bit softer than before, "I don't want you to worry about being sorted into Slytherin anymore. They say the Sorting Hat works in mysterious ways, but it is always right. It placed you here for a reason, so you belong with the snakes. You have an ambitious goal, and Slytherin will definitely support you on your path to greatness. Like I said before, we look out for each other."
Haley beamed brightly. "Yes, you're right. I won't worry anymore. Thank you so much."
"No problem, kid," Reba smirked and patted Haley's shoulder. She then straightened up, shook her head, and ran a hand through her hair. "Okay, that's enough inspiration and corniness for one night. I'm going back to bed, and you should probably do the same. Don't want to be super groggy on your first day of classes."
Reba started making her way out of the Common Room. When she made it about half-way to the door, Haley called out to her.
The older girl stopped and turned back to Haley. "Yeah, Haley?"
"Why did you come to the Common Room? I mean, I can't imagine that fifth years usually come to the Common Room in the middle of the night the day before classes begin."
Reba gave a laugh. "I suppose you're right about that! Well, you weren't the only one feeling anxious tonight. Since I'm in my fifth year, I have O.W.L.s. And unlike my boyfriend, I'm not exactly one of the top students."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that..."
"No, it's fine," Reba waved it off. "Talking to you reminded me that I'm in the most supportive and driven House. So I'm sure I'll get through it just fine. Anyway, night."
Reba made her way back to the dorms, leaving Haley alone in the Common Room. The first year student took one last look at the snake crest. The snake: sleek, powerful, and misunderstood. Perhaps Haley was the one to misunderstand herself. Even though she may not fit the traits exactly, she belonged in Slytherin. Grinning, she turned back to return to the dorms, remembering the Sorting Hat song.
'Perhaps I will find my true friends here. And this will be where I achieve greatness.'
Thanks for reading!