Do I look, sound, or act, like J.K. Rowling? Or Natsumi Mukai, for that matter? I didn't think so.
Dumbledore looked up in surprise as the door to his office opened, revealing Professor Snape.
"Severus! What is-" Before he could finish, Snape turned and gestured behind him. Four children walked in. Dumbledore raised an eyebrow. They were dressed like Muggles, so why was Snape leading them here? There were three boys and a girl. One boy was older than the others, about sixteen. The others looked maybe twelve. The boy in front looked excited, the girl nervous, and the last boy appeared annoyed. The oldest one had no expression.
"I found these children wandering in the Forbidden Forest, Headmaster," Snape drawled. The excited boy jumped forward.
"Hi! I'm Cooro! This is Nana," the girl, "Husky," the other boy, "and Senri! Um…" Here he stopped, as the boy deemed Husky jabbed him in the back with a staff. Albus smiled.
"And how did you find your way into our forest?" Cooro began talking, dodging a swing from Husky.
"We were camping in the woods, and I saw something shiny! So, I ran towards it, and they followed. I found a swirly purple thing. When I tried to poke it, I fell in! And they followed. Then Mr…" He glanced at Snape.
"Professor Snape," the Potions Master said. Cooro nodded.
"Mr. Professor Snape came up and led us here." Chuckling quietly, the Headmaster nodded. Snape looked like he couldn't decide if he should be offended or pleased.
"Well then, welcome to Hogwarts School. If you wish, you are welcome to stay until we can find a way to send you home. Our students will be arriving shortly." Nana looked around in surprise.
"This is a school? For what?" Husky glanced around as well, but stayed quiet.
"For witchcraft and Wizardry." Cooro turned around and looked at the others, ignoring their shocked faces.
"Can we stay? PLEASE???" He was looking mostly at Husky. After hesitating a few moments, he nodded. Albus smiled, then clapped his hands once.
"Good! Now, the train will arrive in a half hour or so. If you'll just follow me, I will show you to the Great Hall. There will be a feast…" He didn't finish.
"A feast?? Yay! Food!!" Cooro began to dance around happily. Husky rolled his eyes, Nana giggled, and Senri just watched. Shaking his head, Dumbledore lead the odd group through the office door to the Great Hall, followed closely by Snape. As they walked in, Professor McGonagall ran up.
"Headmaster! The students arrived early, the carriages are pulling in now. And-" She vaguely noticed the children behind him. "Who are they?"
"Guests, for now. They will be sorted with the first years, I suppose." To the children, he added, "New students are sorted into one of four houses. Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Now, Professor McGonagall will lead you to the chamber for the first years." Nana looked from McGonagall, to Dumbledore, to Snape, and back again.
"Are we supposed to wear those robes?" McGonagall began to lead them toward a door next to the Great Hall.
"Yes, but there's nothing to do about it right now. We'll see about it later. Now, wait in here. Hagrid will bring the others in a few minutes." She turned to Senri. "Try not to draw too much attention to yourself. You're too old to be a first year, so say nothing. As for the rest of you," she said, turning back to the others, "say nothing of how you got here or where you came from."
"Why?" Cooro looked up from a tapestry on the wall of a dragon. Before McGonagall could answer, Husky turned and whapped him on the head with his staff.
"Fool! They don't want us to attract attention!" Cooro nodded, pouting. Nana frowned at Husky.
"Don't hit him for that! It's not Cooro's fault he's confused!" Husky just glared. Senri looked from one to the other, then plopped down on the floor. He paged through his book. McGonagall looked at it curiously, then shrugged and left.
As they sat in silence, the door opened again to reveal several wet children about their age (discluding Senri), all in robes. Professor McGonagall was behind them. She looked them over, then began to speak. Several students looked curiously at Cooro and the others, and more still were staring at a boy near the front with messy black hair.
"Welcome to Hogwarts. The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like you family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room.
"The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rule-breaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded with the house cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.
"The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten up yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting." From the back, Nana couldn't see who she was looking at, but they moved quickly to fix whatever had caught her gaze. She smoothed her dress.
"I shall return when we are ready for you. Please wait quietly." She left, presumably to the Great Hall. The students began to chatter to themselves. The +Anima listened carefully. The other students were discussing how the Sorting worked. Many had older siblings that the students said had already been Sorted, who all had different stories on how it worked. Others muttered about someone named 'Harry Potter', and still others talked about 'Muggles.' Cooro turned to the others to ask what a Muggle was, but stopped short as several pearly-white people floated through the wall, and Husky muttered in awe.
"Ghosts." The ghosts were deep in conversation., and didn't seem to notice the children, though some had screamed when they entered.
"Forgive and forget, I say, we ought to give him a second chance-" The fat monk saying this was interrupted by another ghost in a ruff and tights.
"My dear Friar, haven't we given Peeves all the chances he deserves? He gives us all a bad name and you know, he's not really even a ghost- I say, what are you all doing here?" He looked down at them. Cooro waved excitedly, not aware of the odd looks he was receiving from the living.
"New students! About to be Sorted, I suppose?" The Friar looked over them, looking pleased. A few people nodded, silent. Cooro only grinned as Husky glowered at him, muttering about a spectacle.
"Hope to see you in Hufflepuff! My old house, you know." The Friar looked up, as did several others, as a sharp voice cut in.
"Move along now. The Sorting Ceremony's about to start." As the ghosts floated through another wall, she continued.
"Now, form a line, and follow me." They followed her into the Hall, which elicited several gasps from the students. The ceiling showed the thick clouds and raindrops from outside, but nothing came in. Cooro turned to Nana happily.
"Is it a glass roof? Or magic? Oh, it looks like you could just go right through!" Nana shushed him. They walked between two tables filled with older students, all in robes. There were two more tables on the far walls, and one more for the teachers set at the end, facing the door. On a platform in front of it was a rickety stool and a tattered hat. Each of the four tables had golden plates and goblets, and a banner above it. There was a lion in red and gold, a snake in green and silver, a badger in yellow and black, and a raven in blue and grey. The teacher's table had a banner as well. It had all four animals, grouped around an ornate H. The students grouped up in front of the hat, waiting.
Cooro and the others were getting several stares, especially Senri, who towered over the rest of the first years. He looked back to the front in surprise as a voice began to sing. It was the hat!
Oh you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge by what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might be in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!
Applause burst out as it finished, bowing to each table before freezing. Cooro was the loudest of the first years, though he refrained from yelling with a warning look from Husky. Senri joined in the clapping a moment behind the others, and continued looking around.
"When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be Sorted." Professor McGonagall called, before looking at a roll, of parchment and calling a girl forward. As each one went to their new house, the older students applauded. One boy ran toward the Gryffindor table with the hat still on, and had to walk back amidst laughter from the tables. When the name 'Harry Potter' came up, whispers broke out again. Nana saw Dumbledore lean forward slightly. The boy with messy black hair walked forward. The hat took a long time, and Harry began to mouth something. Nana wanted to use her bat ears to listen, but decided that it would attract too much attention. Finally, the hat came to a decision.
"GRYFFINDOR!" The boy grinned like Christmas had come early, and ran to the table, sitting next to several red-headed boys. The cheering was the loudest yet. Husky raised an eyebrow at this. Why was this boy so famous? The +Anima watched as the rest of the first years were Sorted, leaving only them there. McGonagall rolled up the parchment, then looked at them. She paused, and glanced at Dumbledore. He stood. Looking relieved, she walked around and sat in an empty seat at the head table.
"As you may have noticed, we have four guests here. They will be regarded as regular students until they return home. I ask that you all treat them with respect. Now," he looked at them, "Cooro. You first." Grinning, Cooro jumped forward, so quickly that the cloak Nana had made him fluttered up to show his +Anima markings, glowing faintly. Plopping down on the stool, he set the hat on his head, on top of his goggles. At once, he heard the hat's voice.
Now, you are a strange one. Not from here, not at all… Very loyal, maybe Hufflepuff… But also very brave, never backing down from helping someone…I see… And the hat yelled out,
"GRYFFINDOR!" Grinning, he took off the hat, set it on the stool, and walked back to stand next to Nana. There was faint, confused cheering, as the students wondered why he was standing there. Nana leaned toward him.
"You have to walk to the table. We'll be there in a minute." Hesitating, he nodded, and walked to the table, sitting be the boy deemed Harry.
"Husky, you next, please." Frowning slightly, he walked up. Carefully, he put on the hat, not sure what to expect.
Ah… another one… Rather surly, aren't you? And yet, just as loyal as your friend… o wonder what you'd do if I separated you… But…
"GRYFFINDOR!" Relieved, Husky took off the hat, placing it carefully on the stool, and walking to sit by Cooro. Cooro was cheering louder than the others at the table, and smiling as widely as he could.
"Nana? Will you come up?" Hands shaking, Nana walked up to the stool. The shocked look on Husky's face when he put it on wasn't helping her nerves.
Oh… Another friend of those others… Loyalty seems to run strong in your group, doesn't it? All from the first… And intelligent, aren't you? But you want to be with the others… Well, why not?
"GRYFFINDOR!" A few tears dripped down her face as she put the hat on the stool, smiling. Hesitating, she looked back at Senri, who was watching her. He grinned slightly, and gestured at the table. Nana nodded, and trotted over, sitting carefully across from the boys.
"Senri, come up, please." Looking a bit dazed, Senri walked up, copying the others and pulling the hat on. Unlike the others, it barely fit, where it nearly covered their eyes. His expression didn't change as he sat there.
Are you the last one? He nodded. Very well. Again, loyal to a fault, and strong… But little memory… Bit of an accident, was it? Ah, well.
"GRYFFINDOR!" Senri stood up, took off the hat, and walked over to the table, sitting next to Nana. He didn't notice the odd looks most students were sending him. Dumbledore stood up, ending the whispers in an instant.
"Welcome! Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet," Cooro's mouth began to water, "I would like to, say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you!" And he sat began down. Husky looked up as Harry asked a red-head next to him, "Is he mad?" Husky was wondering the same thing.
"Mad? He's a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit mad, yes. Potatoes, Harry?" Looking back at the plates, they all saw platters of food, all kinds, laid out all across the table. Cooro cheered, earning several stares, which he ignored, and dug in. The others looked at each other, to the food, shrugged, and began to eat as well.
Nana was reaching for a lamb chop when a voice asked from next to her, "Excuse me?" She looked up to see another first year, a girl with large front teeth and bushy brown hair.
"Um… I was just wondering where you came from. I don't mean to be rude!" she added quickly as Husky glanced over. "I was just curious, is all." Nana glanced at Husky, who shrugged, then Cooro, who smiled and nodded, and finally at Senri. He looked at her, then blinked. Not sure of what that meant, she turned to the girl again.
"We're from Astaria. 'Cept Husky, he was born in Sailand. I'm Nana, by the way." She smiled and stuck out her hand.
"Hermione Granger. Where are those countries? I've never heard of them." Before Nana could answer, the ghost with a ruff floated up to them.
"Hello, you must be the new first years. I am the Gryffindor ghost, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, at your service." The youngest red-head, Ron, looked at him in surprise.
"My brothers told me about you! You're Nearly-Headless Nick!" Nick glared at him
"I prefer my given name of-" Before he could finish, another boy interrupted him.
"How can you be nearly headless?" Nick, looking peeved at the change of conversation, said irritably, "Like this." Pulling on his left ear, he pulled his head off of his neck so that it hung there by a bit of skin. Grinning at the shocked looks of the first years (minus Senri, who looked blank, and Cooro, who was still eating), he flipped it back on.
"So- New Gryffindors! I hope you're going to help us win the house cup this year? Our house has never gone this long without winning. Slytherin has had it for six years in a row! The Bloody Baron is becoming unbearable." They all looked at the Slytherin table to see a blood-covered ghost with a gaunt face and staring eyes. He sat by a nervous first year with silver-blond hair. Cooro looked up.
"How did he get covered with blood?" he asked, with child-like curiosity.
"I've never asked." Cooro nodded, and continued eating. Soon, the plates cleaned themselves, and were replaced with desserts. Practically diving at an apple pie, Cooro nearly knocked over a large bowl of pudding. Righting it, he pulled the pie toward him, and began to eat, content. The others just rolled their eyes at him, while another red haired boy whispered to his twin.
"Three Sickles he eats it all." His twin looked at him.
"No way! He ate way too much dinner, he can't finish it!" They shook hands, while Nana giggled. The second twin stared as Cooro finished the pie, and reached for a tart.
"How in Merlin's name can you eat that much?" Cooro looked up from the tart.
"I like apples a lot! I'm not sure how I can eat so much…" He looked thoughtful for a moment, then shrugged and continued on the tart. He turned to Nana, a mock sad-looking face in place.
"Why didn't you warn me?" Husky snorted.
"Cooro's a bottomless pit, but doesn't look it. I'm Nana, what's your name?" She smiled. He grinned back.
"I'm George, and this is Fred," he said, gesturing to his twin.
"I'm not Fred, I'm George!" The other said, looking outraged.
"No, I'm George!" As they argued, Ron turned to her, shaking his head.
"They do that all the time. Even Mum can't tell them apart. I'm Ron, that's Percy, and this is Harry," he said as he gestured to the last red head and the messy-haired boy.
"Nice to meet you! That's Husky, Senri, and, of course, Cooro." She made no mention of having heard of him, which surprised Harry. He said nothing of it.
The desserts disappeared, and even Cooro looked happily full. Dumbledore stood again.
"Ahem- just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few start-of-term notices to give you.
"First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well." He looked over at the twins as Nana glanced at Husky. Why was it forbidden?
"I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors.
"Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact Madame Hooch.
"And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third floor corridor on the right-hand side, is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death." A few people laughed at this last. Harry turned to Percy.
"He's not serious?" Percy frowned.
"Must be. It's odd, usually gives a good reason for places being off-limits. The Forbidden Forest is full of dangerous creatures, everyone knows that. He should have told the prefects, at least."
"And now, let's sing the school song!" The teacher's faces became rather set, Husky noticed, and he decided not to sing.
Dumbledore waved his wand, and golden streams flew out, forming the words.
"Everyone sing to your favorite tune, and off we go!"
Cooro joined the rest of the school as it bellowed:
"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we've forgot,
Just do your best, we'll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot."
They all finished at different times, with the twins finished last at a funeral march. Dumbledore smiled.
"Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here! And now, bedtime. Off you trot!"
The redhead Percy began to lead the first years to the Common Room. People began to watch the +Anima again as they were called back by McGonagall.
"You will have to make-do with the clothes you have until robes come in for you. The school will also provide textbooks, supplies, and see about getting you all wands. You," she pointed to Senri. "Would you prefer rooming with others your age, or with your friends?" He looked at her for a moment, then stepped toward Cooro.
"Very well, then. Nana, you will in the girl's dormitories, with four other first years. Boys and girls aren't allowed to room together." She turned back to them all, ignoring the looks from the others.
"All four of you will be in the same classes. I suggest you hurry and find the rest of your group." They nodded, turned and ran to the door.
"Nana? Can you hear them?" Cooro asked, looking at her. Her ears popped out, swiveling back and forth.
"No… This place is too big… Wait! There!" she yelled, pointing up a flight of stairs. The group began to run up. Reaching the top, Nana pointed left. Turning that way, they could see the last first year turning the corner at the end.
"Hold up!" Husky called as they ran forward. The person turned, revealing Harry. They caught up, and followed behind the rest as Percy led them through hidden halls, doors, and stairs. It was a confusing walk, and soon all were completely disoriented.
"What did Professor McGonagall want?" Harry asked.
"She was just telling us how the rooms would work, cause Senri's older than most first years." Nodding, Harry turned back to the front as Percy stopped in front of a painting of a large woman in a pink dress.
"Password?" Not looking surprised at the talking portrait, Percy answered.
"Caput Draconis." The picture opened to reveal a round hole in the wall. Clambering through, they found a large room, themed in red and gold, filled with squishy red arm chairs and couches, and a few tables near the walls. They were in the tower.
Percy directed the girls to one staircase, the boys to another. Husky, Cooro, and Senri went to the boy's stairs, watching Nana go to hers. The girl from earlier, Hermione, came up to her, and Nana looked relieved. Thankful, the boys went up. Finding a door with their names on it, Husky pulled it open. Five beds were inside, four-posters with red velvet curtains. Cooro jumped onto one, laughing as he bounced. Husky and Senri walked more slowly in and, after choosing their beds, undressed and fell asleep.