Gryffindor! Shouted the hat.
Alice walked toward the cheering Gryffindors. She glanced back toward the Hufflepuff table, where her friends, Dorcas and Emma sadly watched her. Emma gave a little wave.
Gryffindor was not Alice's choice. The year before, her two best friends became Hufflepuffs and returned from school with plans for all they would do when Alice joined them. Both her parents were from Hufflepuff families, and Alice wanted to be just like her Hufflepuff dad. But the hat told her that the sort wasn't determined by who your friends were or who you loved. "Who are you? Why should you be in Hufflepuff?" the Sorting Hat had asked. Alice hadn't known what to say. She'd never thought about such things before.
She sat with the Gryffindor first years. A tear ran down her cheek; she wiped it away angrily.
The other kids stared.
"I wanted to be in Hufflepuff," she told them. The house of warm rooms behind round doors, the house found behind the Still Life near the kitchen, was Hogwarts to her.
"Maybe you could ask a teacher to switch you," said Benjy, a Muggleborn boy she'd met on the train.
"Why would you want to be a Hufflepuff duffer?" asked a nasty looking teenager.
"Don't call them duffers." Alice snapped.
A redheaded girl named Molly turned to Alice. "You can't change your house," she said.
The Hufflepuff hater snorted. "I'd like to see her tell McGonagall she didn't want to be in Gryffindor."
"I don't think you're allowed to change," said the red headed girl. "Besides the Sorting Hat is always right -- you're supposed to be in Gryffindor. You are a Gryffindor."
Soon Alice would walk with the other kids up to the rooms in the tower, not down to the badger's burrow, because of who the Sorting Hat said she was.
"But, who am I?" Alice wondered.