Conversations with a Hat

Have you ever wondered about what goes on between the ickle-firstie on the stool and the Sorting Hat? How much do the first years influence their placement? Or was Harry a special case? What could have possessed the Hat to put people where he put them? Well, now it's time for you to find out.


Regulus Black's Sorting

Regulus waited nervously in the Sorting line, wondering if his brother had felt as nervous as he did now. Stupid Gryffindor. He wondered if his future classmates were feeling this nervous, standing next to him. He looked at the stool and Sorting Hat. Elise Avery was putting the Hat on her head. He'd known her forever. Pureblood. Family in Slytherin (with a few in Ravenclaw). Half a dozen house-elves. Her family had made gaining house-elves part of the agreement for their arranged marriages for generations, though arranged couples were somewhat of a dying trend as children got more hardheaded. But if a girl's family wanted her to marry an Avey boy, a house-elf was part of the deal. She had to bring a house-elf with her as a kind of offering. Regulus thought house-elves were rather creepy looking. But Elise was certainly pretty.

He turned his attention to the Hat itself. That bundle of rags, that poor excuse for hat was supposed to decide his future? He just had to get into Slytherin. Had to make his parents proud of him. His cousin Bella had made it in. Meda didn't, but Ravenclaw wasn't too disappointing. Ravenclaws were almost tolerated as a good match for Slytherins.

But then Regulus's dear old brother had to go and get himself sorted red. What did he have to go and do that for? Why did he have to be Gryffindor for Merlin's sake? Couldn't he just follow the family trend? But Regulus did have to admit that his brother had guts to stand up to their parents. Repeatedly stand up to them. Regulus searched out his face. Sirius was a third year now. He wasn't even watching the Sorting, he was chatting quietly to friends Regulus didn't know. Sirius and Regulus had never been particularly close, but after Sirius started Hogwarts, they hardly even spoke anymore, even in summer (Sirius never came home in winter). Regulus hadn't told him about what the last 2 years had been like, stuck home with his mother everyday. Of course she spoiled him, but she drilled all her hopes and dreams and mottos and virtues into him. Every single day. Sirius just thought he liked the attention. But this year had been worse than last year. He didn't even have Cissa to keep him company anymore. A second year now, Slytherin. After Meda and Sirius's disappointing Sortings, Cissa and he knew they had to get into Slytherin. They had to uphold family honor.

He looked at the Slytherin table. There was Bella, talking to Rudolphus Lestrange and Thomas Nott. Cissa wasn't far. She saw him looking and spared him a smile and a glance before returning her attention to a boy sitting near her. Cissa and Regulus wrote each other frequently and he relized the boy had to be the 4 year she was infatuated with. What was his name? Lucky Malfoy? No, Luther Malfoy? No…Lucius. That was it.

When Regulus finally looked at the Hat and stool again, Elise was long gone. He'd missed hearing what house she'd been Sorted into. He wasn't sure how many people had passed between her and the one who was on the stool now. It couldn't have been too many.

The Hat screamed, "RAVENCLAW!"

A blonde boy at the Ravenclaw table stood up and cheered. "Hooray, Beatrice!"

Regulus noticed a strong family resemblance between the boy standing at the table and the girl walking over to him. He was probably only a year or two older. Regulus wondered who would cheer after he was Sorted?

"Black, Regulus," said Professor McGonagall.

Okay, Reg, you can do this, he said to himself. He hoped his knees would hold as he walked across the to the stool. It seemed a very long distance. He felt like he would collapse, but he managed to sit on the stool and put the Hat on his head without looking like anymore of an idiot than anyone else.

"Regulus Black. Let's take a look, shall we?" whispered the Hat's voice.

"Can't you just put me in Slytherin now and be done with it?" he asked nervously.

"These things mustn't be rushed, my boy. What house I put you in affects who your roommates and friends will be, and who influences you. The values that you'll carry your entire life. You want to just rush into this? Brave or brash? I can't tell. Why are you in so anxious to be a Slytherin? I sense a great deal of loyalty. To your blood. To you family. To your parents."

"Being a Slytherin will make them proud. They'll be proud of me."

"All of them?" the Hat asked impishly.

"What do you mean?"

"Your whole family. Do they all want you to be in Slytherin?"

"My parents want me to be."

"But what about the rest of your family? Hmm? You can't make everyone happy, you know. You can never make everyone happy. Someone always loses."

Regulus thought about it. Witty Meda, who was made a Prefect this year. Sirius, who was brave enough to stand up to their parents. Cissa, who always got what she wanted. Who did he want to be? Who did everyone else want him to be?

"How important are their opinions? What do you care if you make them angry?"

"My parents are my parents. They've raised me."

"Boy, you've only just begun to be raised! Thisis it. When you stepped on that train today for the first time, you started a new beginning. Taking you away from all that you've ever known before. You aren't bounded by what's happened, by what you've learned so far. These are the years that will make you who you are. The Choices you make here will make you. No one else. It's you. All you. What do you want for yourself?"

Regulus shivered. That sounded like a big decision and a lot of responsibility. He didn't know what he wanted yet. He was only 11, for Merlin's sake! "I'm just 11, sir," he said feebl.

"If age is so important to you, young man, I'm nearly 1000, so listening to me. I sense great loyalty and devotion in you. You just need a direction for it. What if you were devoted to life? Human life. You could become a great Healer, maybe find a cure for something that has no cure yet until you find it. What if you were devoted to protecting people? A fine Auror you would make; so loyal to your cause that nothing could stand in your way. What do you want? To do? To be?

Regulus's breathing had all but ceased during the Hat's speech. Anything. Loyalty so strong nothing could deter him…loyalty. How far apart were loyalty and duty? His nagging sense of duty always returned to haunt him. Duty to his parents. His family. His blood. Was that loyalty? Or simply duty? He couldn't tarnish family honor. Could he? What was honor? Any abstract idea, or something worth fighting for? He was in philosophy way over his head here. He too a deep breath, "My parents are my parents. I'll do anything to make them happy."

The Hat sighed. "It sounds like you're final in your decision."

"I am," he said, more confident than he felt.

"Well, the Slytherin determination is there. Nothing else to convince you of otherwise? Of maybe choosing Hufflepuff and finding a cause to devote your life to?"

"I have a cause. Family honor and pride."

"So it all comes down to blood. It always does," muttered the Hat. "I hope you don't regret your choice. SLYTHERIN!"

Regulus stood up and put the Hat back on the stool. He'd expected to feel lighter and less burdened after being ensured a place in Slytherin. Why didn't he?

He looked up to the Gryffindor table. Sirius looked unsurprised at his brother's house choice and scowl. Regulus knew he'd be dead to Sirius now. Regulus tore his gaze away and brought it to the Ravenclaw table. There was Meda. She looked sad at his choice, almost disappointed. She clapped softly anyway and tried to smile all the same. Surely Cissa and Bella would be proud of him and cheer. As he got closer to the Slytherin table, which was generally clapping and cheering, he looked at them. Bella gave him a single nod of approval and clapped sedately. No wild cheering. It was his duty to be in Slytherin, his place. Nothing special. Cissa gave an encouraging smile and clapped. No one screamed or cheered his name.

He sat numbly between some empty seats and watched the next person get Sorted. The next person was a Hufflepuff. The whole Hufflepuff table cheered loudly for her, and Regulus wondered what it would be like to have people truly cheering for him, truly happy for him. He sighed, remembering his parents. He imagined their faces at hearing that their son was in Slytherin. Would they be ecstatic? Or would they figure that, as their son, it was the only place where he belonged, the only place where he could possibly be.

With a last regretful glance at the Hufflepuff table, he settled more comfortably into his seat and watched the remainder of the Sorting ceremony.


Author's Note: I know I said Narcissa would be next, but I really like how Regulus turned out. Kind of a combination Tom Riddle, Peter Pettigrew, and Narcissa Black all rolled into one. Anyway, let me know what you think. I'm not sure who's going to be next (maybe Ron?), but I'll try and make it a sooner update. Maybe I should do a Hufflepuff Sorting. Hufflepuffs aren't stupid. And if you want to read another Fic I have with the Sorting Hat as a main part of it, read Rivalry. It's a 1-shot, but it's pretty good. A chat between the two who know Hogwarts and its students best.

Replies:

Skierguy—Thanks. I'm going to try and get around to all the Weasleys, but I don't know what to write yet. Luna is one of my favorite characters. I will do Snape, James, McGonagall, and Dumbledore, I just don't know what to write for them yet either.

CoPaCaBaNa-mAgIc—Thanks! I still don't know what to write for him since all we know is that the Hat wanted to put him in Hufflepuff.

Shadowface—Thanks!

Lalaithiel Noleambar—Thanks. Sorry I've taken so long to update.

Ladija—I wanna do Tom Riddle…I just don't know what to write yet. I've got an idea though.

Painted Fire—Thanks. I'm pretty sure Lily was a Gryffindor though. Or did it say what House she was in at all?

The sheep moos—Thanks! I love to make people laugh.

C-chan1—Hehe. Lockhart is kinda in no-man's-land for me. I don't think he's smart enough to be a Slytherin. Then again, maybe he is (look at Crabbe and Goyle after all). Ooh, that's good! Mind if I use that for Ron's? I'm getting an idea spark here about the Hat starting to say Hufflepuff and Ron telling it to shut-up. Who wrote the Lockhart stories you were talking about?

TeeBee—Thanks. I like Slytherin sortings. Those are fun to write.

OoshatiElf—Thanks. I want to write all 4 of those, I'm just waiting for an idea to spark up in my head.

Artemis Moonsong—Thanks. She got Sorted before James; but I did put her opinion of him in there. Thanks.

Zephdae—Thanks. I definitely want to do Tom Riddle aka Voldemort, but I'm just trying to figure out what to put for him. After all, "Hello, you're evil, I'm putting you in Slytherin" wouldn't be much fun now, would it? So I've got to think on him. Good point about Crabbe and Goyle.

Gwendolyn James—Thanks! He does! There's a few people that need a house to themselves. Lockhart and Rita Skeeter being two of them. Actually, I think he's vain enough that he would like to have his own house.

Rider-of-Rohan23—You're welcome, thank you for reading it! Narcissa will come; hope you weren't too disappointed by having her cousin instead. Dumbledore. Who can fathom his mind? Not me, but I'm working on it.

Voldie on Varsity Track—Thanks! Luna is one of my favorite characters!

Tamira—Thanks!

Professor D. S. Silvers—Thanks. Really? Hufflepuff, hmmm…I don't see him as particularly loyal. But I think there needs to be a new house for the extremely vain.

Hamster Huey—Thanks! I'm trying to make the stories longer. It'll mess up the formatting I'm doing if I do more than one chapter. They've all got to match or I go weird.

Freakyfairy—hehe. It is! The review button is like a bauble. Pretty bauble…:::stares into space::: Thanks! I wanted to go in a kind of different direction with her. Most people write her like Hermione as a books and brains Gryffindor. I'm so glad you liked it. Hehe, I had to give James a cameo. He's so spiffy!

Jbfritz—Thanks! Sorry it's been so long since an update.

Jess131346—Thanks! Lily was a lot of fun to write!

Harryandginnyforever—Thanks! I like writing funny stuff. If I can write something to make people laugh, it's been a good day.

Phat duck—Lockhart needs his own house. That's all there is to it. hehe. Thanks. I'm glad you like it so much!

Queen of Zan—Ooh, borders are pretty…Thanks. I always imagine Lily as bossy. If anybody could boss the Hat around, it's her. That makes sense about the Hat and Slytherins. Yeah, that's true.

FlamezFlyer—Hehe. Review buttons are addicting. You can never just click once! Thanks! Wow, that's such an awesome compliment! No Narcissa, I'm sorry. I hope you liked her cousin. She'll come soon, I just don't know when. I've only got about 3 sentences on her.

Hi Im Crazy—I'm thinking of putting her in Slytherin. You can tell why from this Sorting. Thanks.

JoJo—Thanks!

Black Slytherin Girl—Thanks. One of my favorites too. I love writing Marauder era stories, partly because I get to write her. I'll write James as soon as I can think of what to write.

Wings-of-Fantasy—Thanks. This one had some good Narcissa hints I think.

JKIJ—Thanks. I tried not to make her too much like Hermione. I wanted to step away from the traditional Lily is a books and brains Gryffindor like Hermione. I figured Slytherin could work; Harry was almost a Slytherin, and that had to do more with personality than his scar or being a Parseltongue. James was talking to Remus in my mind. It could have been Peter or Frank though I guess. Just a random person. Could be Luna's mother though. Her father would be an interesting one to do. I hadn't given him much thought since writing Lily and James's wedding (he and Luna's mother had a cameo appearance in the 1 Week 'Til Bells Ring. That makes sense for Lockhart. Yeah, sorry I'm postponing writing her. I want to rethink my strategy on her.

Gryffindors-Light—Thanks. I think the students get a fair amount of say; Harry wasn't that special a case.

Happynutcase—I always imagined him younger because he was considered attractive by Molly's generation of house-wives. Thanks.

Tigerlily98—Thanks. I'm sorry it's been so long. Thanks, I love making people laugh.

Padfootlet—Ron may be next. Fred and George I'm still working on. Then again, Ron is a work in progress too.

Frankie Beeblebrox—Thanks! Lily was fun to write!

DOJ—Thanks! I'm glad you like it. Lily was a little bit of a challenge.

Miss Anonymous—I can't decide what to write for them. When I know what to write, I will. I just don't know yet. Thanks!

Katie Lupin Black—I wouldn't have want to prolong my time either, but these seem to be getting longer and longer by public request. Hehe. Hufflepuff is the one house I couldn't see him in, because he's more of a leader than a follower. Would be funny though.