The trip to Hogwarts was already long enough without Snotlout bragging about his previous experience at the school for Witchcraft and Wizardry. It would be Hiccup´s first year and Snotlout, as a second year, took delight in telling all sorts of scary stories.
According to the boy they would have to fight a troll for the sorting ceremony and anyone who would fail would be sent back on the first train next morning. Fishlegs was listening in fright, while the twins Ruffnut and Tuffnut were taking bets on who would be most likely to kick the bucket. Astrid, the only other second year, silently stared out of the window, obviously regretting sitting with them in the same carriage.
"They don't have to fight a troll, Snotlout." She said with disdain. Hiccup could only hope she was right.
"Well, they should to get into Gryffindor. My house can't have any cowards or weaklings after all." Snotlout said, still being very pleased at his house.
"Funny how they let you in then." She resorted.
"You're just jealous that I'm in Gryffindor and you're in Hufflepuff." Snotlout said gloating.
"There's nothing wrong with Hufflepuff." Hiccup said quickly, lest Astrid decided to attack Snotlout in the already cramped carriage.
"Bet you think so. Might want to start dyeing your clothes black and yellow then if you love Hufflepuff so much."
I don't know." Fishlegs said. "Given Hiccup's personality he could easily end up in one of the other houses."
"Well, I know where you're going. Together with all the other nerds in Ravenclaw." Snotlout snorted. "And I don't care where Hiccup ends up at, as long as it is not Gryffindor."
"Don't worry Snotlout. It kind of lost its appeal after you were sorted into it." Hiccup snarked back.
"Well, I want to get into Gryffindor." Tuffnut said. "Sounds a lot more fun."
"Yeah." Added Ruffnut. "Any excuse to get you into dangerous and painful situations is fine with me."
They continued on for a while, debating the pros and cons of each house and what subject they were most likely to hate. Hiccup remained quiet for most of the time. It was really starting to sink in he would be going to Hogwarts, something he had been dreaming about since he was little, well little-er, and he was dead afraid he would mess it up. What if he got sorted into a house that would hate him, or worse, what if he was so bad at his classes they decided to just abandon all hope and expel him from school? He would have to go home a disappointment and in shame. And suddenly, the train ride didn't seem that long anymore as each and every minute that passed brought him closer and closer to Hogwarts.
They had changed into their robes about thirty minutes before arriving and were ready to leave the train after a long journey. Snotlout and Astrid said their goodbyes and left for their own housemates.
"First years here!" said a strict voice. "First years here!"
It came from a tall man holding a lamp with precision. His hair was white even though he barely looked a day over 30 and tied back into a neat ponytail.
"I am the groundkeeper, Sir Maximus." He said after the crowd of first years had gathered. "I'll be taking you to Hogwarts. Follow me."
"Please mind your steps. We'll be reaching the docks and it might be wet." The man said as he led them to a narrow and steep path and hiccup had to clutch the sides of the road sometimes as to not slip. Around the bend a huge dark lake stretched out before them and beyond that . . . There it was. A huge towering castle, edged on top of a cliff. Even from this distance it seemed grand and magical. The light flickering from the windows looked warm and inviting despite the actual cold and clammy weather. "Okay, Four persons a boat and no frolicking. If one of you should fall in the lake, I would like to inform you there are dangerous creatures living under the water and I am not diving in to fish you out."
With that in mind Hiccup carefully stepped in a boat with Ruff, Tuff and Fishlegs, The twins immediately swinging the boat from side to side to Fishlegs's objections. They were reprimanded quickly enough by a furious Maximus and other than that the boat ride was almost boring.
They reached a dark tunnel and had to duck their heads a bit as to not hit the ceiling. It was quite dark until they reach some sort of underground harbor where they docked the boats. After a flight of stairs they reached the grass right in front of the castle. The groundkeeper checked for a moment to see if everyone had followed before leading them to the great, oak front door and knocked three times.
It swung open instantly and from inside stepped a tall, stern-looking wizard with grey hair and tribal tattoo's donning his face.
"The first years, Professor Bunnymund." Sir Maximus said with a nod.
"Right on time, mate." The wizard's had a bit of an Australian accent. "I'll take it from here."
He gestured for them to follow. Nobody uttered a word.
Even though Hiccup was extremely nervous himself, he couldn't help but look around in fascination. The entrance hall was enormous and it reminded him a bit of the Mead Hall back at home. They went up to the upper floor, bypassing a doorway, which Hiccup guessed must be where the other kids were seated from the noise coming from it alone. They entered an empty room and were motioned to stop.
"Welcome to your first year of Hogwarts." Said professor Bunnymund. "I take it you're all hungry from the long train ride, but before we can start the start-of-term banquet in the Great Hall, you all must be sorted into your houses. This is extremely important as your house will be like your family. You will attend classes with your house, sleep together in your house dormitory and spend time in your house common room."
"The houses are Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. Each house has attributed Great Wizards and Witches and achieved grand achievements. Here, your triumphs will earn you house points, while your mischief will lose them. At the end of the year the house with the most points will win the House Cup. I can only hope you will make your house proud."
"Now the sorting ceremony will start in a short while, so try to make yourself look presentable."
"I'll be off to see if they are ready for you." Said professor Bunnymund. "Try to behave."
The moment he left the nervous jittering the first years had repressed started back up again.
"You really don't think we'll be fighting a troll, do you?" Fishlegs whimpered.
"No, that's just Snotlout being an a-" But before Hiccup could finish he was interrupted by a girl with wild red curling hair.
"A Troll! I knew I shouldn't have listen to me mum and brought me bow."
And like that, the whole room started talking in panic.
"A troll! I knew I shouldn't have left my tower!" Cried a girl with incredibly long blonde hair.
Another girl looked like she was about to faint and Hiccup could hear two boys sniffling in the corner.
"Way to go, Fishlegs." Said Tuffnut, looking around the room.
"Yeah and I thought this was going to be dull." Ruffnut agreed.
"No-one is going to fight a troll!" Hiccup tried to yell, but nobody was really listening anymore.
And in that disarray, the door swung open.
"We are ready for y-" Professor Bunnymund to a moment to get a clasp on what was happening. "What in Merlin's name is going on here?!"
"Total and sweet chaos." Replied Ruffnut but the wizard didn't seem particularly pleased at her answer.
"Well, nevermind. Let's just get going. Form a line." He said, turning around while mumbling about 'bloody dramatic first years' under his breath.
They went down the stairs and finally through the door where the sound had come from earlier.
The Great Hall was breath stopping. The welcoming light came from floating candles hovering over four long tables, each one representing a house. Decked on it were golden plates and cups. At the end was another long table at which the teachers sat, only the big chair in the middle was empty, and just before that was a stool with an old, weathered hat. Hiccup wondered vaguely what it was for. Maybe it was some ancient hair loom that got a place of honor, yet it didn't seem to look all that grand.
Someone behind him made a gasp of wonder and Hiccup looked up and saw the night sky staring back at him. He had read about it of course, but he hadn't thought the enchantment would look that real. He couldn't even detect the real ceiling anymore.
The first years stopped and Hiccup's attention was once again on the old hat.
Nothing seemed to be happening and everyone at the tables started patiently at the thing. And then one of its folds opened and the hat started to sing.
It is due.
Put me on,
And I'll sort you.
To Gryffindor, brave and daring
To Ravenclaw, smart and judicious
To Hufflepuff, hard-working and caring,
To Slytherin, Cunning and ambitious.
You may not know what side you'll fold
But I can see what potential you hold.
So put me up and I shall see
What house is best to be."
It closed its mouth and the Hall burst into applause.
"See. I told you. No troll." Hiccup whispered to Fishlegs.
The room was shushed silent and professor Bunnymund stepped forward with a parchment roll.
"If your name is called, come forward to put the hat on and sit on the stool to be sorted." He said. "ARMSTRONG, SAM."
A red-headed boy walked forwards, sat down and put the hat on his head. It stayed quiet for a moment until-
"HUFFLEPUFF!" The hat shouted and the table to the right started to applause, where the boy was welcomed and greeted. He could see Astrid standing up to shake Sam's hand.
"SLYTHERIN!" Applause now came from the table to the far right.
'Beekeeper, Lianna' was also sorted into Hufflepuff and 'Butters, Cedric' became the first Gryffindor. At 'von Corona, Rapunzel' the room watched in fascination as the young girl with extremely long blonde hair nervously sat on the stool. The sorting hat wrinkled a bit before deciding on:
"RAVENCLAW!" and the table to the left cheered. The girl now seemed to smile brightly and a little relieved at being sorted into her house.
The next girl caused quite a ruckus. It was the same red-haired girl that had complained about missing her bow.
"DUNBROCH, MERIDA!" professor Bunnymund shouted and all around the whispers started.
'Did he say Dunbroch?"
"They only own like half of Scotland."
"Their family stems from a line of kings and queens."
The hat did not take long to decide.
"GRYFFINDOR!" Merida smiled a smug smile and walked to the cheering table.
Next was 'Eddison, Sandra', a Hufflepuff and then 'Fallenville, Olive' went into Slytherin. And then Hiccup realized, they were getting close to the H, until eventually -
With slow strides Hiccup walked to the front, getting his courage up with each step. He sighed before sitting down and putting the hat on.
"Hmmm, tricky." Came a voice from around him, but he didn't see anyone speak. It must be the hat he thought!
"Quite tricky. You have bravery to the point of recklessness, resourcefulness as well as cunning and a potential to be a great leader." The hat told him. "So where will you excel."
"I just want to belong." He thought.
"Do you? You would stand in without question?"
"No." Thought Hiccup. "Not without question."
"Very well. Then it can only be RAVENCLAW" The last word resonated to the walls and back to Hiccup ears again. He had a house. With a small smile and a sign of relieve he put the hat down and walked to the clapping table dressed in blue. He caught Astrid looking at him with a knowing smile and he shyly smiled back.
The girl with long blond hair stood up to eagerly shake his hand.
"Hi. Rapunzel." She introduced herself.
"My name's Hiccup." He said back before sitting down across from her and the two turned to back to watch the sorting.
When it was Fishlegs's turn shortly after, the poor boy looked like he might faint any moment. But he needn't worry because as soon as the hat touched his hair it shouted -
"RAVENCLAW." Hiccup clapped the loudest of them all and Fishlegs hurriedly sat down next to him.
"I can't believe that for once I am glad Snotlout was right." He said puffing. "I am so glad I am not on my own."
They drifted off a bit before the teacher called for Ruffnut, who walked up with her usual swagger. The hat hummed and grumbled for a bit, until after a full two minutes decided on –
"I hope we don't have too many classes with the Slytherins. They look mean." Fishlegs whispered to Hiccup and Rapunzel. "And can you imagine having the twins there to distract you."
With the twins in Slytherin, classes would indeed be somewhat of a hazard. But it seemed the Sorting hat had a different idea.
Tuffnut hadn't had the hat on for a short ten seconds before it called out –
"GRYFFINDOR!" And a pleased but confused Tuffnut walked over to join an eagerly pleased but confused Snotlout. Hiccup thought the look quite suited them.
After that it was only 'Waterweed, Irma' who was sorted into Hufflepuff and that was it for the first years. Professor Bunnymund rolled up the parchment and took the sorting hat away. Apparently it wasn't allowed to enjoy the party.
From the seat next to the big empty chair stood a small plump man with sand-colored spiky hair. He stepped forward and motioned the hall to be quiet.
He didn't speak but instead wrote golden letters into the air with his wand.
Welcome to another year at Hogwarts. We've already waited long, so without further ado. LET THE FEAST BEGIN!
And with that food and drinks of all kind appeared on the previously empty golden plates. The students, suddenly realizing how hungry they were, eagerly dug in.
"You reckon that's the headmaster?" Hiccup asked after swallowing some pumpkin pie.
"Na, that's the deputy headmaster and charms teacher, professor Mansnoozie." Said a girl to his right. "Oh, right. I'm Anita Humpsun. Fifth year student."
"I'm Hiccup. Pleasure." He said back. "How come the headmaster isn't here?"
"Oh, he's almost never here, really. There has been a lot happening lately so he's been busy." She said. "But don't let that fool you. Professor Lunar does everything in his power to make sure we get a good education."
"Speaking about education. Are the lessons really that difficult?" Rapunzel asked.
"Not really. If you take time to plan and do your homework correctly, everything will be a breeze. Though it might be a good idea to also plan in some free time. An overworked mind is a closed off mind, after all. And otherwise I wouldn't have time for Quidditch."
"You're on the Ravenclaw team?" Hiccup asked.
"Yup, I'm one of the chasers. Quidditch isn't really for first years to worry about, as you're not allowed to play yet. But you should all consider coming to the games."
"Ohh!" Rapunzel squealed. "I've never been to a quidditch game before."
"Are you muggleborn or something?" Fishlegs asked.
"Not really. I don't know about my father, but my mother's a witch. We just never leave my tower." She signed longingly. "And you guys?"
"Pureblood." Hiccup answered. "My dad's in charge of one of the only full wizard communities back on my home island. My mom's off in Romania, though, to study dragons. We sometimes visit, but it's a long journey and quite dangerous. Plus my dad's also really busy more often than not."
"I'm from the same village as Hiccup and while everybody else is Pureblood I'm half." Fishlegs said. "Dad's a wizard and Mum's a muggle, but she has adjusted quite well."
"Ohh!" A shriek came from behind them. Quickly they turned around and saw dozens of Ghost descending through the walls. They shrieked their 'hello's' and greeting towards the new kids and gave 'welcome backs' to the older ones. Some ghost lingered around the house tables and introduced themselves as their respected house ghost. At the far end of the table the ghost of a young woman could be seen talking to some older students.
"Is that our house ghost?" Rapunzel asked.
"Yes. The Grey Lady." Anita answered. "She doesn't seem to talk to the other houses, but will always help a Ravenclaw in need. If you're ever in need of directions don't be afraid to ask her."
The Grey Lady caught them stating and waved to them with a small smile. Unsure of what else to do, Hiccup waved back.
After dessert had ended and the students were well-fed and full professor Mansnoozie once more stood up and motioned for the Hall to be quiet.
Before you all go to your bed and to the dream world, there are a few start-of-term notices I must convey.
Firstly, first years, as well as some older years, should take notice that the forest in the grounds is forbidden to all students. Furthermore, Mr. Filch, the caretaker, has asked me to remind you that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors.
Secondly, Quidditch trials will start in the second week of term. Anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact Madam Holly.
Finally, I do not know what you have heard about the recent increase in nightmares. Should one of you be plagued by one, however, it is recommended to go to the school nurse to get a sleeping draught that will aid you in getting a good night's rest.
With this I end the feast and it is off to bed with all of you. Till tomorrow and sweet dreams.
Sound returned to the Great Hall as everyone arose to go to their dormitories. The Ravenclaw first years were rounded up by a firth year prefect named Tyson Ashford.
"First years to me." He called. Dutifully Hiccup, Fishlegs and Rapunzel joined the other three first years. "I hope you're in for a bit of a climb."
They followed him out of the Great Hall and to the staircase chamber. They seemed to lead up forever and the walls were decorated by hundreds of painting.
"As you can see." He said while leading them up. "The staircases like to move around a lot. It's not that much of a problem, but try to keep it in mind to leave a little early for class in case of a detour. Fun Fact of the day: It was actually our renowned Rowena Ravenclaw who came up with the idea of an ever changing floor plan."
They were halfway to the third floor when Hiccup felt the ground underneath his feet disappear. He would have fallen on his face had Rapunzel not quickly grabbed him.
"Ah yes. Then there is that." The prefect said thoughtfully. "There are some trick stairs. But don´t worry, you´ll soon memorize them."
"Could've told us that sooner." Hiccup grumbled. "Is it just me or does this guy seem to be a little air-headed?"
"Oh, I'm sure he's capable." Said Fishlegs. "He's a prefect after all."
"Sir." Came a small voice from behind. It was Ellie, another Ravenclaw first year. "The staircase moved and we left Ebru and Theodore behind."
"Oh, dear." The guy said. He really had been unaware, Hiccup noticed. "Um, you stay here while I go get them. Shouldn't be long."
And so they waited at the end of the stairs of the third floor.
"First day and already lost?" Came a voice from their left. The grey lady came floating through the wall towards them. "I wanted to introduce myself to you during the feast but it was a bit loud, wouldn't you agree?"
"Actually, miss." Fishlegs answered. "We are waiting for the prefect to return with some students who got separated. I'm Fishlegs Ingerman, by the way."
"Well met. I am the Grey Lady. And you three?"
"Ellie, my Lady. Ellie Suarez."
"Rapunzel von Corona. Pleasure to meet you."
"I'm Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third." Hiccup answered. She gave them a smile in return.
"Perhaps we can speak again later, but your prefect has now returned." She said as Tyson came back with Ebru and Theodore, who were clearly a bit distressed at nearly being left behind. "Hello again, Tyson."
"Hello, my Lady."
"We will meet again when you are lost." She said to them. "Oh and Tyson, you have a responsibility now. It is time to come out of the clouds."
And with that she disappeared the same way she came.
"Right then." If Tyson was embarrassed he didn't show it. "It shouldn't be far anymore."
Far was apparently an abstractive term, as they were led up at least two more floors before climbing a very high circular staircase. The staircase ended and all they could see was an old wooden door with only an bronze knocker in the shape of a eagle.
"Well go on then." Tyson said to them. Hesitantly Hiccup grabbed the knocker and knocked once. The eagle seemed to come to life and with a signing voice it asked.
"Where is men always going towards that which each passing second gets closer, yet they never seem to reach?"
The six first years looked as if they had been slapped and turned to the fifth year beside them for answers.
"So, who wants to answer it?" He looked at them with expectations.
"Uhm, what exactly are we supposed to be doing?" Fishlegs asked.
"Well, we couldn't let just anyone in in Ravenclaw Tower, so instead of a password or something equally vulnerable, we have to solve the riddle the knocker asks. Only that way can we be sure we belong here."
"And what if we don't know it?" Rapunzel asked frightened.
"Then you have to wait outside until another student comes up and solve the riddle."
The first years looked at each other and were questioning what they had gotten themselves into.
"Do you know the answer?" Hiccup asked Tyson.
"Perhaps, but I could also be wrong. You never truly know."
"Okay so does anyone know a place that people can go to and yet never reach?" Ebru asked.
"Maybe it's a moving room or something. Charmed to always remain a few meters away?" Theodore said hopefully glancing at the door, but it remained shut. They pondered over it for a few minutes until Hiccup got a hunch.
"Or." Hiccup said thinking. "What if it is no place at all? The riddle kind of hints at it."
"Oh!" Rapunzel gasped. "Of course. We can't reach it because it never really exists!"
"Okay. I am kind of lost here." Fishlegs said rubbing his head.
"It's a time indication. The phase 'each passing second' gives it away." Hiccup answered.
"Where men is always going to but can never reach." Rapunzel said to the door with glee. "Is tomorrow."
"Congratulations." The eagle said and the door swung open.
They stepped inside with awe. The room was large and circular, with many windows at almost every angle. With them being up so high the view would be amazing, Hiccup reckoned. On the ground was a blue carpet and on the ceiling stars were painted on a dark blue sky. The room was furnished with tables, chairs and, to Hiccup's excitement, bookcases filled to the brim with books of all sorts of colors and sizes. Some were very heavy and old-looking and some brand new and Hiccup couldn't wait to start reading them. Opposite from the doorway was a tall marble statue of a woman Hiccup assumed to be Rowena Ravenclaw.
Most students were probably already in bed, trying to get a good head start on the studying that would start next day. Some students were still awake, already having their books open and taking notes or simply writing out the ideas they had over summer.
"The dormitories are in the turrets on the side. You can take the stairs next to the Statue of Rowena Ravenclaw; girls go left and boys go right." Tyson said pointing to the door behind the statue. "You will get your timetables tomorrow at breakfast. Remember to pack your bag well if you are uncertain of solving the riddle. Good night."
The boys said good night to Rapunzel and followed Theodore up to their dormitory. When they came there they saw that three four-poster-beds with sky blue silk eiderdowns were already made. They also found their luggage there as well. Hiccup went over and released his cat Fiddlesticks from his cage.
"None of you are allergic to cats, right?" He asked the other boys. Luckily they shook their heads and Hiccup put Fiddlesticks down. The cat didn't do much and was often afraid, even of the mice he was supposed to hunt.
They fell on their beds, having decided to unpack later. It had, after all, been an exhausting day. None of the boys had any energy left to talk and they fell asleep to the soft whistling of the wind.