The Truth about Hogwarts

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter or any character from the Harry Potter books. They all remain the property of J. K. Rowling.

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Ron and Harry and Hermione looked like they'd just been poleaxed. Their eyes were as big as bludgers and their mouths hung open in slack-jawed amazement. They couldn't believe what they were hearing.

It all started at the beginning of Second Year, but things hadn't happened quite as Her Authorship recounted. Yes, Dobby screwed things up at Platform 9¾, yes Ron and Harry crashed the flying car into the Whomping Willow, and yes, the guys had to drag their trunks up the hill to Hogwarts Castle, but no, they didn't arrive just as the sorting was taking place. They got there an hour earlier. It takes time to round up first years and herd them into the Great Hall.

Hermione had been watching out for Ron and Harry and had spotted the car as it followed the Hogwarts Express. She'd seen them crash from the front walk and watched as the car was smashed by the sadistic Salix babylonica. Hermione headed for the tree and reached them in less than a minute, out of breath from the run.

"Ron! Harry! Are you alright?" Hermione asked, between gasps.

"Yes, we're fine," said Ron, "but we need to get these trunks up to the castle and stowed in our rooms fast or we'll miss the Sorting."

"If we're not expelled for our form of transportation first," said Harry.

Ron and Harry each took a trunk while Hermione filled them in on the latest gossip she'd heard on the Express. They hurried up the hill, dropped the trunks off in the Gryffindor commons room, and headed for the Hall. They were so rushed and preoccupied with catching up that they didn't notice a staircase had shifted while they were on it and ended up walking right through what looked like a solid piece of walnut paneling into a dark, stuffy little room.

The shock of the change from bright to dark closed their mouths and the three took a moment to survey their new surroundings. They were in a small space, no bigger than a closet, and the dim light in the room seemed to be coming through and around the edges of the wall in front of them. Harry stuck out his hand.

"It's a tapestry," he whispered.

Ron and Hermione didn't answer. They heard voices—familiar voices.

The weave in the tapestry wasn't that tight and Ron, Harry, and Hermione leaned forward to see what was going on in the room ahead of them. Five people were seated at a round table in a room decorated by portraits of old witches and warlocks. A bulletin board with notices from the Ministry of Magic was on the far wall and an embroidered sampler reading "Teachers Spell Success" was hung between it and a door to the left. Dumbledore and the heads of the four Hogwarts houses were at the table and the Sorting Hat rested in on top of piles of parchment strewn about its surface.

"Now, now, Severus," said Dumbledore as they listened, "you can't have Colin Creevey. Your crew would tease him and torture him unmercifully. The parents don't like students losing body parts if we can possibly prevent it."

"But Albus…" said Snape.

Dumbledore waved his hand with finality.

"Minny, would you take the litte git?" said Dumbledore. "He's got too much personality for Hufflepuff and he's not bright enough to be a Ravenclaw."

"Glad to, Alby," McGonagall replied, "if Severus will take Ermintrude Fudge."

"Of course," said Snape. "She's a legacy."

Dumbledore made some notes on a long roll of parchment with a ratty-looking quill and continued. "Luna Lovegood?" he said, pointing to a name on the roll.

"Too strange to be a Hufflepuff," said Professor Sprout.

"Too batty to be a Gryffindor," said McGonagall.

"Be serious," said Severus.

"Filius?" said Dumbledore.

"Oh, all right, if I must," said Professor Flitwick. "But you owe me one. Especially if I ever have to deal with her father."

"I think I could handle that contingency should the need occur," said Dumbledore. "Thank you very much for resetting the Sorting Hat's charm with the new words, Filius," he continued.

"My pleasure," beamed the little wizard proudly.

"Marvelous sorting poem this year, Albus," Pomona Sprout joined in. "One of your best efforts."

Dumbledore smiled, put down his quill, and rubbed his chin for a moment.

Snape brushed a lock of oily black hair out of his eyes and stepped into the pause. "It amazes me how gullible our students are," he said. "Believing in Sorting Hats for all these years when anyone with sense would realize it takes a lot of effort on the part of the faculty to ensure that incoming students end up in the proper House."

"It works well most of the time," said Filius, "but I just don't see how we ended up with Granger as a Gryffindor rather than a Ravenclaw. By all rights that girl should be mine. She's likely the brightest witch of her generation."

"No system is perfect," said Dumbledore.

"She's Muggle-born," chimed in Professor Sprout. "Who could know?"

"Back to the list. We're almost done," sighed the Headmaster. "Ginny Weasley?" He looked at Professor McGonagall. She nodded.

"Might as well collect the whole set," she said with a smile.

"Why would you want to?" asked Snape.

"There, there, Severus. Don't be rude. There's more to Weasleys than you might think," said Dumbledore.

"Seems like there are more Weasleys than you might think," said Severus. "Is she the last of them?"

"At least until this generation starts breeding," noted Professor Sprout.

"Abigail Lodge?" said Dumbledore. "Last one."

"I don't have her on my list," said Professor Flitwick, consulting his parchments.

"She's a transfer student from New Salem," said McGonagall.

"Another dull American," said Snape.

"I'll take her," said Professor Sprout.

"Thank you!" said the other four.

Dumbledore made a final notation on his roll and handed it to Professor Flitwick.

The Charms teacher slid it inside the Sorting Hat, tapped the hat three times with his wand and said "Casa Recognio!" He turned the hat upside down to confirm that the parchment had disappeared.

"Should work like a charm, Albus," said Flitwick.

"With you, how else?" said Dumbledore, pushing back from the table, a smile showing through his bushy beard.

Everyone stood and slowly walked toward the door.

"Let's go greet our new arrivals," said Professor McGonagall.

"Let's see how our returning students have grown," said Professor Sprout.

"Are we on for Wizard's Whist tonight, Minerva?" asked Professor Snape.

"Of course," she replied. "I'll bring the cards," said Professor McGonagall.

"It might be better if I bring the cards, after last year's House championship," said Professor Flitwick, leaving the room.

"Now, now, after Minerva came back to beat Severus with a Grand Flush inverted and redoubled on the last night of the term," said Dumbledore from the hall. "Don't begrudge the lady her victory."

Snape frowned as he went through the door. "I'll get even this year," he said. "It's droll how the students think that it's points for and against them we're counting, not points in Wizard Whist to determine the House championship."

"How else can we keep the little savages in line, eh?" said McGonagall, trailing along and closing the door behind her.

Ron and Harry and Hermione looked like they'd just been poleaxed. Their eyes were as big as bludgers and their mouths hung open in slack-jawed amazement. They couldn't believe what they were hearing.

Now you know why.