Written for the "First of September" collaboration at Hogwarts Online.


Minerva had always enjoyed the Sorting. Even her own. She knew she should have been nervous, and indeed, the throng of giggling girls and frowning boys around her had been alight with tension. But she had remained serene in the midst of it.

"It will be fine," she calmly informed the two girls she had met on the train, Doris and Elona. "It will be fine. I'm going to Gryffindor."

And she had, the Hat shouting out the name of the House almost as it touched her head. Despite a Ravenclaw father and a Slytherin mother, an older brother in Slytherin and two sisters in Ravenclaw, Minerva McGonagall was a Gryffindor through and through, and she had always known it.

Two years later, she had watched unsurprised as her younger brother followed her sisters into Ravenclaw. She did not mind. She knew that she was clever enough to be a Ravenclaw (clever than any of her siblings in fact) and as Pureblooded as her brother Marius, who was a born Slytherin, but she knew that she was braver and – if she was honest with herself – much more reckless than any of them. Gryffindor was where she belonged. The Hat had Sorted her right.

Over the years, as she progressed up the school, becoming a Prefect and then Head Girl, Minerva watched the Sorting with interest. She made a game of spotting potential Gryffindors amongst the milling, chattering eleven-year-olds, and became remarkably good at it.

Once she returned to the school as Transfiguration teacher, she continued the game, feeling a definite sense of ownership and pride in those first years making their way to her own old table. And since becoming Head of Gryffindor House (an appointment that gave her more pride and delight than any of her previous – and quite considerable – achievements) the Sorting held even more significance for her. Those Sorted into Gryffindor now really were her own. Hers to lead and encourage – hers to cajole and admonish on occasion too. Every year she hoped for great things from them, for students who would do their House proud and help to win the House Cup – and if there was a decent Quidditch player or two amongst them, so much the better.

This year, she regarded the ranks of new students with heightened interest. Newly appointed Deputy Headmistress, it would be her job to place the stool and Hat at the front of the Great Hall, and her job to read out the list of names. More to the point, she was hoping from something special from her new Gryffindors. The recent first years had been good enough she supposed, but only that. There was no one outstanding among them, no spark, no real fire. The first few years of students Sorted into Gryffindor when she became Head of House, the first that were "her own" had graduated now, and, although she would do her duty by them, those remaining were in all honesty a pretty uninspired and uninspiring lot. (Even if her House loyalty and sense of duty meant that she would deny this fiercely if any other teacher dared to suggest such a thing.)

In addition, the House Cup had belonged to Ravenclaw for the last two years, and Slytherin the year before that. Last year, Gryffindor had finished ignominiously in fourth place. Minerva did not want that trend to continue. She wanted the Cup back where it belonged – in her office – and she hoped that this new crop of first years would help with that.

She scanned the list of names in her hand. There were a few she recognised. Sirius Black – he was a certainty for Slytherin of course. And another Bones boy – he would be a Ravenclaw for sure. Dorian Abbot could be a Hufflepuff or a Ravenclaw. The Fellowes twins would no doubt follow their parents into Hufflepuff; Jane Mead would be a Hufflepuff too; Mendan Zabini would be a Slytherin. Minerva sighed. Not an obvious Gryffindor amongst the lot of them.

She regarded the students themselves, hoping that someone whose name she had not recognised would stand out to her as a Gryffindor, someone who would have the fire that had been sadly lacking in the House lately. The red-headed girl near the back, next to the greasy-haired sallow boy who could be nothing but a Slytherin, was a possibility. There was a definite spark in her green eyes, despite her apparent nervousness, that Minerva liked the look of. And the boy at the front, with untidy black hair and glasses, grinning as he tweaked the long plait belonging to the scared-looking girl in front of him, he might be a Gryffindor too – though Minerva thought that he might be a mixed blessing if he was. There was something of the Prewett twins in the expression on his face, and they had always been almost more trouble than they were worth. The boy turned and spoke to the taller boy behind him, whom Minerva had not noticed before – black hair, slightly longer than was the fashion, black eyes and a haughty expression – that must be Sirius Black. She did not need to worry about him: he would not be hers. And the small mousy boy behind him, slightly plump and giggling nervously would be a Hufflepuff… The boy next to him she recognised – she had seen a picture of Remus Lupin when the Headmaster set his plans to bring the young werewolf to the school before the staff. Odd – if she had not known who he was, she would have said he looked like a Gryffindor. But with his history he would have to be a Slytherin: no other House could accommodate a dark creature such as him.

She became aware of Professor Dumbledore's eyes on her, and shook herself slightly. She would know soon enough. And maybe there were some Gryffindors amongst the first years – someone that had passed unremarked by her sharp eyes - that would do her House proud. But she was not overly hopeful now.

She lifted the parchment scroll up and began to read: "Abbott, Dorian!"

By the time she went to bed that night, Minerva's faith in her own powers of prediction was severely shaken. But it was a year or two before she would admit – even to herself – that it was a good thing to be wrong sometimes.