Of A Sort
by FernWithy
September 1, 1984:
Nymphadora Tonks

Granny the cat was sprawled out on top of Dora's trunk, languidly bathing herself. Dora picked up one very large paw to get her school list, and Granny just let it drop when she finished, giving Dora a reproving glare before turning back to the fluffy hair at the tip of her tail.

"Oh, don't look at me like that," Dora said. "You're the one who climbed up there in the midst of all this."

"Nymphadora!" Mum called from downstairs. "Are you ready? We have to go soon."

She checked the list, didn't see any of it lying around still unpacked, and took a deep breath. "I have to put Her Majesty in the basket!" she called back. "But that's all."

Despite the name change, Granny picked up on the word "basket." She jumped off the trunk like a shot and flew under Dora's bed.

"Oh, please!" Dora knelt down beside her bed and reached back for Granny, who had squeezed herself back against the wall. "Come on, now. You don't want to hide like that. Don't you want to go to school with me? There'll be lots of other cats. Almost as many as at home!"

"What's going on?" Dad asked.

Dora backed up and pulled her head out from under the bed to look over her shoulder at him. "Granny doesn't want to go into the you-know-what, and now she's back in the corner."

Dad knelt beside her and reached his longer arm back. Granny looked disdainfully at his fingertips and began cleaning her toes meticulously. Dad flattened out to get further under the bed, and Granny bestirred herself to move further away.

"Ahem."

Dora bumped her head getting out from under the bed. Mum was standing in the doorway, her wand held lightly in one hand and her eyes twinkling. "Ted, my love?" she said.

"Almost... have her," Dad said.

Mum pointed her wand at the bed and said, "Wingardium Leviosa."

The bed lifted off the floor and hovered about halfway up the wall.

Dad looked over his shoulder. "I could have done that," he said, rolling over and sitting up. "But really, where's the challenge? Accio basket." The basket flew over to him. "Come on, Gran," he said. "Don't make Daddy summon you."

Granny looked dubiously up at the bed, then stood up and arched her back in a dignified way and strutted out, wrapping herself luxuriously around Dora's ankles then sitting down and blinking, as if to say, Really, what's the fuss?

Dora scooped her up. "Naughty thing," she said, and kissed the short fluffy hair between her ears. Granny purred contentedly and allowed herself to be put into the basket, as long as Dora kept a hand in with her.

"I'll just put a Sleeping Charm on her," Dad said. "Make it a bit easier."

"But she doesn't like it much."

"She likes the basket less," Dad said firmly. "Let her sleep. The journey will only confuse her."

Dora scratched behind Granny's ears again and kissed her goodnight. Granny rubbed her whiskers across Dora's hand affectionately, then curled up and went to sleep when Dad's Charm hit her.

"There," Dad said. "When she wakes up, she'll be safe in Hufflepuff."

Mum sniffed. "Gryffindor Tower will be much more to her liking."

Dora bit her lip. Mum wanted her in Gryffindor, but she didn't want to be there. She couldn't quite say that, as it would break Mum's heart, but all the people she knew who'd been Gryffindors were dead, in prison, or very sad. Even Mum was very sad quite a lot, and she had Dad to make her happy.

It didn't sound like what Dora wanted.

"Mr. Lupin gave me an eagle," she said, holding up the little brass figure he'd given her last Sunday, when he'd come for lunch. "He must think I'll be a Ravenclaw."

Mum looked at it curiously. "How odd. Remus was a Gryffindor. I wonder why he'd think that."

"He said a lady who died this summer gave it to him when he was Sorted--she was a Ravenclaw--and he wanted me to have it for luck." She didn't add that he'd also said he was certain she'd be a Gryffindor. ("As fearless as you are? Where else would you be placed?")

Dad took the eagle and looked at it thoughtfully, then handed it back to Dora. "That's a very special thing," he said. "Take good care of it. And Dora?"

"Yes?"

"If Mr. Lupin ever has children of his own, you'll want to give that back to him."

She frowned and put the eagle in her pocket. "Yes, Dad."

"Are we ready to go?" Mum asked, Levitating Dora's trunk.

Dora gathered up Granny's basket and Dad went ahead of the trunk to keep it from bumping into anything, and to scatter the various cats they'd collected over the years so that Mum wouldn't trip over them. When they went outside, he took one end of the trunk and Mum took the other, and they pretended it was very heavy as they slipped it into the back seat of Dad's old car. Dora herself climbed in beside it, Granny's basket a warm weight on her lap. Dad turned on the wireless, where a lady with an off-key voice was singing, If you fall I will catch you, I'll be waiting, time after time...

During the ride to King's Cross, Mum went on about what Dora should do if she'd forgotten something, or was lonely, or wanted to tell them anything. It was the fourth time she'd been through it, and about halfway through, she stopped and smiled. "I'm sorry," she said. "I'm not as ready for this as you are. What will I do without tripping over your things in your room?"

"Dad can make an extra mess for you," Dora suggested.

"Right," Dad said, reaching across and taking Mum's hand. "And Dora can make you an especially large mess when she comes home for Christmas holidays."

Mum laughed, but she was sniffing a bit as well. "All right, you two," she said. "Tease Mum all you like."

"We all have jobs in the world," Dad said seriously.

Dora's chest felt very tight suddenly, but she smiled to make Mum feel better. School would be nice--everyone said so--but until this moment, she hadn't really thought about how it would be not to see Mum and Dad for months.

Dad glanced at her out of the corner of his eye, and then turned up the wireless. "Dora... it's your song!"

"...Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon," the wireless sang, "you come and go, you come and go..."

Dora clapped, and she and Dad sang along with the chorus. "Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dream--red gold and green, red gold and gre-ee-ee-een..."

Mum looked back at her. "Dora! For heaven's sake, put your hair back--anyone could look through the window!"

Dora grinned sheepishly and ducked down under the window line. She'd turned the right side of her hair red, the left side green, and the middle gold. She concentrated, and let it go black again.

Mum shook her head. "You know better than that, in the middle of a Muggle road."

"Yes, Mum. Mum?"

"What is it?"

"Could I make it brown like yours? All the time?"

"Why would you want to do that?"

Dora shrugged. "You know."

Mum took a deep breath. "The Blacks aren't the only wizarding family with black hair, Nymphadora. It's rather common."

"But I look like..."

"Like Nymphadora Tonks." Mum looked back around the seat. "Your looks are your own, and if you choose to change them simply to amuse yourself--within reason, and not on a Muggle street--you may do so. But I won't have you using your ability to hide who you are. Do you understand the difference?"

"Yes, Mum."

"Good. Then that's that."

The scolding dissipated the impending homesickness, and Dad's continued singing dissipated the scolding, mainly because he was a terrible singer and he always made Mum laugh when he sang along with the wireless. They pulled into the station with twenty minutes to spare, and Dad brought a trolley along for the trunk. Dora pulled out her ticket.

Platform Nine and Three Quarters, of course, wasn't marked, but a suspicious number of families with school-aged children, trunks, and a variety of animals were milling about a bit too casually near the barrier between platforms nine and ten. As Dora watched, a large group of redheads formed a loose barrier, and when they moved, a little blonde girl and her parents had disappeared.

They edged over, a bit at a time, Mum pretending to check the platform numbers carefully against a ticket. Eventually, they settled in the milling group. The redheads were still there, while two older boys hugged and kissed littler children. The smallest, a girl with bright red pigtails that stuck straight out over her ears, smiled and waved to Dora. Dora waved back.

"How does this work?" she heard someone whisper.

She turned. Three people were standing uncertainly at the edge of the crowd, looking tentatively at the barrier. The woman was a beautiful Indian lady in a sari, wearing gold bangles. The man was a jovial fellow with red hair and a broad, pleasant face. They were both quite good-looking. The child between them was obviously theirs, but he looked like someone had just smashed their attractive features together without concern for what fit where. He had his father's broad nose on his mother's narrow face; his mother's dark hair, highlighted with his father's bright red (and curled in a mess that was all his own). His eyes were an unremarkable muddy green, and his teeth appeared to be too large for his mouth. He smiled at Dora in a daft way and pulled a face at her.

She laughed, liking the ugly boy on sight, and held out her hand. "I'm Dora Tonks," she said.

"Sanjiv MacPherson."

"Are you Muggle-born?" Dad asked.

Sanjiv nodded.

Dad grinned. "Let me walk you through it." He looked at Mum and Dora. "Literally. I'll see you both on the other side."

Dora and Mum slipped through the redheads and leaned against the barrier (one of the redheaded boys came at the same time, carrying a younger brother). A moment later, they were on Platform Nine and Three Quarters, peering through the steam at a scarlet train. Dora looked up at Mum and grinned widely.

Four more redheads came through--the mother, carrying the little girl, and the other school boy, his hand tightly on another brother's shoulder. A moment later, the redheaded father came through, a child in each arm (these two perfectly identical to one another).

"Bill!" the little girl said, reaching for the oldest boy, who took her from their mother and put her on his shoulders. "Boom tick!" she yelled.

The older boy--Bill--stuck one arm out and let the girl hold onto his wrist, then he leaned forward and pretended to be a broomstick, running her around through the steam while she laughed shrilly. The other school boy put the littlest brother on his shoulders, and within seconds, there was a regular Quidditch match going between them. Mum squeezed Dora's shoulder and sighed. Dora patted her hand. They never talked about it, but she knew that Mum and Dad wanted more children who'd just never come.

"Andromeda Black?"

Mum looked over sharply. For all her going on about not hiding, she certainly didn't go about introducing herself as the cousin of Sirius Black, or the sister of Bellatrix Lestrange, nee Black. But no one else seemed to have heard. The redheaded mother was looking at her with astonishment.

A puzzled look crossed Mum's face, and then it lit up with recognition. "Good heavens," she said. "Molly Prewett? Is it you?"

"I haven't been Molly Prewett in years, but yes. Dear me, is this your little girl?" The boys flew over, and Molly not-Prewett-in-years tapped their shoulders to stop them running around. "These are my boys, Bill and Charlie--Bill's in his third year, and Charlie's just starting."

"This is my daughter, Nymphadora."

"Mum!" Dora cried, noticing the boys look at one another with suppressed grins.

Mum rolled her eyes. "She's starting this year. She normally goes by Dora. Tonks. I don't know if you'd remember my husband or not...?"

Molly not-Prewett shook her head in a vague way. "You remember my husband, Arthur, don't you?" she asked, nodding at the man with a twin in each arm.

"Of course I do!" Mum looked at Dora. "Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were seventh years when I started. They welcomed me to Gryffindor!"

"And Bill can do the same for you!" Mrs. Weasley said enthusiastically.

"Though I do highly recommend making friends with charming Hufflepuffs," Mum said.

Mrs. Weasley laughed. "It's so different now, with You-Know-Who gone. Bill has friends in all the Houses. Even Slytherin."

Mum raised her eyebrows suspiciously. "Things have changed."

"Not at Quidditch games," Bill assured her. "We hate one another on the pitch. There are things that even the Boy Who Lived can't change."

"As it should be." Mum's smile faded a bit. Unlike most wizards and witches Dora had met, Mum, Dad, and Mr. Lupin did not enjoy talking about the Boy Who Lived, as they had known his parents, who hadn't. But Mum didn't press the issue.

Dad came through the barrier, Sanjiv MacPherson in tow. Sanjiv looked back at the now-sealed arch in astonishment, then glanced around the platform, obviously pleased.

The families split off from each other on some invisible cue (Sanjiv standing awkwardly off to one side). The Weasleys were engaged in a round of mutual hugging, and Mum pulled Dora close. Her perfume, which smelled like autumn leaves, filled the world.

"Darling," she sad, "I'll miss you so."

Dora hugged her back and smelled her perfume. "I love you, Mum," she said.

Mum pulled away and kissed Dora's cheek. "My world isn't going to be at all colorful until Christmas."

"I'll write to you on pink parchment with purple ink."

Mum hugged her again, then let her drift over to Dad, which barely required turning around, as he was already holding both of them. He kissed her head.

"Be good, love," he said. "Promise?"

Dora knew he didn't mean "behave"--he said "behave" when he meant that--so she didn't feel at all guilty saying, "I promise," even though she expected that she'd get into trouble at some point.

Mum took a deep breath and put her hands on Dora's shoulders, turning Dora around with a gentle push to face the world.

Sanjiv MacPherson had wandered over toward the train, and was now standing near the Tonkses and looking back uncertainly.

"Do you want to sit with me?" Dora asked, before Dad prodded her.

Sanjiv nodded and smiled.

"And you can both sit with us," Bill Weasley offered.

That settled, they helped one another get trunks and animals on board the Hogwarts Express, setting up in a compartment about halfway down the train. Dora climbed on her trunk and lowered the window when she got there and waved to Mum and Dad, who were watching for her. Dad reached up and squeezed her hand, then winked. "Enjoy Hufflepuff!" he said.

The train whistle blew before Mum could say anything, but Dora saw her roll her eyes before she leaned back through the window, catching her blouse on the sill and throwing herself off balance. She slipped off the edge of her trunk and fell on Sanjiv, who laughed and righted her without making any comments.

It seemed that Bill Weasley was quite popular, and as the train pulled out of London, several of his friends began to drift in. Most wore badges with Gryffindor colors, but there were two Ravenclaws (one, Moira Troy, stayed for the whole journey), a handful of Hufflepuffs, and even a Slytherin named Conrad Peale, who appeared to be a good friend. A knot of frightened first years checked the compartment to see if it was empty, and before they could skitter further down the train, Dora waved her arm for them to come in. By the time they were an hour out of the station, there were ten people in the compartment, five on the seats, three sitting on their trunks, and two sitting cross-legged on the floor. Dora was in the last group, sitting knee to knee with another first year girl whose thin blonde hair had been pulled into a high ponytail on the top, with the rest hanging flatly against her shoulders.

The girl smiled shyly. "I'm Dora," she said.

Dora laughed. "So am I. Dora Tonks."

"Dora Madrigan."

"That'll be a bit confusing," Sanjiv said.

"Not really," Charlie Weasley said, lying flat on his trunk and putting his hands on the floor. "We'll just call that one Nymphadora."

"Not if you want all your teeth where they started out," Dora said.

"...and if it's Quidditch you like, you'll want Ravenclaw," Moira Troy was saying to one of the other first-years, a freckled girl with a thick Irish accent, whose name was Cathleen Mullet. "I made Chaser last spring when one of the fifth years had to leave the team to study for O.W.L.s, and the captain, Anna Moran, is the best in the school."

Charlie rolled back to the top of his trunk. "How's Gryffindor? Bill won't talk about it."

Moira snickered. "He's got good reason for that."

"Are they that bad?" Dora Madrigan asked.

Conrad Peale, who was sitting beside Moira and sometimes holding her hand, nodded. "Even Hufflepuff is better."

"Hey!" Dora said. "My Dad was a Hufflepuff."

Conrad put up his hands in surrender.

"Hey, Dora!" Sanjiv called.

"Tonks or Madrigan?" Dora Madrigan asked.

"Tonks. Is this your cat?"

Dora looked over. Granny's basket had tipped as the train rounded a bend, and the poor thing was blinking around in a confused way, the Charm not worn off yet, but not really strong enough to survive being spilled. "Yes," she said, and held out her arms. "Come on, Gran, Dora's here."

Granny curled up contentedly in her lap and let the Charm put her back to sleep while Dora petted her.

After that, they drifted into a two-deck game of Exploding Snap (Bill got his eyebrows singed, but somehow or other, that much noise didn't wake Granny up), then swapped sweets from a trolley that came around. Dora Madrigan got over her initial shyness entirely, and, to avoid confusion, the others all started calling them Madrigan and Tonks. It struck Dora as amusing for some reason, and she laughed every time someone called her that. Nevertheless, by the time the train pulled into Hogsmeade Station, the names had stuck. Dora Madrigan, in fact, had become "Maddie," and "Maddie" she would remain until her dying day, as far as Dora Tonks knew.

As they filed off the train, they were instructed to leave their luggage and pets to be carried to the school. Dora put Granny into her basket and kissed her, then crowded out with the others to the edge of a lake. High overhead, the turrets of Hogwarts castle glittered in the night. Carriages were lined up for the older students, but a huge, ragged looking man with a jovial smile was calling "Firs' years! Firs' years, over here!"

Bill Weasley led the first years from the compartment over and waved to the man. "'Lo, Hagrid!" he called.

The man--Hagrid--turned. "Well, hullo there, Bill!"

"Everyone, this is Hagrid," Bill said, and pulled Charlie forward. "Hagrid, this is my brother Charlie, who I told you about. Charlie'll love your pets."

Charlie nodded eagerly, and Hagrid winked at him.

"See you later," Bill said, punching Charlie's shoulder. "Good luck."

At that, he headed off for a carriage that Conrad and Moira were holding for him. Dora got into a boat with Maddie, Cathleen, and a skinny boy who hadn't been in the compartment with them. Sanjiv and Charlie piled into the next boat in line.

They didn't talk much as they crossed the lake--it seemed to be something special, and even Dora didn't want to break the mood--but as soon as they started to disembark at the small dock under the castle, the conversations started up again. Sanjiv MacPherson made an elaborate show of kissing the ground. "Land! At last! After months at sea...!"

Maddie shook her head. "Boys."

"I like them," Dora said, and flopped down beside Sanjiv. "Clean water!" she said. "Food!"

Charlie Weasley came over and mimed straightening his collar. "Magical Accidents and Catastrophes here. May I help you?"

"Yes," Dora said melodramatically. "My brother and I have been lost at sea..."

"I don't think you can pass for my-- hey!"

Dora grinned. While he'd been looking away, she'd morphed her skin and hair to match his, right down to the mess of freckles on his nose.

"How did you do that?" Charlie asked.

She shrugged.

"Can you do Charlie?" Sanjiv asked.

Dora concentrated, turning her hair bright red and whitening her skin to the just-next-door-to-dead pallor that Charlie had under his freckles.

"Oh, me!" Maddie called.

Dora made her hair blonde and thinned it out a bit, then held it up into a ponytail with her hand.

Maddie clapped.

For fun, Dora turned her hair purple, then got up, straightened her robes, and took a bow. There were a handful of people who were looking at her in an unfriendly way, but most her fellow first years clapped.

"Ahem."

She looked up.

At the top of a flight of stairs, a stern looking witch with black hair was tapping her fingers impatiently on her hips. "Are you quite finished playing the clown?" she asked.

Dora smiled as winningly as she could.

The witch shook her head. "I don't believe that's your natural hair color, Miss Tonks."

"Yes, ma'am." She changed her hair back to black.

The first years slowly calmed down and made their way up the stairs.

"I am Professor McGonagall," the witch said. "Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts. In a few moments, you will enter the Great Hall, where you will be Sorted into your houses. For the next seven years, your House will be your family..."

Dora linked arms with the two people closest to her (Charlie Weasley and Cathleen Mullet), and they linked with whoever was beside them, making a chain about eight people long by the time they were done. Professor McGonagall didn't notice until they reached the doors of the Great Hall and tried to snake through without letting go. She paused and raised an eyebrow at them until they released one another and filed in normally, walking between long tables where older students were already sitting, waiting for the feast. Bill Weasley waved to Charlie from the Gryffindor table. Moira waved from Ravenclaw, and Conrad Peale raised a solemn hand from Slytherin.

At the head of the room was a raised table, where the adults sat. A wizard with a long white beard and twinkling eyes raised his goblet to the first years and smiled over its lip. Beside him, a youngish man with dark, greasy hair looked like he might be ill at any time. His upper lip was curled and twitching. In front of the table was a stool, and on the stool was a ragged, pointed woolen hat.

The tip of the hat swayed this way and that, as if looking at the incoming class, then a rip near its brim seemed to smile, and it began to sing.

Years ago, in ages dark
On the windy, heathery moor
On a mossy rock, on a storm crossed hill
Sat bold young Gryffindor.

His feet were sore, his shoulders stiff
From traveling for days.
Alas, he thought, his masters could
not be in just one place.

And just like that, the notion came
Full-formed and burning bright
He'd gather all the wisest ones--
On the hill, they'd set a light.

He went first to crafty Slytherin
A teacher and a friend
To try and get him to depart
His home in misty fen.

"I am not wanted," Slytherin said.
"They fear me far and wide.
An enemy they counted me,
A demon to despise."

Gryffindor told him, "Don't be daft,
The war was long ago
If you'd be brave and come along,
They'll not see you as a foe."

So together they set out
For the valley green and wide
Where kindly Widow Hufflepuff
And her children did abide.

Said Hufflepuff, "I cannot go,
I have this earth to tend
And all these small ones to protect
From the fearful mob's bloody hands."

"Be wily, Madam," Slytherin said
"And be not where they believe
So when the cruel strangers come
You'll have long since taken leave."

And so the three departed
The small ones in their care
And sought a peaceful forest glen,
Home to Ravenclaw the fair.

"I will not join you," Ravenclaw said,
Her voice a bitter draft
"I vowed to serve but was driven away
For serving through my craft."

Gentle Hufflepuff stepped forward.
"Holy Sister, pray, be kind.
Your gifts are needed in our world--
Keep your vow and share your mind."

Four at last, they traveled far
Until they found this place
But a haven it was not to be
From ignorance and hate.

To burning torch and angry cry
They all awoke that night
And there did Gryffindor first raise
His sword by firelight.

The four fought off of their enemies
With spells and sword combined,
And Gryffindor tried to rush after,
His rage still rising blind.

"Be wise, my lad," said Ravenclaw
"We all still need you here.
To wield your sword in our defense
And shield us all from fear."

And so together they did choose
To hide the school away
From prying eyes and violent hands
And anger gone astray.

They built the school on this spot,
And the castle that you see,
And the ways and paths that you will learn,
And a gentle season's peace.

But in that peace, I still must Sort
This house or that for you
Bold or wily, kind or wise
Try me on--I'll tell you true!

The older students applauded, and the first years followed suit. When the clapping died down, Professor McGonagall stepped forward, a scroll in one hand. She unrolled it.

"Apcarne, Dafydd," she said.

The skinny boy who had been in Dora's boat came to the front of the group and sat down on the stool, putting the Hat on his head with genuine curiosity. It squirmed for a moment, appeared to think (tilting its tip from side to side), then the rip at the brim opened wide, and it called, "HUFFLEPUFF!"

A cheer erupted from the Hufflepuff table as Dafydd Apcarne sat down there. Professor McGonagall went on to call "Baxter, John" ("SLYTHERIN") and "Blandeshin, Elizabeth" ("HUFFLEPUFF!"). Each table welcomed its newcomers with enthusiasm. Dora wondered why Mom and Dad and Mr. Lupin made such a fuss about Houses--they all seemed to be getting along nicely with one another and among themselves.

She leaned over to Charlie Weasley. "Do you know what you'd like?"

"Gryffindor, like my brother. What about you?"

"Hufflepuff. Though Mum and Mr. Lupin think I should be in Gryffindor. And Ravenclaw wouldn't be awful."

"Good Quidditch."

McGonagall frowned at them. "Delamar, Bertrand." ("RAVENCLAW!")... "Fairweather, David." ("GRYFFINDOR!")...

Cathleen and Sanjiv were involved in some sort of whispered discussion, and Dora tapped Cathleen's ankle with her toe to get her attention when McGonagall neared the end of the L's. They straightened up.

"MacPherson, Sanjiv."

Sanjiv swept up to the stool, grinning madly, and pulled the Hat onto his head in a quick and eager motion. "HUFFLEPUFF!" it said immediately.

Dora clapped--Dad would be happy to know that the boy he'd helped was a Hufflepuff.

Maddie edged over to them. "I'm so nervous," she said.

Dora patted her hand. "You're all right."

"Madrigan, Dora."

Maddie took a deep, shaky breath and went to the Hat. It didn't take long to announce that she was also a "HUFFLEPUFF!"

"Mullet, Cathleen."

Cathleen waved to them as she passed, and waved to Moira Troy at the Ravenclaw table. Moira made a flying motion with her hand, and Cathleen grinned. No one was especially surprised when the Hat called, "RAVENCLAW!"

"O'Neal, Devon." ("GRYFFINDOR!")... "Parkinson, Paul" ("SLYTHERIN!")... "Perlberg, Isaac." ("GRYFFINDOR!")

Dora wrapped her fingers around the brass eagle that Mr. Lupin had given her. For luck.

Despite the Ravenclaw emblem, he wanted her to be in Gryffindor almost as much as Mum did; the two of them had been buying and making her red and gold things for years. Mr. Lupin had spent one Christmas drawing with her--he was very good at it--and had drawn her with a red and gold scarf, playing with other children in red and gold scarves.

They both loved her; she supposed they wouldn't want anything bad for her. So Gryffindor wouldn't be a terrible place, really.

"Randall, Marsha." ("SLYTHRIN!")... "Sanderson, Anastasia." ("RAVENCLAW!")...

"The herd's thinning," Charlie Weasley whispered.

Dora laughed.

"Templeton, Peter." ("GRYFFINDOR!")

"Tonks"--Dora put her hands over her ears--"Nymphadora."

She went to the stool and sat down, taking the Sorting Hat in her hands. People at several tables were looking at her in a friendly way. She put the Hat on.

"Aha," it said. "Another Black."

Tonks, Dora said, alarmed. Another Tonks.

"Yes, I can see that as well." It moved on her head. "Interesting... Your mind is very, very good."

Is it? Mr. Lupin says that.

"Ah, yes. I remember Mr. Lupin." It thought a bit longer. "You aren't sly..."

Not in the least.

"You don't lack courage. There's little you fear in this world."

Almost nothing. Mum says I'll fly into a storm cloud one day just to talk to the thunder.

The Hat laughed.

But I don't want to be in Gryffindor, Dora stressed. It sounds very sad to me.

"There's quite a lot of thunder to talk to in Gryffindor," the Hat said, its tone sounding like it meant an agreement, though Dora wasn't sure what it meant, precisely.

I'd like Hufflepuff, she said. Like my Dad. I--

"In general," the Hat said, "I do the Sorting."

Oh. Right. I'm sorry. Mum says I mustn't try to hide who I am.

"A wise woman. Not that you would ever be particularly successful at hiding your identity."

I'm a metamorphmagus.

"Cosmetic." The Hat shifted a bit more. "Yes, yes... you could shine in Gryffindor. You could make a name for yourself."

I have a name. A rather large one that's a bit awkward to carry around sometimes.

"And yet, you manage with no difficulty. No," the Hat mused. "I don't think you are a Gryffindor. You have courage, but neither the need nor the desire to prove it. You are willing to work hard, and what you value most are the connections you make with other people..."

Please, oh, please...

"I believe you're right. Be happy in

"HUFFLEPUFF!"

To be continued... in 1991.

A/N: Thanks to the readers of my LiveJournal, who helped me fix some problems in the first draft of this segment.