A/N: I have not designated this story as 'completed' yet. There's this massive idea unfolding in my head, and I really can't wait to dive into it, but it's so big and so cool and so fresh that I'm not sure where to begin on it. You might call this a prequel to that story, and rest assured, I won't be starting it until I've finished"In the House of the Quick and the Hungry." But anyway; without further ado...
The Evil Tosser Theory
Lily Evans waited on tenterhooks as she watched the first few students in her year being sorted, keeping a tally within her head of how many had gone to each House. So far there had been three Slytherins, two each to Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, and one Gryffindor. She kept telling herself that it didn't matter what House the others were in, that Professor McGonagall had told her that the hat sorted students according to their own natural abilities and inclinations, but she couldn't completely quell the sinking, panicky feeling that Slytherin House seemed to be filling up fast.
Regardless of what certain people had told her, Lily had always been one to think for herself, and the fact of the matter seemed plain to her: Slytherin house was clearly the House for 'accelerated learners' and Lily had every intention of being sorted there. Oh, the Sorting Hat's song had tried to make it seem as though all four of them were separate but equal, but Lily had gotten the distinct impression that this was hardly the case.
Ravenclaw seemed to be geared towards those who were intellectually inclined; Hufflepuff towards the mainstream, hard-working folks; and Gryffindor seemed to be the destination designed to try to reform those troublemakers who meant well, but were rather hopeless at functioning in society. That was no doubt the reason they had a stern, no-nonsense witch like Professor McGonagall to head it.
The loud, immature boy she'd met on the train had asserted that Slytherins were 'evil tossers.' Lily felt slightly inclined to laugh at that. Why would there be a house devoted to evil tosser-dom? James was his name, and he had wanted to be sorted into Gryffindor.
Well, she thought smartly, That just speaks for itself.
No no, it seemed clear to Lily that Slytherin was the House of people who were going places in the world: ambitious, determined, networking types. This much she had gathered from the Sorting Hat's song and the conversation she had heard between that Hufflepuff girl and her first-year sister about the head of Slytherin House and his 'Slug Club' of people he felt would do great things. It seemed much more likely than the Evil Tosser theory at least.
Lily barely suppressed a groan as the Sorting Hat finished its deliberation and Beverly Easton hopped off towards the green and silver end of the Hall.
She took a deep breath and approached the stool, suddenly very conscious of all the people watching.
I wish we didn't have to do this with everyone watching, she thought as Professor McGonagall placed the hat over her ears.
"Oh, but you see that's half the fun!"
No matter how prepared Lily might have been, knowing that she was wearing a thinking cap, she couldn't suppress the shock of breath that escaped her when a tatty old hat answered her thoughts.
"But where to put you—Gryffindor perhaps?" continued the hat, getting right to the point.
Slytherin! thought Lily quickly, I'm a Slytherin.
There was a silence before the hat responded.
"...I'm afraid I can't do that, Ms. Evans."
Lily's heart sank. She never consciously thought, "Why not?" but the hat answered her sentiment regardless.
"You see, Slytherin house is, among other things, devoted to those whose ancestry is purest."
Disappoinment quickly turned to anger in Lily's mind. You can't do that—that's discrimination, it's not fair!
"I'm afraid that's just the way things are here in the magical world. I am destined to sort students exactly as the Founders themselves would have divided them. I can see you have a great deal of ambition and a strong streak of determination, but Salazar Slytherin would simply never have chosen a purely Muggleborn girl for his own House."
There was a stunned and injured silence in her mind. She didn't know what to do with that.
"I must impress upon you," continued the hat, "That this is most certainly to his detriment, and not your own."
Lily thought her mind was blank, but the Hat was reading her as if she were reeling at it.
"This is a new world for you, Lily Evans, and a rather wild one at that," it gave a pause to pay respect to her hurt feelings, and then said with a gentle amusement, "You have a lot to learn. Why don't we put you in Gryffindor?"
A upsurging of emotion coursed in her veins, and though no words came to mind, the hat replied kindly, "Oh Ms. Evans, you'd 'go places' if I put you in the rubbish bin.. Why don't you give this James Potter and his house of what you call 'delinquents' another chance, hm?"
The vicegrip her mind had wrapped around the idea of Slytherin began to loosen.
"There's a good girl. I can't be fooled, I'm here inside your head! I've never yet been wrong, and I can see that your heart truly lies in Gryffindor, no matter what you may think now. Go on, you'll thank me when you're older, you know."
Barely even realizing she was doing it, Lily agreed.
An outburst of cheering and whooping could be heard from one side of the Hall. Professor McGonagall gave her a warm smile as she pulled the hat off Lily's head, but just before she did so, Lily could have sworn she heard the Hat say, "Oh and Ms. Evans—there's more than meets the eye to that Evil Tosser theory."
A real smile spread across her face and she stood up and took a moment to look around at the Great Hall. The Gryffindors were applauding boisterously—now that she saw them, they did seem to be a more pleasant bunch of people. Grinning, she stepped down and walked proudly towards their table, passing by the Slytherins on her way.
And she never looked back.
Seven years had passed since that night in September. Lily stood now, seventeen years old and Head Girl to boot, in Professor Dumbledore's office, while he spoke to her and James aboutthe recent increases in security measures. She hoped vaguely that James was paying attention, because she wasn't. Her attention had been caught by the tatty old wizards hat sitting on a shelf behind the Professor's desk, and her mind was suddenly contemplating the many turns her life had taken between her Sorting and this moment.
She turned to see James giving her a questioning glance.
"We're going to go check out the new enchantments on the doors, yeah?"
"Oh right—yes. Yes, let's go."
James and Professor Dumbledore stood up and made their way to the door, resuming their conversation, but Lily stopped under the pretense of tying her shoe. Once the door had been closed behind them, she dashed over the the shelf and quickly jammed the hat onto her head.
A chuckling met her ears. "Well Ms. Evans, it's certainly nice to hear from you again. My, things have changed for you haven't they? Decided to give James Potter another chance after all?"
Lily turned pink.
"I hope you don't mind my saying it, but... I told you so."
"Yes, well," said Lily quickly, forgetting that she didn't have to speak her thoughts aloud, "I just wanted to tell you—thank you."
The hat chuckled again, "Not at all, dear, not at all."
The door creaked back open, and James poked his head in. "Ohhh Lily?"
"What? Yes!" She took the hat off her head and put it hastily back on the shelf, not meeting James's amused glance as she flushed again.
"Are you coming?"
"Yes!" she said, walking swiftly towards the door and swinging it open, purposely ignoring the way he was looking at her. He shook his head and laughed, following her out the door and down the spiral staircase to where Professor Dumbledore was waiting for them both.
A/N: I don't know, has anyone already written a story around this concept? I can't be the only one, though I did come up with the idea on my own. Please leave me a review and let me know what you thought, and I might just get around to posting the next chapter of House of the Quick and the Hungry—it's bubbling nearer and nearer to the surface, but I could always use a push. ;-)