The Sorting Hat (or Brian to his friends) has had enough of being told by Albus Too-Many-Names Dumbledore exactly how certain new students should be sorted. He's seen the four great Houses of Hogwarts decline from what The Founders had once envisioned them to be. For once, he's going to take matters into his own, um, hands? The incoming class of 1991 isn't going to know what hit them. Get ready for a Sorting like no other!


Disclaimer – I solemnly swear that JKR owns everything Harry Potter. Whether or not I am up to no good with her characters is for you to decide.


A Sorting Like No Other

A new school year was dawning. The Hogwarts Sorting Hat (also known as Brian to his friends, which when he thought about he could count on one hand – that was if he actually had hands) listened intently to the babble of voices just through the door in front of him.

There was laughter, voices calling out across the Great Hall in greeting, scrapes of benches and the tinkle of cutlery as it was bumped about. Exactly the type of sounds that Brian had become used to at this time of year over the course of a millennium.

Soon. Soon it would be his moment to shine. Once a year he was paraded out in front of the Great School to sort the new first years. Each year he was required to look into their minds and determine the characteristics that would most define them. And, as had become tradition over the last eight hundred years or so, he would sing them a song.

Admittedly, it wasn't easy to make up a new song every year, but then, what else was he going to do in the three hundred and sixty-four days of the year when he was stuck up on the shelf gathering dust. Every year he extolled in song the virtues that the Four Founders had most prized in the students that they taught and each year, he was mostly ignored.

Once, a long time ago, the Headmasters sought his opinion and listened to his vast experience. He'd observed things that no others had ever had the chance to. He'd learnt politics and what it took to run a school. He'd discovered the characteristics that the very best teachers all seemed to share. And he'd listened to the wisdom of some of the most wise, influential and powerful witches and wizards to ever grace these hallowed halls.

But all of that was in the past.

While his primary role still remained the same – sorting and dividing the students – Brian had been mostly ignored. This newest Headmaster, well new for Brian even though Albus Too-Many-Names Dumbledore had held the post for forty odd years, mostly ignored Godric Gryffindor's old hat. Except, that was, during the week leading up to September the first.

During that week, Dumbledore spent countless hours 'discussing' each incoming student and 'suggesting' where each one would be best sorted. And for more years than Brian would care to admit, he'd acquiesced to the man.

But no more.

Over the years, Brian's annoyance had grown to the point that he'd had enough. And now, it was his turn to shine. Sure, he'd listened to the man, but everything that he'd been told had gone in one ear and straight out the other. Um, not that he actually had any ears, but that was beside the point.

He'd also tried hard to come up with a song that might actually make the students listen. Gryffindor was more than about being brave, just as Ravenclaw prized more than intelligence. Hufflepuff cared about more than simply about hard workers and as for Slytherin, Brian knew that old Salazar would turn in his grave if he ever found out that all his once great house stood for now was purity of blood.

Coming out of his reminiscing, Brian realised that not only had the noise outside the door quietened down, but that some quick, determined footsteps were coming his way.

The door opened and Minerva McGonagall (Gryffindor) quickly entered, picked him up, placed him on the stool in her hands and carried him out.

Brian looked around as he and the stool were placed in the centre of the small stage where the staff table sat. Behind him, he knew, were all of those new minds waiting for their turn to join one of the four great tables before him. Looking out over the hundreds of faces, Brian was pleased to note that every single one of them was focused on him, waiting for his song.

This was it. His moment had come.

Opening up his brim in a parody of a mouth, he began to sing:

In the days of old

When the Founders Four did live

They joined together

Combining knowledge they wished to give

Within these castle walls did they

Remark upon something unique

The students all within their grasp

Different facets of each did they seek

Emboldened Godric Gryffindor

Stepped forth, his students O so brave

So dashing, so daring

And chivalrous did he fave

Next to the fore was Rowena Ravenclaw

Insight and yearning

Were what she most sought

Students full of wit and smarts for learning

Never to be outdone, Salazar Slytherin stepped forth

Calling forth all those who thought

That with ambition and drive

All that they wanted could be sought

Never least, Helga Hufflepuff came last

She cast her eye far and wide

For those of loyalty and not afraid of hard work

And brought them to her side

When at last the time came

For the Founders Four to depart

They left me behind to fulfil

Their job of students to part

And now once more I find that I

Must look inside your head

To find what makes you you

And where best you will find your bed

So come forth, never fear

I promise to be fair

Take me up, put me on

Top of all of your hair.

Wild applause erupted in front of Brian, accompanied by whistles and cheers. Smiling to himself, he took his bow, hoping that for once, those before him had truly listened to what it was that he had to say.

When the crowd had settled, Professor McGonagall stepped forth and unrolled the parchment that she carried.

"When I call your name, you will sit upon the stool and place the Sorting Hat upon your head."

"Abbot, Hannah!"

Brian felt himself picked up and lowered upon the first head of the year.

Hmm, a ready mind I see. A great deal of compassion, too. And an over-riding sense of fair-play, Brian mused as he rummaged around in the girl's mind. He smiled. Yes, yes, you're an easy one.

Hufflepuff!he yelled out to the hall.

Brian felt himself being pulled off and plunked back down onto the stool.

"Bones, Susan!" Professor McGonagall called.

Once again, Brian found himself in the mind of a first year girl.

"Please, I'd like to be with my friend," Susan thought to him.

Yes, yes, that's possible, Brian replied, but let's take a look first. Loyalty and friendship and high motivators for you. As is your desire to see that everyone is treated fairly and that they all follow the rules. Yes, I do believe that I can grant you your desire.


"Boot, Terry!" was the next one called to the stool.

Ooh, a sharp mind here. Lots of eagerness to learn about the world around. There's ambition, too, and a thirst to prove oneself. But I'd have to say that your thirst for knowledge overpowers it all.

Ravenclaw! Brian announced, sending the table second from the left into ecstatic applause.

"Brocklehurst, Mandy!"

Another one with a great desire to learn. There's wonder here, wonder and curiosity. Yes, Rowena's House is definitely the best place for you, I think.


"Brown, Lavender!" Professor McGonagall announced.

Hmm, this is a different type of mind than I've seen so far today. Not that I haven't seen its like before. There's curiosity and a great need to know. Ambition, too and a thirst to be seen for more than for her looks. But I'm not finding the desire to use the knowledge that you find. There's the potential for loyalty, but only for your closest friends, I believe. Perhaps a slightly deeper look, then. Hmm, here's something interesting. There's a spark of courage here. A spark that lets you throw caution to wind in your pursuit of your desires. Yes, yes, I think that I know just the way to fan that spark!


Brian found himself placed back on the stool at just the right angle to watch the brown haired girl rush off to the far table.

"Bulstrode, Milicent!" was the next called.

Hmm, Miss Bulstrode, you are an enigma, aren't you? Brian began. You have plenty of ambition and an almost overwhelming thirst to prove yourself which both make you a prime candidate for Salazar's illustrious house.

Please, both my parents were in Slytherin, Milicent thought quietly.

Yes, Yes, I can see that, but there's something else here that needs thinking about. I can see that you've often been shunted to the side, overlooked even. And every time that has happened, you've dug deep to keep going. You've pulled yourself out of the depths of despair and endured. And that, my dear, takes a great deal of courage and determination. Both wonderful qualities that you have in spades. A little more self-confidence and you'll be unstoppable. But where would be best for you, I wonder? I know what you'd like, but is that really the best fit for you?

Yes, Yes, I can see that you want Slytherin, but is that because that's what your parents expect or is it something more? For you, my dear, I think that we'll give you what you need rather than what you want.


Brian watched as Milicent uncertainly stood up, placed him back on the stool and nervously headed towards the table clapping and cheering her inclusion. Behind him, Brian felt the Headmaster shift uncertainly in his chair and he smiled privately to himself. Yes, Milicent Bulstrode may very well be just the first of many destined for somewhere other than what was expected of them.

"Corner, Michael!" Professor McGonagall's strong voice called.

Ooh, an easy one! You've a quick mind, Mister Corner. Eager to learn, and explore the horizons of knowledge. You, my boy, have the exact type of mind that dear Rowena prized so high."

Ravenclaw! Brian announced in his fastest sorting so far of the day.

"Cornfoot, Stephen!"

Now you're an interesting one, Mister Cornfoot. You're highly ambitious and with a real thirst to prove yourself. Especially academically, I see. But at the same time, you love helping others learn. In fact, if I'm seeing this correctly, you've been known to spend more time tutoring others than you really should when it comes to your own pursuit of knowledge. Yes, I'd say that that would have to really define you, Mister Cornfoot. Your decision, it seems, is much easier than I first thought.


"Crabbe, Vincent!" Professor McGonagall announced.

Brian watched as a large boy shuffled his way forward before sitting down and placing him on his head.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. What do we have here? You, Mister Crabbe are going to be a tough one.

Brian searched the boy's head deeper and deeper, desperately trying to find something to help him sort this boy.

I think, for you, Mister Crabbe, it might be easier if we sort you by a process of elimination, hmm?

Me Dad and Ma were both in Slytherin, Vincent thought. I'm supposed to be in Slytherin, too.

Well, Mister Crabbe, that is one possibility, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's see. I don't think Ravenclaw would work for you at all, you just don't have that drive to learn. Gryffindor, too, also seems to be a poor match. While you are tough and seem to like intimidating others, that's not the bravery that Godric sought. As much as you might expect Slytherin, I don't think that that's quite right for you either. I can't seem to find any guile or cunning in here at all. That just leaves Hufflepuff, but the question, of course, is do you have the attributes that Helga looks for.

If a hat could sigh, that's precisely what Brian would have done nearly a minute later when he finally found what he was looking for.

Ahh, here we are. It seems that you're incredibly loyal to your friend, Mister Crabbe. And loyalty is just the thing we need to sort you into …


Brian watched amusedly as the Headmaster half-rose from his chair as if he was intent on interrupting the sorting, a feat that no Headmaster had attempted for close to five hundred years.

In the opposite direction, three of the House tables seemed to have been stunned into silence by the unexpected sorting. And of the fourth, only a smattering of Hufflepuffs retained the wit to applaud their new housemate.

"Davis, Tracey!" Professor McGonagall called into the near silence of the Hall.

Now, here's an ambitious one! I see that you have a very real thirst to prove yourself, to be the best that you can be despite what you see as the shortcomings of being a half-blood from a minor House, although, strangely enough, you mostly want to prove yourself to yourself. Just between you and me, Miss Davis, those are not shortcomings. No accident of birth can stop you from being the best that you can be. And I can help you along there. Let's sort you into …


"Entwhistle, Kevin!"

Good evening, Mister Entwhistle. I see that you're ready to be sorted. I must say that you have one of the most ordered minds that it's ever been my pleasure to come across. Every scrap of information has its assigned place with empty spots simply waiting to be filled. Well, Mister Entwhistle, I can assure you that come tomorrow, your mind will begin being bombarded with new and exciting information. There's only one option for you, Mister Entwhistle.


"Finch-Fletchley, Justin!"

There's no need to be alarmed, Mister Finch-Fletchley, you're perfectly safe in my hands. Or at least you would be if I actually had hands. I see that you have been instilled with a high moral code of right and wrong, not to mention the admirable quality of treating your fellow man just as you would like to be treated. Your parents have much to be admired about them for impressing upon you these wonderful traits. Now, to the business of where best to put you, although when I come to think on it, I guess we've already been talking about that, haven't we? Your sense of fair-play definitely seems to be your dominant quality which makes it a fairly easy decision.


Brian watched Professor McGonagall look down at her parchment before looking around at the remaining first years and calling for, "Finnegan, Seamus!"

If Brain could have, he would have jumped back in shock after his first look in the small, Irish boy's head.

Mister Finnegan! You are a menace! Are all of these instances right? You really managed to blow up half of your mother's kitchen while cooking eggs? And the top of your grandmother's chimney exploded when you were lighting a fire last winter? I really hope that you don't plan on blowing up the castle on us. Now, to business. I see that despite all of the … unfortunate events that have happened around you, it hasn't stopped you from going back and trying again. That, my friends, shows true courage. There's steel in you; a real fortitude to your spirit. There's only one true House for you, Mister Finnegan.


"Goldstein, Anthony!"

I'm sorry, Mister Goldstein, but trying to analyse me is simply going to make your brain twist itself into knots. I was created from the combined wisdom of the Four Founders. Your curiosity and desire to understand will stand you in good stead here at Hogwarts. Never lose those traits. Let's see, what else can we find in here? I see a dash of courage and ambition to succeed, but neither of those traits trump your true intelligence. So for you, it better be …


"Goyle, Gregory!" Professor McGonagall called the next student to the stool.

On first examination, Brian could have sworn that he'd seen this boy once already today. Opening his eyes, he scanned the Hufflepuff table to confirm for himself that what he'd thought had happened had in fact happened.

You, are a puzzle, much like your friend Vincent, I see. And like him, I think that it might be best if we search out which Houses you're not best suited for.

My Dad told me that I was going to be in Slytherin like he was, just like Vince and Draco will be, Greg thought, but I don't think I'd mind if you put me in Hufflepuff with Vince. At least it's not Gryffindor.

In that case, Mister Goyle, let's see what we can do for you. No, you're perfectly safe from what I can see. Gryffindor is definitely not a match for you. And, unsurprisingly, neither is Ravenclaw. Now, as I have yet to sort Mister Malfoy, there's no guarantee that he'll be sorted into Slytherin, despite what everyone expects. Slytherin, though, would work for you. There's a hint of guile in you. It could be nurtured there. But then, I really have to take into account what you've already hinted at: you want to be with your friends. And that, Mister Goyle, shows true loyalty. So, I think I'll honour your request.


"Excuse me, Professor McGonagall, I'd like a word with the Sorting Hat for a moment."

Brian twisted his tip around until he was facing the Headmaster.

"Is there something that I can do for you Headmaster?" he asked.

Instead of answering, Brian watched the long-bearded wizard round the Head Table, pick him up and jam him almost painfully onto his large head.

What in the world do you think you are doing? Dumbledore's thoughts roared.

Why, simply my job, Headmaster, Brian replied.

Is that what you call it? Already I've seen you sort two students into the wrong place! I specifically remember telling you that both Mister Goyle and Mister Crabbe were to go to Slytherin. And Milicent Bulstrode was expected to go there as well. Would you care to enlighten me as to what you think you are doing? Dumbledore questioned.

It's very simple, Headmaster, I'm doing my job. Exactly the way the Founders wanted me to do it, Brian replied.

I am the Headmaster, Hat! You will do as I say! Do you understand? Dumbledore asked forcefully.

I understand completely, Headmaster, Brian replied.

Apparently, that was enough to satisfy the old fool, for Brian suddenly found himself jerked off the Headmaster's head and once more placed on his stool. Hidden under his brim, Brian smirked to himself. He couldn't wait to see the Albus-Too-Many-Names Dumbledore's reaction when he continued sorting the new first years according to where they were best suited for rather than where the Headmaster wanted them.

"Headmaster? Can I kindly proceed?" Professor McGonagall asked in a voice like ice. "Very well, then. Granger, Hermione!"

Brian blinked as he found himself lowered upon a head of incredibly bushy hair.

What an eager young lass you are, Miss Granger! Well, shall we explore your mind, find out what it is that makes you you? Oh, I see that books and learning have been your refuge for more years than you care to count. Yes, yes, I can see that in every situation where knowledge could be gained, you've eagerly leapt forward to grasp it with both hands. Any mystery that you encounter needs to be unravelled. And I see that that has occasionally gotten you into a spot a trouble. Not that that has dampened your enthusiasm, indeed, it almost seems to have encouraged it. Yes, you have a nice amount of courage and a dash of daring as well, I see. Ravenclaw and Gryffindor would both be good matches for you.

But before we decide, let's continue to look, shall we? You have talent to spare, Miss Granger. Talent and ambition and a drive to succeed. There's a whole section of your mind dedicated to planning and looking for the best way to get whatever it is that you want. All of that would make you a perfect candidate for Salazar's illustrious House. And what's this, buried so very, very deeply? I see you have the potential for loyalty rarely seen these days. And that, coupled with your deep-seated desire for fair-play would make Hufflepuff a good choice for you as well.

Well, my dear Miss Granger, it seems that you are one of those truly special people that would have had Godric, Rowena, Helga and Salazar all fighting after you to have you in their House. I wasn't planning on doing this this year, but is there a particular House that you have your heart set on?

Brian saw that he'd caught the young girl completely off-guard.

I don't really know much about the Houses, she admitted. Ravenclaw sounds good. So does Gryffindor, but I think it'd be best to leave the choice up to the expert.

Very well, very well, let's see, where would you do best? Brian mused. Hufflepuff, I think, isn't quite right for you. As you mentioned, both Ravenclaw and Gryffindor would be good matches. But I wonder if you'd be interested in a challenge. With your ambition, intelligence and bravery, Slytherin could be just the place for you. I must warn you, it won't be easy. There'll be many in the House who'll look down on you simply because you are muggle-born. But I believe that you have the potential to turn Salazar's House around from what it currently is back to the noble House that it once was.

What do you think? Are you up to the challenge? Or would you prefer the safer option of Ravenclaw? I'll leave the decision to you.

For the longest time, at least as a Hat measures time, but what in reality was only a couple of seconds, Hermione Granger weighed her options.

I see that you've made your decision. I thank you, Miss Granger for the bravery that you're showing.


Brian watched the bushy-haired young witch quickstep across the Hall, wishing her all the luck that he could.

"Greengrass, Daphne!"

Good evening, Miss Greengrass, shall we take a look inside your head? What's this, Miss Greengrass? Trying to hide your true personality might work on your fellow students, but I assure you it won't work on me! It's a very Slytherin ploy, though, hiding your true self to force others to reveal aspects of themselves that they might not otherwise. I also see that you have ambition almost coming out of your ears. Mister of Magic is indeed a lofty goal! The cunning and resourcefulness that I sense within you will help you immensely in your ambition there. As will the intelligence and thirst for knowledge that shapes your mind so wonderfully. Both Ravenclaw and Slytherin would help you on your way, but of course, the choice is clear, isn't it, my dear? Best be …


"Hopkins, Wayne!" Professor McGonagall called.

Ah, Mister Hopkins, what an amenable fellow you are. I can see that you love being the life of the party and you never leave anyone out. A real joker, too. Tell me, have you heard the one about the wizard, the centaur and the muggle walking into a bar? You have? I see that you still find it as funny as I did the first time that I heard it. Let's see, what else is there here in your head? You're hard-working, a very good trait. Plus you have a high desire to always do your best and ambition to succeed. But really, it's your personable nature that has its firmest hold on you. There's only one place for you, I think.


"Jones, Megan!"

Well, well, well, what do we have here? You, I see, Miss Jones, were one of the hardest working people in your class in your muggle primary school. You always put in hours more work on every project than anyone else. And, even though you didn't always get the best marks, your work was always thorough. And what's this? A touch of bravery, I see? You've never been shy to lend a hand to even the unpopular ones in your school. Definitely brave. And fairness, too, of course. Gryffindor would help you on your way, but I don't think that it would be the best match for you. No, best be …


"Li, Su!" Professor McGonagall called.

Now this mind is indeed a breath of fresh air. Your mind, Miss Li, is incredibly logical. Everything is in its place and you have connections between every subject, all ready for total recall and cross-matching at a moment's notice. If ever you get the chance, look into the study of Occulmency. I'd have to say that you'd be able to pick up the discipline quite easily and quickly. Now, what else can I find in here that will help me sort you? There's ambition and desire to be the absolute best. Teamwork, I see, has its uses, but you much prefer working alone. No, I'm not quite sure why I'm still looking. There's only one logical place for you, isn't there?


"Longbottom, Neville!"

As the small boy hesitantly stepped forward, Brian took a second to study him. After all, this was another of those on the list that Albus-Too-Many-Names Dumbledore had spoken to him about. The boy was obviously shy, what with the way that he was looking more at the ground than where he was going. But body language really wasn't a skill that Brian had developed. Why would he need to? One look into a person's mind was enough to know everything about them after all.

Finally, he felt himself lowered onto the first year boy's head.

If your mind had a colour, Mister Longbottom, I'd have to say that your mind would be green. But that may because of all the hours that you've spent hiding away from the world in your favourite greenhouse. Just as I thought, I see that you're incredibly shy. Ahh, here's why, you haven't had much chance to interact with those your own age. Let's see, why is that? You live with your Grandmother and, oh, here's something, it seems that once you're working with your plants, you have a propensity to focus so much on your work that you lose track of the time. Hmm, yes, yes, that focus is there for all aspects of your life, not that you've had much chance to utilise it.

What else can I find in here, hmm? There's loyalty. Loyalty and bravery. Both traits are there in abundance. Buried deep at the moment, but they're there, just waiting for a chance to shine forth. Yes, those are definitely your most dominant characteristics – hard working, loyalty and bravery. But where to put you? Which House would help you the most. Gryffindor would definitely see you shine, but that may take years. Hufflepuff would also be good for you. It's just the place for your hard work and loyalty and with Hufflepuff's tendency to be friendly, it may just help you on your way much faster. But which one to put you in? For you, Mister Longbottom, I think that you need to blossom sooner rather than later and so, I think that I'll sort you into …


"MacDougal, Morag!" was the next that Professor McGonagall called forth.

Ravenclaw, please, the girl stated the instant that the hat lowered over her ears.

My dear, at least allow me the chance to examine your head to find out if Ravenclaw is actually suited to you," Brian retorted.

You will find, Mister Hat, that I am an avid reader and love to hoard tons of facts, however useless they may seem at the time, just like my dad. And, just like my mum, I love being challenged with a good riddle or problem to solve.

For his part, Brian was only half listening to Morag as he delved deeply into her mind, examining her psyche and what made her tick.

It would seem, Miss MacDougal, that you are in fact correct. There can only be one house for you, so let's get you sorted into…


"Macmillian, Ernie!"

Hmm, you're definitely very opinionated, aren't you? And when your mind is made up, it looks as though it's very difficult to change it. There's tenacity, too, and a fierce loyalty. Oh, I see that when you've set your mind on something, you'll move heaven and hell to make it happen. That's very Slytherin of you. Of course, it could also be considered a Hufflepuff trait. Ambition and hard work, two sides of a coin to success. But, when we combine them with your loyalty, there can be only one place for you.


"Malfoy, Draco!"

Brian swivelled the tip of his hat in time to see a small blonde haired boy strutting towards him.

Slytherin! Draco Malfoy demanded.

Perhaps, perhaps, Brian replied, beginning to feel irritated at the way some thought that he could simply be ordered around. Let's wait and see shall we? There's much to examine in here.

No. You will place me in Slytherin! Draco Malfoy demanded for a second time.

Why do you believe that you should be placed into Slytherin? Brian asked, deciding to humour the boy.

What? Everyone knows that Malfoys get sorted into Slytherin. My father was. And my mother. And my father's father. It's simply how it is.

But you, my boy, are not your mother or your father. You are your own individual and for all I know, Slytherin may not be the best fit for you. Now, hush while I take a look. I see you are determined to be the best, a very ambitious quality. And you obviously expect everything to simply be handed to you without doing the work. That definitely discounts Hufflepuff.

As if I'd want to be in the House of the common, Draco sneered.

But what's this, I see? You seem to have a habit of charging in and speaking your mind without thought for the consequences. Yes, yes, I see that your father has been trying to stamp that out of you, but it is definitely a major part of who you are. And one of the largest parts at that. No wonder you've been having such difficulty with it. That alone is enough to choose your House for you. One who has no fear of charging wherever he pleases and doing whatever he wants and saying the first thing that comes into his head is bound for only one place…


"What?" Draco screamed. "No! You will sort me into Slytherin where I belong!"

Too late, young Mister Malfoy. My decision is final, Brian replied testily.

"I won't go! Just wait until my father hears about this!" Draco threatened.

"Mister Malfoy! You have been sorted. Kindly join your Housemates at Gryffindor Table," Professor McGonagall stated, her lips thinner than any in the hall had ever seen them be.

Brian watched the boy try unsuccessfully to stare down the elderly professor before he was yanked off of the blond head and thrown back onto the stool.

Before Brian could pick himself up, he found himself lifted into the air. An exasperated sigh escaped him when he realised that the person putting him on their head wasn't an eleven year old, but a one hundred and fifty-one year old.

Hat, once again I must ask what you think you are doing? It was expected that Draco Malfoy be sorted into Slytherin, Headmaster Dumbledore thought at him.

Ah, yes, but then, as you well know, Headmaster, expectations can be deceiving. And while the boy definitely had some Slytherin qualities, I found more of Godric in him. If it's of any consolation to you, I believe that the boy has a chance to truly thrive in the House to which he's been sorted, Brian replied.

Dumbledore's anger was quite palpable and made his lining feel stuffy. You will cease this foolishness and sort the students into their appropriate Houses. I'm telling you now that if you continue with this, I shall have no choice but to retire you and to sort the students myself!

You're the Headmaster, Brian huffed. Do as you see fit. Just remember that nearly every witch and wizard in the country has been sorted by me and I suspect most will want to know why you're going to prevent me from doing my job.

Silence reigned between the two for nearly a full minute, giving Brian the time to rummage about in the Headmaster's head and to watch him realise the implications of his idle threat being carried out.

I shall be watching, Hat and what I ultimately decide to do with you may be determined by how you sort those few that are left!

With that last threat, Dumbledore pulled him off of his greyed head and plonked him back down onto his three-legged stool.

"Well, if we're quite ready to proceed?" Professor McGonagall snapped. "Moon, Lil!"

Ah, young lady, there's no need to be scared. I can assure you that I'm only here to help. If you were listening to my song earlier, you'll recall that my whole purpose in life is to decide what qualities make you you and where best to sort you to help you on your way not only here at Hogwarts but also out in the wider world.

But, the Headmaster, … Lil began.

Yes, he has been a bit interfering, hasn't he? He's not usually like that. And that, I see bothers you a great deal. Now I see. You're uncomfortable with conflict. You love seeing everyone getting along, working together, using whatever knowledge or talents that they have to help those around them. That is a most wonderful outlook, Miss Moon. I truly wish that others saw the world as you do. Not only Hogwarts, but the world in general would truly be a much better place that way.

Now, where to put you. But really, I think that I've already said, haven't I? The way you see the world is exactly the way Helga always wished for the world to be.


"Nott, Theodore!"

Now, now, Mister Nott. I can see exactly what you're thinking, so no need to even bother asking. You want to know what it is that I can do for you. You want to know if I'll share some of the secrets that I've seen in the minds of your fellow Hogwarts students. You want to know what the most useful information is that I've seen and how that knowledge could best benefit you, be it by simply knowing that knowledge or by using it to blackmail them to your advantage.

Very ambitious, Mister Nott, very ambitious. But ultimately doomed to failure. You see, in over a thousand years that I've been peeking into people's heads, not once have I ever divulged what I've seen in there. Not to a student, not to a teacher, not to the Headmaster, not even to the Founders themselves.

But where to put you, Mister Nott? You definitely seem to exude Slytherin qualities, don't you? You're ambitious and cunning and ruthless. There's intelligence in here too, I see. Yes, Salazar's House is definitely the best place for you, Mister Nott. You'll do well there.


"Parkinson, Pansy!" Professor McGonagll called.

H…Hello? Pansy thought the instant that the Hat touched her head.

Hello, Miss Parkinson, it's so very nice to meet you. Shall we begin? Brian replied.

I see that you already know quite a number of your fellow students that I've already sorted today: Mister Malfoy, Miss Bulstrode, Mister Crabbe, even Miss Greengrass. Yes, It's always nice to have friends and I can see your desire to be with your friends but if memory serves me right, and it always does, then I'm afraid that your friends have been sent into at least three different Houses. Not that that should stop you from spending time with them, no, not at all, that is the one weakness that the Founders couldn't overcome in the House system.

Now, wanting to be with your friends is admirable and entirely understandable, but we need to decide where you will best thrive here at Hogwarts. I see that you're ambitious. Your main aim in life is to climb the social ladder, to be considered a Lady of impeccable taste and reputation and power. There's cunning here too and a desire to do whatever it takes to achieve your aims.

Yes, I think that it's fairly easy to see the best way to help you achieve your goal in life …


"Patil, Padma!"

What an inquisitive mind you have, Miss Patil. I can see the dozens of questions bouncing around inside your head and, while I find your attention flattering, could we perhaps try to still your mind for now? If you go to the library tomorrow, I'm sure that Madam Pince would help you find a book telling you all about my history.

Now, let's see. Yes, as one would expect from someone so inquisitive, you have a brilliant mind and a real thirst for knowledge. There's also a stubborn streak in here that can make you quite hot-headed. I see that you have not a small amount of courage as well. Plus ambition as well. Yes, you would easily do well in nearly all of the Hogwarts Houses. But which one would you most flourish in, I wonder.

If you would simply stop with your questions and let me think for a moment? Thank you. Now, before you start up again, let's get you sorted into …


"Patil, Pavarti!"

Ooh, another one! I just sorted your sister. Twin sister, no less. But unlike her, you at least are allowing me to think. She simply wanted to bombard me with questions.

Now, there's no need to roll your eyes like that, Miss Patil, even if there are directed at your sister. Just like you, see loves knowing things. The only difference is that where she loves facts, you enjoy knowing about people. Yes, you're a people watcher, aren't you? But even more than that, you enjoy seeking out secrets and sharing what you find. That, I must say, takes real bravery, especially knowing that others may not want you sharing what you learn about them.

And I see that you're a social little butterfly as well – enjoying being with people, being the life of the party. But where to put you? You'd do well in Hufflepuff, but I don't think that that's quite the right place for you. Slytherin's definitely out, of course. And while you love learning, it's that streak of gumption, of rushing in boldly without thinking about the consequences of sharing what you learn about others that really sets you apart.

Best be …


Brian watched as Professor McGonagall looked down at the scroll in her hand before calling out the next to be sorted.

"Perks, Sally-Anne!"

Good evening, Miss Perks. And, I must say, what an incredibly bubbly personality you have. Even through your apprehension, I can feel your usual happiness trying to escape. Thank you for that. After the evening I've been having, it's nice to get a bit of a bolster, to get the drive to continue with my allotted task.

Now, let's see, shall we?

Yes, you're definitely a people person aren't you? Not quite the life of the party, but always an integral part of any group. You're not a leader and you really have no wish to be, but you intensely dislike being left out. You've a ready mind, I see and a desire to learn. Quite trust worthy as well. Honest and caring and just the type of person to be a shoulder to cry on for your friends. Yes, yes, I don't think that I really need to look any further.


"Potter, Harry!" Professor McGonagall called sending the Great Hall into a burst of whispers.

Brian turned to see what all the fuss was about.

A small, dark haired boy in broken glasses was nervously walking towards him, occasionally glancing back at those who were left.

Hmm, Brian thought moments before he was picked up, this is another one of those who the Headmaster predetermined for me.

As he settled down over the boy's ears, Brian got his first look into the boy's mind.


Hello, Mister Potter. Just relax and let me have a look in your head. This won't hurt and I'm sure that it won't take long. Soon enough we'll have you sorted and on your way.

I see that you've a ready mind, Mister Potter. You're quite inquisitive and love solving puzzles. You want to learn and your ambition helps you strive. But what's this? I see that you've fallen into the habit of hiding all that you know. Hmm, you've become adept at squirrelling away all that precious knowledge, keeping your true talents hidden away. That indeed takes true cunning.

And I see that while you long for friends, for companionship, you tend to keep people at arm's length. Yes, you're wary of getting close to people. You trust sparingly but once it's been given, I think that you'll hold that person to high standards and woe betide them if they betray that trust.

There's talent in here too, oh my word yes. There's talent to burn and greatness in abundance, if you're willing to let it out to play. I see that if you don't stop to think, you can be quite brash and impulsive and brave even.

But where best to put you?

Please, not Gryffindor, Harry pled.

Not Gryffindor, eh? Ah, I see exactly why you don't want that. And today, you're in luck, for that wasn't where I was going to put you. You, my friend, are bound for …


Brian watched as young Mister Potter lifted him high before setting him down on the stool. In front of him, the Slytherin table had gone wild with their clapping and cheering and what looked to be two blonde girls dancing in the aisle.

"Albus, what do you think you're doing?" Professor McGonagall hissed, causing Brian to twist his peak around.

At her words, the aged Headmaster paused three steps away from his chair, obviously on his way to have words with him once again.

"If you persist in continually jumping up and down like a jack rabbit, we'll never get through this Sorting tonight!" Professor McGonagall continued.

Brian watched, amazed, as Albus-Too-Many-Names Dumbledore meekly retraced his steps and took his seat once more. He turned back around to see Professor McGonagall give a satisfied nod.

"Rivers, Quincy!" she called, settling the Slytherins down once more.

Ah, what an intelligent mind you have, Mister Rivers. And a very amenable one at that. I see that you love sharing your knowledge just as much as you love gathering it. And, unlike some, it seems that you've already worked out how to do so in a way that's calm and gentle, giving just enough to help and not too much as to overwhelm those you're trying to help.

You, my boy, seem to be the embodiment of both Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. You're friendly and approachable, but you know how to research and value learning. Your intellect is your greatest strength, but it seems that it's not to be outdone by your loyalty to your friends.

If you were to choose, which House do you think would be best for you?

Brian watched interestedly as the boy whose mind he was within debated the pros and cons of each House. Ultimately, he knew the choice before Mister Rivers did and smiled inwardly as he concurred.


"Roper, Sophie!"

Please, I'd like to be in Hufflepuff with Sally-Anne, Sophie asked hesitantly as soon as she placed the hat on her head.

That may be, that may be, but that's not how it works here, my dear, although I promise to take into count your loyalty to your friend. Let's see what's best for you, shall we?

Hmm, I see that you're quite a timid girl most of the time. You aren't keen on trying new things and need the safety of your friends and family to survive in the world. But you're definitely loyal, that is certain. And a hint of ambition, too, I see. You'd love to overcome what you see as your failings and become the best at, what's this, charms, is it?

But you don't feel brave enough to strike out on your own, do you? You seek the safety of those who you know will comfort you and that, I think, is how you will succeed here at Hogwarts. At least for now until you can develop that oh so small hint of bravery that I detect deep inside you.

So, yes, Miss Roper, let's send you on your way to where you'll find safety and surety.


"Runcorn, Jeremy!" Professor McGonagall called.

Oh dear, cunning, ambition, secrecy with a healthy dash of ruthlessness. You are quite easy to read, aren't you, Mister Runcorn. All very Slytherin traits. The question, of course, is, do you possess the traits of the other Houses that might be a better fit for you?

A quick rummage, a peek into the hidden corners and Brian knew without a shadow of a doubt that he'd just come across the easiest Sorting of the evening.


"Smith, Zacharias!"

I would appreciate Gryffindor, thank you.

Well, now, Mister Smith, that all depends, Brian replied. Shall we see if the House of the Lions is the best place for you? Hmm, yes, I can see a definite hint of bravery, usually tied in with a touch of arrogance. Definitely Gryffindor traits, but let's see what else there is to see.

I see that you're a hard worker, Mister Smith. Never one to shy away from what needs to be done or to shirk his duty. And you've developed a very healthy dose of fair play. Now those characteristics are more in line with the House of the Badgers.

No, no, neither Ravenclaw nor Slytherin are right for you. But where best to put you?

Gryffindor, thank you. I've already said so, Zacharias stated.

Yes, you did and while you would do well in Gryffindor, I feel that you would best flourish in …


But, Brian felt the protest cut off mid cry as he was jerked off of the dark haired boy's head.

"Spinks, Fiona!" Professor McGonagall announced.

Ooh, another one who's trying to hide their true selves from me. I've had one of them already this evening and just like her, I can tell you that it won't work. I can easily slip through any shield that you care to try to raise against me.

Now, apart from the overwhelming desire for secrecy, what else can I find in here, hmm?

I see that you're quite intelligent. You like searching out knowledge and then hoarding it away for later use. You've been taught early that every scrap of information is a weapon to use against someone else. Interesting philosophy, but if it works for you, who am I to say otherwise?

There's a hint of recklessness in here, I see. A trait that you've only ever used in the pursuit of knowledge. Now, if you ever get the urge to let it lose for a bit of fun, you may find that you enjoy life a bit more.

Look at me, giving advice! I don't know what's come over me. Best get you sorted before I become a counsellor or some such nonsense. Miss Spinks, you belong in …


"Thomas, Dean!"

What beautiful images you have tucked away in here, Mister Thomas. If only Hogwarts still had an arts program to offer you a chance to explore this delightful talent.

I can see that you're feeling quite overwhelmed at the moment. Muggleborn, I take it? Yes, I can see that you are. Really? You almost didn't come? That would have been such a shame. I must say that you've demonstrated the most bravery that I've seen in quite some time with the way that you've put your fears to one side and stepped into the unknown.

There can be only one place for you!


"Turpin, Lisa!"

Ah, ah, that's not allowed, Miss Turpin. The magic that created me was hidden centuries ago. The Founders saw to that. It wouldn't do to have more than one enchanted object that can do what I do. Mind you, I do admire your inquisitiveness, as would Rowena if she was here.

In fact, the more that I look, the more that I see you and Rowena have in common: a thirst for knowledge, a desire to learn, the tenaciousness to never give up until the answers are firmly within your grasp and the love of sharing your findings with your friends.

Yes, Miss Turpin, the Lady Rowena wouldn't be able to pass up having you as a member of her House.


"Weasley, Ron!" Profesor McGonagall called.

Just how many of you are there? What are you, the sixth in the last nine years? Your family must breed like rabbits! What's this? I can expect another one next year? At least a girl will provide some variety! And none of your brothers have been especially easy to place. Let's see if you're any different.

I see that you have a very stubborn streak, Mister Weasley. Yes, stubbornness with a dash of defiance and a splash of recklessness thrown in. And it seems that you often speak without either thinking about what you want to say or without a care for the consequences. But what else, what else?

I see some loyalty to your friends, but it doesn't seem strong enough to be worthy of Helga's House. You're not really interested in learning either. And with that 'take the dragon by the tail approach', you'll never make it in the House of the Cunning. No, there's only one place for you, Mister Weasley.


"Zabini, Blaise!" Professor McGonagall called the last first year to the stool.

Ah, my final Sorting for the year. Well, let's make sure that we get it right, hmm?

I see that you like keeping yourself aloof from those around you. And you truly believe that it's best to stay independent, to never rely on others. The strong, silent type, huh? Well, what else?

You're smart and you don't mind who knows. No one'll ever see you rushing in head first, you're more the type to sit back and wait and see and only act once you know how it will best serve you and your needs. Let's stop this dillydallying around, hmm? I think it's quite obvious where I'm going to put you.


Job done, Brian took a chance to look over the four House tables laid out before him. He could see each of the forty that he'd sorted that evening looking around wide-eyed and chatting either with each other or with the others in their House that were making them welcome. As he picked out some of past year's Sortings, he wondered how different things might have been for them and the school if he'd Sorted them the way he'd wanted to instead of the way that Albus-Too-Many-Names Dumbledore had wanted.

All too soon, he knew, he'd be back in the Headmaster's Office and he was sure that the Headmaster would be having some very firm words to say. Not that he was feeling inclined to listen to the old fool at all.

As he felt the stool that he was resting on being picked up by Professor McGonagall, Brian decided that he quite enjoyed doing his job properly, the way that it was meant to be done. In fact, he vowed to always do it that way, regardless of what the Headmaster wanted.

After all, he was the Sorting Hat and if he didn't know what was in someone's head, then no-one did.


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