Authors Note: The last time that I checked my reviews I was up to 225. 225! That is amazing guys! I swear, I had to sit down and I was walking outside! I just stopped right there in the middle of the sidewalk and started acting like smeagol as I scrolled through them all, I even did the whole 'My precious' thing. Then I had to come inside because the horrible light of the day star was burning my retinas and my fingers itched to type away!
I added the song, don't like it go ahead and skip over it I don't mind! ^-^
Disclaimer: We do's not own's this! This is masters! Agh! The light! It burns' us!
Chapter 10: Sorting and Unity
"Welcome to Hogwarts," said Professor McGonagall, a relatively tall witch with black hair that was pulled back into a severe bun and who was wearing a set of emerald colored robes. She looked stern, not someone to cross lightly, but she also looked nice if you didn't get on her nerves. "The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room.
"The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rule breaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.
"The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting."
Her eyes lingered for a moment on Neville's cloak, which had been hastily fastened under his left ear in the excitement of arriving at the station, and on the smudge on Ron's nose which refused to go away despite all of his friends' attempts. Harry and Hermione both began to nervously attempt to flatten their hair until they noticed Neville and Ron's chuckles and stopped with crimson blushes staining their cheeks.
"I shall return when we are ready for you," Professor McGonagall said with a hint of amusement. "Please wait quietly."
She then left the chamber and with the closing of the door the once silent room filled with nervous whispers.
"Hey guys," Neville asked as he moved closer nervously, "How exactly is it that we're sorted?"
"Some sort of test, I think. Fred said it hurts a lot, but I think he was joking," Ron said absentmindedly as he batted Hermione's hands away from his smudged nose. "Hermione, it's not coming off so leave it."
"Of course he was Ron," Harry said with a smile as he fixed the clasp of Nevilles robes for him. "Bill said that it's done by an ancient magical artifact that determines which traits are greater and which house we fit in best."
And just like that the nervousness seemed to leach itself from the group as they turned to wait for the professors return. Just as they had begun to truly relax a sudden scream caused them to jump and turn towards the back of the room from where it had originated.
"What the-?" Someone began to say before an echoing gasp ran through the room at the sight of multiple ghosts floating into the room through the brick wall as they floated above their heads seemingly unaware of the group of children as they argued.
"Forgive and forget, I say, we ought to give him a second chance -" A rather portly looking monk began as the ghostly contingent floated their way across the room.
"My dear Friar, haven't we given Peeves all the chances he deserves? He gives us all a bad name and you know, he's not really even a ghost-"Another ghost who was dressed in what one would more than likely see on a nobleman in the 15th century, "I say, what are you all doing here?" He asked in a slightly shocked voice as he finally noticed the children in the room.
"New students!" The first ghost, Friar, cried out happily as he beamed down at them all, "About to be sorted I suppose? Well then, I hope to see you in Hufflepuff! It was my old house you know, still is as a matter of fact," He finished with a happy giggle as he did a little turn in the air.
"Move along now," Professor McGonagall's sharp voice cut through before anyone could reply. Instantly the ghosts began to float through the wall, most with small waves or nods of the head to the children within the chamber.
"Now then," Professor McGonagall continued once the last ghost had disappeared beyond and the children turned back to face her once again. "Every one form a line and follow me."
As they were lead into the great hall Harry was in utter awe at the clear use of magic that was on display. Above the four long tables, which held hundreds of students all wearing black robes like them but with a single houses crest as opposed to the Hogwarts crest itself, were countless candles that floated in the air below what, at first glance, was the open sky outside.
As he continued to look at his surroundings Harry vaguely noted Hermione murmuring something about the ceiling being bewitched but found that he couldn't quite focus on his friend.
The room that had just moments ago was now ice cold to him as he looked at his surroundings, his heart was pounding in his ears and his breathing became more shallow. They stopped right in front of the teachers' table with their backs facing them as they looked out towards the veritable sea of students. Harry knew that he was being foolish but he had never been in a room with so many people before!
Suddenly Harry could feel a hand in his own and couldn't help but to jump in shock. Looking to his left Harry was met with Ron giving him a supportive grin as he gently squeezed Harrys hand.
Taking a deep breath Harry squeezed back with a soft smile and, as he felt Neville begin to softly shake beside him he too reached over and held the shy boys hand who did just as he had before he grabbed Hermione's as well. Harry could feel his smile grow wider.
"No matter which house, we're still friends," Neville murmured with as he looked at them with a slightly more confident smile.
No matter what, Harry echoed back as he felt his heart begin to settle again and the, by now familiar, warm fuzzy feeling fill him again.
With a sudden shock Harry noticed that the hall had suddenly gone quiet as they all stared at an extremely patched and frayed wizards hat that had obviously seen better days and was sitting on top of a simple four legged stool.
Was this the ancient artifact that Bill had mentioned? Well, it certainly did look ancient at least.
Suddenly the hat twitched so that it sat up right and a rip near the brim opened wide as though it were a mouth and the hat began to sing.
"Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat then me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry,
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true,
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin,
Where you'll meet your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means,
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For a Thinking Cap."
As the hats song came to an end the occupants of the hall burst into applause and the hat proceeded to bow to each of the four tables and Harry couldn't help but smile. This place was amazing!
"So all we have to do is try on the hat?" Ron whispered in shock. "I should kill Fred, he kept going on about wrestling a troll!"
When the hall was silent again Professor McGonagall moved to stand beside the stool with a long roll of parchment.
"When I call your name, move forward and sit on this stool. The sorting hat will then be placed on your head and you will be sorted," She said in her crisp voice which easily traveled through the room before she called the first name. "Abbot, Hannah!"
A short girl with blonde pigtails and a pink face quickly stumbled from the line and sat on the stool nervously, the hat falling down and covering her eyes. For a moment she merely sat there before the hat spoke again.
"The table on the near right burst into cheers and clapped as Hannah quickly made her was over where she was greeted by the Friar ghost who looked rather happy in getting the first new student.
Next came 'Bones, Susan!' Who Harry could immediately see the resemblance of to Amelia Bones and couldn't help but to wonder at the relationship there as she was quickly sorted into Hufflepuff as well.
Do ghosts boast? Well, surely I suppose they do but what about ghost friars? Because the Friar at the Hufflepuff table certainly looked as though he was quite happy to have gotten such a quick turnout for his house.
As Harry was pondering this issue 'Boot, Terry' and 'Brocklehurst, Mandy' were both sorted into Ravenclaw which was positioned to the left of the Hufflepuff table.
Did the sorting go in pairs? No, that was broken with the next to who were sorted going into different houses with 'Brown, Lavender' going to Gryffindor at the table on the far right and 'Bulstrode, Millicent' going into the last house and table Slytherin.
All in all Slytherin didn't look completely horrible, some of the students looked all right if a little somber though others definitely reminded Harry of Dudley so he quickly made a note to be cautious.
As Harry watched 'Finch-Fletchley, Justin' get sorted into Hufflepuff as well he noticed that as each person were being sorted the timing was different. Some, like Justin, were sorted quickly while others, like 'Finnigan, Seamus' took a little while more. Eventually Seamus was sorted into Gryffindor and it was Hermione's turn.
As she walked past the three boys grinned at her and wished her luck as she sat upon the stool, after around thirty seconds she was sorted into Ravenclaw and her friends cheered almost as loud as the table itself and, though they got a few odd looks they didn't back down as they grinned at the now blushing Hermione.
Next it was Neville who was called forward and with an encouraging squeeze of his hand he began to move forward bolstered on by their well wishes as well as Hermione, who surprised everyone by actually screaming her well wishes from her place at the Ravenclaw table.
As he sat on top of the stool Harry and Ron waited with baited breath until finally...
"HUFFLEPUFF!" The Sorting Hat Called and again, the newly pronounced house as well as the other three of the newly discovered quartet of friends.
Eight people later and Harry's name was called. As he moved forward with a squeeze to his hand and a murmur of encouragement from Ron along with the two echoing shouts of encouragement that came from Hermione and Neville, it was decided he would 'meet' the rest of the Weasleys through Ron so they remained silent, his heart was pounding in his chest again.
The pounding of his heart in this case actually worked to his favor as it prevented him from hearing the whispers that broke out all through the great hall.
The moment he seated himself on the stool he closed his eyes and was vaguely aware of the feel of slightly rough fabric settle along the tops of his cheeks and the soft glow from behind his eye lids was blacked out and a sudden sense of calm settled upon him.
"Hmm," a small voice seemed to say directly in his mind though Harry didn't feel an ounce of fear. "Difficult. Very difficult. You have plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either now that you're no longer held back by the Dursleys. There's talent, a very large amount of untapped potential... A decent thirst to prove yourself though it's not a desperate one which is good. Yes, your very balanced. I must say I am impressed.
"You've earned the respect of the goblins as well, now I am very curious I must admit. That is a very impressive task, almost as effective as befriending them. I must admit this contingency plan is pure genius. Do not worry, I keep all secrets and support your dealings with the headmaster. Perhaps we could speak later?"
"I would like that sir," Harry thought back as he smiled softly, the Sorting Hat seemed pleasant enough and he looked forward to their conversation as the hat gave an amused chuckle as it seemed to readjust itself on his head.
"Now then, back to business eh?" The Sorting Hat said again once it settled, "I will be the first to admit that you could rightfully fit into any of the four houses though I do not believe Slytherin is a good choice for you as it sits, too many who would wish to harm you and at the moment what you need the most in companionship and loyalty. The same goes to Ravenclaw even with that friend of yours. A change would need to happen first and I have no doubt that you could help that change to happen.
"Now, that leaves us with Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, both very good houses. The Hufflepuff's will no doubt make you a part of the family and yet you already have family within the Gryffindor's... Yes, I believe I have decided."
Silence reigned throughout the great hall as though someone had cast a blanketed silence charm.
At least, that is until Hermione, Neville and Ron began to cheer their friend on followed by the almost deafening cheers of the Badgers.
Throwing one last grin to Ron who still had yet to be sorted Harry moved quickly to sit across from Neville where he was promptly greeted with smiles and friendly faces. Looking behind him towards the Gryffindor table Harry could tell just why the Sorting Hat had put him here instead.
A few of the people at the Gryffindor table were giving him betrayed looks, as though it were his duty to have been sorted into their house.
Ignoring this for now Harry looked back up to the head table and instantly saw Hagrid who was sitting at the end of the table nearest him. As their eyes met Hagrid grinned and gave Harry a thumbs up causing Harry to grin back before turning to watch the last four be sorted.
'Thomas, Dean' was next to be sorted and went into Gryffindor while 'Turpin, Lisa' went to Ravenclaw. Finally it was Ron's turn and Harry took joy in yelling encouragement up to him accompanied by his friends and brothers.
Ron, who had been pale and slightly green as he trudged towards the stool, was obviously bolstered by the calls of support and shot them all a grin before the hat slipped over his eyes. A few seconds later and the house was called out...
Cheers and applause sounded through three of the tables now with the Gryffindor table roaring as well as two happy Hufflepuff's and a Ravenclaw as Ron came over and sat on the seat behind Harry as 'Zabini, Blaise' made his way to the stool.
"Congrats Ron," Harry said happily to his brother before they both turned towards the front yet again as Slytherin was called out.
As Blaise made his way towards the Slytherin table Professor McGonagall rolled the scroll and carried the stool and the Sorting Hat away.
Albus Dumbledore stood then, with a benevolent smile and his arms wide open as though nothing was wrong in the world and he couldn't have been more pleased to see them all which was probably true seeing as he was in charge here...
"Welcome!" He called out merrily, "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!"
With that he sat again and the tables were filled with wonderful dishes of food that were probably fit for a king.
Roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and, for some strange reason, peppermint humbugs.
With a smile Harry dished a little bit of everything onto his plate, bar the peppermints, and began to eat as he listened to those around him begin to talk.
"Hello you lot," Came a greeting from beside him and Harry looked up to see a rather tall and lanky boy with sandy blonde hair and warm honey brown eyes, "I'm Gabriel Truman, the Hufflepuff prefect. I just wanted to congratulate you all on being sorted.
"Hello Gabriel," Harry said with a smile as Neville echoed him nervously.
"Well, I'll be giving you all a little speech once we get to the common rooms but if you have any questions now I'm all ears. Hufflepuff's are more than what the other houses seem to think so don't let them get to you yeah? Anyways, I'll let you get back to your food."
With that he turned back around to talk to his friends and Harry started in on his food again as he and his year mates made idle conversation between bites.
Once everyone had had their fill of the feast the food that remained on the table seemed to fade back into the tables leaving everything sparkling and pristine once again. A moment after the feast had disappeared desert materialized in much the same way. Blocks of ice cream in every flavor you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate eclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, Jell-O, rice pudding and many other rich and flavorful delicacies.
As Harry helped himself to a treacle tart, the others began to speak about their families.
Susan Bones was in fact Madam Bones' niece. Her parents had died during the first war so she had been raised by her aunt at Bones Manor.
Hannah Abbot, the girl with the blond pigtails who had been sorted first was a half blood. Her father, a wizard, had married a muggle and they lived in a small flat on the outskirts of London.
Megan Jones, who was related to none of the more well none Jones', was a muggle born witch from Yorkshire where she lived with her mother and uncle but already showed a keen fascination towards potions.
Ernest, Ernie, Macmillian was a pure blood who had a penchant for paranoia and trying to find a conspiracy theory behind anything at all though he was nice.
Lastly came Justin Finch-Fletchley, a rather nervous boy who constantly fretted on whether or not choosing Hogwarts over Eton was a decent choice. He, Ernie, and Hannah had shared a compartment on the train and seemed to be rather well acquainted already.
"Well, my gran brought me up and she's a witch," Neville said nervously, "but the family thought I was all... Muggle, for ages. My Great Uncle Algie kept trying to catch me off my guard and force some magic out of me. He pushed me off the end of Blackpool pier once, I nearly drowned... But nothing happened until I was eight. Great Uncle Algie came round for dinner, and he was hanging me out of an upstairs window by the ankles when my Great Auntie Enid offered him a meringue and he accidentally let go. But I bounced!" He continued quickly once he saw his house mates' horrified expressions, "All the way down the garden and into the road. They were all really pleased, Gran was crying, she was so happy. And you should have seen their faces when I got in here! They thought I might not be magic enough to come, you see. Great Uncle Algie was so pleased he bought me my toad. Though I doubt Gran will be quite as pleased since I didn't get sorted into Gryffindor."
"Why wouldn't she Neville?" Harry asked in complete and utter confusion.
"Well," Neville began as he looked down at his plate with a furious blush, "My parents were in Gryffindor and my Gram just wants for me to be like my dad. I even have his wand."
"You know that that isn't right don't you Neville?" Harry asked in concern as he leaned closer to his friend until he could see into his eyes. "Even if you had been sorted into Gryffindor that wouldn't make you more like your dad and using his wand certainly doesn't. You are your own person Neville, no matter what anyone else tries to change that. Especially by forcing you to use another's wand, that will just hinder you."
"What do you mean hinder me?" Neville asked in mild panic.
"Each wand is specially crafted for one wizard. Say, if I were to trade wands with Ron, his wand wouldn't work as well for me as my own if it even worked at all. If this is your fathers wand then it wouldn't work nearly as well for you as your own would because you aren't your father. Do you understand Neville?"
"I think so... But the school years already started. I'll have to use my dads, at least until winter."
"No, we'll talk to one of the teachers tomorrow okay? They should know how to help."
With that the desserts disappeared from the table as Dumbledore stood up again and the hall fell silent.
"A few announcements are called for now that you have all been fed and watered," He said before laughing at his own joke, "The forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils, our first years should take note of this while a few of our older students should remember it," With this he glanced over to where the twins were sitting.
"I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors. Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact Madam Hooch immediately. Finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death."
At this last announcement there were a few scattered snorts of laughter though Harry's eyes narrowed. This man was willing to risk the only thing he had left so soon after loosing the rest!? That's it, this man was mad.
"That's odd," Gabriel murmured to himself just loud enough for those near him to hear, "He usually gives us a reason why we're not allowed to go somewhere. Like the forest's full of dangerous beasts, everyone knows that. I don't understand why he's giving no one a reason. This'll just make people more curious to find out what's behind the door."
"And now, before we go to bed," Dumbledore's voice demanded their attention yet again, "Let us sing the school song!"
With Dumbledore's cry the teachers' smiles seemed to have grown fixed as they instantly stood a little stiffer, it looked like they didn't quite like the school song...
Dumbledore pulled out his wand and flicked it as though he were trying to shoo a fly from the tip and a long gleaming ribbon made of gold floated out of it before twisting itself into cursive words.
"Pick your favorite tune and off we go!" Albus cried before the din of thousands of voices and tones began in much the same way one would picture a kindergarten music class.
"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we've forgot,
just do your best, we'll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot."
The song was finished at different times for everyone with the last to finish being Fred and George who sung to an excessively slow funeral dirge which Dumbledore conducted the finally of.
"Ah, music," Dumbledore said as he wiped a fake tear from his eyes. "A magic beyond all that we do here! Now, it is bedtime. Off you trot!"
With that the students rose from their seats and Harry had the unnerving feeling that he was being watched. As he filed out behind his year mates and their new prefect he quickly waved to his friends in the other houses before he lost sight of them completely.
Authors Note: Yes, if any of you noticed this I did in fact flip the Gryffindor and Slytherin house tables for the sake of giving Harry a nice safe table sandwich to protect him for now. No killing the author! You'd have to finish the story yourself then!
Now, I know that was mostly information but I'm proud of this chapter. Or at least of all of the information I had to find to make it work. I hope you enjoyed!
~^-^ !Happy Reading! ^-^~