The moment the train had stopped, everything seemed to become instantly overwhelming. People were up and out of their seats, running down the corridor to talk to their friends and pushing past everyone around them. Hermione was jostled ever which was as she attempted to get out of the compartment. Neville had gone out before her and had instantly been swallowed up in the large crowd of students. She could only hope that she wouldn't have as much trouble. Once she had finally made it outside the train, Hermione instantly spotted a large man that was standing on the other side of the tracks holding up a lantern that provided some light in the dark night.
"Firs' years!" he was hollering as a group of kids that looked her age gathered around him. The ground around them was damp and muddy so Hermione made sure to lift up her new robes so that they wouldn't get dirty. She saw the large man talking to Harry and Ron and she began to pick up the pace because it seemed that the group was being led away. It was cold outside, and even under her woolen robes Hermione could feel goose bumps coming up on her arms. "This way, firs' years!"
She turned around to get one last glimpse of the Hogwarts Express just to see that it had already left and instead a flustered Neville was running over to join them. "I couldn't find Trevor anywhere!" he exclaimed.
"But I've already told you," Hermione said as they two began walking side by side, "He's going to turn up eventually."
As the group began climbing up a small grassy hill the large man said, "Yeh'll get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in jus' a sec." Of course, with all the reading she'd done, Hermione had already seen plenty of photos of the glorious school. But as they reached the top of the hill, she saw that none of them could have compared to this. On the other side of a dark black lake there was a castle that towered over all of the small trees and carriages below it. Each window was lit up and full of twinkling lights. Hermione's stomach flipped as she could only wonder what it would look like once they were inside. It would be so much to take in tomorrow; the classes, meeting new people. Of course, she'd also have to make a good first impression on all of her teachers.
Snapping back into reality, Hermione followed her classmates who had headed down the hill and were now loading into the many small rowboats that were sitting motionless on the top of the water. "No more'n four to a boat!" the large man hollered as everyone ambled down towards the water. She and Neville joined Ron and Harry in one of the wooden boats which was beginning to sway gently in the dark water. Once it seemed that everyone was seated and waiting the man stepped into his own boat (which was much larger than theirs) and said with a shout. "Everyone in? Right then – FORWARD."
Without and jerk or push at all, the boats began gliding across the lake and towards the castle. Hermione looked down into the water and even though it was all pitch black, she swore she saw a glimpse of something under the water. Of course, after reading Hogwarts: A History as many times as she already had, Hermione knew that an uncountable amount of creatures lived in the waters depths. It sure wasn't a place that she would choose to go for a swim.
No one was speaking to one another, just looking around at the scenery and ducking when the large man said when they went under a cliff edge and through a dark tunnel. Finally docking on a rocky shore, everyone began to clamber out of their boats and amble up towards the castle. "Oy, you there!" the man said, pointing a Neville. "Is this your toad?"
"Trevor!" Neville cried out stumbling over the shore and retrieving the toad from the man's large hand.
As the group was joined by the large man and led to the entrance, Hermione caught up with Neville and not even trying to hide her smirk said, "I told you he'd turn up eventually."
The moment the doors opened Hermione couldn't help but gasp. The entrance to the castle was ginormous and a glowing heavenly light seemed to be coming from inside. Lit torches hung on the walls and there was a marble staircase that went up so high so that Hermione couldn't tell where it ended. In front of the staircase stood a woman with graying back hair tied up behind her head in a bun. She wore emerald green robes and was standing in the doorway, no expression daring to show on her face.
"The firs' years, Professor McGonagall," the large man said with a grunt.
With a slight nod, the witch replied, "Thank you Hagrid. I will take them from here."
As the children were led inside of the magnificent castle, Hermione could hear that somewhere in a different part of the building there were people talking. It didn't take long for her to guess that it could only be the rest of the students. But instead of joining them, all of the first years were brought into a small chamber where Professor McGonagall stood patiently, waiting for the growing murmurs to stop before she finally spoke.
"I'd like to welcome you all to Hogwarts," she said and Hermione felt as though her heart might burst out of her chest it was pounding so hard. This was it. She was here right now at a school for witches and wizards. She, Hermione Granger, was going to learn magic. "The start-of-term banquet will begin soon, but before you will be able to take your seats in the Great Hall, you must be sorted into your Houses. Your houses will be very important while you are at Hogwarts because all through your seven years here, your House will be something like a family. You will have classes with your Houses, sleep in your House dormitory, and I'm sure that's where you'll make many friends.
"As some of you may know, the four houses are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own remarkable history and has produced many talented witches and wizards. While at Hogwarts your triumphs will earn your House points, while and rule-breaking our trouble-making will cause you to lose House points. At the end of the year, the House that ends up with the most points will be awarded with the House Cup, which is always a great honor. I hope that you all will be a credit to whichever House you are placed in."
Hermione was nodding along with the others, even though this information wasn't new news to her. She'd read all about the Houses and the House Cup in her summer reading, and had already had plenty of time to worry over which House she would be placed in. But even that didn't seem to keep her from worrying now.
With a small cough Professor McGonagall added, "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." Professor McGonagall paused as her classmates had taken this as a signal to adjust their robes and pat down their hair. Ron attempted once again to get the smudged dirt off of his nose but was once again (to her own frustration), unsuccessful.
"I shall return when we are ready for you. It would do best if you all would please wait quietly," Professor McGonagall said before she swiftly left the chamber; the doors shutting will a click! behind her.
Immediately everyone then burst into a series of different conversations. Hermione caught bits and pieces of what they were saying, all which seemed to add to her building anxiety.
"How do they sort us?"
"Does it hurt?"
"I'm so nervous!"
Hermione herself began reviewing everything that she had studied over the summer. What ingredients were needed in a potion that would heal the common cold, the hand moment used to perform a simple charms spell, the type of plant that would strangle you to death if not treated in the right way-
Her thoughts were interrupted when behind her a loud voice boasted, "I'm sure that I'll end up in Slytherin just like my father and my mother. The Slytherin House seems to run in my family, along with being a pureblood, of course." Turning around she saw it was that Draco Malfoy, the boy that she had ran into on the train. Hermione rolled her eyes and let out a heavy sigh. Draco's friends however laughed obnoxiously, seeming to have found what their superior friend had said hilarious. But before she was forced to endure it any longer a few people broke out into screams.
About 20 ghosts had floated into the room, going straight through the brick wall. They seemed to be in mid-conversation with one another. "I ought to say we give him another chance-"
"We've given Peeves too many chances as it is," said a strange looking figure who was speaking to what appeared to be a rather fat monk. Hermione recognized him as the "Fat Friar" from her reading.
"Oh look!" The monk said noticing the group of first years. With a large smile he clasped his hands together and exclaimed, "Oh, they must be about to be sorted! I hope to see some of you in Hufflepuff, it was my old House, you know!"
Suddenly Professor McGonagall came back into the room walking rather quickly. She pointed at all of the ghosts, a scowl on her face. "You all move along now, the Sorting Ceremony is just about to begin!" The ghosts all mumbled forms of "yes ma'am" and disappeared, going returning back through the wall that they had first come from. "I need you to all form a single file line," Professor McGonagall ordered, "and if you'd please follow me into the Great Hall!"
With her head pounding and her knees feeling rather weak, Hermione followed her fellow classmates as they exited the chamber and entered the Great Hall. It was a gigantic room with four very long tables set up side by side, one for each house. It was easy to tell which was which. Gryffindor students were wearing more red, Hufflepuff was yellow, Ravenclaw was blue, and Slytherin was green. At the front of the room was a long table which overlooked all of the House tables. Seated at that table were older wizards and witches who Hermione guessed to be all of the other teachers at Hogwarts. Ignoring the faces of staring older students she followed Professor McGonagall to the front of the room where there was a small four-legged stool and a ratty, dirty looking wizard's hat. As she walked she heard people announce to their friends, "That one right there, him! That's Harry Potter!"
As the group came to a halt Hermione heard some of her classmates whispering about the ceiling, which looked just like a clear night's sky and was dotted with twinkling stars. Turning to face a girl with light brown wavy hair and pale blue eyes she explained, "It's bewitched to look like the sky outside. I read about it in Hogwarts: A History." The girl gave her a weird look before Hermione decided to turn back to face the front of the room.
Everyone seemed to be staring at the hat and the reason to why was answered as the hat suddenly had a tear open up and it began singing a song about the different Houses and traits that might put you in one of the four. Hermione listened closely to every word that was spoken. According to the song, all they had to do was place the hat on their head and it would place them in their proper House.
"So we've just got to try on the hat!" Ron, who was standing a few feet away from her, said in amazement. "I'll kill Fred; he was going on and on about wrestling a troll."
Hermione suddenly felt a wave of panic crash into her. This wasn't something that she could've prepared for. No studying or review could change where this hat would choose to place her. Once a decision was made, there would be no going back. As students were called up to try on the hat, it would shout House names out loud.
Closing her eyes tightly shut, Hermione concentrated hard, trying to persuade her mind to do as she wanted. Gryffindor, Gryffindor, Gryffindor, Gryffindor.
Finally, Professor McGonagall announced her name. "Granger, Hermione!" With a burst of courage and determination, Hermione took a deep breath and thought it'd be best just to get up there and get it all done quickly. She hopped up the few steps that there were and sat still on the unstable stool, pulling the large dirty hat onto her head. The hat was so large that it nearly dropped down over her eyes. Suddenly it almost seemed like there was a voice in the back of her mind that was talking to her quietly. "Smart, very smart indeed…honest, too…but there is something else there, I can see it…you are a brave soul. Not afraid of being wrong, ready to take on any new task…yes I believe you'd do very well in…GRYFFINDOR!"
The Gryffindor table erupted in cheers and it became obvious to Hermione that they must have heard the last word that the Sorting Hat had spoken to her. Displaying a large grin, she ran over to take her spot at the Gryffindor table, getting many handshakes and pats on the back as she sat down. Letting out a sigh of relief, Hermione brushed her bushy hair out of her face. She had now been sorted into her House and tomorrow lessons would begin. Everything she'd been anticipating for months was finally coming together.
But in the back of her mind, Hermione reminded herself that it could fall apart just as quickly.
A/N: I am so, so sorry that it took me such a long time to update! I'm sure you can see that this was a longer chapter full of one of what I would consider an important event! I hope you guys liked it, I'll try to update again soon!
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