General Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling is the rightful custodian of the Harry Potter universe, not I. Ditto for Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Author's note: Please, while reading this, set aside any prejudices J. K. Rowling may have instilled in you regarding Slytherin House. My placing a character there does not mean that I consider him evil or unscrupulous, just that his personality fits the Slytherin archetype (crafty, realistic, anxious to ensure success) better than it does any of the other three. Thank you.
Professor Dumbledore cleared his throat, redirecting the student body's attention from the strangely dressed figures in the centre of the Great Hall. "If all and sundry will forgive me, I believe an explanation is in order," he said. "Our guests are the senior officers of the United Space Ship Enterprise – the fourth of that name, I believe…"
"Fifth," said Captain Picard.
"Ah, my mistake," said Dumbledore. "In any event, they have journeyed to our school – over seventeen light-years, four centuries, and at least one dimensional shift – to have the privilege of studying the magical arts, so that they may be better equipped to deal with a certain extremely powerful being of their acquaintance." (Privately, Dumbledore doubted whether, if this Q person was really like what Picard had described, the standard Hogwarts curriculum would be much good against him, but he couldn't blame the man for wanting to cover all his bases.) "There will therefore be a special Sorting for the nine of them. Professor McGonagall, if you please?"
The Deputy Headmistress rose to her feet. "I believe you were all informed how this works?" she said.
There was a series of nods from the officers (accompanied by a low growl from Lieutenant Worf, who had taken no trouble to conceal his distaste for the proposed procedure).
"Let us begin, then," said McGonagall, and lowered her eyes to the list of names she had prepared earlier. "Crusher, Beverly, Medical Officer!"
Wesley squeezed his mother's hand supportively as she rose, brushed her hair from her eyes, and walked over to the stool. She picked up the Hat, placed it on her head, and sat down, looking as composed as a woman with a thousand-year-old lump of cloth on her head can look.
"So you're the first, are you?" said the Sorting Hat inside her mind. "Well, let's see here. Devoted mother, loyal friend, more compassion than you can shake a stick at… yes, I think you'll be right at home in – HUFFLEPUFF!"
The far-right table burst into cheers; Dr Crusher removed the Hat and went to take her seat, and Professor McGonagall glanced at the next name on her list. "Crusher, Wesley, Acting Ensign!" she said, and the smartest fourteen-year-old in the universe rose shakily to his feet, swallowed, and went to meet his fate.
"Well, now, what have we here?" said the Hat. "Talented, ambitious, willing to bend the rules when he finds it necessary… all adds up to – SLYTHERIN!"
There was a rather more muted cheer this time, less because the school had taken a dislike to Wesley than because the Slytherins were unsure about this whole business of letting Muggles – even 24th-century Muggles from another dimension – study magic in their school. To compensate, McGonagall gave Wesley an unusually warm smile as she took the Hat from him and read off the next name. "Data, Lieutenant Commander!"
Data rose and began to approach the stool; then he paused, and cocked his head. "Inquiry, Professor," he said. "'LEF-tenant?'"
McGonagall blinked. "Pardon?"
"You said 'LEF-tenant Commander'," said Data. "I am accustomed to hearing it pronounced 'LOO-tenant'."
McGonagall's face lightened. "Oh, I see," she said. "Yes, that's the British pronunciation."
"Ah," said Data. "A regional dialectical variation, you mean?"
"Intriguing," said Data. "Does that perhaps derive from the U originally being indistinguishable from a voiced fricative, and then retaining the consonantal value when…"
"Just put on the hat, Mr. Data," said Picard.
"Yes, sir," said Data immediately. He took the Hat from McGonagall and placed it on his head, giving an effect not unlike an off-white scarecrow in a Starfleet uniform; several first years burst out in involuntary giggles.
"Now, that's interesting," said the Hat. "Never seen a mind like that one before. Still, it seems a fairly automatic call for – RAVENCLAW!"
Data nodded, returned the Hat to McGonagall, and walked over to the middle-left table, surveying his cheering Housemates with the dispassion that was his trademark.
"LaForge, George, Lieutenant!" said McGonagall, emphasising the "f" sound with a backward glance at Data.
"Oh-ho," said the Hat, when Geordi had donned it. "Chief Engineer, eh? A science type, a man who loves his machines. And a friend of Mr Data's, I see; it would be a shame to break up such a loyal duo."
"Glad you feel that way," said Geordi with a grin.
"I beg your pardon, Mr LaForge?" said McGonagall.
"RAVENCLAW!" shouted the Sorting Hat.
"Oh," said McGonagall, nonplussed. "Well, then, er… Picard, Jean-Luc, Captain!"
Picard rose, tugged at his uniform, and strode over to the stool. Of all the people who had worn the Hat so far, he was the only one (with the possible exception of Dr Crusher) who managed to look dignified in it.
"H'm," said the Hat. "You're a tricky one, Captain. There's certainly enough shrewdness here to justify putting you in Slytherin, and more than enough courage to justify Gryffindor – but, somehow, neither seems to really dominate your character."
Picard said nothing – partially because he realised (as Geordi had not) that the rest of the Hall could hear him but not the Hat, but mostly because he made a point of never answering people who tried to psychoanalyse him.
"No, if you want to know a person," the Hat mused, "look at what he does for recreation, not at his working persona. So, on that principle – RAVENCLAW!"
As Picard rose and made his way to his new table, he heard (over the cheers of the Ravenclaw students, which had by now reached seismic proportions) a murmured conversation from the house ghosts. "Three in a row," the Grey Lady remarked. "We're doing rather well, I think."
The Bloody Baron cackled. "Poor Nick," he said. "Not a single Gryffindor in the lot, so far."
The Head of Gryffindor House had noticed this fact as well. Her lips, as she glanced down at her list again, were pursed tightly together, and she could already hear the comments Professor Snape would make if her House ended up completely devoid of Starfleet officers. ("Well, Minerva, what will you? We knew that the human race would someday outgrow the need for mere external bravado.")
"Riker, William, Commander!" she said.
And if you turn out to be a Ravenclaw, too, she added mentally as Picard's "Number One" made his way to the stool, I might have to give this Hat a taste of my Unraveling Charm.
She needn't have worried. Riker, after the most cursory of examinations, was pronounced a "GRYFFINDOR!", and McGonagall's face relaxed markedly as she read off the next name. "Troi, Deanna, Counselor!"
If McGonagall was relaxed, however, Troi certainly wasn't. Her face, as she rose to take her love interest's place at the stool, was pale even by half-Betazoid standards, and her hand trembled as she took the Hat and placed its brim against her hair.
"Nervous, Counselor?" came its voice in her mind.
Troi took a deep breath. I am used to being the one who perceives mental sensations, she said telepathically, not the one whose mental sensations are perceived.
"Yes, I suppose you would be," the Hat agreed. "All right, then, I'll make this fast. Gentle… sensitive… almost painfully well-meaning… yes, it's a clear call for – HUFFLEPUFF!"
Dr Crusher led her House's cheers as Troi removed the Hat and headed for the dexter table. Most of the rest of the Enterprise crew followed her example – except for Lieutenant Worf, who, despite being raised in Russia, knew the Latin alphabet well enough to know what was coming.
"Worf, Lieutenant!" said McGonagall.
Worf's lip curled, but he rose from his seat and stalked over to the stool. Lieutenant Yar, now alone in the centre of the Hall, let her hand steal to her phaser; she hadn't grown up on Turkana IV without developing a sense for when a situation stood a fair chance of getting messy.
The Sorting Hat, which had been raised in a much less volatile environment, failed to share Yar's alarm. "Now, really, Mr Worf," it said, with the faintest hint of a chuckle in its voice, "do you really think it's wise to be thinking such nasty things when I'm trying to Sort you? You ought to be putting your best face forward, or I might put you in the wrong House."
"This is my best face," Wolf growled, ignoring McGonagall's puzzled look.
"Oh, is it?" said the Hat. "Well, in that case, let's see here… h'm, interesting. Ordinarily, I would call anyone with this rigid a sense of honour an automatic Gryffindor, but, in your case…"
"Are the other Houses so devoid of honor?" Worf enquired.
The Hat chuckled. "Touché. No, of course they aren't; in a Hogwarts full of Klingons, all four Houses would share your sentiments on the subject. And, in a Hogwarts full of Klingons, I don't suppose I should hesitate a moment before putting you – what with your pride of race, your sturdily practical outlook on life, and your not inconsiderable fund of guile – into… SLYTHERIN!"
If the Slytherin table's applause had been muted when Wesley was Sorted, it was practically nonexistent now; in fact, two or three of the younger Slytherins made hasty excuses and scampered from the Hall as Worf strode over to their table. None of the other students felt like blaming them.
"And, finally: Yar, Natasha, Lieutenant!" said McGonagall, folding up the paper and slipping it back into her sleeve as the last officer approached.
"Well, here's an easy one," said the Hat. "A strong, fearless woman who pulled herself out of Hell by her own bootstraps: couldn't be anything but… GRYFFINDOR!"
The left-hand table cheered boisterously as the Chief Security Officer came over and took her seat. "Congratulations, Tasha," Riker whispered. "Looks like we're the lucky ones who get to share a house with Harry Potter."
Yar cocked her head. "Who?"
Riker shrugged. "Beats me, but these guys seem to think he's someone important."
Dumbledore waited a minute or two for the noise to die down, and then rose, a broad smile on his face. "Well," he said, "congratulations to each of our Houses on the worthy members it has acquired. And now, may I invite all you to partake of the special feast that our house-elves have…" He paused, and glanced around the House tables in puzzlement. "Just a moment; my age seems to be catching up with me. I feel sure that I just heard nine people be Sorted, yet I only see eight of you here now."
"Data snuck out with the Grey Lady while Worf was being Sorted," said Geordi. "He figured that, since neither of them could eat, she might as well give him a tour of the castle."
Wesley threw back his head and laughed. "Sorry, Professor, we should have warned you," he said. "Give Data something this old and intricate to explore, and Arcturian zontars couldn't keep him in his chair."
"Ah," said Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling. "Well, I hope he enjoys himself. The rest of you – tuck in!"